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Cinema and the Cultural Cold War: US Diplomacy and the Origins of the Asian Cinema Network (Cornell University Press, 2020)

Cinema and the Cultural Cold War explores how postwar Asian cinema was shaped by the practice of transnational collaborations and competitions between newly independent and still existing colonial states at the height of the Cold War cultural politics. Cinema and the Cultural Cold War is a pioneering attempt to reconstruct the postwar/Cold War Asian film history. It adopts a transnational and regional approach to the region’s film cultures and industries in the context of new economic conditions, shared post-war experiences, American Cold War politics and cultural diplomacy, and intensified cultural flows in Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. Cinema and the Cultural Cold War was published in December 2020 from Cornell University Press’ acclaimed series The United States in the World. 



"Sangjoon Lee has written an exciting and well-conceived book that makes a compelling case that the dominance of national film industry studies within film and cultural studies has led to the neglect of a fascinating and highly significant transregional network of producers, directors, writers and journalists."

- Penny Von Eschen, University of Virginia

"Cinema and the Cultural Cold War is an original and impressive study. Deeply researched and carefully crafted, it uncovers the truly transnational interplay of filmmakers, studio heads, and policy strategists in East and Southeast Asia during the height of the Cold War."

- Hiroshi Kitamura, College of William & Mary


"Cinema and the Cultural Cold War expertly utilizes rich archival material to tell a compelling story about cinema in Asia during the Cold War that describes the complexity of the film business and the myriad risks and failures. Read alongside other works such as Day and Liem (2010) and Shaw (2007), Lee's study is ground-breaking. It is a book for researchers and film historians, but also a highly readable story about the history of Cold War cinema."

- Thomas Barker (South East Asia Research)

"This rare examination of the first postwar pan-Asian [End Page 93] cinema network provides a much-needed history of the first regional cinema network in Asia that emerged from US diplomacy and the cultural Cold War."

- Hyun Jung Stephany Noh (The Velvet Light Trap)

The book has attempted to adopt a transnational approach in its historicization of the context of economic conditions and experiences of post-war Asia and US cultural diplomacy, and Cold War politics. While this transnational outlook is valuable, Lee’s standpoint speaks of ‘Asia’s film industry’, and one would wonder if there was a monolithic concept of an ‘Asia’s film industry’, despite the fascinating, significant developments and transformations that different regional industries have lived and experienced through the post-war Asia.

- Arezou Zalipour (Transnational Screens)


"Sang Joon Lee's study is in concordance with his other books and will be highly useful for academics and researchers in the field of Asian cultural politics. Readers will benefit from Lee's deep knowledge of cross-cultural interchange through the Asian cinema network."

- Insight Turkey

"Extensive archival research undergirds this first-rate analysis. The volume offers an excellent history of postwar Asian cinema in and of itself, but Lee's close analysis of the challenges of international coproduction and the development of a truly transnational Asian cinema in what he terms the First and Second Networks of Asian cinema elevates the volume and results in an original exploration of the relationship between cinematic production and the US's attempts to maintain dominance in the region. An important study."

- K. J. Wetmore Jr., Loyola Marymount University

Rediscovering Korean Cinema (University of Michigan Press, 2019)

Rediscovering Korean Cinema is the first comprehensive volume examining the state, stakes, and future direction of Korean cinema studies. This ground-breaking collection of thirty-five essays by a wide range of academic specialists situates current Korean cinema scholarship within the ongoing theoretical debates in contemporary global film studies. Chapters explore key films of Korean cinema, from Sweet Dream, Madame Freedom, The Housemaid, and The March of Fools to Oldboy, The Host, and Train to Busan. With its historical and critical scope, abundance of new research, and detailed discussion of important individual films, Rediscovering Korean Cinema is at once an accessible classroom text and a deeply informative compendium for scholars of Korean and East Asian studies, cinema and media studies, and communications. It will also be an essential resource for film industry professional and anyone interested in international cinema.

“In the introduction to this volume, Lee (Nanyang Technological Univ., Singapore) reports that he wanted to create “an accessible and readable book that would cover canonical film texts for students and general readers alike.” He succeeds admirably…The contributors are a Who’s Who of scholars of Korean film. Eminently readable and extremely informative, this is the best English-language book on Korean cinema this reviewer has encountered. Readers will want to watch every film discussed.”
-    Kevin J. Wetmore Jr. (Loyola Marymount University), CHOICE


"Bitten by the Parasite bug, and want to find out more about Korean cinema? There is probably no more perfectly timed book than this weighty volume, Rediscovering Korean Cinema. Stretching from the beginnings of Korean cinema when the peninsula was still under Japanese occupation to the recent megahits of historical drama Ode to My Father and zombie extravaganza Train to Busan, this series of essays will turn you into a Korean film expert in no time."
-    Russell Edwards (University of Melbourne), Film Critics Circle of Australia


Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media (University of Michigan Press, 2015; with Marcus Nornes)

Hallyu 2.0 is the first scholarly volume to investigate the impact of social media and other communication technologies on the Korean Wave's global dissemination. Contributors to Hallyu 2.0 explore how audiences share South Korean popular cultural products around the globe; how they generate new fans, markets, and consumers through social media networks; and how scholars can analyze, interpret, and envision the future of this unprecedented cultural phenomenon. Contributors to Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media explore the ways in which Korean popular cultural products are shared by audiences around the globe; how they generate new fans, markets, and consumers through social media networks; and how scholars can analyze, interpret, and envision the future of this unprecedented cultural phenomenon.

“Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media is a tightly edited volume— admirably so—organized around the idea that social media has introduced a new dynamic to Korean popular culture and its international success. The chapters variably engage seriously with this idea or use it as a basis for their investigations. All are highly aware of the other contributors’ approaches––both signs of a superior editing effort and the successful use of a 2013 conference to prepare this volume. Media studies, film studies, area studies, and cultural studies, as well as a number of neighboring scholarly inquiries, can all benefit greatly from the solid and conceptually inspired, meaningful work presented here.”
-    Alexander Zahltern (Harvard University), The Journal of Asian Studies 76, vol. 2 (May 2017): 535-539.


“Hallyu 2.0 comprises several interesting and solid case studies that provide a nuanced analysis of K-pop and Korean television dramas. It is a valuable text for students hoping to understand the new configuration of the Korean Wave.”
-    Shuling Huang (National Chia Tung University, Taiwan), Media,

Culture, and Society 39, vol. 5 (2017): 737-777.


“Hallyu 2.0’s endeavor—to ‘explore how Korean popular-cultural products have been circulated, disseminated, and consumed by audiences around the globe’—is eminently timely and worthy. The volume has an important contribution to make to scholarship on the Korean Wave. It will be of interest to scholars and students as well as an eager global base of fans keen to read more academic approaches to Korean popular music and dramas.”
-    Stephen Epstein (Victoria University of Wellington)


Korean Edition (2023)
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