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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Colonial and Transnational Production of "Suicide Squad at the Watchtower" and "Love and the Vow"


This article places two Japan-Korea collaboration films produced during the Pacific War—Suicide Squad at the Watchtower (Bōrō no kesshitai, 1943) and Love and the Vow (Ai to chikai, 1945)—within the broader colonial and transnational context of filmmaking. Specifically, it focuses on the relationship of these films to the careers of their co-directors, Imai Tadashi (1912–1991) and Ch’oe In-gyu (1911–1950?). At the same time, the article shows how cinematic and cultural conventions such as the bildungsroman and the “Victorian empire film,” which are more commonly associated with cultural production in the modern West, can, with appropriate adjustments, be fruitfully used to understand the power and entertainment value of these films. Suicide Squad at the Watchtower portrays a joint Japanese-Korean police squad controlling the border between Manchuria and Korea and its service to the Japanese empire; Love and the Vow is a story about a Korean orphan boy who, after interviewing the family of a kamikaze pilot, is inspired to become an imperial soldier himself. These two films were joint projects between Tōhō Film in Japan, where Imai was employed, and the Korean Motion Picture Production Corporation, the only film production company in colonial Korea (and the company into which all Korean film production companies had been absorbed during the war).

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