Film Censorship Policy During Park Chung Hee’s Military Regime (1960–1979) and Hostess Films

Author: Molly Hyo Kim, Ehwa Women’s University, South Korea
Published: September 30, 2016

Citation: Kim, M. H. (2016). Film Censorship Policy During Park Chung Hee’s Military Regime (1960–1979) and Hostess Films. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 1(2).


Park Chung-hee’s military government (1960-1979) purportedly used film censorship to distract the public from political consciousness by controlling political materials in films while condoning censorship control on sexual content. As a result, the production of soft-core adult films soared and became popular among Korean audiences. One such film genre that thrived during this period, so-called hostess films (prostitute films), is worthy of attention for the films’ foregrounding issues of class, poverty and other social issues that the state censorship board heavily regulated. In viewing such dynamics between state censorship and film, this article aims to unravel the questions of how the state was willing to turn a blind eye to the explicit sexualization of women in hostess films when film censorship was at its peak and why the social and political aspects of this group of films about female sexual workers were not considered socially relevant by the censorship board, through scrutinizing the interplay between Park’s state censorship and hostess films. Furthermore, it offers an analysis of a hostess film, The Rose that Swallowed Thorn (Cheong, 1979), as a case study to show how it strategically orchestrates visual and thematic elements to circumvent censorship enforcement.


film censorship, hostess films, prostitute films, military regime, film policy