Episode 36: Korean Science Fiction: Imagining other worlds

This week we talk about Korean science fiction, with Sang-Joon Park, publisher; Soyeon Jeong, a Science Fiction writer; Gord Sellar, also a writer, and Sunyoung Park, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Gender Studies at USC. Each are contributors to a new book,  Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya anthology of South Korean Science Fiction, and this interview offers potential readers some perspectives on Korean science fiction: how it emerged, what  its core themes are, how it relates to western science fiction, and how it is linked to technological and political change in their country. In a rapidly changing society like Korea in the late 20th century, reading science fiction connected them with a wider world, offered them a means of working through trauma and of imagining alternative worlds. Initially encountered through translations of western writers curated for the Korean market, later transformed into a genre where local writers could make their own contributions, science fiction has emerged as a vital tradition in both literature and film (for example, Snowpiercer or The Host). What kinds of futures are imagined in this popular culture tradition? How has it allowed Koreans to think about the changes brought by ICTs?

Here are some more of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

USC’s Visions & Voices Event: Readymade Bodhisattvas

Science Fiction Writers Union of the Republic of Korea

Reading Suggestions

Movie Suggestions

Check out our previous SF episode with Minsoo Kang, our other SF episodes, or our K-Pop episode for more South Korean culture.

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