[CFP] Stupendous Villainy in Korean Cinema, UC Berkeley

Call for Papers:  Korean Film Workshop at UC Berkeley 2019

Stupendous Villainy in Korean Cinema

The Center for Korean Studies at UC Berkeley is pleased to announce a call for working papers for a Korean film workshop, tentatively scheduled for late-May of 2019.  This workshop aims to illuminate the subject of villainy in popular films of Korea from the 2000s to the present.

The continuing success of Korean films has garnered the interest of critics in the persistence of the popular genre form. Their appropriation of blockbuster aesthetics, reworking of narrative and genre conventions, as well as the treatment of diverse subject matters, have all received keen critical attention. This workshop focuses on a narrower element of Korean film’s popular appeal: the stupendous depiction of villainy. Through an examination of the strange depth of antiheroes and psychopaths, this workshop endeavors to elucidate an oft-neglected, yet impressive aesthetic achievement of recent popular Korean cinema.  The sophisticated technique of character development in creating the archetype of the villain not only highlights the broader range and depth of new trends in popular filmmaking, but also calls for new ways to conceptualize the relationship between filmic representation and the society at large.  The broad contour of the antagonist, ranging from the lure of transgression and a fear of the dreadful, will be of particular interest.

The issues related to the subject of villainy in Korean cinema include (but are not limited to):

  • Taxonomy of violent behaviors and actions on screen
  • Film censorship and its impact on the depiction of antisocial gestures
  • The broad question of evil and evil-doing
  • Antiheroes and psychopaths as a social and epistemological problem
  • Cinematic discourses of ethnic, racial and/or sexual Other and villainy
  • Configuration of villainy and genre conventions
  • Dynamic narrative elements and innovation inthe making of villainous characters
  • Meanings and limitations of investigative narrative structures, as found in, for instance, crime thrillers and film noirs.
  • Allegorical and/or political implications of villain characters
  • The deployment of celebrity “star” image in performance, presentation, and consumption of villain characters
  • Corporeal characteristics, e.g., deformity, disfiguration or disability, associated with villain characters
  • Clinical or psychological account of abnormal behavior or crime
  • Use of violence, retributive justice, and law
  • Temporal and spatial features of threat and restoration of order
  • Villainy as a means for intercultural inquiry and analysis
  • Villainy as an optic for understanding politics, history and culture
  • Neoliberal order, precarity and survival
  • Relationship between space and subjectivity, or urban and/or rural locations of evil
  • Forgiveness and amnesia

For those who are interested in presenting a paper, please submit a 250-word abstract and short CV to the email address below by Dec 10, 2018.  Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by Jan 5, 2019.  Completed papers are requested by April 1, 2019  to provide sufficient time for discussants to prepare responses.


The Center for Korean Studies will provide roundtrip economy-class airfare, basic ground transportation, hotel accommodations, and meals during the workshop for all accepted participants.


December 10, 2018: Submit paper proposal (with a short CV)
January 5, 2019: Notification of acceptances
April 1, 2019: Completed papers due
Late-May, 2019: Date of workshop