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Se Young Kim


Se Young Kim is a Mellon Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Arts at Vanderbilt University. His areas of teaching and research specialization include contemporary East Asian and U.S. cinema, digital media in Korea and Japan, political economy, as well as classical and contemporary film theory.

He is currently working on a book that investigates the violent contemporary cinema of South Korea and Japan. Covering the work of filmmakers such as Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Na Hong-jin, and Kitano Takeshi, the book proposes that the recent history of East Asia offers insight into the question of violence in the region’s cinema. Against the idea that connects violence to some sort of essential Asian identity, the book asserts that the violence in films such as Battle Royale (2000) and Oldboy (2003) is related to the dashed hopes that characterize the experience of neoliberal capitalism in East Asia, epitomized in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (referred to as the “IMF Crisis” in Korea) and the so-called “Lost Decade” following the collapse of the bubble economy in Japan. The book argues that these films do not utilize violence for gratuitous shock value, but rather as a tool to foreground and critique the ideology that underpins them, the ideology of neoliberal capitalism. In doing so, the book draws a connection between the alienating conditions of capitalism, the persistence of neoliberal ideology, the recent financial crises in East Asia, and the brutality of Korean and Japanese cinema. 


  • “Human/Cyborg/Alien/Friend: Postwar Ressentiment in Japanese Science Fiction and Posthuman Ethics in Kamen Rider Fourze,” Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image 7 (2016): 48-66.
  • “Children of the Atom: Postwar Anxiety and Children’s Play in Super Sentai,” Asian Communication Research 12:2 (2016): 54-72.
  • “Never Stop Playing: “‘StarCraft’ and Asian Gamer Death” co-written with Steve Choe in Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media. David Roh, Greta Niu, and Betsy Huang, eds. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2015): 113-124.