They are listed in the order of their release. Romance Papa Shin Sang-ok's Romance Papa begins with the artifice of introductions of each character. These introductions are a vestige of the radio play from which this story originated, but it does help this viewer from the future navigate between these characters from the past since the times required that actors and actresses of similar ages play characters much younger than themselves. Still, in some ways such introductions are unnecessary since fashion signifies their ages.
Sailor outfits designate the youngest. A poodle skirt marks the college-aged woman. Once married, the oldest daughter sheds her western dress, and, at the end of each business day, her new husband his western suit, for a hanbok. There is much to be said about fashion in South Korean films. Read the discussion of hanbok fashion fusions in the 's by Princeton University professor Steven Chung or watch the recent documentary on fashion designer Nora Noh for examples. Romance Papa is another object of study on how necessary sartorial choices can be to character development.
Yet what follows as plot in Romance Papa is really a series of vignettes, aligning this film more with the episodic nature of modern-day TV serials than a medium demanding a status as a single unit. It is as if Romance Papa is an early precursor of the binge-watching experience enabled by the distribution system of the internet.
In the single feature film of Romance Papa, we are in a sense successively viewing several episodes of the radio show in one evening. As the aforementioned Steven Chung notes in his book reconsidering our understanding of director Shin, Split Screen Korea: Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema University of Minnesota Press, , "Shin consistently capitalized on the creativity of radio dramas and locked up many of the scripts during their broadcast.
A modern day equivalent to this capitalization on cross-media creativity was noted in a talk given at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Seattle by University of Ulsan professor Hwang Yun-mi. An aspect of her talk was that the costume drama film genre feeds off the visual signifiers of the same genre of television serials in their costumes, set designs, and even culinary displays.
Although in this case the rights of TV dramas are not being secured like the radio dramas of the past, the TV dramas are providing some paratextual labor in encouraging audiences to have production expectations of the film dramas from what they gather from the TV dramas.
The TV costume dramas "genrify" the film costume dramas just as Shin used a radio drama to "genrify" the film Romance Papa. In this way, films like Romance Papa further demonstrate the past foundation of present South Korean media tactics. The theme that runs through the synced vignettes is of the father who is a hopeless romantic, a sentimental softie who is the kind of father who wants to frame his youngest daughter's first love letter.
He is so concerned about his fellow man, instead of pummeling a burglar, he wants to provide alms of seaweed for the thief who just tried to pillage his home. The only time he doesn't romanticize a daily experience is when his oldest daughter is romantically involved with a young man. Our papa has contempt for his future son-in-law's profession, meteorology.
Like other sciences, meteorology is based on predicting the probability of events, which means there is always a chance of events diverging on rare occasions from the trend, but the statistical anomaly doesn't necessarily disprove the theory.
Our papa, however, hyper-focuses on the predictions that are 'wrong' without seeing the wider data-compiling that leads the direction of the predictions. It appears this papa could be a precursor of climate change deniers. Except this papa is adorable rather than dangerous.
Romance Papa launched Shin Sang-ok's Shin Films production outfit and "fixed the studio's reputation for high quality filmmaking with mass appeal" Chung, p The film's popularity is partly due to the casting of Kim Seung-ho in the role of the benevolent patriarch. Kim's star status trailed him from film to film as the type of father everyone could love. He could occasionally embarrass his daughters, such as when he encourages his college-aged daughter to wear his pants for a hiking trip with her friends, or he could be gullible and believe the deliberate 'mom-said' lies his three youngest children spread at his expense, but he isn't a failure in any way, at least not in this film.
He is a simple spirit that hopes for the best in everyone in every circumstance, even when there is little evidence for such hope. This papa will give credence to the the statistical improbabilities in life if that lesser is on the side of the least of us. Directed by Shin Sang-ok. Original radio play by Kim Hee-chang. Adapted by Kim Hee-chang. Cinematography by Jeong Hae-jun.
Produced by Shin Films. Released on January 28, The Housemaid A consensus pick as one of the top three Korean films of all time, Kim Ki-young's masterpiece The Housemaid occupies a place all its own within Golden Age Korean cinema. A domestic thriller that builds in intensity right up until its startling resolution, the film doubles as a manic tour-de-force and a cutting satire of the aspirations and values of modern society. Based on a contemporary news story, the film focuses on a traditional four-member family which has just moved into a two-story home.
The husband Dong-shik teaches music to women factory workers, while his wife spends her days at home at the sewing machine, trying to earn enough money to cover the family bills. One day she breaks down from overwork, and Dong-shik asks one of his students to find him a housemaid. However, the maid they hire acts in strange and unpredictable ways, spying on Dong-shik and catching rats with her bare hands.
Soon an incident occurs which motivates her to plot a dreadful revenge, and the Confucian order of the household comes crashing down at the hands of the surreptitious housemaid. Asian cinema, and melodrama in particular, tends to portray the family as the most basic building block of society. Kim's somewhat twisted cinematic vision focuses on how the supposedly stable family unit comes apart under pressure. The two-story home in which Kim sets his film acts as a symbol for Korea's modernizing middle class, yet behind the placid surface we see darker, more primitive elements penetrating into the family's space: With inspired editing and a restless camera not to mention that famous bottle of rat poison , Kim gradually heightens the sense of tension and claustrophobia, creating scenes of startling intensity.
The performance he draws out of young actress Lee Eun-shim as the housemaid on the left in the photo is unlike anything else shot in Korea in that decade, or indeed ever since. Sadly, her brilliant acting may have ended her career -- it's said that viewers' reactions to her were so strong audiences reportedly screamed "Kill the bitch! As for the rest of the cast, Kim Jin-gyu brings a slightly aristocratic air to the role of Dong-shik, while Joo Jeung-nyeo plays the wife with a bland but stubborn determination to preserve appearances at all cost.
The children excel in their roles too, including future star Ahn Sung-ki as the young son. Though it debuted in as a box-office hit, The Housemaid was never given proper recognition until a retrospective of Kim Ki-young's work in at the Pusan International Film Festival. Since then, the film has gradually made its way to retrospective screenings around the world, drawing forth surprised and passionate responses from audiences wherever it goes.
One hopes that with time, it will escape from the still overlooked confines of s Korean cinema to become recognized as a world classic. Darcy Paquet The Housemaid "Hanyeo".
Written and directed by Kim Ki-young. Cinematography by Kim Deok-jin. Produced by Korean Literature Films, Ltd. Released on November 3, The Coachman A single father with two sons and two daughters makes a living by operating a horse-drawn cart. However, in a city that is modernizing after the destruction of the Korean War, automobiles are making such carts obsolete, and he struggles to make ends meet.
The family's younger generation is also experiencing difficulties. The eldest son hopes to pass the bar exam to become a lawyer, but he has flunked twice already and is feeling pessimistic about his third try. The eldest daughter, who is mute, is married to an abusive husband. The younger daughter tries to move up in life by posing as a rich university student, while the youngest son has a penchant for petty theft. At its heart, Kang Dae-jin's The Coachman "Mabu" is a drama told with warmth and sympathy about a family trying to lift its way out of poverty and into the middle class.
The challenges they face would have been familiar to many of its viewers in , from the cruel and dismissive attitude of the upper classes to the pressure to pay back debts. The character of the father, played by the iconic Kim Seung-ho, also represents the situation faced by many older residents of the time, in not being able to cope with the quickly changing face of Korean society.
Tellingly and in patriarchal fashion , all hopes for the family's future are placed on the eldest son. Perhaps the film's biggest strength is to highlight the frustration of having motivation and hard work matter much less than connections and money. The film walks a fine line between optimism and pessimism, but in its darker moments it offers a harsh critique of the economic foundations of society.
Hope comes in the form of human generosity, whether from the understanding son of the family's creditor or the middle-aged housemaid who becomes romantically involved with the father. A date that the older couple takes to a movie theater to see Chunhyang-jeon is one of the film's most fondly-remembered scenes The Coachman was the first Korean film to win a major overseas award, taking home the Silver Bear Special Jury Prize from the Berlin International Film Festival.
It has since become recognized as one of the classics of Golden Age Korean cinema. Although somewhat overshadowed by the achievements of its contemporaries The Housemaid and Obaltan , The Coachman remains a crowd-pleaser and a touching portrait of a society in transition.
Darcy Paquet The Coachman "Mabu". Directed by Kang Dae-jin. Screenplay by Im Hui-jae. Cinematography by Lee Moon-baek. Produced by Hwaseong Film Co. Rating received on February 15, An Upstart Director Kim Soo-yong is best recognized now for his adaptations of important Korean literary works, such as Mist and Seaside Village , or for his later, stranger modernist films Night Voyage and Splendid Outing But at the very start of his long career, he was known in the film industry as a "comedy specialist.
So it's a shame that prints no longer exist for all five of the comedies he made between An Upstart was shot by major studio Shin Film in and released in July, just two months after the military coup that brought Park Chung-hee to power. At first glance it looks to be little more than a star vehicle for comedian Koo Bong-seo, whose name is even included in the Korean title "Koo Bong-seo's Striking It Rich".
But it is significantly more than that. Directed with obvious care and creativity, this is an entertaining film that stands out for its playful manipulations of sound and image, the strong acting of the cast as a whole, and especially the nuanced performance of its star. Maeng Soon-jin Koo is an ordinary salaryman, not particularly special in any way, although the landlord's daughter Do and his boss's daughter Jeon each seem to find him charming.
He has money troubles -- his meager salary is already spent by the time he receives it -- but his resigned approach to life's pitfalls helps to see him through. One day, out of the blue, he is visited by an American woman who, inexplicably, speaks passable Korean. She tells him she is the widow of a U. Recently deceased, the man has included Maeng in his will. News of the inheritance propels Maeng onto the front pages and he becomes an instant celebrity.
At once, people who formerly treated him with disdain are groveling at his feet.