In Tourist Distractions Youngmin Choe uses hallyu (Korean-wave) cinema as a lens to examine the relationships among tourism and travel, ecomics, politics, and history in contemporary East Asia. Focusing on films born of transnational collaboration and its networks, Choe shows how the integration of the tourist imaginary into hallyu cinema points to the region's evolving transnational politics and the ways Korea negotiates its colonial and Cold War past with East Asia's neoliberal present. Hallyu cinema's popularity has inspired scores of international tourists to visit hallyu movie sets, filming sites, and theme parks. This tourism helps ease regional political differences; reimagine South Korea's relationships with North Korea, China, and Japan; and blur the lines between history, memory, affect, and consumerism. It also provides distractions from state-sponsored narratives and forges new emotional and ecomic bonds that foster community and cooperation throughout East Asia. By attending to the tourist imaginary at work in hallyu cinema, Choe helps us to better understand the complexities, anxieties, and tensions of East Asia's new affective ecomy as well as Korea's shifting culture industry, its relation to its past, and its role in a rapidly changing region.
Youngmin Choe is Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California and the coeditor of The Korean Popular Culture Reader, also published by Duke University Press.