Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 July 2021
This chapter examines Gothic traditions in East Asian cinema, with a specific focus on films and popular culture from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. The chapter explores key features of the East Asian Gothic mode: generic hybridity, mythology, morality and important historical moments in the Western reception of influential films. The central argument uniting the analysis of these three distinct national cinemas concerns the narrative and thematic meaning of the figure of the ghost. How are local audiences expected and invited to respond to these avatars of the deceased? What do they reflect from contemporary society, and how do they comment on the past? The ghost in many of these films is not only an object of fear (indeed, it is frequently not an object of fear at all), but also, with varying frequency, a lover, or a hero or a subject of profound pity and sadness. The evolving meaning of the ghost in films from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong suggests some ways that definitions and understandings of the Gothic should be reconfigured for a global media context.