Call for Papers – The South Korean Film Industry

South Korean cinema provides one of the most striking case studies of non-Western cinematic success in the age of the neoliberal world order, in which Hollywood dominates the global movie consumer’s heart, mind, and soul. Against the onslaught of US products in the world’s media marketplace, South Korean cinema has successfully defended itself. In 2001, South Korea became the first film industry in recent history to reclaim its domestic market from Hollywood. In 2006, local films had a 67 percent market share—the highest such figure in the world except for the US and India—and they have continued to maintain a market share of around 50 percent in the 2010s (52 percent in 2019). Admissions per capita in 2019 also reached 4.37, up from 1.1 in 1998 and 2.92 in 2010. The number of screens in South Korea has soared, from 511 in 1997 to 3,079 in 2019. Adding to this success, the high-quality South Korean local product has flowed outward to global film markets to connect with international audiences in commercial cinemas, in art theaters, and at major international film festivals. Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy (2003) received the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Film Festival. Hong Sang-soo had great success in Cannes, Berlin, and Locarno with Hahaha (2010), Right Now, Wrong Then (2015), and On the Beach at Night Alone (2017). Other breakthrough auteurs, art-house and genre-bending specialists alike, followed: Lee Chang-dong, Im Sang-soo, Kim Jee-woon, Ryoo Seung-wan and Kim Ki-duk. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite marked the culmination of South Korean cinema’s global success. Parasite became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars (2020), and swept other major awards including Best Director, Screenplay, and International Feature.

Likewise, in English-language academic circles, South Korean cinema has been growing rapidly as a serious scholarly subject. Such scholars as Isolde Standish, David James, Rob Wilson, Kyung Hyun Kim, Soyoung Kim, Paul Willemen, and Kathleen McHugh initially ignited the field of South Korean cinema studies and, almost simultaneously, two monographs followed in the UK and US: Hyangjin Lee’s Contemporary Korean Cinema: Culture, Identity and Politics (2000) and Kyung Hyun Kim’s The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema (2004). Since then, the field has witnessed a blossoming of South Korean cinema studies in the form of monographs, edited volumes, and special issues. Although the field has recently greeted many significant scholarly achievements that have extensively discussed South Korea’s cinematic legacies, it is still difficult to find scholarly articles on pre-1990s South Korean films – and almost none are available on films from the 1970s and 80s. There is also a shortage of articles on individual films and directors, and no systematically structured book-length study on the South Korean film industry has been published as of the time this call for papers is being prepared.

The South Korean Film Industry will provide the first detailed scholarly overview of the South Korean film industry. The book will map out a compelling and authoritative vision of how that field may be approached in historical and industrial terms. To achieve this aim, The South Korean Film Industry, as a collaborative project, will be edited by three academics – Sangjoon Lee (Nanyang Technological University), Dal Yong Jin (Simon Fraser University), and Cho Junhyoung (Korean Film Archive). The South Korean Film Industry hopes to establish itself as a comprehensive authority in the field by providing wide-ranging coverage of subjects such as the production, exhibition and distribution of South Korean cinema, state policy and censorship, coproduction, film festivals and cinephilia, independent cinema, and Hallyu and the global reception of South Korean cinema.

We welcome chapter proposals on a variety of topics that include but are not limited to:

  • Film Policy and Censorship
  • The State and the Film Industry
  • Exhibition
  • Ancillary Markets
  • Marketing
  • Audience Reception
  • Film Technology
  • Film Festivals (International and Local)
  • International Coproduction (China, Japan, Europe, North America, Australia/New Zealand, Southeast Asia, etc)
  • International Distribution
  • Foreign Markets
  • Hollywood and South Korean Cinema
  • Remakes
  • Star System
  • Film Studios
  • Animation
  • Webtoon
  • Online Distribution
  • Hallyu and South Korean Cinema
  • Independent Cinema
  • Women and the South Korean Film Industry
  • COVID19 and the Future of the Korean Film Industry

Submission materials: Please send an abstract of 300-350 words, a brief biographical statement (100-150 words), and CV to: Sangjoon Lee (

Proposal Deadline: 15 November 2020

Acceptance Notice: 15 January 2020

Final Chapter Submission (7,000-8,000 words): 15 October 2021