Park Chul-soo: South Korea's Neglected Auteur
by Adam Hartzell
I am one of the non-Korean critics who was introduced to South Korean cinema 'BS', that is, "Before Shiri" (Jang Je-gyu, 1999). Besides the accident of birth, this is primarily because I chose to live in one of the cities outside South Korea that enabled me an opportunity to see South Korean films before the internet opened up greater access to a greater number of people. San Francisco's many film festivals meant I could see films by Jang Sun-woo, Im Kwon-taek, Lee Myung-se, Hong Sangsoo, and others when they started circulating around film festivals. However, it was in St. Louis, Missouri where I saw my first South Korean film. I am fairly certain it was Park Chul-soo's 301, 302 (1995).1 301, 302 piqued my interest to seek out more South Korean films when they came to film festivals in San Francisco. Park made 27 films, (two receiving their South Korean theater releases posthumously). Including 301, 302, I have only seen the following - Farewell, My Darling (1996), Push! Push! (1997), Kazoku Cinema (1998), Bongja (2000)2 and Green Chair (2005).
I had submitted a chapter years ago for an edited volume on South Korean cinema but I never heard back from the author. I have returned to the piece I wrote on Park Chul-soo because not many folks writing about South Korean cinema mention Park Chul-soo anymore. This lack of discussion of Park's work is perplexing since 301, 302 was likely the second South Korean film to be released theatrically in the US after Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (Bae Yong-gyun, 1989).3 Consequently, 301, 302 and Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? were the only South Korean films one would find at Blockbuster Video back in the 90s.4 These two facts alone warrant discussion of Park's work. This essay is an effort to rectify such a lack of discussion.
What is equally surprising about Park's absence from scholarly discussions of South Korean cinema is that many topics that have received considerable attention concerning South Korean cinema are invariably explored in original ways by Park throughout his oeuvre. A common discussion among scholars is South Korea's rapid and dramatic industrialization and corresponding modernism.5 This rapidity has been a focus of many scholarly investigations of South Korean cinema as well.6 From the selection of films I have seen, Park's focus on South Korea's rush to modernism is quite prominent. 301, 302; Push! Push!; and Green Chair present the complicated negotiations of South Korean women taking advantage of new economic and social opportunities that the modern world affords. Farewell, My Darling utilizes the traditions of a patriarch's funeral to demonstrate what has and has not changed in South Korea since modernization. And Kazoku Cinema presents a collapsing of a family "as a malaise of modernity"7 through a presentation of a Japanese family of Korean descent. Being that Park's films have provided dramatic portrayals of such primary interests of scholarly analyses of both South Korean cinema and history, one would think Park's films would be explored more widely than they have.
Another aspect of Park's work that would appear to warrant further discussion is Park's consistent play with point-of-view in his films, a regular topic of interest in film studies. 301, 302 provides many reflections off of mirrors and stainless steel along with fish-eye views through keyholes. Push! Push!'s most memorable point of view shot is that of a simulated 'vagina cam' that returns the doctor's gaze during pelvic exams. Green Chair has characters strangely look down into the camera, along with purposely blurring a few scenes. Much of Park's play with perspective exposes his presence as a director, where Park appears "to contemplate the nature of the cinematic medium itself."8 Park has referred to himself as a "commander" when talking about his disinterest in the star system in South Korea.9 He wants actors and actresses to play characters exactly as he's laid them out, not to improvise or bring any of their iconicity to the characters. In addition, many of Park's films include a character that can be interpreted as 'Park the Commander', a commander whose command is exposed, and by extension, questioned. 301, 302 is loosely structured through the investigation of a detective, a character who will be discussed at length in this essay, but for now I will simply summarize that his gaze is continually deflected. In Kazoku Cinema, the film crew filming the family is clearly meant to stand in for Park's film crew filming the film crew filming the family. In Green Chair, a paparazo follows our taboo-breaking couple. Park has confirmed that this paparazzo is intended as a medium to expose him as the commander of the events on screen.10 And each time the paparazzo's surveillance is discovered, the young, male protagonist proceeds to tie him up before calling the paparazzo's colleagues to retrieve his bounded body. Park's stand-in exposes his directorial conceits, and by literally tying up his stand-in, Park encourages the audience to question those conceits and challenge his omniscience as a director. The most literal example of this trend of Park exposing himself as the director is Farewell, My Darling, where Park makes an extended cameo as the eldest son of a recently deceased patriarch. Park plays a director from Seoul who has decided to bring his film crew along to film the funeral. Yet, the Park-as-Park character defers to the judgment of a village elder and allows his authority to pass onto his younger brother. His brother is deemed more appropriate to administer the duties sanctioned by Confucian tenets since the younger brother has stayed on in the home village. ". . . The self-reflexive signification processes in Farewell, My Darling contain Pak's11 criticism of the unethical manipulation of the camera's capacity for creating illusion."12 Thus, Park's directorial authority is brought into question by the challenge to Park's surrogate within the film.
Both Park's explorations of South Korean modernity and perspective in his films would justify his inclusion in the Korean Film Directors series of monographs, but a volume on him is strangely absent.13 Of what little scholarly writing has been done on Park, the primary focus has been on 301, 302. Joan Kee took a deep look at 301, 302, specifically noting how hysteria was articulated by women in this film. Kee presented the film quite positively as a feminist film, that is, a film that promotes or addresses the expansion of freedoms available to women by "refashioning" space outside of the patriarchal gaze.14 Gretchen Papazian disagrees with Kee in her essay that is part of a collection on food and film, labeling Park's work as "pseudo-feminism".15 Along with analyzing in detail the detective character and the cannibalism motif in 301, 302, this essay will be expanding on Kee's article and responding to aspects of Papazian's critique of Park's work.
301, 302, is a tale of two women who live across from each other in a modern apartment complex. One character lives in apartment 301, the other in 302.16 The story is told through multiple flashbacks primarily involving 302's adolescence, 301's brief marriage, and 301 and 302's relationship that concludes with an act of cannibalism. A detective seeks information from 301 regarding the disappearance of 302 which represents present time. His questioning begins the multiple flashbacks into the pasts of both 302 and 301. In the first extensive flashback, we learn that after her divorce 301 moved into the apartment across from 302.
The most important room in 301's apartment is her kitchen, since she is a gifted cook. Wanting to make friends with her elusive neighbor, 302, she brings elaborately prepared meals for her. However, we soon learn that 302 is anorexic, taking nothing in but water and pills. Due to a past trauma, she cannot put food, or men, into her body. When 301 discovers that 302 has been throwing away the food she has prepared for her, she at first takes offense,17 practically re-enacting 302's past trauma by trying to force food, symbolically a sausage, into 302. This incident leads 302 to reveal her past to 301. Her step-father18, a butcher, sexually abused her. Furthermore, an accidental death involving a customer's daughter is presented in a surreal sequence that implies 302's step-father forced 302 to participate in the chopping up of this young girl, and possibly eating the girl, to hide the evidence. (This is why the sausage 301 forces on 302 is symbolic beyond just representing a penis.) Now understanding the level of trauma 302 experienced, 301 vows to cook only comforting, easy to digest foods for 302.
301's efforts to resolve matters through food is nothing new for her. Prompted by the investigations into 301's divorce by the detective's partner, we begin another flashback where we learn more about 301's past. 301 was once a happy newlywed, making elaborate meals for her husband while he worked and satisfying him sexually, sometimes mid-meal, at home, equating her body with food for her husband's consumption as well. However, this appears to be the only avenue for creativity and fulfillment 301 had at her disposal, because she obsessively seeks recognition that her meals are exceptional. This constant request for validation frustrates her husband who gets tired of her constant calls to his office. As Kee notes, 301, through her "superdomesticity", merely "echoes the script" approved by patriarchy19 rather than write her own script.
After constant refusals from her husband, 301 begins to devour her own meals. As a result, she begins to gain weight. Her husband, now paying much more attention to their pet dog than her, begins having an affair. Her husband becomes less and less concerned about hiding this affair, even showing up late to their anniversary dinner with his mistress dropping him off at home where the affair can be easily exposed. Since he is so late, he tells 301 they should celebrate the next day. Even the gift he has for her is not from him, but from his colleagues. As he falls asleep in the den embracing his dog, we discover the gift was a vibrator, making fun of 301's lost sexual attractiveness since the shift in her marriage. 301 proceeds to chop up the literal phallic symbol. The next morning, we discover that 301 also chopped up and stewed her husband's precious dog for his morning meal. She demands a divorce and we jump to the arbitration proceedings where the male judge is quite sympathetic towards 301 because of all the elaborate meals 301 prepared for her husband, downplaying the fact that she killed and cooked the dog. The divorce settlement explains how 301 can afford her apartment without any evident employment, whereas 302, a writer struggling to have her novel published, a novel that stems from her own experience so the rejections are more personal, has to survive by writing dieting and sex advice columns in a woman's magazine.
The film reaches its climax with 301's realization that 302 can not take in any food. 302 simply wants to "disappear."20 Having heard 301's story about killing and eating the dog, 302 asks 301 to kill and eat her. This flashback is presented as information that is never told to the detective. In fact, before we are told this part of the story, the detective is told to leave by 301. Once the detective's gaze has left, we witness the conversation that precedes the killing that 301 obliges. After the killing, 301 cooks and consumes 302 in a ritualistic way and the film ends with no suggestion that their pact has been discovered by the police, 301 living with her and 302's secret inside her.
Papazian's discussion of 301, 302 relates primarily to the portrayal of anorexia on film. Foremost, she places 301, 302 in context with two other films, Life Is Sweet (Michael Leigh, 1991, England) and Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (Todd Haynes, 1987, USA), to demonstrate that "Unlike literary efforts at portraying the disease, these films don't merely offer a chronology of the disease. Instead, they offer the viewer an anorexic event, using elements unique to film to convey a fragmented, disorienting, anxiety-filled, anorexic cinematic experience."21 Papazian goes on to present a convincing argument about how Haynes's film presents a more compelling, effective view of anorexia than the other two films. Although not the primary focus of her argument, Papazian also seeks to answer the following question - Do the directors, "while critiquing the objectification of women, actually re-objectify them?"22 Two aspects of 301, 302 lead Papazian to label Park's film as one exhibiting a fake feminism. These two aspects are the detective's intrusive presence and the ending where 302 asks 301 to kill and eat her and 301 obliges. By exploring these two aspects of the film further by bringing greater context, an argument emerges to remove the "pseudo" qualifier that Papazian associates with the feminisms of 301, 302.
As both Kee and Papazian have noted, the presence of a male authority, the detective, does provide the motivation for the flashbacks to unfold.23 The detective's authoritative position prompts 301 to tell the story of 302 and for 301 to tell her own story. Through the story of 301 and 302's relationship, a metaphorical story is told of the struggles of the modern South Korean woman.24 Prior to the detective's intrusion into 301's apartment, 301 sees the male detective through the distorted fisheye view of her peephole. Papazian sees this distortion, along with the fact that 302 wears glasses, as the film's efforts to ". .. posit that both 301 and 302 perceive the world in distorted ways."25 Kee, however, argues that these distortions of perspective are efforts to demonstrate that these women are working to create an alternative space for themselves outside patriarchal authority.26 Since Park's continued use of point-of-view cinematic perspectives have consistently been utilized to deconstruct directorial authority, Kee's argument is the more plausible interpretation when considering Park's oeuvre. In addition, Papazian's argument that a character who wears glasses sees "the world in distorted ways" is just plain wrong. Prescription glasses don't 'distort' but instead enable better clarity of ones vision.
The detective does briefly appear to have the upper hand when he catches 301 off guard by knowing her name and knowing that 302 visited 301's apartment the night before she disappeared, having received this information through a male network of surveillance, the male security guard of the apartment complex. This startles 301 and she exhibits a brief moment of hysteria.27 301 does regain composure, but believing he has control, the detective takes leave of 301's apartment and heads over to 302's apartment where he gazes around as we hear a doctor's authoritative voice state that 302 "fears" food and sex, whereas, 301 sees 302 as an agent, emphasizing that 302 "rejects" these things. As the detective begins to read 302's sex advice columns, we discover 301's presence in the apartment as well. Aware that 302 had been trying for a long time to get her manuscript published, 301 says to the detective that 302 will be a famous author one day. She is attempting to intervene on how the detective might be integrating what he is voyeuristically reading. 301 is aware, and the audience will become aware, that 302 was sexually abused by her step-father and that 302's manuscript was rejected because the publishers do not seek personal stories. Since one of the mantras of second wave feminism was the personal is political, the rejection of the manuscripts because they are too personal implies rejection of the politics of the personal as well. 302 was trying to write her own script but the magazine's gatekeepers kept rejecting it.28 With this background, we can see 302's sex advice columns as forcing a woman who rejects sex to pimp her words for the sensational demands of editors.29
It is not clear how fully 301 informs the detective of all that we, the audience, witness in the flashbacks. There are details, particularly visual motifs, which the detective might not be privy to. However, the detective does shift towards being sympathetic to 301, and through 301's retelling, 302 as well. He appears to digest what 301 has told him about the significance of food. A moment that signifies this shift in alignment arises in a later scene when the detective surprises 301 by asking if she is divorced. Before she can answer, the detective receives a call from his colleague telling him that court records state that 301 killed her husband's dog. Although somewhat startled by this, the detective focuses on his partner talking with his mouthful over the phone. He asks him what he's been eating.30 Although the brand is not announced over the phone, we can see from the bag that it's from a burger chain based in the United States. The detective takes issue with his colleague's diet, influenced heavily by the story that 301 has been telling him, and practically orders his partner to refrain from eating such processed foods. "You call that food?" From now on you should eat proper food."31 Upon hearing this conversation, 301 smiles, appreciating his comments. She realizes the influence she has had over the detective. This scene alludes to her equal power position in this dyad.
It is significant on many levels that the detective has greater interest in scolding his partner for what he is eating than the fact that 301 killed her husband's dog and served the dog to her husband as stew. The dog was highly prized by her husband. As their relationship began to crumble, he would offer much more attention and affection to the dog than her. The dog was obviously something significant to him, so to kill the dog and have her husband eat it was an extreme way to hurt him, to act out revenge on her husband from his neglect and mistreatment of her. Such a hideous act surely demands an emotive reaction. But instead of lashing out about her killing the dog, the detective lashes out at his colleague's diet. By not launching into a reaction advancing solidarity with her husband around the dog, the detective is showing he is not completely aligned with patriarchal authority.
The killing and cooking of the dog and the issue of infidelity bring up an intertextual Western film reference that further underscores subversion of patriarchal constructs. In the film Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987, USA), the mistress, Alex Forrest, kills Dan Gallagher's children's pet rabbit as an act of violence against Gallagher. The pet rabbit represents the family that Forrest can't have. There were four endings screen-tested for Fatal Attraction.32 One of the more infamous stories around these possible endings purports that test audiences were less in favor of the ending that had Gallagher arrested for murder of Forrest, preferring that Forrest be "brought to justice" by Gallagher's wife.33 The ending that was released had Forrest, believed dead, rising from the bathtub. This allowed the wife an opportunity to avenge this intrusion into the sanctity of her marriage by killing Forrest herself. Such an ending approved by the test audience follows a logic of disdain for the 'other woman' that exceeds that of any disdain held for the husband and his infidelity.
In 301, 302, however, we have the wife avenge her husband's treatment of her rather than avenging the 'other woman'. Killing and cooking his beloved pet implies an interesting solidarity with the 'other woman' through the intertextual play with Fatal Attraction. Although I have no knowledge if such references to Fatal Attraction are intentional, (hence why I reference it being intertext rather than allusion),34 the possibility of such a reference point is reasonable considering the parallels and the importance of Fatal Attraction in South Korean cinema history which I will discuss at length later in this essay.35 For now, rather than the villain Fatal-ly killing the pet to attack an Attractive institution that the patriarchy has kept from her, our heroine 301 kills the pet to dislodge herself from this patriarchal institution she no longer desires.36
We should also introduce the cultural significance of serving up dog in South Korea. Although not rampant, and presently disapproved of by many South Koreans, dog stew is still seen as a delicacy in some small South Korean circles, particularly among some men. The main reason dog stew still maintains an allure is due to claims that it holds virility benefits for men. Since dog stew holds mythic sexual properties for men, to prepare dog stew for ones husband would be an appropriate extension of the logic of patriarchy. 301 tried to be the perfect wife and meet all her society-sanctioned roles as devoted wife, fabulous cook, and ever-ready sex object. Yet, her husband found that receiving such gender-role-assigned bounty was not what he truly wanted. The logic of the patriarchy would be that a truly sexually-fulfilling wife would provide everything her husband needed, which in this case would include dog stew for its mythologized sexual benefits. Yet, it is not what he wants. Nor is it part of the patriarchal script 301 wishes to follow any longer. So she attacks the patriarchy by giving, in the extreme, what patriarchy claims to desire just before she rejects the patriarchy completely through divorce. This attack on the patriarchy through the culturally significant aspect of dog stew is underscored by 301's actions just before she kills and cooks the dog. In response to the joke gift of a vibrator, she not so jokingly chops this phallic symbol to pieces. It is after this incident that she serves her husband an aphrodisiac. Such a series of actions subverts the myth of virility that the stew signifies.
As the audience is encouraged to play "detective" along with the detective, there is another authoritative position the audience is afforded, that of official arbitrator over the divorce. On screen, both 301 and her husband sit across from us, positioning us the audience as arbitrator. 301 and her soon to be ex-husband tell their sides of the story about why the arbitrator-as -audience should find sympathy with their side. 301 states, "His lack of love and care towards me made me turn to food to fill the void of happiness." Whereas, her husband pleads, "Please think of this. I was constantly fed and then had to praise the food. I couldn't take it." Before he can claim that after killing the dog she might have killed him, the arbitrator cuts him off and notes the obvious, "You're still alive. And you did consume her wholehearted cooking for five whole years." No longer is the audience the silent arbitrator, but now the arbitrator speaks for us. "Aside from alimony, she will be compensated for her efforts." The arbitrator is "recognizing her cooking as real, rather than imputed labor,"37 similar to Miriam Lopez-Rodriguez's argument that the character of John in Like Water For Chocolate (Alfonso Aru, 1992, Mexico) demonstrates his respect for women's domestic labor by equating cooking with alchemy.38 It is notable that 301's domestic work is credited by the arbitrator as legitimate work rather than that which is merely expected of her role as a wife since the legal system is another position of male authority similar to the police force that is often presumed to privilege the patriarchy.
Although director Park-as-arbitrator interrupts the audience-as-arbitrator to claim where proper sympathy should be weighed regarding the divorce proceedings, the reverse happens in relation to director Park-as-detective. The detective is eventually cut-off from perspectives the audience is allowed to see. The audience is provided greater privileges to information than the detective. In the flashback that informs us of 301's marriage, we witness matters that the detective is very likely not privy to, particularly certain visual motifs such as 301's chopping off the tip of the phallic cucumber in front of the picture of the "happy" couple at their wedding that will foreshadow 301's chopping up of the vibrator. The detective is clearly not informed at all about the final denouement, when 302 asks that 301 kill and eat her and 301 obliges. Before 302 offers her request inside a flashback, in fact, the detective is told to drink the blended juice 301 has prepared, one she also prepared for 302, and then told to leave. It is significant that he is not asked to leave, but told simply to leave, a directive, not a request. Papazian states that 301 "asks" the detective to leave in her arguments regarding the detective's position as an authoritative male,39 but this cannot be downplayed as an interpretation encouraged by a subtitle translation mistake. The subtitles on both the DVD and VHS release in the United States also have 301 telling, not asking, the detective to leave. The subtitle reads, "Drink this and leave." Papazian has imposed an interpretation that is not demonstrative in the text. 301's demeanor in the scene underscores that she is not making a demur request. The subtitle presents a valid translation and that translation is an instruction, not a request. This command closes the chapter on any possible (patriarchal) authority we may have felt the detective possessed.40
Now that the male detective's authority is fully blocked and we are left alone with just these two women, 301 and 302, what are we to make of this ending? How might 302's request to be killed and eaten by 301 be interpreted at all in a feminist way? It is quite understandable how Papazian would argue that the ending demonstrates that "women can't help each other" and portrays "a feminism that disallows sisterhood."41 And outside of the context of the ways that women characters are most often portrayed by male directors in South Korean cinema up until this time, this aspect of Papazian's argument is quite defendable.42
However, when we bring in the primary ways that South Korean women have been portrayed by South Korean (overwhelmingly male) directors prior to 301, 302's release as suffering, dying, disappearing women, we can see that 301 taking in 302 allows for an alternative trajectory from Papazian's labeling of the film as "pseudo-feminism". When comparing Park's female characters with other directors working around the same time, we can see that Park's later films were opening up greater space for agency. For example, in Im Kwon-taek's films women are often portrayed as willing sufferers for a greater national and patriarchal goal. Most often, women are meant to represent more than just women; that is, to represent the suffering history of South Korea as well. Thus, in the films of Im Kwon-taek, women's bodies have been the source of much trauma, their lives the source of much tragedy. Such perpetual positioning of women's bodies by Im and others has brought Eunson Cho to indict ". . . the cruelty of Korean national cinema that fabricates beauty out of that cruelty."43 One of the oft repeated images Im utilizes to continually represent this women-as-suffering-Korea trope is the close-up of a woman's face in agony and ecstasy. The facial focus during intercourse, often a rape scene or at least set up as a woman's reluctant first experience with intercourse, is found in Surrogate Mother (Im Kwon-taek, 1987, South Korea), Adada (Im Kwon-taek, 1987, South Korea) and Come, Come, Come Upward (Im Kwon-taek, 1989, South Korea).44 Surrogate Mother returns to this focus on a woman's face when the characters engage in consensual sex for pleasure. Also, Im again uses this visual motif when the woman in Surrogate Mother gives birth. Im even returns to this visual motif in a later film such as Low Life (Im Kwon-taek, 2004, South Korea). In Low Life, the main male character specifically labels the sight of his wife's facial agony while giving birth as something similar to divinity or holiness. Such uses of this motif on Im's part presents the plausible interpretation that these moments for women characters are interchangeable and are all divine: the agony of childbirth, the ecstasy of desired consensual intercourse, and the horror of violent, imposed intercourse. Im's masterpiece, Sopyonje (Im Kwon-taek, 1993), vividly presents the horrible history of suffering in Korea imposed upon the character of Song-hwa whose adoptive father purposely blinds her so that she can better exude the pain and suffering of the p'ansori singing form. Chungmoo Choi adds convincingly that we can interpret that Song-hwa was also raped by her adoptive father through the cultural significance of her hairstyle presented following the blinding.45 Much of the final images of this film bring the camera's focus to the face of Song-hwa as she exudes her country's sufferings through her p'ansori wails. The problem with Im's stylistic choice here, and throughout his oeuvre where this is utilized, is that by having a woman's suffering act as metaphor for her country's suffering, her own suffering is suppressed. Thus the suffering of all Korean women is suppressed.46 In addition, the suffering of Korean women is deemed necessary for the sake of the country.
Revisiting 302's predicament with this in mind, we see that her unwillingness to take in what the world has to offer her is an attempt to resist the suffering imposed upon her by the patriarchal order of South Korean society.47 302 refuses to simply accept suffering as a woman's national role. Although not a truly liberating choice, what she desires is to "disappear". This avenue presents limited possibilities for women characters when refusing to simply accept the suffering imposed on them, but it is still a way to avoid the suffering.48 Returning to Im Kwon-taek's Surrogate Mother and Adada, both these main characters find escape from their predicaments through death. Ok-nyo in Surrogate Mother chooses her death,49 whereas the title character of Adada tries to establish a more fulfilling life through a second marriage, but this leads to her tragic drowning. Such suicides and deaths are a way out of the sufferings imposed by patriarchal interpretations of history and women's roles, but, again, they are not truly liberating.
Exile provides another, non-deadly, way one might "disappear". Another director not talked about much anymore, Jang Sun-woo, provided such opportunities of escape to many of his female characters. Whereas Im's female characters take their suffering as martyrs, Chunhyang (Im Kwon-taek, 2000, South Korea) displaying this martyrdom quite vividly, Jang's female characters eventually get up and leave. In To You From Me (Jang Sun-woo, 1994, South Korea), a young women finds her sexual relationship with a male writer problematic and stifling so she eventually leaves for greater pastures. In The Lovers of Woomuk Baemi (Jang Sun Woo, 1990, South Korea), a woman finds an escape from her abusive relationship through the affections of a co-worker. but she eventually realizes she needs to leave that relationship as well. Stepping into the 21st Century, the woman director Jeong Jae-eun found resolution for two of her young women characters by putting them on a plane for Australia in her debut masterpiece Take Care of My Cat (Jeong Jae-eun, 2001, South Korea). And many of Hong Sangsoo's female characters, such as those in Nobody's Daughter Haewon (2013, South Korea) and Our Sunhi (2013), find greater freedom outside South Korea. Although exile provides a more liberating avenue than acceptance of the political conditions through suffering or escape through death, it is as if women must exit the frames of South Korean film if they wish to find fulfillment as agents. Even in exile, we still do not have the more liberating, more feminist of avenues that create a space that lessens, if not eliminates, the destructive impact of hegemonic patriarchy.
If we add to these portrayals of acceptance of suffering and escape through death or exile the fact that female characters with any agency at all are too often absent from many South Korean films before the 21st century,50 we see that there is not much allowance for a feminist space created within South Korean cinema. This is where I feel 301, 302 is, if not a beginning,51 at least a crossroad towards greater feminist space of female agency in South Korean cinema because of, not in spite of, the cannibalism metaphor.
There are obvious references to the Eucharist during the cannibalistic act, where 302 is, in a sense, asking 301 to 'take eat, this is my body' in a way reminiscent of the holy rite of communion in certain Christian faiths. Adding to the support of this interpretation is the fact that 301 eats the remains of 302 while drinking red wine, alluding to the blood of Christ metaphorically consumed along with the wafers or bread that represents Christ's body. Cynthia Freeland has summarized different interpretations of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that present feminization of Christ's body, particularly how blood is associated "with nourishment for the soul",52 as in the frequent accompaniment of depictions of Christ's crucifixion with images of mother pelicans who are believed to willingly offer blood from their breasts to their young if their survival dictated such actions.53 These Christian motifs could possibly present feminist readings of the conclusion of 301, 302.
This blood has references to Korean spiritual traditions as well, specifically Shamanism. The blood of chickens in Shamanist rituals are believed to ward off evil spirits. By offering herself up for sacrifice, 302's blood that we see spread across 301's apartment and sprayed upon 301 can be seen as a ritual to ward off the evil spirits that continually try to invade 301. And since 301 was, in the end, successful in thwarting the intrusion of the male detective's patriarchal gaze, this ritual served its purpose. And references to Korean Shamanism are particularly women-centric since shaman are more often women who administer to women.54 In Mudang: Reconciliation Between the Living and the Dead (Park Ki-bok, 2003, South Korea), a documentary on Shamanism in South Korea, we witness the feminist potential of this religion when a female shaman scolds the men in the family for whom she is providing a Jinjeok Gut (a ritual of a shaman's ancestors). In this way, Shamanism appears to provide subversive opportunities for feminist critiques in a society that might disallow more direct critiques. In this way, 302's offering of her body and blood is not simply an appropriation of Christian rituals but has indigenous roots as well. 301's communion with the body and blood of 302 becomes a charm that protects 301 from the evil spirits of patriarchy, connecting both interpretations.
However, it is problematic seeing 302 "sacrifice" herself for 301 and other women through these Christian and Shamanist readings. Such an interpretation risks contributing to the women-as-martyr tropes that were addressed earlier here in the work of Im Kwon-taek, albeit in 301, 302 we have a sacrifice for other women rather than a sacrifice that primarily benefits men and the nation. Even though 302 is a woman who asks another woman to "sacrifice" her, such interpretations still support Papazian's claim that ". . . The real tragedy in this state of affairs is that women can't even help each other."55 Therefore, this ending remains problematic and "pseudo" in its feminism. It contains a nihilism similar to films like Im's where woman can only relieve themselves of, or are relieved from, their suffering through death.
The answer to the feminist dilemma posed by 301, 302 might lie in the Brazilian appropriation of cannibalism metaphors that were imposed on them by white European colonialists. Here is the myth of Brazil's cannibalistic past as summarized by Julian Dribbell:
In 1556, not long after the Portugese first set foot in Brazil, the Bishop Pero Fernandes Sardinha was shipwrecked on its shores and set about introducing the gospel of Christ to the native "heathens." The locals, impressed with the glorious civilization the bishop represented and eager to absorb it in its totality, promptly ate him (p 194).56
Proving whether or not any claims of cannibalism in Brazil are apocryphal or legitimate would take this article on another tangent altogether. The point is the myth has stuck as a historical footnote.57 Regardless of its validity, Gilberto Gil, musician and former Minister of Culture in Brazil, has taken this myth and flipped it to describe his country's response to the effects of economic imperialism that adversely impacts not only Brazilian arts and culture, but the country's overall medical health when we consider Brazil's battle with global pharmaceutical companies to provide cheaper drugs to address the AIDS crisis. Working off the musical genre processed through the swallowing of other genres, tropicalismo. Gil uses the verb "to tropicalize" to describe the act of cannibalizing culture that is imposed upon one from an outsider.58
Although I am not aware of Korean myths that position Korean women as cannibals similar to how indigenous peoples of pre-colonial Brazil have been, the bodies of South Korean women have been metaphorically cannibalized in specific films. Writing about the portrayal of Adada in the film of the same name, Cho notes how, "Aestheticized and fetishsized, [Adada's] pain and death are absorbed into a mythic nature."59 We can add that Adada's body has been consumed, has been cannibalized by the film. 301, 302 steps away from similarly aestheticizing and fetishsizing through its cannibalism motif because of the way it continually critiques the patriarchy throughout the film. And with this knowledge of the images of South Korean women up to this point in South Korean cinema, 302 can be seen as representing these women who were cannibalized cinematically for national and patriarchal metaphorical use. The fact that 302's presence in the film is more often surreal than real, (e.g., 302's head appearing in the refrigerators, 302's figure appearing as if an apparition within her and 301's apartment), further supports that the character of 302 can be read as a composite of the oppressed images of South Korean women in South Korean cinema. Therefore, 301 can be see as tropicalizing the images that 302 represents rather than cannibalizing 302 herself. In eating 302, 301 is tropicalizing the images of South Korean womanhood that have been forced upon her and her sisters by the patriarchy. 301 is not swallowing 302, but swallowing these cinematic images of women, processing them, and cultivating new cinematic options for women. Tropicalizing implies agency over the powers that seek to limit ones agency. In requesting that 302 tropicalize her, 301 is nourished towards a more liberating cinematic image for South Korean women.
Returning to the intertext of Fatal Attraction and the subversive twist on the killing and cooking of a pet, we have even more support that we are witnessing tropicalism rather than cannibalism. The film Fatal Attraction is an important marker in the history of South Korean cinema. As a continuation of protests against the cultural imperialism imposed by the United States, major protests were centered around the first film United international Pictures released in South Korea in 1988. And that very first film was Fatal Attraction. Many people within the film industry were a part of these protests. As a result of these protests, only 10 percent of theaters would screen the film.60 301, 302's intertextual subversion of the content of Fatal Attraction offers a critique along the lines of the actual protests that were directed at the cultural imperialism from the United States.61 301, 302 intertextually takes the content of Fatal Attraction, a product from the United States brought to South Korea, masticates the movie, and processes it into a film exhibiting agency for South Korean women, a complete inverse of the metaphoring of women in other South Korean films mentioned throughout this essay, and a complete re-visioning of refusing sympathy for the patriarchy within Fatal Attraction.
After 301, 302, we will continue to see Korean women characters follow the previous options afforded them: the suffering accepted in Chunhyang, the death as punishment in Happy End (Jung Ji-woo, 1999, South Korea),62 and the exile to freedom of characters in Take Care of My Cat or the films of Hong Sangsoo. However, we will also have a greater number of films challenging the impositions of patriarchy, opening up cinematic space for South Korean women. Films such as Memento Mori (Kim Tae-yong & Min Kyu-dong, 1999, South Korea) where Mi-sun refuses to reject and suppress the history of a lesbian couple at her school and instead aligns herself with their story that exists outside the patriarchal order. Or A Good Lawyer's Wife (Im Sang-soo, 2003, South Korea) where a wife ventures beyond the confines of her marriage with confident optimism. Or Ardor (Byun Young-joo, 2002, South Korea) where the woman who has had an affair that has liberated her does not receive a death sentence for her actions.
Then there is Invisible Light (Gina Kim, 2003, South Korea) where the woman followed in the second narrative doesn't retaliate against the 'other woman' of the first narrative, but struggles to find solutions to her own present predicament. Her struggles are presented to us in vivid detail in the end as we are forced to look deep into her eyes as she rises from ecstasy of self-serviced orgasm and then dives into tears of despair in one long, amazing take. But unlike Im, this focus on the face is not intended to objectify into metaphor but maintains her personhood. We are forced to connect with her rather than disconnect with an objectifying, metaphorical distance. Her joys and sorrows are fully humanized in this scene. This character has not figured her way out, but by drawing the audience's attention to the intimacy of her face during these most vulnerable moments of masturbatory delight and emotional release, we align with her struggle. She does not accept her suffering, she does not die, and she does not have to escape from the frame to find her space in society. In fact, she returns to South Korea to resolve her struggle. In this way, her joy and despair stay with us as we leave the theater.
As much as I am arguing for a wider feminist take on 301, 302, it still required the death of a female character to make its point. In addition, although I haven't seen Park's films prior to 301, 302, plot descriptions leave me with the possibility that some were problematic.63 The fact that 301, 302 was written by a woman, Lee Seo-gun, doesn't absolve the film of any feminist critiques, but I do feel the film strives towards feminism within particular societal constraints. It is not "pseudo-feminism" as much as it is a feminism that considers historical and cultural context. And the tropicalismo critique I have provided here supports that Park and Lee were doing something beyond other directors of the time.
Still, Invisible Light is indeed the film closer to feminism's repeated demands for treating women as human beings. I will not claim Park Chul-soo inspired such artistic visions that followed carving out more space for South Korean women. However, 301, 302 and much of Park's later work appear to make efforts towards solidarity that few other South Korean male directors were making at the time.
1. I am unsure if the first South Korean film I ever saw was 301, 302 or Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (Bae Yong-gyun, 1989). I definitely saw 301, 302 at the Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri on Delmar Boulevard when it was released in theaters. I saw Bae's Buddhist parable at a special screening at a university. Unfortunately, I only started documenting all the films I watched in 2003 so I do not know which one of these South Korean films I saw first.
2. I only watched Bongja once and my memory fails me regarding the film so I will not be including it in the discussion here.
3. The US distributor of Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (Bae Yong-gyun, 1989) was Milestone Films. They released the film in over 30 cities following its US premiere in New York City on September 24, 1993. See the following tweet from the official account of Milestone Films (last accessed 1/7/2020) - https://twitter.com/MilestoneFilms/status/1214604083765633024?s=20 As an interesting aside of what could have been, New Yorker films purchased the US distribution rights many years earlier to Lee Jang-ho's The Man with Three Coffins (1988) but never released it in theaters. See the following tweet from the official account of Milestone Films (last accessed 1/7/2020) - https://twitter.com/MilestoneFilms/status/1214604387739406336?s=20
4. And this wasn't just in cities with large Asian American populations like San Francisco. I saw them and rented them in St. Louis and in Berea, Ohio, my hometown suburb of Cleveland.
5. Mary C. Brinton, "Married Women's Labor in East Asian Economies," Women's Working Lives in East Asia. Mary C. Brinton. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2001. 1-37.
6. See Nancy Abelmann, The Melodrama of Mobility: Women, Talk, and Class in Contemporary South Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i' Press, 2003; Laura Kendall, Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Consumption in the Republic of Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002; Kyung Hyun Kim, The Remasculinization of South Korean Cinema. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004; and Kathleen McHugh and Nancy Abelmann, South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre, and National Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005.
7. Hyangsoon Yi, "Old Masters and New Cinema: Korean Film in Transition," Texts and Context of Korean Cinema: Crossing Borders, p. 4. Paper presented at 9th Annual Han Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Korean Humanities at The George Washington University, Washington, DC, October 26, 2002, http://www.gwu.edu/%7Eeall/special/HMS02-Yt.htm (Last accessed September 5, 2005; link no longer valid and The Internet Archives The Wayback Machine doesn't return a copy). Quote is from page 15 of that document.
8. Yi, 3.
9. Park Chul-soo, "An Interview with Park Chul-soo," by Adam Hartzell at the 7th Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, on April 26, 2005, Koreanfilm.org, http://www.koreanfilm.org/parkcs-int.html (Last accessed on December 8, 2016).
11. Yi spells Park's last name using the McCune Reischauer romanization "Pak". Park Chul-soo's family name is now more commonly written in Western publications as "Park".
12. Yi, 3.
13. In the US, the Korean Film Directors series is distributed by Seoul Selections via University of Hawai'i Press and each volume can be found here - https://www.seoulselection.com/usa/category.php?id_category=14 (Last accessed February 17, 2018). The series is presently dormant and no additional volumes have been published for some time.
14. Joan Kee, "Claiming Sites of Independence: Articulating Hysteria in Pak Ch'ol-su's 301,302 (1995)." positions: eastern asia cultures critique, 9, Fall 2001: 449-66. Quote is from p. 452. As you can see from the citation, Kee, like Yi, uses McCune-Reischauer romanization.
15. Gretch Papazian, "Anorexia Envisioned: Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet, Chul-soo Park's 301,302, and Todd Haynes's Superstar," Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film, ed. Anne L. Bower, New York: Routledge, 2004, 147-166. This essay is first and foremost an exploration of how anorexia is presented through cinema. Papazian makes an excellent case, which I agree with, that the provocative film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (Todd Haynes, 1987, USA) about the singer Karen Carpenter's anorexia is the most powerful of cinematic presentations of the eating disorder. However, I do wish to respond in my essay here to her calling 301, 302 "pseudo-feminism" by expanding on aspects of the film I feel were ignored or downplayed in her essay. I also wish to note aspects of South Korean cinema that, when brought into context with 301, 302, support feminist readings of 301, 302.
16. Both 301 and 302 have names. 301 is Song-hee and is played by actress Pang Eun-jin (who has gone on to direct her own films, such as her fairly successful debut film in 2005, Princess Aurora), and 302 is Yoon-hee and is played by Hwang Shin-hye. I am following in Joan Kee's footsteps in referring to the characters by their apartment numbers. Kee notes in an endnote that she chooses this naming method because she wants ". . . to emphasize their anonymity in the contemporary urban context" (464). In addition, I chose this naming method because I have found that people with whom I talk about the film follow the discussion better this way rather than referring to each character's actual name. Another way to differentiate the characters that people have found helpful is to note that 301 does not wear glasses while 302 does.
17. We will learn later about 301's past, how her husband became dismissive of her food and began an affair, explaining why 301 might react so negatively to 302 refusing her meals.
18. As Kee notes, it is never clear if 302's father is indeed a step-father or her biological father. I will refer to the character in this article as a step-father since such is hinted at in the film enough to justify this naming.
19. Kee, 456.
20. When directly quoting subtitles from the film, I have sought confirmation of the translation through individuals fluent in Korean and English. Unless otherwise noted as different translations advocated by my consultants, I have used the subtitles present on the DVD version of 301, 302 available in the United States. Although I confirmed "disappear" is a proper translation, the first time 302 states she wants to "disappear" she is literally saying "I wish I wasn't". I want to thank Kyu Hyun Kim and Tom Giammarco for their assistance with these various translations.
21. Papazian, 163.
23. Both Kee and Papazian.
24. Kee notes that "Single successful women are treated as icons of Korean modernization, . . ." (450) in South Korean cultural products.
25. Papazian, 158.
27. The main argument of Kee's article is, "By developing a language of hysteria from symptoms ordinarily classified as hysterical, the female protagonists evade scripts defined by the patriarchy, and this allows them to negotiate a space that is separate from the patriarchy" (450). This is not hysteria that demands a "cure", but a hysteria that demands a space free from the patriarchal gaze. Kee's argument here is even more compelling now considering how Park has continued to utilize hysteria as an evasive mode for women in later films such as Kazoku Cinema and Green Chair.
28. The screenplay of 301, 302 was written by a woman, Lee Seo-gun. Lee would go on to write and direct Rub Love (1998) and The Recipe (2010). Here I must admit my scholarly limitations in that I do not know much about Lee and her thoughts on the script and the film. As a result, my limitations result in over-emphasizing Park's part and under-emphasizing Lee's part in what makes 301, 302 such a compelling film. This is an area of future research that should be expanded on and I hope someone with greater access to Lee and her work will fill in the cavernous gaps in my research.
29. We will learn later that 301 was herself guilty of such voyeurism, further demonstrating pre-shift 301, as someone Kee argues was initially echoing patriarchal scripts. The detective, and pre-shift 301, both gazed at drafts of 302's work. Drafts are much more vulnerable pieces of writing than finished articles since they present the thought process where ideas are tried out before one commits to them. Drafts do not fully represent what will eventually become the finished product, the final argument to which one commits. So drafts can easily be mis-interpreted. Also, we will learn how 302 is not permitted by society's gatekeepers to publish in her authentic voice, so even her finished work does not truly represent her thoughts. 301 was equally judgmental of 302 when she first read 302's drafts without permission. Having learned much more about 302's life, 301 shifts to place 302 in a greater context and 301 now acts to intervene as proxy before the detective mis-interprets 302's writing.
31. As an ethical stance, I will refrain from stating which fast food chain is represented here in order to avoid being complicit in further branding. I am not aware if this is a concerted effort on this company's part to place its product in this film. However, the same company is represented in another South Korean film of the same year, The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well (Hong Sangsoo, 1996, South Korea). Regardless of whether or not this is purposeful product placement in Park's film, this particular use of a name brand product in this way by Park is another example of the subversion of product placement in certain South Korean films that I discuss in a detailed analysis of one particular South Korean film in the following article - Adam Hartzell, "I Crave for Ramen: The Subversion of Product Placement in Yong Yi's Spring Bears Love," The Film Journal 9 Jul. 2004, http://www.thefilmjournal.com/issue9/ramen.html (This URL was last accessed September 7, 2005. It is now a dead link. However, you can use the Internet Archive's wonderful resource, The Way Back Machine, to locate snapshots, such as this one taken on June 5th, 2011 - https://web.archive.org/web/20110605033707/http://www.thefilmjournal.com/issue9/ramen.html
31. The subtitles state that the detective says, "From now on, be more selective in what you eat." My language consultant advocated for the translation I use in the text of this article, which better represents the feel of the scene, underscoring the detective's anger with his colleague. It is noteworthy to clarify that my language consultant was unaware of the arguments I was making in my piece, yet their translation further supports my interpretation of this scene as representing the detective's alignment with the politics and perspective of 301.
32. Edward Jay Epstein, The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood. New York: Random House, 2005.
33. "Forever Fatal: Remembering Fatal Attraction" 2002 documentary short, no director is cited - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5270756/ - but can be found on the 2005 special Collector's Edition release of the DVD for Fatal Attraction.
34. For an example of intertext in cinema that influenced my approach of considering Fatal Attraction as a potential influence on 301, 302, see Chris Berry, "All at Sea? National History and Historiology in Soul's Protest and Phantom, The Submarine," New Korean Cinema. Ed., Chi-Yun Shin and Julian Stringer, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, Ltd., 2005. 144-156.
35. I am referring here to the infamous protest against Universal International Pictures' release of Fatal Attraction in South Korea that involved releasing snakes into the theater along with other acts of violence. Eungjun Min, Jinsook Joo, and Han Ju Kwak, Korean Film: History, Resistance, and Democratic Imagination. Westport Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2003.
36. There is another interesting parallel involving Fatal Attraction in South Korea, this one concerning the response of the screen test audience in the United States to Fatal Attraction and the response of South Korean audiences to The Housemaid (Kim Ki-young, 1960, South Korea) during its run in theaters. Soyoung Kim has written about how female audience members were reported by newspapers to have negatively reacted to the 'other woman' in The Housemaid. This film involves a housemaid who is hired into the split-level home of a middle-class family. This housemaid begins an affair with the husband and wreaks havoc on the family with her demands when she discovers she is pregnant. Rather than sympathize with the plight of the housemaid, (a plight that the film doesn't help the audience sympathize with since she's given no past and is utilized solely for horror effect), women audience members were reported to yell "Kill the bitch!" at the screen when the housemaid seduces the husband. (For further discussion, see Soyoung Kim, "Questions of Women's Films: The Maid, Madame Freedom, and Women," McHugh and Abelmann, 185-200.) These reports show that a significant number of women watching The Housemaid partly aligned publicly with the patriarchy in response to the threats to dismantling the security of the patriarchal home by the woman outsider. By keeping the 'other woman' out of sight, and focusing 301's anger and retaliation at the patriarchy rather than the 'other woman', the film 301, 302 is all the more significant in its divergence from South Korea's variations on patriarchal scripts.
37. Kee, 457. I disagree, however, with Kee's claim that this arbitrator is a "neutral force". Park's direction of the arbitrator's quick dismissal of 301's husband is clearly meant to align the arbitrator's sympathies with 301's predicament well over her husband's, encouraging the audience to align their sympathies with 301 as well.
38. Miriam Lopez-Rodriguez, "Cooking Mexicanness: Shaping national identity in Alfonso Arau's Como aqua para chocolate", Bower, 61-73.
39. Papazian, 158.
40. Although as Kee clarifies, this does not mean that 301 can let her guard down. 301 will need to continue in her deflection of the gaze since the space she has created for herself is temporary.
41. Papazian, 158.
42. And to her credit, Papazian is very clear in an endnote that she is approaching this film from a "'viewerly' perspective" (166) of her particulars, being American, a woman, etc.. She is not writing in a frame of any historical reference to South Korean cinema, so I understand why she might not be aware of the context such a frame provides. I will submit as well to my White, American, cishet male-ness, etc.. I am a non-Korean speaker who is dependent on the subtitles. All of that impacts my own "'viewerly' perspective". However, what I will argue in this final section of this article is how a perspective on how women have been portrayed by South Korean male directors from 1980s-onward affords an opening up of a more feminist ending here in 301, 302. That is, a perspective that allows greater cinematic freedoms to Korean women.
43. Eunson Cho, "The Female Body and Enunciation in Adada and Surrogate Mother," Im Kwon-taek: The Making of a Korean National CInema. Ed. David James and Kyung Hyun Kim, (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001), 84-106. Quote is found on page 91.
44. Interestingly, in Come, Come, Come Upwards the main character eventually covers her face with her monk's stocking cap while being raped, as if she knows she is being looked at and refuses to let the audience see her.
45. Chungmoo Choi, "The Politics of Gender, Aestheticism, and Cultural Nationalism in Sopyonje and The Genealogy," James and Kim, 107-135. Im has responded to this critique of the film by saying "I am aware of that concern. I argue that you should not see Sopyonje as a film that exploits women" (Im, James, and Kim, 258). However, although he elaborates why he made the film, he never specifically addresses Choi's critique in the interview and why he chose to arrange her hair in a way that represents a married woman. Plus, telling viewers simply to not see a film that way isn't much of a counter-argument.
47. I also submit that the metaphoring of diseases and disorders, such as Anorexia, can be problematic. See Susan Sontag, Illness As Metaphor & AIDS As Metaphor, (New Tork: Picador, 2001). Yet, where I disagree with Sontag's important argument is that while some metaphors can be destructive and harmful to the real life individuals who have such diseases, other politically-aware metaphors can be constructive and helpful in enduring if not fully liberating the suffering and obstacles that each unique disease presents. However, I reserve that such 'positive metaphoring' be reserved for those with the diseases/conditions. For example, consider Deaf Sound Artist Christine Sun Kim's use of music metaphors to talk about American Sign Language in her Ted Talk "The Enchanting Music of Sign Language" which can be round on YouTube here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Euof4PnjDk (Last visited February, 16, 2018).
49. Surrogate Mother, by showing the suffering of Ok-Nyo in her societally-limited position as a woman of a particular class in Korea at this time in her history, presents her death as her only option to escape with dignity. In this way, the film presents an indictment of the oppression of Korean women during this historical period. Yet, Im would later go on to retract his arguments set within this film, saying the film was a mistake. See James, and Kim for Im's later retraction of Surrogate Mother, saying he made the film "arrogantly" (257).
50. K.H. Kim.
51. Although I have seen over hundreds of South Korean films in my ongoing scholarly engagement with the nation's cinema, I am quite hesitant to claim 'firsts' or 'beginnings'. There are feminist-leaning films from the past, such as Kim Soo-young's A Seaside Village (1965). In this film, the widows of this village have created a space that allows them greater freedoms, particularly concerning their sexual selves, than are provided women in other films of the time. A character, Hae-soon, in the film does marry a man who rapes her, but that rapist husband is eventually punished for his misogyny when it erupts again later in the film. Thus, the film as a whole does not condone the rape as it might appear to initially. In addition, Hae-soon is not shunned by the women of her village for any of this, but unquestioningly embraced back into the fold following this incident. The film is a refreshing portrayal of empowering sisterhood during a time in South Korean cinema's history where such progressive portrayals are normally disallowed. This is not a one-off for Kim Soo-young either. His film Kinship (1964) is an early respectful portrayal of sex workers.
52. Cynthia Freeland, "The Women Who Loved Jesus: Suffering and the Traditional Feminine Role," Mel Gibson's Passion and Philosophy. ed. Jorge J.E. Garcia. Chicago, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company, 2004, 151-62. Quoted passage is on page 160.
53. Ibid. Ornithologist Peter Tate offers the explanation for this mistaken belief to be found in early observers misinterpreting the blood on the beak pouch of adult pelicans that came from macerated food as blood from the adult pelican itself. See the blog A-Wing and A-Way by M.R. Emberson and his article "Pelicans: 'V' Is For Vulture - And Virgin Birth, Too." Posted on January 19, 2005. Last visited February 10, 2018 - https://awingandaway.wordpress.com/tag/pelicans/
54. Laural Kendall, Shamans, Housewives, and Other Restless Spirits. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1987.
55. Papazian, 158.
56. Julian Dibbell, "We Pledge Allegiance to The Penguin, and The Intellectual Property Regime for Which He Stands. One Nation, Under Linux, With Free Music And Open Source Software For All. Welcome to Brazil!" Wired Nov 2004: 190-197.
57. And speaking of footnotes, tangentials are part of what footnotes, or in this particular case endnotes, are for. The reason I qualify the status of this story as possibly myth is because some scholars question the many historical references to cannibalism. As Patricia Walton notes in her book Our Cannibals, Ourselves, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004), when commenting on the cannibal myth-busting work of Jonathan Aren, "Aren's challenge that cannibalism never existed may appear extreme, yet his contentions are not easily dismissed . . .. Indeed, in The Man-Eating Myth he argues convincingly that anthropologists have been quick to accept the presence of cannibalism with dubious or little evidence" (98).
58. Dibbell, 195.
59. Cho, 90.
60. Min, Joo, and Han.
61. As noted in an early endnote, in addition to non-violent protests, there were violent threats such as the snakes released in the theater along with death threats and one theater set on fire. (See Min, Joo, and Han) I am in no way implying that 301, 302 is in concert with the violent and destructive tactics used by some protesters. Nor am I implying that Park himself or the film's screenwriter Lee Seo-gun participated in any protests. I don't know whether or not either had. I am merely arguing that it is very likely that Fatal Attraction affected this film as intertext. Since Fatal Attraction is a film that was the site of major protests around cultural imperialism in South Korea, the intertext within 301, 302 extends the protest against U.S. cultural imperialism.
62. Yes, it could all be a dream, I know. But even if it is a dream, the dream can be interpreted as a wish of the main character and the wider patriarchy.
63. The Wikipedia entry for Park Chul-soo describes his second feature that brought him to prominence, The Rain that Falls Every Night (1979), describes the plot as one where a woman falls in love with her rapist. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Chul-soo (last viewed February 18, 2018).