Acknowledgments: The authors are grateful to the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts for a half-time Research Assistantship that enabled Hunju Lee to collaborate on this project. Anne Ciecko’s sabbatical research in Korea was funded by a Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation fellowship; and she would also like express appreciation to the Pusan International Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival for the opportunity to interview and watch films by some of the directors discussed in this essay. Special thanks to the editors of Jump Cut for their helpful comments and suggestions.
1. The recession of the Korean wave has been noted by industry insiders starting in approximately 2006. Examples of Variety Asia’s coverage include “'Korean Wave' Breaks as Film Exports Slump” (18 January 2007) by Darcy Paquet, noting 2006 international sales figures of Korean films reported by the national film organization KOFIC, especially declining sales to the Japanese market,
2. See Go Chan-Su’s discussion of “Hanryu and Cultural Policy,” a paper presented at the Korean Policy Forum (KOPOF) in March 2006 and summarized for this article by Hunju Lee, from the Korean internet source, naver. The original Korean-language policy paper can be read at
However, as suggested in the above-cited Variety coverage and elsewhere, not all industry-watchers are optimistic about the future of hanryu, as some note or predict stagnation and/or backlash. The current trend seems to be toward viewing the most regionally and globally potent wave as syncretically pan-Asian rather than exclusively Korean.
3. Anne Ciecko interviewed New York-based filmmaker Kang, who was premiering his debut feature The Motel to Korean audiences at the Pusan International Film Festival, his first visit to Korea, in November 2005. He discussed pan-Asian and Asian diasporic themes in his increasingly global filmmaking. Kang’s ambitious Africa-set third feature-in-progress has been supported by Pusan’s Overseas Korean Foundation prize and has been represented in the Pusan Promotional Plan (PPP).
4. Kathy Rose A. Garcia discusses this phenomenon in her article titled “‘August’’s Success in Korea Surprises US Producer” in Korean Times January 16, 2008
5. Tan describes the process of working with the Japanese financiers in the Filmmaker Seminar Series with Royston Tan and [film producer] Gary Goh on the Singapore New Wave website
6. See the director’s statement on the Zhao Wei Films production house website, as well as the interview by Anne Ciecko with Royston Tan in this issue. [return to essay]
7. Fortissimo’s company profile describes the ways the company has “entered into activities related to the development, financing and co-production of films and earned production credits” on movies including Invisible Waves.
9. HAF defines itself as the most important film-financing forum in Asia, its mission is to connect “filmmakers with upcoming projects with internationally prominent film financiers for co-production ventures”:
10. This information was compiled by Hunju Lee from a variety of Korean-language magazines and blogs including the review of Invisible Waves by Jeon Eun-Jung in NKino (May 12, 2006).
11. See Jan Uhde and Yvonne Ng Uhde’s chapter on “Singapore: Developments, Challenges, and Productions” in Contemporary Asian Cinema: Popular Culture in a Global Frame, edited by Anne Ciecko (Berg, 2006), pp.71-82.
12. This quote comes from Singapore-based sociologist Habib Khondker in Dean Visser’s article “’Korea” fever is sweeping pop culture scene in Asia,” AP Breaking News (February 3, 2002), also cited in “Korea as the Wave of the Future” by Jim Dator and Yeonseok Seo published in Journal of Futures Studies, 9.1 (August 2004): 31-44,