Madame Freedom

I’ve been watching a lot of Korean movies lately. The thing I like about Korean films is that they’re very Korean. To varying degrees that could be said of any culture. But Korean movies seem to be made very much for Koreans, with a lot of inside jokes and some plot elements that might not make sense to the rest of the world (and, often, to me).

I just finished one called Madame Freedom, a melodrama made in 1956. It was apparently extremely successful and very controversial when it was released. It follows the lives of upper-class Seoul socialites, primarily a college professor and his wife. She goes to work Western goods store and is liberated by the experience. There are a lot of other characters whose lives interconnect with one another. Most of them are married and they spend a lot of time politely and scandalously flirting with people who are not their spouse. And everyone lies to each other as they drink coffee and smoke cigarettes or go to the dance hall.

The demon at least partially responsible is foreign influence, which was starting to come on strong during that time. Bad things like music and dancing and perfume and the English language serve to undermine Confucian society and turn decent people into bad creatures. I admired the courage of it, and I could see how people would react strongly to it. I could also see how Koreans, who love a good scandal, would take to it. I thought it was great. It was really interesting to see ’50s Seoul life portrayed dramatically, and to see the aesthetic styles of this watershed period in Korean cinema.

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One Response to “Madame Freedom”

  1. HmH..Sounds interesting..I envy that you live abroad..sounds like a fascinating life…Zman sends

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