Life is beautiful: gay representation, moral panics, and South Korean television drama beyond Hallyu

Basil Glynn, Jeongmee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Critical attention on Korean popular culture, particularly outside of Korea, has focused upon the Hallyu cultural phenomenon at the expense of sectors of the Korean creative industries that have sought to actively engage with their social and cultural environment and challenge the status quo. Politically charged, countercultural or just distinctive and/or original, non-Hallyu cultural artifacts have been and continue to be born out of a desire to be creative, to comment on or to create social change. This article focuses upon one such critically overlooked South Korean cultural artefact, the audacious and genuinely ground-breaking television drama "Life is Beautiful" (SBS 2010), which motivated an immense amount of critical and social reaction within Korea and yet has barely featured in English language analysis of Korean drama because it has not been classified as Hallyu. This is in spite of it being a finely produced and performed series and one written by the most prolific, longest serving and commercially successful of all Korean writers of Hallyu drama, Kim Soo-hyeon. In addition to its impressive production credentials, "Life is Beautiful" is also notable for being hugely controversial at the time of its broadcast due to its boldness in tackling the subject of Korean prejudice towards homosexuality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-347
JournalQuarterly Review of Film and Video
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


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