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Surrogate Mother
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Surrogate Mother

Director : Im Kwon-taek
Starring : Kang Su-yeon, Lee Ku-sun, Yoon Yang-ha
Location Sites : Bossam Village, Ulju, Ulsan

Film Information

Winning the Best Actress Award at the Venice International Film Festival, <Surrogate Mother> (Ssibat I) sparked the momentum for director Im Kwontaek to be internationally recognized, following his screenplay <Mandala>(Mandara). At the time of its premiere in 1986, <Surrogate Mother> was released in the outskirts without gaining much attention nor receiving any specific ratings. <Surrogate Mother> was almost buried as one of the 'folk erotic' films which were popular at the time. However, its recognition in Venice served to have the film re-evaluated both home and abroad. The oppressed life of a woman leading to her death under the feudal patriarchal system is the classic form of historical drama movies in the '80s, such as <Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women>. However, <Surrogate Mother> is distinguished in that it deals with communication between the living and the dead through sacrificial ceremonies, and also the world of the living dominated by the dead. In addition to the Best Actress Award at Venice, <Surrogate Mother> received awards for Best Cinematography and Best Lighting at the 25th Daejong Film Festival; Best Cinematography and Special Award at the 7th Yeongpyeong Awards; and Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress at the 32nd Asia-Pacific Film Festival.


When Shin Sanggyu, the eldest heir of a distinguished family of the Joseon Dynasty, remains childless, his mother and uncle choose Pilnyeo's daughter, Ongnyeo, as a surrogate mother. On the night that the two meet, Sanggyu falls for Ongnyeo's attractive looks and his wife becomes jealous. Oblivious of her situation, Ongnyeo falls in love with Sanggyu. Pilnyeo reasons with her daughter, but Ongnyeo does not give in. When Ongnyeo gives birth to a son, the child is given to Sanggyu's wife, while Ongnyeo leaves without even a chance to look at the baby.

Location of Shooting

The main stage of <Surrogate Mother> (Ssibat I) is the traditional Korean-style house of the Shin family. Scenes of Ongnyeo and her mother, before she is chosen as a surrogate, were taken at Bossam Village. In Bossam Village, Ongnyeo lives a liberal life totally separated from any formalities or rules of the human world. Ongnyeo's life, equal to nature itself, contrasts starkly with her life after becoming a surrogate, where she is confined to a single room.

Oppression by the feudal patriarchal system is more clearly depicted through Ongnyeo's past liberal life in Bossam Village. Following <Surrogate Mother>, movies including <Potato>(Gamja), <Mulberry>(Ppong) and <Sa Bangji>(Sabangji) were also filmed here.

General Information

Bossam Village is located in Samdong, Ulsan. Deep in the valley of Mt. Jeongjok, at an altitude of 500m, even until recently only 10 households resided here. The name of the village is said to originate from the word 'bossam,' meaning 'to steal a bride' - the village is so deep in the mountains that one will be able to cover his traces after a 'bossam.' It is said the village is so secluded that it even managed to avoid the Korean War.


Gyeongbu Expressway - Tongdosa Temple I.C. - 5 minutes towards Eonyang, take a left at the sign for Yangsan National Forest Office, pass Joil-ri and Jirang Village. Take a right at the sign for Ssanggeumsu Garden. Follow the narrow road along the valley at the end of the road is a small village, which is Bossam Village.

Nearby Attractions

Mt. Gaji, Jasujeong Cave, Hongryu Falls, Seongnamsa Temple, Tongdosa Temple