Seen in Jeonju

Archive for the 'pre-1950' Category

Volunteer (1941)

25th January 2012

volunteerThe story:  Choon-ho (in the photo) is depressed about his limited future. In his own words, “The son of a peasant becomes a peasant.” His short-term ‘career’ goal is to be able to cultivate the land on the hill next to the land he farms. He does not own the land, it belongs to Mr. Park who lives very comfortably with his younger sister, Soo-ae in Seoul.  As his father before him, Choon-ho is the land supervisor for Mr. Park, but Park and most of the tenant farmers (rightly) do not believe Choon-ho should inherit that position, but believe it should go to the person with the most experience, Deok-sam.  At the same time that he is informed of Park’s decision, Choon-ho has his sole dream crushed as the landlord does not want the land on the hill cultivated. 

Well, maybe calling cultivating the hill his sole dream is a little bit of an exaggeration. Choon-ho is engaged to the beautiful country girl Boon-ok..but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. They have been engaged for two years but no closer to getting married. Boon-ok justifies this by blaming herself. “I am useless,” she states right after we are introduced to us referencing her elementary school-level education. And to say she lacks confidence would be an understatement. When Choon-ho announces he must go to Seoul after receiving a telegram, Boon-ok droops and moans, “You just want to get away from me.” 

The trip to Seoul leaves Choon-ho depressed not just because of losing the supervisor position. While walking through Seoul, he sees many signs and banners recruiting soldiers for the Japanese army.  Choon-ho believes joining the army and serving the emperor would give his life purpose. It gets worse for him as his long-standing relationship with Boon-ok hits a bump.  She sees him with Soo-ae, a girl who grew up with them but now lives in Seoul and has modernized. She wears western style clothes and has permed her hair (”Like a sheep” says one of the farmers)

Fortunately for Choon-ho, he learns from his friendly Japanese neighbor that, since the annexation of Korea is now complete, Koreans are eligable to volunteer to join the armed forces. Choon-ho drops everything and signes up, leaving the farm, his elderly mother and (ex?) girlfriend behind.

Say what you will about propaganda films, they do know how to get their message across using symbols.  The use of the train tracks in this movie clearly are meant to show progress and moving away from the past.  The scenes of marching Choon-ho and the cadets at the training camp also indicate positive motion and contrast with most images of Choon-ho on the farm where he is sitting or standing in one place. He represents the youth of Korea, then subjects of Japan, and we are meant to believe that he is better off because of that fact. His life will have meaning in the battlefields and he will serve his country as a protector.

What then of Boon-ok?  Well, she is the face of the past. She is weak and unconfident in her own abilities. We learn in the course of the movie that she was promised to be married to Deok-sam’s son when the two were children..and ancient tradition that mires her deeper in the past. She must be left behind if Choon-ho is to succeed. The fact that she does have a marriage option that will also prove her obedience to her father’s will, helps alievate what worry the audience might feel for her. But if she does go through with the marriage (which I believe she would) she would be marrying a farmer, implied to lack education, and neither will progress any further.

There are many other images and subplots in the film that are worth exploring, but I don’t want to spoil the entire movie.  Volunteer is part of The Past Unearthed DVD collection.  All four of the films comprising the collection were made during the colonial period and provide a unique look at life in Korea at that time in history.

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Dear Soldier (1944)

10th October 2010

dear soldierNot too long ago, I had written a short review of Military Train (1938) and three years earlier, Angels on the Street (1941).  Both of these films were made expressly to to promote the policies of the Japan and in both of those movies, the points promoting the views of the office of the Governor General were, for the most part, delivered subtly. Both of those films had a typical story with a plot that moved along and a crisis to be solved. There were characters that we could identify and care about. Dear Soldier is not like those other films at all. It was made in 1944. Japanese rule was at its strictest–Korean language was forbidden, resources from Korea, including human resources, were being used to fight the Pacific War. What started out as a volunteer system for gathering soldiers on the peninsula, as seen in the film Volunteer (1941) soon turned to conscription. However, Dear Soldier does not feature a plot that advances. Time passes for the characters but we actually learn remarkably little about them. They are Everymen and are supposed to exemplify how young men and their families should deal with the draft. By 1944, Japan was in desperate straits and the war was not going well. The general in the film announces that these first draftees whom we watch will be the first of untold thousands from the peninsula. There was certainly a desire to make the process of conscription and training seem as pleasant as possible.

The movie pulls out all the stops and makes joining the Japanese military appealing. Vats of rice are shown being prepared for the soldiers. Chicken and meat are prepared on shelves in industrial-sized ovens. The recruits are given more snacks and cookies than they can eat. The importance of food shoul not be under estimated. It was in short supply in the later days of Japanese rule. In fact, the same director who made this film, Bang Han-joon, made another that same year, The Story of Big Whales, which was to convince people that the whalin/fishing industry was not in trouble and their hungry days would soon be over. Seeing so much food supplied to the recruits must have made the idea of being forced to join the army somewhat better for at least a few young men.

The basic training and boot camp, as depicted in this movie, seemed very comfortable, more like a vacation than training. Characters express at several points in the film that the army is more like a family than job. In fact, characters show absolutely no concern for their true families. One recruit’s wife gives birth to his daughter. Does he ask for a leave of absence? No, even when it is suggested he simply says “Don’t make a big deal out of it. Let’s do the laundry.” He has no need to worry. His wife reported that she is fine. The families of the soldiers are equally guilty of a lack of concern. One set of parents go to visit their son, but are content to just meet his sergeant because “Meeting his superior is even better than meeting <their son>.” 

One of the reasons families, in particular mothers, do not worry about their sons and vice-versa is that they have received personalized letters from the Governor General telling them to be proud of their sons as they serve Japan. This is apparently quite an honor and the families all gush on about how they now have a relationship with the top members of of the government. Of course, this would be a useful thing, but my first thought was that this was a form letter that some clerk stamped with an official seal and filled without the Governor General ever seeing them…

The movie focuses on two young men, Jenki Hiramatsu and Eichi Yatsumoto. Wait–those aren’t Korean names? Why are they being drafted from Choseon?  Make no mistake, they are Koreans. One of the changes that had occurred in the three years since Volunteer (where the main character was named Choon-ho) was that Koreans were now being required to take Japanese names. We saw in Angels on the Street that characters were sporting names like Mary and John and even in Radio Dayz, depicting life in Korea during the 1930s,the main characters were called Lloyd and Marie. However, families were required to take Japanese names and even Korean language was discouraged. One fact that I failed to mention about this film is that it was filmed entirely in Japanese. There was no more onscreen Korean and children at this point were being taught exclusively Japanese language in schools.

Dear Soldier cannot be considered an entertaining movie. Nor does it give us a chance to glimpse what life was like in Korea in the last days of Japanese rule. What we know must be inferred by what is not being said. For example, at one point the general tells the new recuits that “In the army, their is no discrimination.”  There was, in fact, discrimination against Koreans in this time period even as they were being exposed to the idea that Korea and Japan was, and always had been, one nation. It was, however, an interesting film and a strangely fascinating example of movies as propaganda.

By this point in time, Japan was fully in control of the film industry and had turned it into a virtual propaganda machine. Director Bang was supportive of this situation and the idea of Korea and Japan being unified. He stated in an interview regarding the control that “It is natural that the film industry in this situation (wartime) be controlled and united (with that of Japan) and it is also most urgent for the technical development of film.” It is true that Japan did develop many areas of society. Unfortunately, it did not benefit the majority of the Korean people until Japan was forced to leave at the end of World War II and left behind what they had built.

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Military Train (1938)

13th August 2010

military trainThis coming semester, I will have a class on Korean Film History. One of the first movies that the students will see is The Military Train made in 1938. It was the first of the pro-Japanese government sponsored films. Co-produced by Seong-bong and Toho Studios, the film is much less of a propaganda films than what would follow. In fact, the pro-government message of support the war and be loyal to Japan is only inserted rather hamfistedly at the end.  There are some sublter messages being passed along, but one has to be a little bit familar with the actors and director to see them.

The Military Train is not so much about a locomotive or even its driver Jeom-yong. Rather it is about his sister, Ye-shim and her lover Won-jin. Ye-shim has been working to help her brother, sending him to school which allowed him to get the presitgious job of driving the troop transport trains from Korea to the front lines in China. . Unfortunately, she had been working as a kisaeng or, as the subtitles state, a geisha. Her madam has spent her own money training Ye-shim and now holds Ye-shim accountable for the enormous sum of 2,000 KRW.  These days, that is about the price of a cup of ice coffee but at the time it was a large amount of money. A client has offered to pay that price for Ye-shim and the young woman is now in danger of being sold.

Naturally, her finace Won-jin is upset by this turn of events, but he has no way to come up with the money, at least until a spy for the (unamed in this film) Korean Independence Army overhears that Won-jin is Jeom-yong’s roommate and he has access to the military secrets and troop time tables. The spy promises to pay the entire amount of Ye-shim’s debt if Won-jin steals the secrets from his future brother-in-law and deliver them to him. Sick with worry for his true love, Won-jin readily agrees although he is clearly distressed and later guilt-ridden over the betrayal of his friend. When Jeon-yong eventually finds out, he is horrified that Won-jin would not only deceive him, but endanger the ‘peace of Asia’. Jeom-yong had been warned by his chief that if anything should happen to the military train, it could cause a skirmish like the Lugou Bridge Incident ( reference that sent me to Wikipedia where it is listed as The Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

This was the only film made by director Seo Kwang-je, a former actor and film critic. Seo originally started in film when he won a contest supported by the Chosun Film Art Association that selected twenty people for a free one year film course. After completing the course, Seo acted in just two films before becoming a film critic and theorist for KAPF, the Korean Artist Proletarian Federation. He later gave up his political leanings after going to Japan to work in 1932. When he returned to Korea, he was very pro-Japanese. I do not know what the motives were behind his change, but it did allow him to keep working.

Seo cast Wang Pyeong as Jeom-yong and Sasaki Nobuko as his lover Sooni. There is no mention of the two being different nationalities. It was, after all, the government’s wish to convince the people that Koreans and Japanese were one and that the intergration of Chosun and Japan was going smoothly. The two also represent progress and the future. Jeom-yong drives the train, a clears symbol of industrialization and growth even as it is a machine of war. Sooni works as a waitress on a passenger train and wears modern clothes and even high heels showing an openness to modernization. Ye-shim, on the other hand represents the past. She is in an antiquated profession and severely in debt. Although she was the means of Jeom-yong’s success, he has been forced to leave her behind to move forward to the future. Won-jik is shown as weak. He follows the strongest mind and makes his decisions based on his heart which eventually leads him to his decision to betray and, later in the film, into an even more drastic decision.

The film has some lighting issues and their is about a two-minute span where the screen is totally black. I think they may be due to the original film being damaged although the audio remains intact. I do not know what my students will think about it–especially when they have to write a paper contrasting the depiction of 1930s life in Korea between this film and a recent film set in the same time period like Radio Dayz or Modern Boy.  It is very different style of film from what they are used to– the era of silent movies had just ended but is still evident in some of the acting and shots– but at just an hour long, it is a good introduction to early Korean cinema.

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Goodbye, Shanghai (1934)

1st May 2010

goodbye shanghaiAnother movie I recently saw at the 11th Jeonju International Film Festival showed a rare look at the age of silent films in Korea. This film was discovered a few years ago in Shanghai–a quick search through Daum revealed that it was found back in 1997. Why are we just hearing about it now? Well, the good folks at KOFA have been restoring it and adding English captions–not that it needs many, being a silent film and all. But the end result is worth the wait. We have nearly the complete film. The article I read about its discovery stated that 8 of the 11 reels had been recovered. After watching the film, I can say that these missing parts are from the beginning of the movie. But, while it would have been nice to know the relationship of some of characters–especially in the big house where the main character is visiting/living–it is quite easy to catch up with the action. There is a little part missing at the end where former sea navigator Whang is reading the newspaper and sees the final fate of his girlfriend.  My guess is there is only about two minutes missing there–unfortunately, these two minutes explain the end.  It was lucky we had a representative from KOFA there to explain to us what we missed and the ending of the film based on the script.

The story is about the life of beautiful, virtuous Bairu, a school teacher from a small village, who has come to Shanghai to stay at her aunt’s home and make money. On the way over, she met a handsome sailor named Whang and the two fall in love.  Otherwise, while staying with her aunt, Bairu seems rather lonely. She doesn’t really fit in with her wealthy relatives chic friends and the high society they live in.  And I have to say, I was surprised at society in Shanghai as depicted in the film. The fashions, the buildings, the electric trolleys–it looked absolutely beautiful.

Unfortunately, this beautiful society did have it seedy side. For example, the ambitious starlet intent on sleeping her way to the top or the sinister Dr. Lee.  Lee is a womanizer who will stoop at nothing to get what he wants even as he is in the midst of planning his wedding. Lee sees the innocent Bairu as a challenge, one that he seems sure to lose. However, Bairu comes down with something and her aunt sends her off to Lee’s clinic by rickshaw where the doctor gets her on his examination table, gives her an injection to make her sleep, and then rapes her.  I admit to being very surprised by this scene. The doctor removes his patients blouse and bra revealing her breasts–I was never expected nudity in a pre-70s Korean film.

Bairu is devestated but keeps what happened to her a secret…until she realizes that she is pregnant. Then she strikes off on her own.  First she attempts to find her sailor but discovers that he was responsible for an accident at sea and was fired. Not knowing where to find him, Bairu accepts a position as a dance hostess–where she once more meets hated Dr. Lee, now married. She does not tell him though that he has a son. Until the baby becomes seriously ill…

Dr. Lee is played as absolute evil and actor Feiguang He. The man steals every scene he is in with his leering looks.  When I first saw him, I had to look twice–he looked so much like Errol Flynn with his pencil mustache and hair slicked back. I was also happy to see that he was not the kind of rapist who would later be seen in Korean films of the 60’s where a woman is forced to have sex and then falls in love with her attacker. Bairu hates Lee with a passion and at first cannot even bring herself to touch her child because she sees Lee’s face in him.

Bairu is played by the extremely talented Lingyu Ruan. Ruan had gained fame in Asia a year or two earlier when she starred in the film Goddess about a goddess who takes to the streets to work as a prostitute. Unfortunately, Ruan was not free from scandals in her real life and tragically chose to end her own life while she was in her early twenties.

Director Jeong Gi-tak was born in Pyeongyang but studied in Shanghai. He returned to Korea and appeared in Lee Gyeong-son’s film The Pioneer (1925).  He continued to work as an actor and then producer, forming Jeong Gi-tak Productions. But, in the thirties, it became almost impossible for most Koreans to make movies under Japanese rule so Jeong packed up and moved to Shanghai to direct films.  He made about ten films there until the Chinese army invaded in 1936.  Shortly thereafter, he disappeared. There were many theories about what happened to him. Apparently, he drowned while at the beach with a kisaeng. However, there was some dispute at the time as to whether it was an accidental drowning or if it was suicide.

The running time is 81 minutes and it follows the typical style of silent films of the era–several minutes of action with minimum word cards that come up once in awhile with important dialogue. The restoration work is fantastic considering the age of the film and I would snatch it up in a minute if it were ever to be released on DVD.  It may be on DVD later, but before then it will screen at KOFA on May 9th. If you are in Seoul, I urge you to go watch it!

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Fisherman’s Fire (1938)

10th February 2010

fisherman's fireOriginally posted December 11, 2008–I am very excited to announce the release of the DVD set The Past Unearthed 2. The first compilation contained Korean films released in the 1940’s. This second set contains the extant films from Korea made during the 1930’s. Included in the set are Sweet Dream (1936), Military Train (1938), a thirteen minute fragment of Shin Cheong–which contains excellent acting from Kim So-yeong, the actress in the title role, a nine-minute fragment of I Will Die Under My Flag (1939) and the topic of today’s review, Fisherman’s Fire (1939) directed by Ahn Cheol-yeong.

The story opens with stock footage of a celebratory festival in a rural village which in itself is a fascinating glance into the past. We then pull away to watch In-soo wandering up a hill above the village with her old friend Cheon-seok. They are very comfortable with each other and we can easily infer that their feelings run deeper than they are showing on the surface.  In-soo is far to traditional to openly reveal her emotions although she does give us some insight into her hidden thoughts when she expresses, several times, her desire to leave the village and go to Seoul to work and go to school. Her wanting to earn a salary is understandable because her father is deeply in debt to Mr. Jang Yong-woon. Her father is unable to repay the debt because his nets are so old and rotten that the fish he manages to snare end up escaping through large gaps in the mesh.  However, despite the logic of letting In-soo work, her father absolutely refuses to let her go.

As bad as things are for the family, they only get worse when a storm claims the life of In-soo’s father.  Jang offers a solution to In-soo’s mother and he buys the girl for marriage–well, she calls it marriage, he never mentions that as his intention.  But, out of the what seems to be the kindness of his heart, Jang’s son Cheol-soo, a successful office worker in Seoul, pays off her debt. He then offers to take her to Seoul with him. There, In-soo plans to stay with her friend Ok-boon who had left for the city years ago and gained what she calls ‘finacial independence’.

However, Cheol-soo has designs on In-soo and keeps her in his apartment for ten days, lying to her that he can not get in touch with Ok-boon. Eventually though, Cheol-soo must go back to work (where he gets chewed out for being absent for so long) and In-soo is able to arrange a meeting with Ok-boon. She learns from her friend that Cheol-soo is a womanizer her he had tried a similar trick on Ok-boon who managed to resist him. Naive In-soo had not been so lucky and admits that she slept her host. Depressed and not wanting to impose on Ok-boon, In-soo goes out on her own to find a job and winds up working as a kisaeng–the Korean version of a geisha. She becomes considerably more depressed and attempts to kill herself. The movie doesn’t end there, but I won’t reveal anymore.

This movie is a fantastic example of early Korean film-making. The acting is good and the characterizations are excellent. The most fascinating character however is not any of the leads, it is Ok-boon played by Jeon Hyo-bong.  In most of Korean movies pre-1960–and even a little later– women who were successful and assimilated into the ‘modern’ world were generally portrayed in a negative light. In Sweet Dream (1936), the woman who visited department stores and dressed in modern styles eventually became so corrupted by this lifestyle that she wound up abandoning her family. However, Ok-boon is a strong, confident woman who has no problem speaking her mind and even goes so far as to slap the overbearing Cheol-soo across the face. The booklet enclosed with the DVD set says that the creation of Ok-boon was possibly done with the cooperation of Jeon Sook-hee, Korea’s first female assistant director.

If you are interested in Korean movie history or early film-making in general…or just want to watch some good movies, I strongly recommend you purchase The Past Unearthed 2. You won’t regret it.

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The Power of Sincerity (1935)

12th October 2009

Originally posted August 15, 2009

In the early years cinema, silent movies dominated until the developing technology brought voice to the images flickering on screens around the world. Many people are unaware that Korea’s own film industry dates back to these early times as well with Korean directors churning out pictures since before 1920. However, it was believed since the Korean War that these silent films were all lost to time or destroyed in the war. Recently however, a search has been on from these shadows from the past and vaults in Japan, China and Russia have been revealing treasures from the past. We now have an intact, silent Korean film that was discovered in Gosfilmofond in Russia. It is a short ‘enlightenment’ film, only 24 minutes long, designed to teach people the ‘correct’ way of living. The movie can easily be seen via DVD as it has been included in The Past Unearthed 4.  This fourth collection includes mostly  newsreels created by the ‘Chosun Government-General’-the Japanese colonial governement. These newsreels were made to encourage support for Japan’s war effort.  They ask women to give up their gold jewelry, men to stop smoking and drinking so the savings can by donated to the army and boys to volunteer at training camps.  These propaganda films, ranging from 1937-1943, provide a fascinating glimpse at life at that time. Of course, it is a strongly biased, slanted, unrealistic and sanitized version of what life was like–but the images are real and we have the benefit of being able to read between the lines and put things in a historical perspective. Allowing The Power of Sincerity at the end of the newsreels was a brilliant move as the newsclips provide context for this short.

Much about the film, The Power of Sincerity, remains lost including such basic information as the name of the director and even the original title of the film. (The Korean title used in the collection is listed on the KMDb as ‘different title’)   However, the story is complete.  It opens with a zealous young man lecturing to his friends about the importance of paying taxes. He has learned that if all the taxes in his village are paid, eventually a bridge will be built over the large river they border. The town miser, Mr Kwon,  is against the idea and suggests to the young man that he earn a living as a ferryman (a thought that occurred to me as well).  However, it turns out that the young man doesn’t really need a job as he had inherited a large tract of land from his father. But he doesn’t hold onto it. He generously donates his entire land as communal village property. This results in Kwon losing all of his workers who can now work on communal land and share in the profits. When tax time comes around, Kwon avoids his commitments and his son is humilated.  How can his son get his father to give to the cause? 

The film is blatan in its propaganda with one character claiming “I feel no regrets since my son died for the village.”  It is hard to make a movie about taxes interesting but the movie held my attention through its short running time and I would (will) happily watch it again.

Two actors were recognized in the film by the people at the Korean Film Archives, Shim Yeong and Kim Yeon-shil.  Shim Yeong was born in 1910 and passed away in 1971. He debuted in films in 1930 and worked on the stage as well.  After the Korean War, he continued with acting in North Korea after the Korean War.  Kim Yeon-shil also wound up in North Korea at the end of the war and went on to be awarded the title of ‘Citizen’s Actress’ before her death in 1997. (The KMDb credits her with a film in South Korea in 1984, but this is an error)

The Past Unearthed series  has been excellent. I strongly recommend checking out all four of the collections and I am hoping that KOFA is planning a fifth set–perhaps dealing with some of the lesser known films of the 50s.

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Angels on the Street (1941)

8th October 2009

angel on the streetsOriginally posted October 8, 2007–  The Korean Film Archives have come out with a collection of films from the early 1940s with English subtitles under the name The Past Unearthed.  These rarely seen films are now available for purchase.  These take place in the final years of the Japanese Colonial Era and, in the past, these films have been accused of being pro-Japanese propaganda.  While I can see how that may be the case from the film I watched last night, I for one am glad that they were made as they give us a rare glimpse of some aspects of what life was like in Korea during that time. Of course, the picture in its conclusion seems a little too rosy implying that the image of life depicted is not 100% accurate, but there is still quite a bit to be learned.

The movie I watched yesterday from this four disk set was Angels On The Streets directed by Choi In-gyu and released in February 1941.  Choi began his career in 1939 and made his last known film in 1949. When the Korean War broke out he was reportedly kidnapped and taken to what would become North Korea. (His biography will get its own post soon).  Choi is perhaps most famous for making the first film following the independence of Korea, Hurrah Freedom! in 1945. 

The story follows two orphaned children living on the streets of Seoul, Myeong-ja and her brother Yong-gil.  They have been taken in by Mr. Kwon and his wife and are being forced to sell flowers and other small items to earn money for their keepers who abuse them badly and fail to give them enough to eat. When Yong-gil uses some of the money he earned to buy some penny candy, Mr. Kwon beats the child. To save her brother, Myeong-ja agrees to be sold to a drinking establishment that Kwon’s wife has been pressuring her to go to as the sale of the girl will bring much more money.  Yong-gil runs away in the hopes of saving his sister from her fate.  While living on the streets, Yong-gil meets Mr. Bang who takes the boy in.  Bang is in the process of building a home for orphaned boys on a tract of land in the country owned by his brother-in-law, Dr. Ahn. The movie follows the adventures of several of the boys, some who are more hardened in their steetwise ways than others, while Yong-gil wonders if he will ever see his sister again.

A simple film with some very intersting points.  I found the treatment of the children to be shocking–even by kindly, but condescending, Mr. Bang.  True, Bang does take dozens of boys off the streets and gives them someplace safe to stay but, instead of providing them with an education, he sets about having them make noodles to sell to support the orphanage.  Indeed, Bang seems very cavalier about education in general as he withdrew his two children from school over his wife’s objections. She knows that there are no schools where they are going, but her husband shames her into submission and so little Anna and Johan (called John in the subtitles) are taken to the orphanage to live as well.

That brings me to another interesting point–the number of western names the characters have. This is not a matter of the subtitlers changing the names for western viewers, these were actually the characters names.  Mr. Bang’s wife is named Maria and her deceased sister-in-law was named Katie.  We see from the name on the small boat on the land supplied by Dr. Ahn that she was refered to as Frau Katie showing a connection with Germany.  None of the men in the film are referred to with western names (they were usually refered to by their titles)–it was only the case for upperclass women and children.  The poor in the film were all given Korean names.

The pro-Japanese stance of the film comes into play twice in the film. In one short scene, the boys are in the field when a fighter plane flies overhead. The boys all start cheering and shouting ‘Take Me’ or ‘Let’s go together’ but their words are not subtitled in the film. At the extended conclusion of the movie, after all the problems are resolved one way or another, the Japanse flag is raised and the children all recite in unison a pledge of alligence in Japanese and their life motto which includes undying loyalty to the empire.

The film is surprising good considering its age except for the first five or ten minutes in a night scene which is much too dark to see what is happening clearly, though it is easy enough to understand through what is being said.  The film also has Japanese subtitles burned onto the right side the original print, but these do not interfere with either the movie or the English subtitles on the bottom of the film.

This dvd set has just been released, so keep your eyes open for it and snatch it up as soon as you can. It will be well worth your time.

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