Beyond K-pop and K-drama:

Exploring comics, animation, and cultural identity


October 27 (Friday), 2023, 8:00-10:00pm (EDT)

Virtual via Zoom (Open to Public)
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Colloquium Committee: Joowon Suh (Columbia University), Hee Ju (UCLA), and Mijeong Kim (Washington University in St. Louis)

Moderator: Mijeong Kim (Washington University in St. Louis)

Korean popular culture has gained increasing attention and popularity over the past few years beyond Korea and Asia. As we navigate the multifaceted landscape of Korean popular culture, we find that its influence extends far beyond the realms of K-pop and K-drama. Two invited presentations explore the genre of comics and animation as emerging cultural phenomena in relation to the expanding consumption space and the production of mainstream animation films inspired by Korean-American immigrant stories. The discussion will provide new insights into these less explored, locally originated, and culturally hybridized genres of Korean pop culture in the globalized world.



Where Do You Read? The Evolving Spaces in/of Korean Comics

Keung Yoon “Becky” Bae (Georgia Institute of Technology)

This presentation will examine the trajectory of Korean comics as it shifted from paper-based manhwa to online webcomics, discussing not only how the reading medium itself has changed, but how that has fundamentally shifted the way that comics are drawn, experienced, and socially perceived. The “spaces” refer to not only the spaces in which Korean manhwa are consumed (manhwa cafes, “manhwabang,” hidden away from parents), in contrast to the virtual spaces that webtoons occupy, but also the differing nature of negative space in manhwa versus webtoons. Korean comics, as they began to migrate online and escape the decrepit, “seedy” spaces in which manhwa rental stores and manhwa cafes often operated, are now no longer as deeply associated with negative social imagery, which suggests that the changing space of consumption has led to a change in the social status of the medium itself. Finally, the presentation will also discuss the vast range of genre and accessibility in webtoons, from the generally free-to-read “daily” webtoons on online portals, the personal, autobiographical webtoons published on social media platforms like Instagram, and the longform narrative webtoons that are often adapted into animation, popular dramas, and films.


Pixar's SparkShort 'Wind': Screening & Making of Presentation

Edwin Chang (Pixar)

Edwin Chang, the director of the Pixar Sparkshort ‘Wind,’ will screen his short film and discuss its inspiration and process of making it. ‘Wind’ is inspired by his family’s history of immigration after the Korean War and in particular by the experiences of his grandmother and father. In ‘Wind,’ a boy and grandmother live their lives falling down a massive, never-ending hole. Together they scavenge falling debris to build an escape, hoping to find a better life in the outside world.

About the Presenters:

Keung Yoon “Becky” Bae is Assistant Professor of Korean Studies at the School of Modern Languages at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research examines the relationship between media production and the state in Korea, specifically looking at imperial regulation of colonial Korean cinema and the relationship between state and industry that was established at this time. She has published works on webcomics, global video gaming culture, and Korean esports; her contributions are in anthologies such as Media Technologies for Work and Play in East Asia and Introducing Popular Korean Culture.

Edwin Chang joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2005 as an intern and has since worked on several films such as “Up,” “Inside Out,” “Coco” and theme park attractions “Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage” and “Toy Story Midway Mania!” Chang was the Simulation Supervisor on “Inside Out” and the Crowds and Simulation Supervisor on “Cars 3.” Chang also wrote and directed “Wind,” which is part of Pixar’s SparkShorts program and currently streaming on Disney+. Most recently he worked as the Shots Supervisor on the upcoming Disney+ streaming series, “Win or Lose.” He originates from Los Angeles and studied Computer Science and Art Semiotics at Brown University before starting at Pixar.