Understanding Korean Cinema Yuki Kudoh The housemaid in 1960 First of all, I never seen Korean movie before this class, and I learned many things through the this course especially thorough the 3 movies which is the housemaid and Mother and a Guest. The Korean New Wave. To the uninitiated, that's where it all began. In the late 1990's, Korean cinema began to gain a worldwide reputation as a force to be reckoned with. This "Korean New Wave", or so it was called, saw the interest in (and popularity of) South Korean cinema grow exponentially in an incredibly short period of time and, in the ensuing years, names like Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho and Kim Ji-woon began to be recognized as a new breed of filmmakers, the likes of which had rarely, if ever, been seen before, anywhere in the world. Of course, Korea's filmmaking reputation and legacy continues to this day, however, much less widely known is the fact that many years before the coining of the phrase "Korean New Wave", equally astonishing Korean films were already being made. The acclaim surrounding the 2010 film The Housemaid (directed by Im Sang-soo), has brought attention to one such cinematic gem - the original 1960 film of the same name, on which Im Sang-soo's film is based - which was previously known only to ardent cinephiles: The Housemaid (1960, directed by Kim Ki-young) tells the story of Dong-sik (Kim Jinkyu), a piano teacher to female factory workers; his wife (Ju Jeung-ryu), a housewife; and their two young children. Having recently moved into a newly built, two-story house in the suburbs, the family finds that Dong-sik's job is no longer sufficient to pay the ever-increasing bills, and so his wife begins taking in sewing work to supplement their income. Subsequently collapsing from overwork, she and her husband grudgingly decide that they have little option but to take on a maid to help with the household chores and one of Dong-sik's students is entrusted with the task of finding a suitable candidate. However, the woman she finds for the job (her current flatmate) is a chain-smoking, sexual predator whose prying and self-serving nature soon presents her with a too good to miss opportunity to, almost, blackmail Dong-sik (combined with physically forcing herself on him) into an extra-marital affair. When both the maid and Dong-sik's wife fall pregnant, a battle of wills begins between the two women, and Dong-sik finds himself caught squarely in the middle, desperate to hide his dirty laundry from the outside world and return stability to his family home. In the years immediately subsequent to the Korean War, an increasing Americanization began to take place in Korea, with a greater importance being placed on the trappings of wealth, and success (and/or the appearance of being successful) began to become something to be sought and aspired to. The roles of women in society also began to
change as a direct result, with many beginning to work for the first time in their lives, and director Kim Ki-young uses both of these changes in society, throughout The Housemaid, to critique the shift away from Confucianism to much less morally based Western ideals - implying that those changes were largely to blame for the disintegration of both the family in the film and family in the society-based sense. In the early stages of the film, a rat is repeatedly seen scurrying around within Dong-sik's home, trying to survive and escape. Clearly an analogy to the family itself, this and the repeated filming of scenes from outside the house, looking in through framed windows, gives an increasing feeling of watching rats in a cage, with the house's central staircase adding to this further by providing both a focal point to proceedings and essentially performing a similar role to a caged pet's play wheel. Shortly after taking up her new job, the housemaid kills the aforementioned rodent, in the kitchen, with her bare hands - subsequently being told that she should have, instead,...
References: http://www.hangulcelluloid.com/housemaid.html http://www.meniscuszine.com/articles/2003028/shin-sang-oks-mother-and-a-guest/
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