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This article aims to update the discourse on female Korean athletes by illuminating the radical change of their imagery and reality over the last three decades, from sexless victims of patriarchy to sportswomen asserting their strength, femininity, and even “queerness.” Insofar as sports films provide a felicitous site through which to examine popular and evolving representations of gender and sport, the article analyzes a variety of Korean sports films which reproduce, or pose a challenge to, conventional portrayals of female athletes. Due to the paucity of scholarly work undertaken in Korean in this field, the authors draw upon a wide array of mainly American sources and, in so doing, hope to enlarge the small but growing body of work on gender and sport in Korea written in English.
Kim is with the Department of English Literature and Culture, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, South Korea. Sungjoo Park is with the College of Physical Education, Kookmin University, Seoul, South Korea.