korean sitemap email
6. What is the first Korean movie to receive criminal charges for sexually explicit content?
Answer: < The Empty Dream ( Chunmong )> (Yu Hyeon-mok, 1965)

It’s < The Empty Dream ( Chunmong )> >, a 1965 film directed by Yu Hyeon-mok. A translation of the Japanese movie < Daydream>, the film stars Shin Seong-il, Park Am, and Park Soo-jeong, a rising female star of her times. The film is experimental and far-out to the point where even director Yu Hyeon-mok himself classified it as an experimental piece. A man runs into an actress during his visit to the dentist. Lying in the doctor’s chair, he falls into a deep sleep after receiving a shot of Novocain and starts dreaming. In his dream, he sees the actress and his dentist, and the dentist abuses the actress mentally and physically. His attempts to rescue the actress fail each time and he wakes up. Awake from his dream, he steps outside the hospital and he and the actress shake hands before parting. The film has a frame structure and the mise en scne is very expressive and fantastic like that of German expressionist films.

The problematic scene from this movie is the 6 seconds of nudity shown by the actress Park Soo-jeong. The Information Agency made an issue of this scene and sentenced him to a year and a half in jail for producing sexually explicit content, stopped his license for a year and a half, and put him on probation. On the surface, the Agency held him guilty only for the ‘production of sexually explicit content’ but at the same time, his supportive speech with regard to director Lee Man-hee and < The Seven Female POWs(Chil-in-ui yeo-po-ro) > was also a part of the problem. The speech entitled “Freedom of the Silver Screen” presented during the seminar at the World Cultural Freedom Convention observed that, “The national policy of Korea cannot be based on anti-Communism. It is only advocated as a national policy to gain leverage for the initiation into the camp of free nations.” This remark was accepted as a violation of the National Security Law, and it aggravated Agency members to penalize the movie for certain scenes that were not at all problematic even in the standards of the times, and even after the director had edited them out beforehand. This is a representative incident regarding the restriction of freedom of expression in both the public and private aspects, where Park Jeong-hee’s government attempted to apply relentless censorship to both the political aspect (anti-Communism) and more private aspects (issue of sexuality).

The censorship policy at the time was institutionalized in the Constitution, allowing unlimited enforcement and punishment based on the positive law. Afterwards, films such as < Woman In the Wall (Byeoksok-ui yeoja)> (Park Jong-ho, 1969), < Eunuch (Nae-si)> (Shin Sang-ok, 1968), < Your Name is Woman (Neo-ui ireum-eun yeoja)> (Lee Hyeong-pyo, 1969) all underwent censorship and had to cut out several scenes but in 1969, these films were charged of being lewd during the special enforcement period and the directors were all prosecuted. The prosecutors insisted that different criteria be applied to criminals of producing sexually explicit materials. For President Park Jeong-hee, who emphasized totalitarian and nationalistic policies, the expression of personal desires in the form of sexuality, as well as a more macro perspective of politics, basically meant freedom of speech. This was just as great a threat as the freedom of political expression.

Such reckless prior censorship pushed forward for the maintenance of the dictatorial government finally disappeared after the persistent efforts from independent film industries and cultural movements in the early 90s. Censorship was finally banned in 1996 by the Constitutional Court after its rein of 80 years. Many stood in its support as it advocated freedom of artistic expression but the expression of sexuality was not completely freed. The system shifted to rating but when movies were rated as inappropriate for general viewing, there were no theaters to screen such movies that were unable to receive a rating. This meant that once the rating is set at pending for a certain movie, it was actually banned from showing. There are several films that have instigated heated debates on sexually explicit content recently. < Yuri(Yuli)> (Yang Yun-ho, 1996), < Yellow Flower (Dulhana sex)> (Lee Ji-sang, 1998), and < Too Young to Die (Jukeodo joah)> (Park Jin-pyo, 2002) which presented actual intercourse between an elderly couple, were all rated as Rating Pending. Jang Jeong-il, the author of the original novel < Lie To Me>, was summoned by the prosecutor regarding charges for explicit lewdness and the movie , which received Rating Pending two consecutive times, became a film that brought on the hottest debate regarding the freedom of expression and the issues of lewdness. Also, < Happy Together> (1997) was rejected for import because the film dealt with homosexual relationships. Nowadays, representations of sexuality rarely receive criminal charges but this is still the most debated issue regarding censorship and the freedom of expression.
1. What Korean movie has the longest title?
2. Are there Western movies made in Korea, too?
3. What is the first Korean movie banned for violating the National Security Law?
4. What is the first Korean movie to receive criminal charges for violating the National Security Law?
5. What were the greatest box office hits from 1974 to 2008?
6. What is the first Korean movie to receive criminal charges for sexually explicit content?
7. Which Korean director produced the most number of films in Korean film history?
8. Which Korean movie was made in the least number of hours?
9. What is Korea’s first feature-length animation film?
10. Where and when was the first movie shown to the public in Korea?
11. What is the first Korean anti-Communist film?
12. Who is Korea’s first movie narrator?
13. What is Korea’s first cinemascope movie?
14. Who is the first female director of Korea and what movie did she make?
15. What is the first Korean movie?
16. What is Korea’s first sound film (“talkie”)?
17. Which was the first color cinemascope film in Korea?
18. What was the first Korean movie in color?
19. What is Korea’s first comedy film?
20. Which Korean film had the first kiss scene?
21. What is the first Korean film to receive recognition in a foreign film festival?
22. What is the oldest Korean film that has been preserved?
23. What is the first joint film made in Korea?
24. What is the genealogy of box office hits in Korea?