masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

What is pulp?

fantas.jpgOver here in Master Lee’s lair, we’re less than orthodox about what pulp is or isn’t. Pulp may be that which is recognised as being of poorer quality, though the term once apparently reflected both contents and physical quality. Gary Hoppenstand writes (Journal of Popular Culture 38:2 [2004]: 236),

During its heyday in America, from about 1900 to 1950, hundreds of different pulp titles were produced on the cheapest paper available at the time (hence the name ‘‘pulp,’’ the inexpensive pulpwood stock used in printing), and they were intended to be read (or ‘‘consumed’’) and disposed of as quickly as possible before reading the next issue, much like today’s newspapers. Not many pulps survived their original publications, and those that did have deteriorated over the years to the point where their pages are yellowing and crumble into dust at the touch of a hand.

Nevertheless, Master Lee cherishes that which is perhaps unintentionally termed pulp and harnesses greatness notwithstanding. In general, it’s the stuff that is not trying to eschew clichés – and let’s be fair, most art and entertainment relies heavily on clichés! – but in doing so somehow ups the cliché by way of a no less effect-conscious but comparatively slapdash and therefore possibly fresher and – okay, we admit it – lighter rendition. We’d go with the following keywords: mass-marketing, damsels in distress, rescuing hero’s, lurid contents, incredible feats of fighting, brutal villains, swords, buried treasures, underpaid actors, anonymous authors, cheap video’s, low budgets, scantily clad dames, weird soundtracks, swashbucklers, fisticuffs, you name it. So Master Lee likes the Continental Op, Doc Savage, the Avenger and Secret Agent X. He reads with pleasure Black Mask, Amazing Stories, Spicy Detective, Thrilling Wonder Stories and Weird Tales.monks.jpg He has seen (and played in a respectable number of) Hong Kong martial arts flicks, owns a large collection of gangster movies and reads detectives when he is not out there on the streets fighting evil. So, that’s what you can expect here; everything Master Lee likes and that comes from his native Korean soil. Master Lee is also a great aficionado of once popular but now sadly forgotten music; he is adamant about finding a home for his ancient LP’s in his own blog. Be prepared to find anything here that only vaguely corresponds with the above. Master Lee does not like definitions. He’ll decide himself what is pulp and what is not. And pity the fool who doesn’t agree!
dryen1.jpgBut let it be understood that Master Lee doesn’t quite know what to make of the likes of Dr. Fu Manchu, Charlie Chan or Dr. Yen Sin (perhaps because he is a Master and not a Dr.). Master Lee is easily inflamed by such rancid portrayals of the Orientalist persuasion and woe befalls him (or her) who provokes Master Lee’s wrath by confronting him with such rubbish. He might very well show why he is a Master who earned a Ph.D. in whooping ass on the streets and not a Dr…

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