Seen in Jeonju

The One Love (1981)

9th January 2010

one loveOriginally posted June 3, 2009–Last weekend Bong Jun-ho’s Mother made waves at the box office. That film depicted just how strong a mother’s love can be and showed us that some mothers are capable of doing anything to save their children.  If we could step back just a couple of decades however, we could see that theme repeated in many different ways. Almost all of those films were melodramas and the relationships between mother and child were often highlighted. There were films where mother would donate their eyes for their children and condemn themselves to live in darkness. There were movies where mothers would admit to crimes they didn’t commit and others where the mother would secretly sacrifice themselves to a life a servitude for the happiness for their children.  In The One Love, the mother decides that she will give up her own happiness to see her child well-provided for.

When I first sat down to watch this film, I thought I hadn’t seen it before. How wrong I was.  This is basically a remake of a more famous Korean film, “I Hate You But Again.”  Alright, that is not the official translation..that is a literal translation. The problem is that the Korean Movie Database cannot seem to settle on one title for that film. The original from 1969 is called Love Me Once Again.  It was the first of a four part series.  While the Korean titles are all the same with sequential numbers added on to the end. But, oddly, the English title keeps changing (I really think that the KMDb should settle on a single title–Bitter But Once Again, Farewell My Love, Once More For Love and the 80s remakes–Love Me Once Again Despite Hatred, Forgive Me Once Again Despite Hatred).

Anyway, The One Love is the story of a woman who is dumped by her wealthy boyfriend because of objections to her background raised by his family. In this film, the young woman, Yeong-ju,  is a nurse–which is completely acceptable–but her mother was an… entertainer…jn a club catering to foreign soldiers. Yeong-ju and her lover Se-joon break up before either of them realize that Yeong-ju is pregnant. When the fact is finally revealed, Yeong-ju goes against the wishes of Se-joon’s mother and decides to go ahead with the pregnancy, steals away Jeju Island, and raises her son Joon-yeong as a single mother.

She and her son are poor but very happy together. The film does an excellent job of portraying their special bond and their love for each other. However Se-joon learns that his wife is unable to bear children. Knowing that he has a son, he is persuaded by his mother to track down Yeong-ju and covince her to come back to Seoul–enrolling Joon-yeong in school and giving him warm clothes and a better place to stay.  Gradually, the family tries to woo Yeong-ju into giving up custody.

The major difference between this and the more famous “I Hate You But Once Again” is that Yeong-ju is not interested at first in giving up her child. She is unsure that it is best for him. Although she is eventually convinced,  Joon-yeong fights vigourously against her decision to leave him in his father’s and grandparent’s care.

The movie has the strangest ending I have ever seen.  It just suddenly stops—literally. When a ‘final’ decision has been made one character screams in anguish…and the frame freezes while ‘The End’ pops up over the paused characters. It has the strangest feeling of being unfinished.  Doing a quick search, I learned that this movie was followed by two sequels that continued the story pretty much from where it left off–in which case the oh-so-sudden ending makes sense.

The One Love is a very watchable film. I especially liked the acting of the boy who played Joon-yeong and I set out to find if he was still active in film.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the ‘boy’ is actress Kim Min-hee who can often be seen in television dramas. She debuted in 1978–at just six years old on a tv series and has been acting ever since. She was 9 when this movie was made and 12 by the time the third film of The One Love trilogy was released.   Unfortunately, only part one is available DVD.

2 Responses to “The One Love (1981)”

  1. Seen in Jeonju » Blog Archive » Ghost Cats Says:

    [...] Il-ho. Jang is more likely to be known for his melodramatic  films such as  The One Love reviewed here. However, he also gave us one of the strangest of the cat horror films. The KMDb opens its summary [...]

  2. Seen in Jeonju » Blog Archive » Index of the 70s: Jang Il-ho Says:

    [...] 1960s, his best known works today were from the late seventies and the 80’s, especially the One Love series reviewed on this site. Below are his movies from the 1970’s.  Just click the thumbnail [...]