Uncomfortable Proximity: Perception of Christianity as a Cultural Villain in South Korea
In global media audience reception studies, one of the most popular yet highly contested theories has been Joseph Straubhaar’s theory of cultural proximity. Despite Straubhaar’s inclusion of religious dimensions in his definition of the concept, however, few critics have sought to advance the cultural proximity thesis by incorporating religion into the discussion. In this article, I examine the perception of Christianity in South Korea in relation to particular media texts about spirit possession. In the uniquely pluralistic and competitive religious atmosphere of Korea, the strong presence of Christianity and its generally negative perception among the non-Christian public sometimes render both familiarity/relatability and a sense of discomfort, foreignness, and antagonism. Such an observation fits neither the notion of cultural proximity nor the opposite notion of cultural discount. I call this uncomfortable proximity.