Proposal Title

Gay Korean American Reception of the Korean TV Drama Record of Youth

Presenter Information

Grace JungFollow

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

This project explores the queer diasporic Korean American experience in Los Angeles through the reception of a contemporary serialized Korean TV drama (K-drama) entitled Record of Youth which streams exclusively on Netflix in US territories. My methodology for this project involves textual analysis and ethnography through interviews of gay Korean American men in their 20s and 30s who are not only viewers of K-dramas but also American content creators based in Hollywood as stand-up comics, actors and writers. This project flattens audience studies and production culture studies into a dynamic discourse in which the subjects can speak to and from both angles; the reception and production occur in unison as they take or leave behind influence from K-dramas and create their own work such as TV pilots, screenplays, memoirs and punchlines. I argue that these gay Korean American men’s critical viewing and reception of contemporary K-dramas like Record of Youth is a practice in engaging with their cultural roots and critically negotiating their relationships with their family including their expression or non-expression of their political commitments as Asian American LGBTQ members. These subjects’ creative and political practice also give them a means to reimagine new and utopic ideations of queer diasporic Korean life through their own media production. As these men look back and reflect on the K-dramas they watched with their mothers, they see a possibility as media makers “in the service of a new futurity”—per José Esteban Muñoz—to create a queer diasporic utopia for Korean American LGBTQIA+ individuals such as themselves.[1]

[1]José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 21.

Bio

Grace Jung has a PhD in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA. Her research focuses on Korean television with an emphasis on masculinity and queerness. Her works are published in Media, Culture & Society, The New Review of Film and Television Studies, and Jump Cut. She is a former Fulbright scholar and the host of K-Drama School podcast.

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Jun 23rd, 1:00 PM Jun 23rd, 2:30 PM

Gay Korean American Reception of the Korean TV Drama Record of Youth

This project explores the queer diasporic Korean American experience in Los Angeles through the reception of a contemporary serialized Korean TV drama (K-drama) entitled Record of Youth which streams exclusively on Netflix in US territories. My methodology for this project involves textual analysis and ethnography through interviews of gay Korean American men in their 20s and 30s who are not only viewers of K-dramas but also American content creators based in Hollywood as stand-up comics, actors and writers. This project flattens audience studies and production culture studies into a dynamic discourse in which the subjects can speak to and from both angles; the reception and production occur in unison as they take or leave behind influence from K-dramas and create their own work such as TV pilots, screenplays, memoirs and punchlines. I argue that these gay Korean American men’s critical viewing and reception of contemporary K-dramas like Record of Youth is a practice in engaging with their cultural roots and critically negotiating their relationships with their family including their expression or non-expression of their political commitments as Asian American LGBTQ members. These subjects’ creative and political practice also give them a means to reimagine new and utopic ideations of queer diasporic Korean life through their own media production. As these men look back and reflect on the K-dramas they watched with their mothers, they see a possibility as media makers “in the service of a new futurity”—per José Esteban Muñoz—to create a queer diasporic utopia for Korean American LGBTQIA+ individuals such as themselves.[1]

[1]José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 21.