Women Film Directors Lee Jeong Hyang and Lim Soon Rye
Women Film Directors Lee Jeong Hyang and Lim Soon Rye
  • Kim-Lee Hyuk Sang, guest reporter, WEIRDO@chollian
  • 승인 2001.07.25 00:00
  • 수정 2013-07-12 16:27
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Lee Jeong Hyang and Lim Soon Rye are two women film directors whose well-rounded works are gaining ground in a film industry where the rules of the game are still tipped against women.


Lee, who started out from the bottom in 1988, worked her way up through Chungmu-ro (Korea's version of Hollywood) and debuted with a feature film entitled , based on a scenario that was picked at the Cheongryong Film Festival. The refreshing acting skills of the two main characters became the talk of the town, but what made the film special was how it depicted the mundane with a style that only a movie could have expressed. But even that is not the main virtue of this film. Lee takes one step further to bring to life a female character named 'Chun Hee' that is totally different from the stock of cardboard or abstract heroines in Korean films.

Chun Hee is the kind of woman that any woman could easily identify with in reality. Despite this, she is a very special character simply because of the fact that the image of women has been so distorted in Korean films.

Instead of adding to the myths and fantasies about twenty-something women, the film gathers the trivial fragments of life to create a very real character. That was why was the Korean women moviegoers' choice for Korea's Movie of the Year at the 4th Women Audience Award in 2000. Perhaps for the first time in Korean film history, we have discovered through director Lee a vivid female character that is firmly rooted in reality and quite different from the Barbie doll, prostitute or cold-blooded career woman we usually see on film. Lee's much-awaited next film is expected to present the audience with another image of women, this time a maternal grandmother who is the embodiment of motherhood and Nature. 


Lim Soon Rye, who won first prize at the first Seoul Short Film Festival in 1994 with , studied film in France and returned to work in Chungmu-ro. Her style is quite different from Lee's. In her first feature film , Lim thrusts her camera at men living in Korea. In a style much like the sharpness of a very detailed picture, Lim realistically re-enacts the violence of mainstream male culture and the loss of self-identity as men become absorbed into 'macho society.'

Lim's interest in masculine society and culture continues in her latest work .

The film is about 'Waikiki Brothers' who have given up hope and yet desperately search for at least a shadow of hope. Through them, Lim draws out in wretched detail the haggard lives of our brothers and the superficial relationships between them. Lim sticks to the ordinariness of everyday life while criticizing the fascism that lurk in it through depictions of masculine violence. At the same time, she also quietly asks questions about the values of life that we are slowly losing.

These two women directors are dear to us because they open our eyes to values that were pushed aside in the majority of Korean movies. They breathe new life into all-too-real female characters or point out the violence of masculine culture that has gone unnoticed because it has become the norm. And another thing. The fact that the two women are healthy role models for the numerous women who are dreaming of a career in the film industry makes our expectations all the greater.

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