Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Cultural Studies, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Eve Oishi

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Luis-Brown

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

James Morrison

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Jung Lim Lee


Chungmuro, film remake, han, male melodrama, transnationalism, wonhon


This dissertation explores Hollywood remakes of South Korean male melodramas and horror films to address transnational film practices within the context of the sudden acceptance of South Korean films in Hollywood. Such acceptance began with the 2006 remake, The Lake House . Despite the small number of South Korean films being remade in Hollywood, I argue that the South Korean film industry’s evolving position in relation to the U.S. film industry exemplifies the dual identity of the borrower and the importer. My analysis engages in case studies of six South Korean films remade by Hollywood to examine Hollywood’s strategic way of converting cultural products through transnational film practices. In theorizing the underrepresented cultural phenomenon of Hollywood remakes of South Korean films, this dissertation intersects various theoretical frameworks and research methodologies: textual analysis, transnational film theories, historicization of the South Korean film industry, and cultural studies approaches to cultural specificity. I further argue that these transnational remakes expose multifaceted relations between two film industries, as they depart from a common assumption about Hollywood as the ever-powerful exploiter and the South Korean film industry, also called Chungmuro, as the emulator of Hollywood. Rather than being one-directional, their relationship works on multiple levels (as they frequently interrupt and shift from their existing positions) in terms of transnational influences, cultural specificities, and political factors. By examining six original and remake films, this dissertation situates the South Korean film industry within transnational film practices. Chapters in this dissertation examine South Korean male melodramas and horror films and their remake versions in Hollywood through closely investigating Hollywood’s preference for a specific genre. This examination presents the multiplicity of transnational influences and interpretations in genre films by connecting two film industries and revealing cultural traffic in and out of the South Korean film industry. It thus suggests that South Korean originals are amalgamations of South Korean culture, particularly the concept of han (generally defined as deep sorrow or suffering), Hollywood genre conventions, unique storylines, and directors’ artistic creativity. Simultaneously, I argue that Hollywood’s desire to maintain its global status as the dominant industry results in its co-opting of South Korean originals while eliminating cultural elements and artistic imagination. Despite discrepancies and drastic modifications evident in the remakes of South Korean originals, this dissertation demonstrates the cultural influence of Chungmuro on Hollywood in broadening perspectives on particular genres, namely melodrama and horror, that can be combined with other genres without losing their essence. Therefore, genre blending as an ongoing practice in the South Korean film industry and as a key feature of the South Korean originals has been successfully transitioned into Hollywood in cases of transnational film remakes.