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The Shower (Sonagi) (1978)

Producer : Seo Byeong-Jik
Production Company : Nam A Pictures Co., Ltd
Date of Theatrical Release : 1979-09-13
Running Time : 100 min.
Opening Theater : Soyang Theater(at Chuncheon)
Genre : Literary Art

Staff :
Writer : Hwang Sun-Won
Screenplay(Adaptation) : Lee Jin-Mo
Director : Ko Young-Nam
Executive Producer : Kim Seung
Director of PhotoGraphy : Lee Seong-Chun
Gaffer : Sohn Han-Su
Music : Jeong Seong-Jo
Art Director : Cho Kyeong-Hwan
Set Decorator : Cha Sun-Ha
Editor : Kim Hee-Su
Sound/Recording : Kim Byeong-Su

Cast(Actor/Actress) :
Lee Young-Su, Cho Yun-Suk, Kim Sin-Jae

Synopsis

Country boy Suk-ie (Lee Young-su) meets Yeon-ie (Cho Yun-suk), a girl from Seoul who has just transferred to his school. Suk-ie likes his pretty new classmate, but hides his true feelings and expresses his affection indirectly by picking on her. When she fails to show up at school for several days in a row, he becomes worried. After she returns to school, he secretly follows her. He rescues her from the mean antics of a group of boys, and the two strike up a friendship. Suk-ie and Yeon-ie decide to explore a hill on thefar side of the village. As they pass through the country roads and forests, having a marvelous time together, it begins to rain. They take shelter from the shower in a gazebo, but Yeon-ie takes a chill and becomes sick. She dies soon thereafter, leaving the final wish to be buried in the blouse and skirt she wore on the day she spent with Suk-ie.

Notes

"A cult film for Korea's 386 generation" (Lee Seung-hoon) [Translator's note: During the 1990s, the term "386 generation" referred to thirty-something Koreans who attended college in the '80s and were born in the '60s.]
Hwang Sun-won's short story "The Shower"is a representative work of Korean fiction, so famous that it has long been part of the middle-school curriculum. It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is virtually no Korean who does not know the story. The basic plot of the movie closely follows Hwang Sun-won's original. However, what clearly differentiates the film adaptation from its literary source is the characterization of the girl, Yeon-ie. The director bestows a surprisingly overt erotic image upon his heroine. Consequently, the central theme of a boy's romantic growth moves beyond the simple love of young children to show the child's emulation of mature, adult love. The reason why not only children but also countless adults find this movie so unforgettable can be traced back to this ambiguity: in it, Hwang Sun-won-esque innocence and Ko Young-nam-esque eroticism are peculiarly intermingled. Above all, the movie's portrayal of the beauty of nature never fails to draw wonder and admiration from audiences. Nature as seen in The Shower is so awe-inspiring that it invites the ironic expression, "fetishization of nature" it was enough to kindle the nostalgia of 1970s urbanites, and its impact is not lost even on today's older generation. The Shower is the most renowned of prolific director Ko Young-nam's 109 films, as well as the most representative coming-of-age film from the 1970s. Even though it cannot be ranked among the masterpieces of Korean cinema, it nonetheless provided much-needed comfort and a symbolic resting place for audiences who were exhausted by the breakneck pace of growth and progress in the '70s.

Afterword:

- Although The Shower did not fare well at the box office, it received positive reviews from critics. In particular, the recommendation of the head of Goethe-Institute Seoul, who was greatly impressed with the movie, earned it a scheduled berth in the Berlin International Film Festival. However, according to the director's own account, The Shower was never shown in Berlin because the print was sent out too late due to an error on the part of a Korean Film Council staff member.

Director Bio: Ko Young-nam (1935-2003)

He was born Jin Seok-mo on February 22, 1935, in Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do. During his time as a Korean Language & Literature major at Hongik University, he joined the theatre company, Sinhyeop, and entered the world of theatre. Afterward, he worked on the production of The Body's Destination (Yugcheui Gil) and in 1964, made his directorial debut with The Lost Sun (Ireobeorin Taeyang). He made mostly action films and melodramas. Although he wasn't a giant of Korean cinema who directed many great works, he was respected by many producers for his ability to consistently produce commercially successful movies. He was active as a director until the 1980s but began directing much less during the 1990s and in 2000, directed his final film, Picture Diary (Geulim-ilgi), after a 10 year hiatus from filmmaking. He died of lung cancer in 2003. His most famous works are The Land of Snow (Seolgug) (1977), based on the novel of the same name by the Nobel Prize winning Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata, The Shower (Sonagi) (1978), an adaptation of Hwang Sun-won's work, and Subzero Point '81 (Bingjeom '81) (1981).