Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Do You Know Who I Am?
  • by KIM Hyun-jung / 06.29.2016
  • Historical Figures Seen through Korean Cinema

    The Last Princess, booked for August release, depicts the life of Princess Deokhye, the last princess of Joseon. Being the most loved daughter of Emperor Gojong, she was sent to Japan against her will, after her father’s mysterious death. She was ordered to marry a Japanese man and lived a painful life suffering from loneliness and mental illness all throughout her time. And The Last Princess gives her a present of secret romance with an independent movement activist.


    For the past few years, Korean cinema has been focusing on the Japanese Occupation era, often featuring historical figures in films. DONGJU; The Portrait of A Poet (2016) is a good example. YOON Dong-ju, a poet famous for his works including Understanding the Stars and The Prologue, was arrested for political offense and died in the jail in Fukuoka at the age of 27. His work was not published in his life time, and his posthumous collection of poems came out after death.


    KIM Won-bong (CHO Seung-woo) appears for a very short time in Assassination (2015) but leaves a powerful impression, whose real life was just as well powerful. Unlike some nationalists who chose a demilitarization strategy, KIM was a consistent anarchist and led armed struggle against Japan.


    Going back a little bit further, you can encounter with the tragic father and son from The Throne (2015): King Yeongjo and Prince Sado. Yeongjo was a great king who revitalized late Joseon, but was an unfortunate father who failed to reconcile with his son and finally locked him up in a rice chest and left him to die. His son, Prince Sado, was oppressed by the presence of his father throughout his life, until he died of hunger and thirst.


    Going further back in history, you will meet Admiral YI Sun-shin from mid Joseon, in Roaring Currents (2014). Joseon could protect its sea for 7 years against Japan thanks to this great commander. He always remained loyal to his country even when he was slandered and lost his position, and he died in a battle right before the war ended.

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