UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Building the model man : money, media, and gender in South Korea, 1961-1972 Shin, Jihyun


In the 1960s and the early 1970s, mass media, in the form of radio, US-produced newsreels, weekly magazines, and films, became available to a wider South Korean public during the period of Park Chung Hee’s dictatorship and his state-driven capitalist development. The popular mass media content portrayed the pursuit of wealth as a masculine quality. In the popular narratives, the ideal man was a successful and hard-working businessman who was loyal to the Park Chung Hee government, attracted female affection, and enjoyed the benefits of South Korea’s emerging consumer society. By contrast, women were confined to the domestic sphere as dutiful wives in portrayals that abnormalized and degraded the growing population of female wage workers in light industries and the service sector. These forms of popular media presented South Koreans with the dream of a modern, American-style middle-class life in Seoul characterized by apartment living and conspicuous consumption. Unlike more conventional portrayals of South Korean capitalism as a top-down, state-led development, focus on popular mass media in this dissertation shows how many “ordinary” South Koreans participated in the new culture of profit-seeking and capital accumulation.

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