For one reason or another a young woman named "Jin-a" (Ji-eun Lee) is forced to relocate from her previous domicile and accepts employment as a prostitute at a small family-owned hotel. Although most of the family members accept her (to one extent or the other) the college-age daughter, "Hye-mi" (Hae-eun Lee) treats her with unveiled contempt and ridicules her at every opportunity. Likewise, some of her customers along with her former pimp also make life miserable for her as well. Even so she endures the best that she can. Now rather than reveal any more of this movie and risk spoiling it for those who haven't seen it I will just say that the director (Ki-duk Kim) used just about every scenario related to the "world's old profession" he could find. Unfortunately, some of these scenes didn't translate well due to the cultural anomalies inherent in Korean society and in addition there were a few scenes which seemed to be a bit too slow. In any case, all things considered I rate this movie as about average.
With a red-light district in Seoul being demolished, the residents there find they have to relocate. Jin-a opts to leave Seoul and heads to the eastern city of Pohang. There she takes up residence in a boarding house run by a small family. Besides the parents, there is a daughter attending university and a son in high school. At first Jin-a is very happy there, however she continues to sell her body driving her into confrontation with the repressed daughter, Hye-mi. Things go from bad to worse when Jin-a meets Hye-mi's boyfriend...
October 21, 2022 at 02:43 PM
Didn't Translate Well Due to Cultural Anomalies
Kim has come a long way
Subject matter is a small brothel where a family struggling to support their kids education rents out a prostitute which get shelter, food and some percentages in return. The women of the family largely ignores her, the father sees her as a means for money and sex, the one that respects her is the son who adores her for the beautiful woman she is.
This is a very simple movie, script and execution was so different from the other Kims that I thought it to be from the early 90s not 1998. Music turns even to genuine porn variety. I was surprised to learn that the cinematographer Seo Jeong-min has made almost 130 movies as it seems a bit amateurish, at least he did better in 'Suchwiin Bulmyeong'.
The basic storyline was good. Its about values turned bad and living poor. Men are captives of their desire and the women are in difficult positions. But the script is not so good, some characters are not believable and the finale was confusing. Go see 'Suchwiin Bulmyeong' and 'Seom' instead for similar, but much more elaborate film art.
You cant help feel sorry for Jin-a though. She is very fragile and even though she is misused quite a few times she is always positive.
An earlier film from Kim Ki-duk, but one recognisably by him: it's full of depth and interesting, flawed and human characters, and it has protagonists engaging in prostitution as well as the almost obligatory predatory male. Although clearly made on a low budget, this doesn't need a big reach or expansive cinematography, because it tells a story just as fleshed out and engrossing as a mainstream picture. It's entirely naturalistic, sad at times, but ultimately moving.