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Women on Screen (KCCUK)

The KCCUK has announced a new, special film season entitled “Women on Screen: Understanding Korean Society and Women through Films”, which will run from May 9 to August 22, 2013. This season comes on top of their Year of 4 Actors Korean Film Nights.

Spanning eight films from as early as 1936 and as recent as 1999, “Women on Screen” provides a cinematic tour through Korean history and society, while showcasing the work of a range of directors, including big names such as Im Kwon-taek.

In the press release, the KCCUK writes:

We chose ‘Korean Society and Women’ as the theme of this project not only because of the importance of gender issues, but also because we considered that the lives of women well illustrate the comprehensive changes in Korea contemporary history, through colonisation, the division of the peninsula, the Korean War, political upheavals, and rapid modernisation.

The films and screening dates are provided below. For those of you not in London or nearby, note that two of the films featured as part of this season are available to watch online, for free, via the official YouTube channel of the Korean Film Archive (I have included the links to those films).

  • May 9: 미몽 aka 죽음의 자장가 (Mimong/Sweet Dream aka Lullaby of Death, South Korea, 1936)

sweet dreams

Dir. by Lee Man-hee.

Ae-sun is a married woman, but has little interest in her family and keeps a lover on the side. When she is thrown out by her husband, she goes to live with her second man, only to discover that he is nothing like he thought he was: he is poor and involved in criminal activities. After reporting him to the police, she runs off yet again, this time to live with a dancer.

  • May 23: 자유부인 (Jayu buin/Madam Freedom, South Korea, 1956)

Dir. by Han Hyung-mo.

A professor and his wife each find themselves attracted to other people and have to decide whether to pursue their love or keep their family and relationship intact.

  • June 6: 열녀문 (Yollyomun/Bound by Chastity Rule, South Korea, 1962)

widow

Dir. by Sin Sang-ok.

A window has a love child with her servant. Because she is from an aristocratic family, her in-laws throw out both the father and the baby – as demanded by society and its rule for chastity for widows. Years later the child, now a grown man, comes to find his mother, but is rejected by her.

  • June 20: 귀로 (Gwiro/Homebound, South Korea, 1967)

Homebound

Dir. by Lee Man-Hee

A married woman is tempted by a young man, who asks her to being a new life with him in a faraway place. The woman, however, has a disabled husband at home, a man that she once adored and took care of with much love when he was injured during the Korean War. She must decide between her husband and the lover.

  • July 4: 영자의 전성시대 (Yeongja-ui jeonseongsidae/Yeong-ja’s Heydays, South Korea, 1975)

Yeong-ja has a difficult life: when a housemaid for a rich family, she is raped by her employer’s son. She later works as seamstress, a barmaid and bus conductress. One day she loses her arm in an accident and falls into despair. She decides to kill herself, but fails. Chang-su, a man who loved her several years ago, makes her an artificial arm, wanting her to live a life full of happiness.

Dir. by Kim Ho-sun.

  • July 18: 깊은밤 갑자기 (Kipunpam kapchagi/Suddenly in the Dark of Night, 1981)

Suddenly in the Dark Night

Dir. by Go Yeong-nam.

Kang Yu-jin is a biologist. One day he finds a rare butterfly and brings it home. The next morning his wife, Sun-hi, finds a strange doll among her husband things. A visiting shaman’s daughter has the exact same doll, leading Sun-hi to become suspicious and eventually paranoid. After the girl’s accidental death, the wife is tormented by dark visions.

  • August 1: 길소뜸 (Gilsotteum, South Korea, 1985)

길소뜸

Dir. by Im Kwon-taek.

Hwa-young seeks her son, whom she was separated from during the Korean War. She meets a friend from the past, who, like her, is now married but has been waiting for her all this time nonetheless. Hwa-young’s son – now grown up – is with the man.

  • August 22: 해피엔드 (Haepi endeu/Happy End, South Korea, 1999)

Dir. by Jung Ji-woo.

When Min-ki loses his job as a banker, he suddenly finds himself at home, taking care of his baby daughter, doing the housework or reading in the park – a life in stark contrast to the stressful days at the bank before. His wife Bo-ra, a successful career woman, meanwhile, is having an having an affair with her sweetheart from college time. Her lover evokes happy memories of the past in her, but Bo-ra also still cherishes her husband and daughter. When the truth comes out, husband, wife and lover each are faced with emotional turmoil, all wishing for a happy end that seems impossible.

As always, screenings are free although seats must be reserved in advance. Note that the films come with an age rating of 18.

Bonus Bits: