The highly anticipated Korean film of the 2017 summer ‘V.I.P.’ faced fierce criticism. Although the film was filled with famous movie stars like Lee Jongseok, Kim Myeongmin, and Jang Donggeon, and directed by Park Hunjeong, a well-known director for the film ‘New World’, it only stayed on the box office top 10 chart for a mere three weeks. Along with its quite disappearance from the top 10, the film sparked huge controversy online.
On the one side of the controversy were people who defended the film’s director claiming freedom of creation, but on the other side, many people were vividly upset at the film’s misogynistic features. The most representative example of these features is the killing of female victims by the main male character, a psychopathic murderer. Criticism rose not just from the killings of females, but that the villain’s portrayal was excessive. The film also was condemned for the way it gave credit to the female actors at the end of the film when the credits were seen. Female actors who played the roles of victims were credited as ‘woman dead body role’. Also, the female actor who played a National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent was credited as ‘woman agent role’. Male actors, however, were corrected identified and credited with their roles, clearly showing discrimination towards females. Although the production company changed its crediting of female actors from ‘woman dead body role’ to ‘woman’, heated debate is still going on. A bigger issue is that ‘V.I.P.’ is not the first movie to face this kind of criticism. ‘Midnight Runners’ and ‘Toilet’ released earlier this year have received similar criticism. In ‘Midnight Runners’, a horrible crime targeting a woman was the focus of the movie, but most people were upset about the attitude in which the male protagonists, police academy cadets, solve the case. In this film, the male main characters follow a complete stranger to obtain her phone number, which is something that also can happen in real life and a situation that makes women extremely fearful. The film ‘Toilet’, marketed as a psychological thriller is based on the Gangnam Station murder. The definition of misogyny is not just dislike or hatred of women. Its concept includes contempt for or in grained prejudice against women. With no doubt, these films make use of incendiary scenes and ill-treat women.
Some people disagree with the criticism by questioning the condemnation with, “Why so serious? It’s just a movie“ and “If that were the case, then are ‘I saw The Devil’ and ‘The Chaser’ misogynic films, too? Why react now to these movies?” Many of the crimes female victims face in films is the same as those faced in real life. Moreover, in the past, though a woman may have felt uncomfortable in a certain situation, she rarely spoke out due to social norms at the time. Society is slowly but surely changing, and expressing one’s opinion and discomfort is more widespread now. Moviemakers need to consider the times and be considerate when writing scripts and shooting scenes. Is this requirement asking too much? People need to ask themselves how they would like to be treated and show humanity towards all.
Nam Ujeong, “[Misogyny in Content] ① We Need to Be ‘Sensitive’”, Herald Kyungje, September 5, 2017