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date: 14 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the North Korean film series The Country I Saw, focusing on transformations in the function of the Japanese colonial gaze in post–Cold War North Korean media. By comparing and contrasting the representation of fact-based empiricist journalism in Part One (1988) with the expression of a mediated sovereign exceptionality in the sequels (2009–2010), the essay shows how the series gives aesthetic form to North Korean juche ideology and spectacles of a realized communist utopia in the decolonized DPRK only through the repetition of generally modern visual regimes that are integrally tied to the history of Japanese colonialism and US neocolonialism. It asks us to rethink the history of communist visual cultures, particularly in formerly colonized countries, in relation to this kind of repetition and appropriation of colonial ways of seeing within the media of communist, postcolonial nation-states.

Keywords: North Korea, visual regime, sovereignty, journalism, socialist realism, juche, Japan, melodrama, spectacle, utopia

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