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The Korean Wave and The Villainess

( [The Villainess poster] 2017 )

For this week’s task to understand the role of globalisation in films, I sat down and watched the movie ‘The Villainess’. ‘The Villainess’ is a Korean based movie that was directed by Jung Byung-gil who has previous cinematography in the ‘Action Boys’ (Vélez 2017).

This movie had heavy use of violence and gory graphics due to the storyline surrounding an assassin’s life. I assumed that Byung-gil’s targeted audience for the film was not for children or the faint hearted. Therefore, this film was targeted more towards adults or teenagers who favour violent themes in films. The heavy amounts of fighting scenes had produced a sense of masculinity. But by the end of the film I realised that I couldn’t tear my eyes from the leading actress. Having a strong fighting woman as the main character would’ve attracted many female viewers as it is seen as inspiring and portraying feminist power.

(original gif, @kirstyrose800 o gify)

I can also see a teenage audience favouring this film. Through production and certain camera techniques, it made certain scenes seem as though they were parts of a video games (this is a disclaimer that the linked example holds intense gore and violence). The production team used first-person shots where the audience was seeing what the main character would’ve been witnessing during combat. This was primarily used within fighting and action scenes.

Whilst watching the film I recognised that knowing the Korean language would’ve been helpful. Though subtitles did do justice for me to understand the basics of what was happening, I understand that certain parts of the dialogue including certain phrases used might have not been translated accurately. The subtitles attempted to conform to American/ Hollywood culture, but this wouldn’t have matched the Korea culture. Also, in a certain scene I found myself being surprised when the main characters sat down and ate what looked like a rice dish for breakfast. This was a complete culture shock for me.

With the highly vivid graphics and well performed acting, it is accurate to reflect that this movie is a part of the global north epidemic and apart of the success of the Korean wave. The Korean Wave is an expression used to explore the rapid success of the South Korean film industry. South Korea’s success in mediums such as singing, television and film is said to be because of South Korea’s high-income levels and the close proximity and affinity they share with neighbouring Asian countries (Ryoo 2009, p. 140).

Even though this film reflects signs of cultural proximity, it also demonstrates hybridisation. Researchers Wang, Yeh and Ryoo express in Jin’s article (2010, p. 57) that hybridisation is not merely the mixing, blending and synthesising of different elements that ultimately a culturally faceless whole but is a course where cultures often generate new forms and make new connections with one another. ‘The Villainess’ reflects inspiration connected to Hollywood film through dramatic film techniques and themes of dark lighting and dramatic music. But it has also transformed the common Hollywood filming techniques by taking it to the next level with game-like camera angles, also the combat scenes also hold a sense of Asian style fighting. Overall this film successfully displays the Korean culture and epic film techniques that made myself, an English viewer, hooked and wanting to recommend it to my friends and family. 


[The Villainess poster] 2017, image, SCREENANARCHY, viewed 14 August 2019, <;.

Jin, D.Y 2010, ‘Critical Interpretation of Hybridisation in Korean Cinema’, Javnost – The Public, Journal of European Institute for Communication and Culture, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 55-72.

Ryoo, W 2009, ‘Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: The case of the Korean wave’, Asian Journal of Communication, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 137-151.

Vélez, D 2017, ‘THE VILLAINESS Interview: Director Jung Byung-gil on the Stunts and the Stars’, SCREENANARCHY, weblog post, 19 August, viewed 14 August 2019, <;.


Published by Kirstywordpress

University student - Graphic design

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