Hieyoon Kim, "Celluloid Democracy: Cinema and Politics in Cold War South Korea" (U California Press, 2023)


Before South Korea became the democracy and media powerhouse that it is today, it underwent several decades of authoritarian rule during the Cold War from the late 1940s to late 1980s. Amidst this authoritarian period, South Korea’s filmmakers, distributors, and exhibitors nevertheless found ways to push the boundaries of both cinema and politics. This is the topic of Hieyoon Kim’s Celluloid Democracy: Cinema and Politics in Cold War South Korea (University of California Press, 2023).

Kim is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Asian Cultures and Languages. She specializes in the intersections of dissident culture and media with a focus on Korea and has myriad publications on topics ranging from film archives, historiography, and memory.

As the global popularity of South Korean cinema continues unabated, Celluloid Democracy helps readers dive deeper into a historical context that runs deeply through many contemporary K-media artifacts, yet doesn’t receive ample coverage in English-language discourse. Listen to this episode to learn more, and stay tuned until the end for some great film recommendations. 

Anthony Kao is a writer who intersects international affairs and cultural criticism. He founded/edits Cinema Escapist—a publication exploring the sociopolitical context behind global film and television—and also writes for outlets like The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Diplomat, and Eater.

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Anthony Kao

Anthony Kao is the founder of Cinema Escapist and a writer who focuses on the intersection of international affairs and cultural criticism.
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