The Colonial Korean Talkie Production and Cooperation System

Chung Chonghwa (Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)

 

In this paper I investigate the practices of colonial Korean talkie production, with my aim being to transcend nationalism in the field of Korean film history. Existing research dealing with colonial Korean talkie production focuses on the production of the very first Korean talkie, the Story of Chunhyang (1935). It asserts a nationalist boundary and fulfills the desire for a standalone ‘Korean film history.’ For instance, Yi Yŏngil’s The Complete History of Korean Film (1969; 2004), in the section “a talkie the Story of Chunghyang and Yi Pilu” in the chapter “the Advent of Talkies,” says that the first Korean talkie was produced by colonial Korean filmmakers alone. Yi writes, “The fourth film by Kyŏngsŏng Studio, the Story of Chunhyang was produced by our Korean technicians (p. 176).” Not only did he deliberately limit the main agents of the film’s production to early colonial Korean filmmakers including the brothers Yi Pilu (李弼雨) and Yi Myŏng-u (李明雨), he even claimed that Kyŏngsŏng Studio was run by the brothers. As I show in this paper, however, Kyŏngsŏng Studio was actually owned by the Japanese entertainment specialist and influential showman of colonial Seoul, Wakejima Shujiro (分島周次郞), and was run by a Japanese director from Shochiku Studios, Yamazaki Fujie (山崎藤江, Yamazaki’s Korean name is Kim Sobong); in other words, the Story of Chunhyang was a cooperative (協業) production. In particular, both Nakagawa Takashi (中川尭士) and Yi Pilu took part in the Story of Chunghyang; Nakagawa was the creator of the ‘Nakagawa Talkie System’, and was invited in from Kyoto to take part.

In this paper I will deconstruct the nationalist boundary-making of existing Korean film history through comparative study, and will analyze Japanese talkie production of the period, something to which Korean film historians have never paid attention. Furthermore, I will probe the practice of colonial Korean talkie production from the viewpoint of colonial modernity, proposing the existence of a gray zone between empire and colony, a zone that we cannot simply incorporate into a dichotomy of pro-Japanese collaboration and anti-Japanese resistance. This is in keeping with Yun Haedong’s 2006 proposition that “all modernity is colonial modernity.” Yun understood that colonial modernity must be understood in terms of synchrony and diachrony; synchrony penetrates empire and colony, while diachrony connects colonialism and post-colonialism. Yun said that a colony is neither nation-state nor self-contained political, economic and social unit, but part of empire, and that the empire and the colonized construct ‘a related world’ and interact with one another (Yun, 2007). He therefore proposed an alternative point of view, ‘the colonized modern’. As Kim Soyŏng (2010) points out, in the cultural sphere of colonial Korean cinema, film is the place of contact that best illustrates the competition between Japanese modernity, Western modernity and colonial Korean voluntary modernity.

As one colonial Korean intellectual, Im Hwa (林和) claimed in his 1941 article, “Chosŏn Film Theory,” it was natural that colonial Korean cinema would depend on others and imitate foreign film for technical reasons, but that the inner motivation behind these phenomena should also be carefully investigated. That is, “Chosŏn cinema never received any assistance from capital, it did not take any advantage of capital,” so one could expect that “Chosŏn cinema included more disparate films than Japanese cinema.” As Im pointed out, when we look at cinematic practice in colonial Korea, we must take account of both Western modernity/cinema and non-Western modern Japanese cinema. In other words, in order to understand the relationship between colonial Korean cinema and Western cinema (including Hollywood), we should consider Japanese cinema as playing the role of mediator. It is difficult to apprehend the relationship between colonial Korean cinema and Japanese cinema without recognizing the existence of a common directivity vis-a-vis Hollywood cinema. That is why colonial Korean cinema is interesting, located as it is between the empires of the West and Japan.

In addition, I maintain that colonial Korean cinema, in this context, took a position in the triadic relationship with Japanese cinema and Western cinema (including Hollywood film). The colonial structure established by the non-Western colonial power (‘Imperial Japan’) necessarily consisted of three parties, which had to include ‘the West.’ Symbolically, Western cinema stood for an idealistic form of film and a great cinematic empire to colonial Korean film; Japanese cinema played the role of a small cinematic empire and a practical reference point. Colonial Korean cinema was positioned between these two empires. This triangular structure neither set bounds to the unilateral flow from Western and Japanese cinema to colonial Korean cinema; nor did it limit the scope of re-translation, in so far as colonial Korean cinema was influenced by Japanese cinema, which also received Western cinema. Instead, the structure implies that we should consider multi-layered phases: direct influences on colonial Korean cinema from Western cinema, colonial Korean cinema’s competition and negotiation with Japanese cinema, and independent and autonomous practices of colonial Korean cinema. I will investigate how this structure is reflected in the practice of colonial Korean talkies. The distribution of talkies, creation of the talkie projection system and recording technology in colonial Korea all reflect the flow from the apex of Western cinema on the top of the triangle to Japanese cinema and finally to colonial Korean cinema. On the other hand, colonial Korean cinema sought to produce talkies akin to Western talkies, which is proved by the direct transition from Western cinema to colonial Korean cinema. In this article, Yi Pilu’s effort to realize his talkies will attest to the triangular dynamic.

I argue here for a new research frame, and suggest both empirical and historical evidence to support the idea of a triangular relationship. First of all, I propose the triangular structure itself, from ‘Western cinema to Japanese cinema to colonial Korean cinema,’ and ‘cooperation system (協業)’ as a methodology by which to study colonial Korean cinema, and examine the historical background behind the two frames. Secondly, examining the production process of colonial Korean talkies based on historical facts, I will show how colonial Korean cinema aimed at Western cinema, but in practice developed in cooperation with Japanese cinema.

 

殖民時期韓國有聲電影之製作與協業體系

 

在本篇論文中我將探索殖民時期韓國有聲電影製作的一些做法,其目標是能超越民族主義去討論韓國的電影史。現存的研究,在處理殖民時期韓國有聲電影製作時,都聚焦在第一部韓國有聲片《春香傳》(1935)的製作上。它們擁護一種民族主義的疆界,達成一種獨立的「韓國電影歷史」的願望。例如,李英一的《韓國電影全史》(1969/2004)在其「有聲電影出現」這一章中的「有聲片《春香傳》與李弼雨」一節裡,即說第一部韓國有聲片是由殖民時期韓國電影人獨立製作出來的。李氏說:「京城攝影所」的第四部片《春香傳》是由我們韓國技術人員製作出來的。」(176頁)他不僅刻意將該片的主要製作成員限制在第一批殖民時期韓國電影人(包括李弼雨與李明雨)之內,甚至還宣稱京城攝影所是由李氏兄弟經營的。然而,我將在本論文中顯示京城攝影所其實是由日本娛樂業的專家暨殖民時期首爾地區娛樂圈的老大哥分島周次郎所擁有的,而其經營者是松竹片場出身的日本導演山崎藤江(其韓國姓名為金蘇峰)。換言之,《春香傳》其實是一種「協業」製作(合作製作)的產物。尤其是中川堯士與李弼雨兩人都參與了《春香傳》的製作,其中,中川堯士是「中川有聲電影系統」的發明人,他適應邀從京都來到韓國參與本片的製作。

在這篇論文中,我將藉由比較研究,解構現今韓國電影史民族主義者所建立的疆界,並分析同時期日本有聲電影的製作情形,這是韓國電影史學者過去從未關注過的地方。同時,我將會從殖民現代性的角度探討殖民時期韓國有聲電影的做法,主張在日本帝國與(韓國)殖民地之間存在著一個灰色地帶,此地帶無法被「親日合作派」與「抗日反對派」此種簡單的二分法予以歸納。這種說法是與尹海東2006年所提倡的「所有的現代性都是殖民現代性」的說法一致的。尹氏認為殖民現代性必須依照同時性與歷時性予以理解;同時性能穿透帝國與殖民地,而歷時性則能連結殖民主義與後殖民主義。尹氏說,一個殖民地既非「國」也非自足的政經或社會單位,而是帝國的一部分,而帝國與被殖民者建構出一個「相關聯的世界」,彼此互動。(尹海東,2007)因此,他提出一個另類的觀點,即「被殖民的現代」。誠如金素榮(2010)在她的書中指出,在殖民時期韓國電影的文化領域中,電影是用以說明日本現代性、西方現代性與殖民地韓國自願現代性彼此間相互競逐的最佳的接觸地點。

正如一位殖民時期含過知識分子林和在一篇1941年的文章〈朝鮮電影理論〉中宣稱的,殖民地韓國電影會依賴他人並且為了技術上的理由去模仿外國片是很自然的事,只是此些現象背後的內部動機也應該被仔細調查。也就是說,「朝鮮電影從未在資金上獲得任何協助,未曾利用過這類資本」,因此可以預料到「朝鮮電影會比日本電影包含更多異質性的影片」。林氏指出,觀察殖民時期韓國電影的操作方式時,必須同時考慮到西方現代性(西方電影)與非西方的現代日本電影。換言之,欲理解殖民地韓國電影與西方電影(包含好萊塢)的關係,就須考慮到日本電影居中扮演的中介者的角色。若想了解殖民地韓國電影與日本電影的關係,卻不能認知兩者在面對好萊塢時都存在著同一個方向性的話,將是極難達成的。此即為何殖民地韓國電影如此有趣,因為它位居於西方與日本這兩大帝國之間。

 

此外,我認為殖民地韓國電影在此種脈絡關係裡,在與日本電影及西方電影(包括好萊塢電影)間所形成的三角關係中,採取了一個立場。非西方的殖民勢力(「日本帝國」)所建立的殖民結構必然由三方所組成,其中一方必然包含「西方」。對於殖民地韓國電影來說,西方電影象徵性的代表了一種理想的電影形式及一個偉大的電影帝國;而日本電影則扮演了一個小型電影帝國的角色,以及一個實務操作上的參考點。殖民地韓國電影是被擺在此二帝國之間。這種三角結構既未設定疆界限制只能從西方及日本電影單向流向殖民地韓國電影,而在殖民地韓國電影受到日本電影(其本身也受到西方電影的影響)多少影響此一議題上也未限制其再翻譯的範圍大小。反而是,此種結構暗示了我們必須理解它具有多層次的階段:西方電影對殖民地韓國電影的直接影響、殖民地韓國電影與日本電影的競爭與協商,以及殖民地韓國電影獨立自主的操作方式。我將會調查此種結構如何被反映在殖民地韓國有聲電影的實務操作上。有聲片的發行、殖民地韓國有聲電影放映系統與錄音技術等方面,都反映了西方電影位於三角形的頂尖位置,先流向日本電影,最後再流到殖民地韓國電影的流向。但另一方面,殖民地韓國電影也嘗試製作出接近西方有聲電影的有聲片,由此證實了從西方電影直接轉譯的存在。在本論文中,李弼雨試圖實現其有聲電影時所做的各種努力,將可證明此種三角關係的動態性。

在此論文中我提出一個新的研究框架,並舉出實證與歷史證據來支持此種三角關係的概念。首先,我提出三角結構本身,以「西方電影至日本電影至殖民地韓國電影」,及以「協業」(合作體系)作為兩種研究殖民地韓國電影的研究方法,並檢視此二種框架背後的歷史背景。其次,經過檢視藉藉由歷史史實所知的殖民地韓國有聲電影的製作過程,我將揭示殖民地韓國電影如何以西方電影為目標,但在實務操作上卻是與日本電影合作發展的。