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Screen-capitalism: Transnational Korean Screen Culture in Postsocialist China

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

The proliferation of the cultural phenomenon known as the Korean Wave (hallyu) in China over the last two decades marks the first time in the (post)socialist context that a sizable fandom has been forged of transnational spectators with divergent state-sanctioned ideologies. Hallyu has flourished both officially and unofficially in Mainland China despite looming political threats and cultural boycotts. Despite the fact that the term hallyu was initially coined in the Chinese context and reshaped the landscape of Chinese pop culture, the cultural entanglements between Koreans and Chinese in screen media have received little attention in English-language literature to date. This dissertation explores these cultural entanglements.

In particular, this project explores the shifting patterns and cultural paradigms of the cultural dynamics between Korean and screen media, proffering a new perspective on the Sino-Korean relationship through the lens of the screen culture. More specifically, this project investigates the spread of Korean screen culture through the new forms of remakes and co-productions. This dissertation proposes the idea of screen-capitalism, a new cultural paradigm, as a system of visual relations. Through the development of the concept of screen-capitalism, this dissertation argues that the rhizomatic quality of Korean screen culture allows for all of its points to be connected or plugged into any and all others outside of itself. This makes Korean screen culture efficiently compatible with heterogeneous elements—other cultural, political, ideological, and linguistic communities—in diverse modes. Sino-Korean cultural dynamics provide an illuminating window into how Korea, as well as the visual mechanisms through which various ideologies, identities, aesthetics, and negotiations, have been imagined and constructed through the screen culture apparatus. In making this argument, I demonstrate how screen-capitalism, insofar as it is fluidly transplantable, ideologically permeable, and transnationally gendered, spreads, circulates, and marks a shifting cultural paradigm both on and off the screen.

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