하녀 (Hanyeo or Hanyo)
*Warning! Spoiler Alert!*
This movie was based on the 1960 movie called The Housemaid. Basically it's the story of a woman who picks up a job working in a house as a nanny and maid for an extremely wealthy family. Totally unexpectedly (note sarcasm) she starts to have an affair with the husband and the movie mostly pertains to the results of this affair, and what happened when the wife and the wife's mother found out. In the end, to get her revenge on the family for putting her through hell, she kills herself in a very graphic way in front of the children.
I was told great things about this movie from some Korean girlfriends of mine, though no one told me what it was about. I went in expecting some sort of chick flick comedy and instead I got this gruesome upstairs/downstairs story. I was not impressed at all with the story. The movie was quite predictable and I was quite disgusted by the fact that suicide is considered a good way to get revenge in the end. The characters all felt very flat and one dimensional. I'm no movie critic, but when I watch a movie, I like to be able to connect or at least like one of the characters. But here, I felt no empathy for anyone involved and I really hated every single character.
This movie is another example of Korean movies that have been made (somewhat) accessible to the English speaking ex-pat community in Korea. This year, Cinus is no longer running the subtitled movies, but there are still subtitled movies in the CGV in Yongsan and Myongdong. It still seems as though movie information in English is difficult to access for non-Korean speakers. I did find a section on CGV's website that allows you to sign up for regular updates by entering your ARC and name into their system, but for some reason it didn't recognize my number and or name. If anyone else figures out this, let me know what the secret is.
앤티크 or Antique Bakery
After doing some research on this film, I discovered that it was based on a Japanese manga of the same name. This movie is about four men running a bakery together. There's the owner with a strange past which makes him throw up if he eats cake, the gay master chef who hates women, the ex-boxing champion apprentice and the slightly off bodyguard/adopted brother who makes a mess of everything in the shop. It's a slightly odd situation which makes much more sense now that I know it was based on a manga. The movie is mostly light hearted and fun to watch. There is a mystery that needs to be solved as well which makes it more than just your average comedy. It's also one of the first major movies to portray a gay character in Korea, although I can think of some others that have come out in the past few years as well.
As Korean TV and film are still in the early days of portraying homosexual characters I think they still have some problems with stereotyping and strange assumptions about gay culture, but hopefully these movies are a step in the right direction towards bringing homosexuality into the light for average Koreans who still honestly believe that there are no gay Koreans. I'm sorry to break the news to them, but I've met quite a few homosexual people in this country and they really are real Koreans, not some strange foreign import.
This movie is definitely worth watching, and you can find it very well subtitled on mysoju.com.