|Answer: The Seven Female POWs (Chil-in-ui yeo-po-ro) (Lee Man-hee, 1965)
It is a 1965 film entitled < The Seven Female POWs(Chil-in-ui yeo-po-ro) > directed by Lee Man-hee. Director Lee Man-hee was arrested for violated Article 4, clause 1 of the National Security Law and was released on probation only after he promised to delete/edit the problematic scenes and change the title according to Government Information Agency guidelines. There were a few other films that have been subject to censorship after pro and anti-Communist debates, such as < Piagol (Pi-agol) > (Lee Gang-cheon, 1955), but this was the first time a director was actually arrested after governmental investigation.
Although the film has not been preserved, this is the storyline of the movie. A North Korean military officer encounters Chinese soldiers while escorting 7 South Korean nursing officers who have been held prisoners. When the Chinese soldiers attempt to rape the POWs, the North Korean officer slays the entire group of Chinese soldiers with the help of his men in order to protect their Korean POWs. Worried that they might be executed if they go on with escorting the POWs, the North Korean officer persuades his men to defect to South Korea with the nursing officers. The Governmental Information Agency pointed out that “The movie advocates sentimental nationalism, depicts our military forces as helpless, glorifies North Korean armies, and exaggerates in its depiction of South Korean women who are abused by U.S. soldiers” and decides that the film is unacceptable. The Agency even criticized the phrase ‘Female POWs’ in the title, arguing that the words put North Korean soldiers as subjects rather than South Korean soldiers. At the time of the release, the film’s title was modified to ‘Return of the Female Soldiers.’
People of the movie industry signed a petition in support of Director Lee Man-hee and the freedom of expression and submitted it to the government. They were worried that arresting Director Lee Man-hee for violating the National Security Laws when the film had already undergone prior deliberation, and when Director Lee is known for directing several anti-Communist films might restrict the expression of ‘realism’ in films. Director Yu Hyeon-mok, in his speech “Freedom of the Silver Screen” presented at the World Cultural Freedom Convention on Marth 25th, 1965, supported this film by asserting, “The film that the government finds problematic, < The Seven Female POWs(Chil-in-ui yeo-po-ro) >, must express North Korean soldiers as living human beings and we should refrain from reverting back to our old ways.” The Information Agency pointed out this part of the speech and argued that Director Yu Hyeon-mok has violated the National Security Law saying, “he sympathizes with the propaganda that North Korean soldiers are human beings with compassion.”
The reason why the government was able to arrest directors over issues that were not necessarily problematic was because of the enforced censorship system during President Park Jeong-hee’s rule at the time. The 5th Amendment of Constitution announced in 1962 ruled the censorship of films constitutional by stating in article 18, clause 2, “censorship may be applied to films and entertainment for the benefit of public morality and social ethics.” Such vague criteria for censorship allowed unrestricted censorship of films through the enactment of a variety of different laws such as the National Security Law, Criminal Law, and Performance Law. Censorship was applied in several levels to even production, script, post-production, and official inspection at theaters showing the movie. The director of the Information Agency also had the power to stop the production and directors and the film crew had no choice but to internalize censorship and resort to the practice of self-censorship. This naturally led to the restriction of expression and it is a good example of President Park Jeong-hee’s power and control over the people of Korea.