Directed by Kwak Jae-yong and produced by Shin Chul, the movie ‘My Sassy Girl’, or ‘Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo’ literally meaning That Bizarre Girl, is your typical Romantic-Comedy movie. Korea has a policy of promoting local films, as a pose to the screening of only selective international ones; therefore, made in Korea, this movie was released on the 27th of July, 2001 and was (still is) ranked as one of the second best films in the Korean Film Industry. However, it is important to note that since this conditioning of sorts has been carried out, the audiences in Korea have also grown to love local films more than international ones, inculcating a deeper liking for romantic comedies and other such genres in the Korean Film Industry.
True to its genre, the story line of this film revolves around two main characters; a boy and a girl, destined to meet and fall in love, because fate decided so. The sequences of events, however, are skillfully placed and are highly hilarious. The movie depicts a normal life in Korea for adolescents, young adults and parents, as well as the lifestyle and living conditions of many Korean families. It is, through these depictions, that a subtle message has been passed; the popularity of ‘Love Hotels’, the growing crisis of Adolescent Prostitution and the Violence in a relationship.
Many a times in the film you find the two main characters visiting a ‘Love Hotel’. All they have to do is pay a price (a rather heavy one) and they would be allowed to occupy a room for the night. Through the movie, we find that these rooms in a ‘Love Hotel’ are designed in such a way that each room consists of many arrangements, which would be required to cater to the needs of lovers who are aiming for intercourse. Besides this, we see a scene in which a group of elderly men try to buy sex from a group of young girls. It is then that the main female character stops this act any further by shouting at both, the group of men and young girls.
A last symbol, I would like to note, is the behavior and nature of the main female character, and that of the main male character. With exception that the movie was aiming for comedy, it cannot be missed however, that the nature of the main female character was highly violent, and then main male character more docile and understanding of such. Such relationships have become higher amongst the young couples of Korea and other places, a study shows.
The movie ends on a heart-warming, tear-moving scene, in which the main characters unite once again. While the aim of this movie was drama, romance and comedy, such symbols were necessarily depicted to portray the life in Korea, and the growing circumstances.
‘My Sassy Girl’ was attempted by the US Film Industry, clearly trying to achieve the same response that the Korean version got, however they were not successful due to various reasons. Some say it was because the original and the remake just couldn’t compete, others say that it was because of the humor and acting; while others say it just didn’t fit the westernized dating scenario.
All in all, the Korean version of the film was a great success, and the subtle depictions of the various symbols of Korea played a vital role in this success.