Each year for the past few years, Chapman students have traveled with Professor Nam Lee to the Busan International Film Festival to get a taste of Asian cinema and culture. There, they see the works of Korean masters like Park Chan-Wook and Bong Joon-Ho, as well as films from China and other parts of Asia, visit temples, and taste kimchee, Korea’s national spicy national dish.

“Being in Busan for a week, and being immersed in its culture and activities as foreigners, gives our students opportunities to see themselves from other points of view and to reflect upon Hollywood films as well as themselves from a distance,” says Dr. Lee. “These trips allow them to understand ‘other’ cinemas, cultures and people, to see different ways of storytelling and the cultural context they emerged from.”

Hannah Gary (BA/Film Studies ’15) was part of the 4+1 Program, which enabled her to complete both her undergraduate degree and the first year of her graduate work simultaneously. While in Busan, she learned “how deeply Asian films (despite their usage of Hollywood techniques) are linked to the culture in which they were created.”

For example, she says, “the focus on portraying the commitment of the husband to his dying wife in the Korean Revivre seemingly out of duty rather than love, demonstrated a more culturally-specific predilection of devotion and selflessness or a collectivist identification rather than the more individualistic notions commonly presented in Hollywood cinema.” Such experiences have helped acquire a new perspective on the influence of culture on national cinemas.