Supernatural Serials as Social Critique in Recent South Korean Television
Keywords:supernatural serial, cognition and affect, multiple personality, genre blending, script theory
South Korean television drama often employs ghost stories as a medium for social critique, as in the series Dokkaebi: The Lonely and Great God (2016-17), Let’s Fight, Ghost (2016) and Oh My Ghost (2015). Blending ghost story with other genres, these series foreground the plight of characters who are either ghosts or young people able to see ghosts. Both are isolated by their liminal condition and the multiple personalities it entails, the ghosts because they cannot communicate with the living and the ghost seers because their uncanny ability has set them apart since childhood. Both lack immediate families, which further isolates them in a society with communal values centred on family. Both thus readily symbolize people marginalized because of gender, social status or restricted economic access, but also serve as a commentary on the disintegration of the family in contemporary South Korea. The viewing audience is positioned to align and empathize with ghost and/or seer in their struggles with lost identity and the quest for justice which will free the ghost from its liminal state, and is thereby implicated in a crisis of subjectivity and prompted to reflect upon its own position in society.
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