<i>Oldboy,</i> Postmodern Masculinity, and Western Fandom on Film Review Websites: Time between Dog and Wolf

Sun Jung

in Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9789888028672
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207127 | DOI:

Series: TransAsia: Screen Cultures

Oldboy, Postmodern Masculinity, and Western Fandom on Film Review Websites: Time between Dog and Wolf

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This chapter addresses Western cult fandom of the Korean genre film, Oldboy, and describes how postmodern South Korean masculinity is reconstructed through the ambivalent desires of Western spectators based on the mixed practice of mugukjeok and neo-Orientalism. It also investigates how the Western desire for the Other is expressed, transformed, and redefined by consuming hybrid South Korean masculinity, as exemplified by the “savage but cool” Oh Dae-Soo, and how this transformed desire, “with a distinctly postmodern slant,” is different from earlier Orientalist desires towards the primitive Other. In addition, the chapter evaluates the West's ambivalent reception of Oldboy, which fluctuated between Western male identification with South Korean cool masculinity and Western desire for the primitiveness of South Korean masculinity. The most popular film review websites are presented as well. It can be concluded that due to the ever-fluctuating postmodern popular cultural flows, Western audiences experience the hybrid “time between dog and wolf” when they view Oldboy: the time when contemporary postmodern South Korean masculinity, as epitomized by the “savage but cool” Dae-Soo, is reconstructed within ambivalent neo-Orientalist Western spectatorship.

Keywords: Oldboy; Oh Dae-Soo; film review; postmodern masculinity; Western fandom; mugukjeok; neo-Orientalism

Chapter.  20579 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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