Seen in Jeonju

Archive for the '1950s' Category

The Female Boss <1959>

20th October 2012

The Female Boss <1959>– Director: Han Hyeong-mo.  Starring: Jo Mi-ryeong <Joanna Shin>, Lee Soo-ryeon <Kim Yong-ho> and Yoon In-ja <Chief Editor Lim>.  DVD Running Time: 105 minutes.  Released in Theaters: unknown

20121014_195036Last week, when I reviewed the movie If, I made reference to The Female Boss when comparing when comparing what I felt was an archaic theme in the newer of the two movies. However, after watching The Female Boss after several years of not seeing it, my opinion has changed and this romantic comedy from the 1950’s fares much better than I originally thought and it is unfair to compare If with it. Oh, it does have its moments of sexism by both genders, but these are balanced with a casual sexual equality that that permeates the film. 

The movie begins with a brief and hostile encounter between a man and a woman from very different social classes.  The man is clearly from the working class– or he would be except,as we learn a few moments after the encounter, he is currently unemployed.  The woman is obviously wealthy from the way she is dressed and manner of speaking. She has an English name, Joanna, addresses others with English titles of Mr. Kim or Miss Jang, and feeds her dog Fig Newtons.  This surprised me.. I have been in Korea for 18 years now and I have never seen Fig Newtons in the stores around here, but apparently they were available in the late 50s… now I want a fig cookie…

Anyway, the fact that her dog is snacking on such ‘expensive Western cookies that most people can’t afford’–as the angry Yong-ho puts it– she is hogging the public phone with her business calls. The infuriated Yong-ho takes his frustrations out on Mario the dog by kicking him!!  The immediately made me dislike him immensely and, what is worse, he is unrepentant. “Why shouldn’t I kick a puppy?” he asks using the above defense that it is eating better than most people. I am not alone in disliking Yong-ho. Joanna shares the sentiment but, when he comes for a job interview for her magazine Modern Woman, she hires him out of spite in order to take revenge on him. At one point, she yells at him for two-hours straight which he is forced to take because, as Yong-ho states, ‘it is her right as the boss.’ 

As is required in a romantic comedy, two people who hate each other are destined to fall in love. However, Yong-ho is not without rivals for the hand of Joanna as Mr Oh has his sights set on her. Oh is older, foolish, and very wealthy. Joanna has been stringing him along because of the potential help he can be to her magazine. She has successfully published eight issues of Modern Woman, but the latest issue is three months late because she does not have the money to afford the paper she needs to print on.  Mr. Oh offers her a solution, but she carefully and craftily manages to secure the paper from him with a promise of ‘no strings attached.’  It is clear that Oh is besotted with her and hardly minds the fact that she is using him and is disappointed when she announces that she does not need his help in paying for the paper when her uncle comes through on an agreement she made with him.  Her uncle had asked to borrow Yong-ho for a company basketball game– a part of the movie that seemed endless to me as I hate basketball and almost every basketball movie I have seen seems to end with a three-point shot as the clock runs out.

Joanna and Yong-ho have grown closer over time but their happy ending is delayed as Yong-ho wrestles with the problem of her being his boss–not because she is a woman, but because her behaviour of late has been unbecoming of a company chairperson. However, that is a short-lived glitch and the two are happily married. Joanna chooses to retire and stay home while Yong-ho becomes director of the company.  What is interesting here is that retiring from publishing is Joanna’s choice unlike in If where Ha-yeong seems to be bullied into giving into Seon-woo.  This point that Joanna is still equal is underscored by a minor character named Miss Jang. 

KR_Female_Boss,_A_still03While working in the company under Joanna Shin, Miss Jang began secretly dating photographer Mr. Yang. The company at that time had very strict ‘anti-dating’ policies– Mr Kim is even called on the carpet at one point when it was suspected he was dating a woman who had no connection to the company or publishing at all.  Jang becomes pregnant is offers her resignation which Joanna accepts. However, she also orders Yang to resign as well as he broke the n0-dating rule and it would be unfair if Jang bore the full brunt of the punishment on her own when two people were involved. We learn at a later point that Jang and Yang are married. Still later, after Kim Yong-ho has taken over management of Modern Woman, we see that Mrs Jang has been promoted to the number-2 position in the company. Her husband, still a photographer, seems to be taking the lead role in raising their baby when he delivers baby photos to the office. However, it is shown that they are equal partners in their relationship as Yang makes plans to travel down to Masan for a few days with Kim.  The sign hanging over Mr Kim’s desk, ‘Men are Superior to Women’ is hung there merely for comedic effect as it replaces the earlier sign which claimed ‘Women are Superior to Men.’  It does not reflect the facts shown nor the theme of the movie which would be that both sexes are equal.

Was this a reflection of society at the time? From the notes I have read regarding women in Korea in the 1950s, it was. Between the end of the Korean War and the military government of the sixties, women did gain ground in society . In ‘56 and article written by Ma Hae-song was published declaring that the Era of Women’s Liberation was at hand because ‘thanks to the democratic world, women can be liberated from age-old restrictions and be free. Men and women are equal.”  This is a sentiment that would rarely be seen shown seriously in Korean movies of the succeeding decade, although it would become a favorite topic of the movies of the 90s and in throwbacks like If.

Another thing I found interesting in this story was what happened with Interviewee Number 2–a thing that could never have happened if this film was made just two years later.  Interviewee Number 2 is a proud patriot who is made the butt of an extended joke in the film. His extreme nationalism is laughed at by all the workers in the office who hear him–and made to look  intentionally foolish by the camera– as he calls upon all young people to rise up and fight the communists. Although Joanna keeps cutting him off and trying to get the interview back on track, this passionate young man cannot keep quiet about the necessity to battle communism.  Had this movie been made later, the intentionally ridiculous Interviewee Number 2 would have been the hero of the story and no one, neither characters in the film nor the audience watching, would have laughed at him publicly.

I actually found a lot to like about this film and enjoyed it very much. The Female Boss is on DVD with English subtitles as part of the Romantic Comedy Collection of the 1950s box set.

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The Daehan Empire and Min Yeong-hwan (1959)

27th July 2012

bloodbambooThe Daehan Empire and Min Yeong-hwan is part of the recently released collection, Historical Films About the Korean Empire. The collection contains four movies focusing on the years leading up to Japanese occupation and the resistance shortly thereafter.  It also contains a very useful booklet explaining exactly why these films were made, why scenes of daily life were never depicted in these films, why they cover such a limited time period- no of these ‘Memorial Films’ ever covered the years after the March 1st Movement unless they are set outside Korea– and what relation the time period depicted on film had with the filmmakers themselves, many of them who were alive at the start of occupation.  The films I have seen from the collection so far do not require one to have  strong knowledge of history.. it is quite easy to pick up on people’s roles in the events transpiring. However, they are not documentaries either and some liberties seem to have been taken as I will explain while discussing the film pictured left. 

I chose The Daehan Empire and Min Yeong-hwan to watch first among all the films in the collection because of the time period it starts in. If you have been following my blog for a while, you undoubtedly have seen my transcriptions of Korea’s first English (and Korean for that matter)-language newspaper, The Independent. I am currently typing up news from 1896 and this film begins right about that time. In fact, Min Yeong-hwan was interviewed by The Independent and he was a member of the progressive Independent Club.  Min Yeong-hwan was the nephew of the murdered Queen Min and as such had the ear of King Gojong.  He was among the first Korean envoys to be sent to the west, visiting the courts of Europe, attending the coronation of the Russian czar and representing Korea at the White House in the United States and he was a strong supporter of the modernization of Korea.  He wanted to develop Korea along the lines of the western nations and make his country strong enough to be free of the plots of its neighbors.

The movie starts upon Min’s return from a six month journey to Europe. He immediately goes to the palace to greet the king and suggests that the Korean soldiers receive western-style drilling and uniforms to increase their effectiveness and in the next scene we see the soldiers receiving the uniforms and practicing their drills. He then goes to his home and greets his wife, mother and the members of a secret movement he is forming to block the Japanese from getting the Eulsa Treaty ratified by the Korean Government Ministers. His actions put him in direct conflict with the Japanese Foreign Minister and soon-to-be Resident General Ito Hirobumi who was residing in Korea and assassins are sent by pro-Japanese Ministers to end Min’s interference. He survives and  meets with future president of Korea Rhee Syngman, recently released from prison where he was held following a protest against Japan. All the while, Min continually pressures an increasingly weak King Gojong to nullify the actions taken by the other ministers and to dismiss them in favor of allies to Gojong. As we know from history, in the end Min’s hard work was for nothing and he committed suicide immediately following the signing of the Eulsa Treaty, a final act of protest against making Korea a protectorate of Japan.

The Eulsa Treaty was signed by the Korean Ministers in 1905 (the King Gojong refused to ratify it) and paved the way for later treaties that would lead to the annexation of Korea. The treaty consisted of five points, the two most damaging were the first, which made Korea a protecterate of Japan, and the second  which forbid Korea from entering into treaties or agreements with other nations without the approval of Japan. Knowing that the treaty was signed in 1905 and that Min returned from his last trip to Europe in 1897 led me to realize that we were getting a very condensed history. It is hard to tell that time had past at all, especially since Min’s children do not age throughout the movie. However, because of this there are a couple of historic facts that don’t quite mesh with the film. For example, according to the film, Min suggested that the army adopt western uniforms when he returned from six months in Europe. However, according to The Independent published in 1896, the army had already adopted western uniforms as an article in the June 30th edition bemoans the fact that some soldiers had taken to not wearing their new suits in favor of traditional styles. He may have been the one to have originally suggest to the King to adopt western uniforms, but it was in an earlier year than is depicted in the film.

The film script also makes an odd claim that Japan ‘denied Korea the rights to build trains for themselves’ but that is not accurate at all. The US built the first train in Korea and later France added to the tracks eventually connecting the Seoul railway through Pyeongyang and into Manchuria by 1905. In fact, issues of The Independent in the latter half of 1896 state definitely that Gojong turns down offers by both Japan and Russia to build more railways in Korea. His original plan was to let only the US build the railways and then purchase them for Korea. It is possible that, after the Eulsa Treaty was signed, Japan bought the trains from the US when the ten year lease was up, but, if that was the case (I can find no information on it at the moment), the characters in the film could not have known this as the film only goes up to the signing of the treaty.

The  brief inclusion of Rhee was simply done as a way to help legitimize the 4-term president.  His terms in office were marred by corruption but it was hoped that connecting him to patriots of independence would help ease a growing unrest and save the fledgling democracy.  It didn’t work. Although he received 90% of the vote in the final election (his opponent died right before the election), it was determined that the vice-presidential election was rigged and protests–and the government’s violent response to those protests– eventually drove Rhee from office and into exile.

The acting in the film is good although some may find the subject matter a little dry. It was interesting to see Kim Seung-Ho in the role of a villain. Normally he played the father-figures in the films of the early 60s like The Coachman or Romance Papa. Here he plays Ito Hirobumi– whom the English subtitles mistakenly call ‘Prince.’  If you are looking for more information about this movie in the KMDb, you need to look under the title Blood Bamboo. That title refers to the legend of the bamboo that sprouted from the dead wood where Min’s blood was spilled.  If you have an interest in early Korean history and the style and reasons behind the movies of the late 50s, then I strongly suggest you pick up the collection. If however, you are looking for action, romance or a lot of emotion in your films, this might not be the collection for you.

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Love Marriage (1958)

12th February 2012

58-047~3romantic comedy dvd setLove Marriage, directed by Lee Byeong-il and released in theaters back in 1958, is a part of the Romantic Comedy DVD Set (right), a collection featuring 3 romantic-comedies from the 1950s.  The other two movies in the set are Holiday in Seoul (1958) and A Female Boss (1959). The former film is quite good and I had watched it almost as soon as I received the DVD. I admit that I put off watching the latter and Love Marriage. Reading the descriptions of them, I felt that they probably had not aged very well and would seem too dated.  Well, there is no denying that the film is dated, but I should have given them a chance earier because they are in no way bad. In fact, in today’s film there are quite a few good points, interesting characters and some fascinating views of the rapidly changing society of post-war Korea.  It is true though that the entire premise may seem a little… archaic, but it was fun nonetheless.

The story focuses on the three daughters of Dr. Ko, eldest Sook-hee, Moon-hee and youngest Myeong-hee their various romances. When the movie opens,it is four years earlier and we are at the wedding of Sook-hee to Seung-il. We follow the pair to their honeymoon destination. There, Seung-il is struck with a sudden bout of guilt and confesses to his bride that she is not his first love but that he never regreted breaking up with his ex. He begs forgiveness which Sook-hee readily gives. She has been bought up in a very progressive home, but apparently had never read Tess of d’Urbervilles for she freely admits that Seung-il is not her first either, and that in her case, her first love died suddenly.  Oops… It is a good thing that they hadn’t unpacked yet because Seung-il is out of there faster than a bat out of hell.  Sook-hee returns home alone and retires to the second floor of the family home and stays there… for four years!

Sook-hee’s mother blames herself and her husband for allowing the pair to marry for love instead of following traditions and arranging the marriage. She vows that she will not make the same mistake twice and takes control of Moon-hee’s love life. Step one, get rid of the tutor who has been teaching Gwang-shik, the Ko’s only son who is struggling with English in middle school.  The growing affection between the two must be nipped in the bud if she is to go through with her plans of marrying Moon-hee off to her friend’s son Wan-seob who has recently returned from studying in the USA and is now a manager of a nylon company.  As attractive as that sounds, Moon-hee is having none of it and she also shuts herself upstairs in the house, hardly ever coming out and eating very little.

That leaves Myeong-hee, the bright, stubborn and thoroughly modern youngest daughter of Dr. Ko.  She is so modern that shortly after we are introduced to her, she comes into the room wearing capri pants .. three years before Mary Tyler Moore made them famous on the Dick Van Dyke show.  She has more than a liberal sense of fashion. She also has very liberal ideas about woman. She will never marry, she announces, because all men are stupid and she dreams of entering politics where she will outwit every representative in parliment.  But for now, she is in her last year of high school. Her parents are not worried about her proclimations for, although they admit she is more than a match for almost any man, she will have to marry after she graduates.  And her father has the perfect candidate, his woman-hating assistant Yeong-su. If anyone can win his frozen heart, he figures it would be Myeong-hee.

While those introductions make it sound as if the movie will be nothing short of antique, it is the characters, situations and scenes that make it good. Take, for instance, the upstairs space. We are told a strange story about the upper floor of the house. Gwang-shik tells his tutor that the room is haunted by the ghost of a woman, so abused by her mother-in-law and unhappy in her marriage, that she took her own life there. Gwang-shik even admits to being afraid of his oldest sister as she moves around like a woman more dead than alive. Moon-hee eventually joins her sister and we can see that despite its overly busy decor, it is a place of somber isolation with an atmosphere akin to a convent. More than anything, this is due to actress Choi Eun-hee who masterfully plays the role of Sook-hee.

Sook-hee’s change is dramatic from when we had first seen her. At her wedding and honeymoon, she wears decidely western clothes, however in the upstairs room she wears nothing but hanboks.. and white ones at that. White is a symbol of mourning and you can tell she has not smiled in the entire four years she has been there. The clothes in the movie are symbols of the characters thoughts and philosophies.  Sook-hee, when believing in love and the free will to choose, followed western fashions, as do her sisters who believe they can date as they wish. But once she returns home, she adopts the traditional dress of Korean women and with it their more conservative thoughts. Her mother, for her part, only wears the hanbok.  Myeong-hee has insights into this and, in a clever bit, mixes the two fashions of traditional and modern with eye-searing resutls, as her father keeps urging her to wear modern clothes while her mother has ordered her to wear a hanbok to meet a potential husband.

The characters discuss clothes more than once and Wan-seob at one point talks about how American women pick styles to reflect their characters. This sends the older woman into peals of laughter which only increases when the young man continues that in American their is a belief of ‘ladies first.’  Characters throughout the movie sprinkle English into their conversation as well to show how modern they are. Maybe you remember Kim Soo-mi in the movie Unstoppable Marriage in 2007?  Her character liberally used, and butchered English, to raise herself up in the eyes of others. That happens here as well and while it seems odd, it never tips into being ridiculous until the golf scene. There the audience can feel just how pretentious the characters are being dressed in glaring golf styles and speaking English constantly to show off. The movie then uses the grounded Yeong-su to pull everyone back in and remind the wayward Myeong-hee that she is a Korean woman and she needs to stop acting like a foreigner.

Even the all but forgotten Gwang-shik is a greater meaning. Near the end of the film, he walks off leading his father and traditional grandfather by the hand. His mother calls out to “Take care of your grandfather!” to which he readily agrees and the way the shot is framed we know right away that the mother’s plea was not directed so much at Gwang-shik as to the youth of Korea so they do not forget the generations past as they move forward with the changing times.

Love Marriage is a film that deserves a second and deeper look. It is much more than a rusty old love story, but a drama full of contrast and symbolic imagery where progressive ideas clash with tradition and somehow both come out in a good light. It might not be as deep as something like The Aimless Bullet which would eventually follow and paint a very bleak picture of that era but, as the box says, it is a comedy.  Many of the better known Korean films of this era dealt with poverty or the differences between the haves and have-nots. In Love Marriage, there is no such struggle and everyone in it is clearly in the upper tier of society. It may be hard to track down, but finding the DVD will provide a very different look at life in Korea in the late 50s than some of the more serious films of the time were doing.

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Widow (1955)

16th October 2011

55-004~1Park Nam-ok made a mark on Korean cinema history by being the first Korean woman to direct a film. However, it was an under-appreciated effort at the time it was made and there was no real interest in the film until the 1st Seoul Women’s Film Festival ressurected it.  At the time it was made, Park could only get one theater to screen it because she was a woman and even when she finally got it released, it was only for a four-day period. But it was still an amazing accomplishment considering the times.  Park Nam-ok was born in 1923 in Hayang, the third of ten children in her wealthy family. She demonstrated a strong character, enjoying sports such as shot-put as well as movies and literature. After graduating high school, she wanted to go on her own to study in Japan, but her family refused to let her go. Instead she had to enrol in the Home Economics Department at Ehwa Women’s College. She wound up leaving school while fighting her parents’ wishes that she marry. Instead, she became a film critic for the Daegu Daily Newspaper. After Korea was liberated from Japan, she joined the Joseon Film Company as a script editor, but again her parents forced her to return home in the hopes to get her to marry. When the Korean War started, she edited newsreels for the army. She did eventually marry a playwright who had written the scenario for The Widow which she began making into a film. She had a child at the time, but lacked a willing babysitter, so she used to go to work with her daughter on her back.  Park only made the one film. She divorced her husband and started a film magazine called Cinemafan in 1956 but again her parents got her to give it up and convinced her to work for her brother-in-law at Dong-a Publishing. After 21 years there, she moved to the USA to be with her daughter who was living there and she remains there to this day.

The movie The Widow was made at a time when money was in short supply. While director Park may have felt that less than many people living in Korea in the mid-50’s, her characters are frequently concerned about and motivated by the thought of money. The learn that the title character, widow Lee Shin-ja, is in need of money because her daughter’s school is “bleeding her dry” and the teacher has informed her daughter not to come if she cannot pay. Having no source of income of her own, Shin-ja has been relying on her husband’s friend, Lee Seong-jin, to support her but the man’s wife has become suspicious of their relationship.  Shin-ja’s best friend and neighbor, a prostitute, tells her that she could be getting a lot more money if she takes the friendship with Seong-jin to the next level. Later, again while talking to her friend about money, she forgets to watch her daughter who is playing in the beach. The child nearly dies as a result and only the quick action of Taek saves her.

Normally in these early films, the lead character is a pillar of chastity. Widows were expected to remain single as according to traditions, they were still married even though their husbands were dead. However, while Lee Shin-ja outwardly appears this way, she gradually changes throughout the movie. When we first meet her, she always wears traditional-style clothing. Often in early Korean films, what the female character wears determines the type of morals she has. For example, when we meet the prostitute, she is wearing pants which definitely brings her character into question if one is familar with films from this period. Shin-ja’s clothes style changes with the decisions she makes. After taking to living with Taek as his common law wife, Shin-ja adopts Western style clothes which we see often in early Korean film as a sign of declining morals (such as in The Coachman and The Aimless Bullet). Although Shin-ja learns to drink during the film she does not hit rock bottom and smoke as the prostitute does. Women smoking in Korean films was saved for either very elderly grandmothers who had earned the right or women who were considered the villain of the movie or, at the very least, someone whose character needed changing. 

At one point in the movie, Lee Shin-ja calls herself a bad mother and her neighbor, Mr. Song is quick to disagree.  However, I have to take issue with that. Shin-ja is a terrible mother. Normally I would not be so quick to judge, but she our heroine gives away her daughter for no more reason than the child has become an incovenience! Givingup children happens sometimes in Korean films like in the I Hate You But Again series or the One Love where the father and mother are separated and one parent is better able to support the child than the other, but this is not the case in The Widow. While she is poor, Shin-ja raises her daughter lovingly. After she meets a man whom she wants to live with, her daughter has suddenly become “a burden” and she asks her lover Taek if she should “make her go live with Mr. Song?” By this time, she has opened her own sewing business and is making sufficient money to support her child.. which she does.. but she has no interest in having her daughter around.

There is one frustrating point while watching this otherwise engrossing film.  The last part of the movie is damaged. The last scene is missing off the end of the film so we do not see what happens at the end. Even more annoying is that in the ten minutes prior to that, the sound was lost so we can see what is happening, but we cannot hear any dialogue.  Fortunately, I was able to read a description of how the film ends, but it was very vague.  Even without knowing the exact ending, I think most people could guess that it would not end happily. Considering her actions, Shin-ja fails to live up to being an ideal wife/mother/woman and therefore, according to cinematic rules, she must be punished for these transgressions.

However, although Shin-ja fails to live up to the ideals 1950 society expected of her, the movie never paints her as the villain. Neither is the prostitute ever blamed for her actions because her methods of making money were very limited at the time. Had this film been directed by a man, I think the prostitute would have come off far worse. Instead, Park made the main  and supporting female characters very human and while we may not agree with their actions, we can understand them.  

I am puzzled about the Korean title the film was released under on DVD.  The poster above shows the title to be Gwabu-ui Noomool which means “Tears of a Widow”in big red letters.   Underneath that, in paratheses and in Chinese characters, it says ‘Mimangin‘ which I understand was the name of the screenplay. Clearly the film title was the former no matter what the screenplay was called.  Why then was the DVD released under the Korean title Mimangin?  I have not been able to find any mention as to why one title was chosen over the other. However, that does not change the English title which has always been simply The Widow.

The Widow is available on DVD, but only as part of the Landscape After The War  Collection which also contains The Flower in Hell (1958), Money (1958) and Drifting Island (1960).  It is worth tracking down to see what life in Korea was like in the years immediately following the Korean War.

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Hyperbole of Youth (1956)

21st January 2010

hyperbola of youthOriginally posted November 28, 2008–Director Han Hyeong-mo’s Hyperbole of Youth launched an era of Korean comedies in the mid to late 50’s and solidified the careers of of several important stars includign the lead players Hwang Hae and Yang Hoon. However, although it is classified as a comedy, this film is actually more of a social drama with comedic elements.  It is the story of starving Myeong-bo and overweight Bu-nam.  Their names already clue us in to the fact that this is a form of social morality play as Bu-nam has the meaning of ‘wealthy man’ and Myeong-bo means ‘rare treasure’. The characters of the two men fit their names perfectly. Myeong-bo lives his life in poverty, but he never complains as he struggles to take care of his elderly mother and younger sister as best he can.  On the other hand, Bu-nam is from an extremely wealthy family and used to the finest things money can buy. However, even though he is certainly spoiled, Bu-nam is not depicted as evil because of his wealth. Rather he is shown to be rather clueless as to how the rest of the world lives.  His ignorance is ended on the day that he visits the office of Doctor Kim with a distended stomach. His problem? Overeating and not enough exercise. While he is there, Myeong-bo visits the doctor as well with a case of exhaustion and malnutrition. As the two men know each other from their college days, the doctor suggests a simple solution–they should switch lifestyles for two weeks. Myeong-bo is to go live in Bu-nam’s house while Bu-nam will live in Myeong-bo’s shack in a shanty town overlooking Seoul.

While the expected humerous elements occur as each one tries to adjust to their new way of life and relate to the other’s family, these elements are muted and do not drag the movie down to slapstick. In fact, the situation is handled with surprising sensitivity. Poverty in movies is often glorified as a kind of purity while rich people are often depicted as selfish at best and outright evil at worst. Here, even the most snobbish of Bu-nam’s family is actually quite kind and his parents accept Myeong-bo without question. Meanwhile, Myeong-bo’s mother does not judge Bu-nam. She merely expresses concern that he will not find her house as comfortable as he is used to.

The plot flows along rather predictably but it is nonetheless enjoyable. The acting is quite good but that is to be expected. Hwang Hae (Myeong-bo) would go on to become a mainstay in Korean films for the next two decades .  Yang Hoon (Bu-nam) would team up with Yang Seok-cheon (Dr. Kim) for their next dozen films and their fat/skinny relationship would have them be like the Laurel and Hardy of Korean cinema.

Perhaps though, the most unexpected and enjoyable part of this movie occurs right at the beginning with the appearance of the Kim Sisters as The Singing Nurses. Their harmony and nonsense song makes them sound exactly like their inspiration, the Andrew Sisters.

Before this film, Han Hyeong-mo directed the excellent Hand of Fate (1954) and his next project following Hyerbole of Youth was the famous Madame Freedom (1956). He has fifteen other films to his credit, but these three are definitely his best. They are also all available on DVD and I would recommend seeking them out if you have an interest in early Korean movies.

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