This article outlines and critically discusses South Korean Buddhist films made during the time of the Roh Tae-woo government (1988-1993), which can be called a semi-democratic and semi-dictatorial regime. This was a period of transition in film policy from the censorship of the earlier dictatorial regimes to the freedom of expression offered to directors by the later democratic administrations, unprecedented in Korean film history. During this period the technical skill of directors improved bringing about a corresponding improvement in the quality of Korean Buddhist films and thus international attention. Although the government allowed filmmakers considerably more freedom to express ideas about sensitive political and social issues during the Roh regime, because of individual and institutional pressures, filmmakers could not freely and critically portray monastic lives and religious issues. For example, conservative Buddhists protested the release of films that depicted Korean Buddhism in a negative light, calling for a form of private censorship. These pressure led filmmakers to use abstruse dialogues, metaphors, stories, images, and technical terms in their Buddhist films, particularly those about Zen Buddhism, that likely baffled audiences.
Ronald S Green and Chanju Mun. "Buddhism in Korean Film during the Roh Regime (1988~1993)" Bulgyo munye yeon’gu (Studies on Buddhist Art and Culture) Vol. 2 (2016) p. 225 - 268 ISSN: 2288-9191