Wednesday March 29: “Counter-Occupying Americanism in South Korea & Taiwan: Taking Back the Spaces of US Base Culture in the Cold War Musical Number”

12:00–1:30 pm

Register in advance for this free webinar.

Interregional Faculty Dialogue

In the 1960s, an American form of live entertainment emerged on the local music scene in East Asia. This was not merely due to the cultural power of America among its client states but related to the actual presence of Americans on US bases. Entertaining Americans became a significant industry in countries like Taiwan and Korea, and the spatial entity of US presence expanded into spaces of entertainment such as bars, hotels, and dance clubs.

The rise of American music and dance as a popular form in Taiwan and Korea, however, was not the disappearance of anti-Americanism, but the ingenuity of local performers, who claimed the attractive new forms as their own. This paper will analyze musical numbers in films from the 1960s in Taiwan and South Korea, discussing their representation of the entertainment space and their fashioning of cinematic attraction as a mode of vernacularizing popular music. These films, I argue, not only bring an exclusive experience of American base-adjacent entertainment into mass consciousness but stage their own counter-occupation of these spaces with charismatic performance.

Evelyn Shih, Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature,
Department of Asian Languages & Civilizations, University of Colorado, Boulder

In conversation with David Krolikoski, Assistant Professor of Korean Literature, and
Andre Haag, Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature, UHM East Asian Languages & Lit.