Emulating modern bodies
Date of Issue2012
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This article considers how musical theatre in South Korea has been influenced by the popularity of American culture there in the 1960s. Using the 1962 Korean production of Porgy and Bess as a case study shows that the genre of musical theatre in South Korea was primarily identified as a symbol of American modernity and affluence, and also that replication of a fanciful idea of America erased the racial issues that were prominent in the play's original script. A close reading of the Korean Porgy and Bess illustrates how the desire to emulate America became a nationalistic discourse about the importance of a ‘Western’ physical appearance for Korean actors. This work reviews the idea of Broadway as a central icon of American culture for Koreans, an icon whose changing implications reveal that the ‘American’ or ‘global’ is always and already present in national cultural productions.