Other scenes: Space and counterpoint in cold war Korean melodrama

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This essay discusses how cinematic counterpoint functions spatially in South Korean film melodrama, as well as in some North Korean productions. Drawing from canonical studies of melodrama, including Thomas Elsaesser’s work, it argues that focusing on mise-en-scène and sound in readings of film melodrama can bring to light the ambivalences, or contrapuntal connections, between its moods and its narrative and thematic discourses. It understands film melodrama as a self-consciously post-psychoanalytic mode that stages psychic conflict in and through spatial configurations. Employing three spatial figures – topos, screen and cosmos – it attempts to understand how such conscious staging of psychic conflicts leads film melodrama to visualize contrapuntal spaces that include both spatial expressions of the dominant themes of the narrative and undercurrents of invisible and unspoken traumas and desires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Japanese and Korean Cinema
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Counterpoint
  • Korean film
  • Melodrama
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Space


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