Author: Roman Husarski
Institution: Jagiellonian University
Year of publication: 2019
Source: Show
Pages: 431-446
DOI Address:
PDF: ppsy/48-3/ppsy2019303.pdf

Confidential Assignment (Kongjo, Kim Sung-hoon), released on January 18, 2017 between DPRK nuclear tests, tells a story of two special agents. One is from North Korea and the other one from South Korea, and they unite to fight against a common enemy. Extraordinarily, the North Korean agent is portrayed as more formidable than his South Korean counterpart who is unable to match him in every field. Also, the North Korean agent is portrayed by a Korean super star, Hyun-Bin. In this paper, I analyze two other similarly themed movies: The Net (Kŭmul, Kim Ki-Duk) and Steel Rain (Kangch’ŏlbi, Yang Wooseok). All of them were released recently and were huge commercial successes in South Korea. The aim of the following paper is to show and analyze the evolution of the image of North Korean characters in South Korean cinema. During the analysis, the question of how the change from villain to super hero was possible is answered. The way in which the movies talk about inter-Korean relations and how they portray both countries is particularly important to understand the current political sentiments in the Peninsula and how it can affect the Moon Jae-in presidency.


  • Ae-gyung, S. (2011). Anticommunist War Films of the 1960s and the Korean Cinema’s Early GenreBending Traditions. Acta Koreana, vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 175-196.
  • Armstrong, C.K. (2002). The Origins of North Korean Cinema: Art and Propaganda in the Democratic People’s Republic. Acta Koreana, vol. 5, pp. 1-19.
  • Belton, J. (1994). American Cinema/American Culture. New York: Mc Graw Hill.
  • Bryant, J., Oliver, M.B. (2009). Media Effects. Advances in Theory and Research. In Media effects: Advances in theory and research. J. Bryant, M.B. Oliver (Eds.).
  • Cassirer, E. (1946). The Myth of the State. London.
  • Cheol-hui, J. (2016). Han’gukchŏnjaeng chŏnhu pan’gongmunhwa hyŏngsŏnggwa kŭ ŭimi pan’gongyŏnghwarŭl chungshimŭro. Han’gungminjongmunhwa, No. 5.
  • Chol-hwan, K., Rigolot, P. (2005). The Aquariums of Pyongyang:Ten years in North Korean gulags. New York.
  • Chong-hwa, C. (1997). Han’guk yŏnghwasa. Seoul.
  • Chung, S. (2014). Split Screen Korea: Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema. London: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Cook, C.M. (2012). The Hero and Villain Binary in the Western Film Genre. pp. 1-81.
  • Elfving-hwang, J. (2015). Disaster Narratives in the South Korean Cultural Imaginary. Korea Journal, vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 8-29.
  • Haggard, S., Noland, M. (Eds.). (2006). The North Korean Refugee Crisis: Human Rights and International Response. Washington. From Villain to Superhero 445
  • Hall, S. (1997). Representations, Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage.
  • Hie-yoon, K. (2015). Archives of Ephemera: Cinema and Decolonization in South Korea. p. 239.
  • Hyun-jun, M. (2008). Kim Ki-duk and The Cinema of Sensation. University of Maryland.
  • Lankov, A. (2013). The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia.
  • Lee, S. (2015). The Power of Cinema on the Korean Peninsula. Global Politics Review, vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 83-94.
  • Marszałek-Kawa, J. (Ed.). (2003). 34. 50-lecie Komisji Nadzorczej Państw Neutralnych w Korei. Toruń: Adam Marszałek Publishing House.
  • Martin, B.K. (2004). Under The Loving Care Of The Fatherly Leader. North Korea and the Kim Dynasty. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Min, E., Joo, J., Kwak, H. (2003). Korean Film: History, Resistance, and Democratic Imagination. London.
  • Mutz, D.C. (1998). Impersonal influence. How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes (Cambridge). New York.
  • Myers, B.R. (2010). The cleanest race. How North Koreans See Themselves-And Why It Matters. New York.
  • Peirse, A., Martin, D. (Eds.). (2013). Korean Horror Film. Edinburgh.
  • Peterson, M., Margulies, P. (2010). A Brief History of Korea. In Facts On File.
  • Schatz T. (1981). Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking, and the Studio System. McGrawh Hill.
  • Schönherr, J. (2012). North Korean Cinema. A History. North Carolina: McFarland & Company. Seo, B. (n.d.). Reunifying Identities: North and South in Contemporary South Korean Cinema. Retrieved May 25, 2018, from
  • Shin, C.Y., Stringer, J. (Eds.). (2005). New Korean Cinema. New York.
  • Taylor, R. (1997). Film Propaganda. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Wright, W. (1975). Sixguns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western. Berkley.

Wiadomość do:



© 2017 Adam Marszałek Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Projekt i wykonanie Pollyart