Queer Pal For The Straight Gal – Wanee & Junah and Queer Friendship

https://web.archive.org/web/20150316114414/http://www.thefilmjournal.com/issue7/wanee.html
By Adam Hartzell

Originally from Berea, Ohio, Adam Hartzell now lives in San Francisco where he focuses his writing primarily on Korean Cinema. He manages the bibliography at Darcy Paquet’s Korean film website, www.koreanfilm.org, where he also contributes many reviews and essays. He will have an essay on Hong Sang-soo’s The Power of Kangwon Province and Kang Je-gyu’s Shiri published in 24 Frames Japan & Korea in mid-2004 by Wallflower Press. He can be reached at epinionator_atom@yahoo.com.

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Wanee

One of the most successful of World Cinemas in the past six years has been that of South Korea. Part of the reason for it’s success is what Chris Berry calls “Full-Service Cinema,” that is, a cinema that is not dependent on one genre nor one aspect of the industry, such as solely festivals, location shooting, or venture capital. Rather than focusing on primarily commercial fare, such as Hong Kong, or primarily art house fare, such as Taiwan, South Korea has excelled in multiple genres.1

Along with the wide-range of genres populating recent Korean Cinema, a more diverse array of Koreans are appearing on screen, particularly Gay and Lesbian characters and couples. For a country where Lesbians and Gays do have to remain, for the most part, closeted2, it is refreshing to see amongst the problematic portrayals a few progressive, respectful representations coming out of South Korea.

The film Memento Mori (Kim Tae-yong and Min Kyu-dong, 1999), placed in an all-girls high school, has two of the three main characters involved in a Lesbian relationship that does not fall easily into stereotypical portrayals and does not rely on sex scenes to titillate Straight male audiences. Plus, the character of Min-ah (played by Kim Min-sun) is a spunky ally to the Lesbian couple. The poorly titled, even in Korean, Bungee Jumping of Their Own (Kim Dae-song, 2001), allows for an open display of love between two men through the allusion that the female ex-lover of the main character In-woo (played by Lee Byung-heon) is reincarnated as a man. In-woo is married when he meets his reincarnated ex-lover, and the reincarnation is yet to be a man, that is, below the age of consent in South Korea. Thus, we have three nice little taboos rolled into one, the latter taboo, posing problems because it could be seen as re-enforcing stereotypes of Gay men as lecherous pursuers of underage boys. However, the characters are never shown to be affectionate beyond holding hands and the film struck a positive chord with many Koreans, allowing, perhaps, some borderline homophobic individuals a safer forum within which to critically engage their homophobia. A Bizarre Love Triangle3 (Lee Moo-young 2002) also poses problems, appearing to justify a heterosexual rape scene between two of the characters. And the Lesbian relationship is mostly one of Straight Male fantasies demonstrated by the number of dildos that wiggle throughout the scenes, and dildos that resemble penises at that. However, you are left respecting the Lesbian character (played by Kang Hyo-jin)4 much more than the other two main characters in the film. For some reason, Jang Sung-woo felt it was time to bring back the Lesbian Man-Hater trope for his Resurrection of a Little Match Girl (2002). The sissy has a history in South Korea in films such as Two Cops (Kang Woo-suk, 1993) and Flower Island (Song Il-gon 2001). And Transvestites have appeared in films like A Hot Roof (Lee Min-yong, 1996), a film where a group of women rebelling against the patriarchy terrorizing their apartment complex establish solidarity with the transvestite character.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows that Lesbian and Gay Koreans are receiving screen time, good and bad. Most recently, Kim In-shik’s Road Movie (2002) asks the audience to immediately confront any lingering homophobia. In the very first scene before the opening credits, we are given a shimmering, stylized, hunk of sweaty gay sex. Dae-sik (played by Hwang Jung-min), a homeless day laborer whom Korean society will not let signify his Queerness, nonetheless is not as ashamed as one might think he would be when found having sex with a man in a restroom. The person who finds him in the restroom is Suk-won (played by Jung Chan), the stockbroker down on his luck that Dae-sik has been helping out, and, falling in love with. Although not Gay himself, Suk-won eventually begins to appreciate the love and affection Dae-sik has for him, but, as melodrama will have it, he comes to terms with this a little too late.

Unlike the 1970’s American films with homosexual characters, where American critics would force homosexuality to “take the rap for the heterosexist woman-hating attitudes that permeate buddy films” (p. 85)5, Road Movie, the buddy-est of genres in that it’s also a road movie, (one of the few genres not strongly represented in Korean Cinema), provides a wonderful critique of masculinity by challenging those men who need to define their masculinity through acts of misogyny. Kyu Hyun Kim summarizes well the impression one is left with after watching Road Movie:

For me, the heart of Road Movie is perhaps best expressed in a rather small scene that occurs mid-point. Il-joo [the third main character, a prostitute who joins Dae-sik and Suk-won] challenges Dae-sik, who is about to leave her: instead of slapping, berating or smooth-talking her, or responding with a baleful gaze and ‘cool’ silence, Dae-sik softly intones, “I am so sorry,” and gives her a gentle hug, stroking her hair with his big, callused hands. We suspect that a Korean man is indeed capable of such gentleness and affection toward a woman (or man, for that matter) who is not an object of sexual desire or related by blood: it is just that we seldom encounter such a character amongst the endlessly churned-out gangster ‘comedies’ and art house hits suffering from madonna-and-whore dichotomitis. Sometimes we need an honest and thoughtful film like Road Movie to be reminded of such simple truths.6

Road Movie, in its expert handlings of issues of gender, shows why it’s been so difficult for those involved in making mainstream films in any country to portray Gay and Lesbian characters outside of stereotypes. When such is done sans the cliches, the presence of Queerness brings into question all our definitions about what men and women are supposed to be. This is why the women on the roof of their apartment complex in A Hot Roof were initially threatened by the Transvestite Yoo-mi (played by Kim Al-eum) since Yoo-mi challenges their concepts of womanhood. The women do eventually see solidarity with Yoo-mi’s cause because they know quite well that homophobia is as much about sexism as anything else. It appears that a subset of Korean directors have chosen to tackle both prejudices fully, with varying results.7 seems to allude to this challenge to gender norms by noting the changing expectations of what type of person a Korean director is expected to be. “In the past, people had preconceived notions of what kind of a person should become a director — sort of a macho, strong image. But all of that changed in the 1990s.”))

However, like too many American Gay and Lesbian films, the Gay character in Road Movie must commit suicide. Sadly, with limited Gay portrayals, this can provide further false evidence to Gay and Lesbian Koreans that they are alone and that they won’t live for very long. Even more frustrating is that Dae-sik chooses suicide when throughout the film we not only see Dae-sik rescue characters from their acts of self-annihilation, but we see a strong character who seemed capable of overcoming all the obstructions society placed before him. Still, the constant obstacles Lesbian and Gay Koreans must face can eventually frustrate the spirit of even this quite resilient character. Yet, before we completely allow the ending to define the film, we still need to hold all that happened before and how, in the final scene, Suk-won wholeheartedly accepts Dae-sik’s love for him. We do not know what happens to Suk-won after this scene, but he obviously has been greatly affected by Dae-sik’s affection for him. And, to some degree it is the constraints of Korean melodrama that require the death of Dae-sik to signify love un-attained, not just to signify the a Gay man cannot live in this society.

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Yet, the Gay man still dies at the end. So how about a Korean film where the Gay character doesn’t die? And how about we let him have a loving relationship too? A year before Road Movie, Kim Yong-gyun’s Wanee & Junah (2001) did just that. The film follows a couple, Wanee (played by Kim Hee-sun), a woman who is a well-respected animator at the studio where she works, and Junah (played by Joo Jin-mo), an aspiring writer just on the verge of his first film credit. Early on, Wanee begins to distance herself emotionally from Junah due to the return of her younger half-brother, Young-min (played by Cho Sung-woo), and the memories his return causes to surface. The reason she retreats from Junah is because, in Young-min’s return, she is forced to deal with the incestuous relationship she had w/ Young-min before his departure for Europe and the death of her father that she connects with that relationship. Whether or not Wanee and Young-min were sexual is left ambiguous, but it is clear through the excerpts shown from their past that they had a bond beyond brother and sister.

Whereas Road Movie queers masculinity by asking a Straight character to confront his homophobia by accepting sincere affection from a Gay man, Wanee & Junah presents a challenge to a Straight woman to queer her perceptions of what type of man she can have a relationship with. Wanee’s relationship with Jung-woo allows her to address her personal struggle and to eventually fully accept the man who loves her. Wanee’s co-worker, Jung-woo (played by Choi Kwang-il) is a Gay man whose boyfriend, Hyun-soo (played by Son Se-gwang), is a policeman. This Gay relationship is integrated into the film fully as common place. It is not seen as a deviation but as another valid expression of ourselves. It’s as everyday in this segment of Korean society as kimchi.

Nowhere does this relationship receive any fundamentalist immoral-lashings. In fact, when Jung-woo and Hyun-soo have a fight, the whole office appears to express great concern and to hope that the two will resolve their differences and get back together. We are informed of the circumstances around their fight on the roof of the studio when Jung-woo shares his troubles with Wanee.

Jung-woo – “Hyun-soo’s mother wants him to get married. It’s not like I can’t understand.”

Wanee – “Then why did you two fight?”

Jung-woo – “He wants to separate for a while.”

As is the case for so many Gays and Lesbians throughout the world, family members will often insist the Gay family member get married to meet society’s expectations, to satisfy society’s prejudices. Hyun-soo asks for space from Jung-woo to sort through this obstacle in his life. It is here that Wanee first seems to acknowledge how her boyfriend might be feeling regarding her need for distance from him. She feels her friend Jung-woo’s suffering and knows Hyun-soo’s request for space causes this suffering. She begins to sense how her request for space could be effecting Junah.

Still, her situation is not analogous to Jung-woo’s for many reasons. She knows that Jung-woo can understand his boyfriend’s experience because Jung-woo’s family is most likely asking the same thing of him. But Wanee’s secret is unique to her, she can’t imagine that Junah might understand. Still, in Jung-woo’s pain she sees the pain she might be causing Junah.

It can be dangerous to talk about this film as a progressive portrayal of Gay Koreans since the topic of incest is dealt with in the film without harsh moral judgments. Considering the fact that to make their weak cases against equal treatment for Gay and Lesbian relationships, self-appointed public moralists often use perverted arguments such as ‘If we accept Gay and Lesbian relationships, then what’s next? Incest? Bestiality?’, one may feel that even touching on this topic of Incest can seem to reinforce these deluded arguments. However, the parallel that Wanee sees with Jung-woo and Hyun-soo is not that she sees her relationship with Young-min as parallel to theirs, thus justified and moral, or the opposite. She actually realized long ago how harmful her relationship with Young-min was to her growth and how she needed to let go of her attachment to him to experience a healthier relationship in her future. The memories she revisits anticipating Young-min’s return do not resurface because she is still attached to him as a lover. Her memories are attempts to sort out her guilt that her announcement to her father of her love for Young-min was, in her mind, the cause of their father’s death.

Wanee & Junah demonstrates the difference between homosexuality and incest that the homophobic so often illogically connect. In this way, the film works differently from Maureen Turim’s interpretation of Oshima Nagisa’s French production, Max Mon Amour (1987). Max Mon Amour is a story about an upper-class family wherein the wife (played by Charlotte Rampling) is having an affair with a chimpanzee. Turim sees the dinner table scene, where the wife “position[s] herself outside such inquiries” about her relationship with her chimpanzee lover, as a sign of “the strength of her self-possession as a woman who lives her own desire.” Turim goes on to argue, “In the context in which right-wing advocates of repression link homosexuality to bestiality to condemn both, this film makes the daring move of humorously defending bestiality, using this defense to satirize, between the lines, homophobia.”8 Whereas the satire of Max Mon Amour links bestiality with homosexuality to defend the latter, the melodrama of Wanee & Junah dissociates homosexuality from any attempts to connect it with incest. In this way, the healthy Gay relationship counters the inherently unhealthy incestuous one.

Also, incest is not the only taboo present in Wanee & Junah, presenting not a parallel between homosexuality and incest, but an exploration of all the relationships, personhoods and experiences we are told to keep secret. Taboo after taboo abound within the film once you start looking for them and part of the enjoyment of watching the film is arguing for the existence of other taboos in the subtext. The most obvious is the fact that Wanee and Junah are cohabitating lovers who are not married, an arrangement still not accepted in general Korean society. Another taboo involves Wanee’s Deaf co-worker, Young-sook (Kim Su-jin). Rather than require her to speak Korean or to communicate through written Hangul, the whole office has taken to learning basic Korean Sign Language.9 Thus we have the presence of a non-verbal language, rarely shown in any films, regardless of national origin. (I acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of viewers will see Young-sook as a character with a disability rather than as a member of a linguistic minority, so I will also present that the presence of a “disabled” character also breaks a taboo since persons with disabilities are rarely shown in films.) Furthermore, one of the Hearing co-workers may be courting Young-sook. However, since the Korean Sign Language is un-translated for viewers solely reliant on the English subtitles such as myself, this is only speculation based on their interaction. Still, the mere hint of a cross-cultural/cross-linguistic – and able-bodied/”disabled”-bodied – relationship represents further breaking down of taboos.10 Other taboos include the brief reference to a striking age difference between a couple on a TV program and the possible infidelity between Wanee’s and Young-min’s parents in that Wanee and Young-min share the same father but not the same mother. And the most important taboo to the film’s plot is not the incest, but the taboo of talking about death. This taboo is the real reason Wanee is distancing from Junah and is having difficulty letting go of her past. Talking about her father’s death is further complicated with the exhausting complications of the history that leads up to it. It is very easy to understand why Wanee can feel that no one could possibly understand her guilt around her father’s death. No one but Young-min, that is. So Wanee & Junah, does not portend to argue that being Gay is like being incestuous, it merely presents the hidden identities and experiences around us that society makes it difficult to talk about, thus difficult for each of us to process through.

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As far as we know, Wanee does not decide to tell Junah about her father’s death nor her possibly incestuous relationship with her half-brother, although scenes hint that Junah might have an idea about the latter. What we know is that Wanee has taken on the responsibility to continue working on her relationship with Junah.

Jung-woo also plays a part in Wanee’s decision to return to Junah. As Wanee struggles with her past and her present, Jung-woo presents a hopeful future to her. Jung-woo oversees the Sketching department at the studio. As the hierarchy is presented to us through the dialogue at the studio, Sketching is seen to provide more opportunities for creativity than Animation, where apparently you are simply duplicating the creations of others. Wanee is hesitant to pursue the career opportunity Jung-woo has for her in Sketching. We later learn this is because she was scared of taking on the responsibility of the position. This is paralleled with her fear of letting go of her guilt about her past and taking on the responsibility in a relationship with Junah. Her letting go of her past and accepting her future with Junah is signified in her acceptance of the Sketching position. Wanee’s acceptance of the Sketching position represents her refusal to perpetuate the unhealthy pattern she was stuck in with Young-min and her past, deciding to create something new and mature with Junah and with her career.

And Jung-woo’s influence on Wanee further resonates in how she is in love with a Metrosexual such as Junah. For those who have yet to come across the tern, “Metrosexuality” is the emerging nomenclature for Straight men who signify Gay-ness. These are Straight guys who don’t need the Queer eye. They are often described as having a Queer aesthetic in dress, decorating and other areas Straight men were not previously seen as experts in. Although most discussions of Metrosexuals center around how they consume products or lifestyles11, Metrosexuals are also men who are not scared to talk about their emotions, particularly their sadness or their desire to be in loving relationships that rely less on, to make up a word, “genderfication,” that is, gender as insurmountable divisions argued by the ‘Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus’ industry. These are Straight men women can talk to like they can their female and Gay male friends. Metrosexuals can cry and acknowledge their partner’s feelings rather than try to fix things like manly men are always accused of doing.12

Junah is definitely a Metrosexual. He dresses the part, cooks lavish meals for Wanee, and is constantly expressing concern for her position. In a blatant example of product placement13, Junah considers buying a new computer for himself, something he desperately needs to advance as a writer. Instead, he provides another opportunity for a product placement14 by buying Wanee a new TV. Wanee’s female friend So-young provides the womanly approval of this purchase in the scene where the TV is unveiled whereas Wanee is upset that Junah didn’t buy the computer for himself, always thinking of her and not himself. This product placement isn’t as intense as what we’ll find on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, (off which, of course, I worked the title of this essay), but it definitely reinforces that tradition.

Interestingly, although Metrosexuality has emerged out of the friendships between Straight and Gay men, we never see Junah and Jung-woo actually interact in the film. Rather than suggest homophobia on Junah’s part, this reinforces the Jung-woo/Junah parallels for Wanee as Mentor/Lover in her life, helping her embrace her love for Junah at home while accepting the responsibility and respect she has for her work and for Jung-woo.

Although the film focuses on a heterosexual couple, Jung-woo is not depicted as the lonely Gay friend who provides relationship advice to his struggling Straight friend. In the Gay friend of the Straight woman trope, the Gay friend is forever doomed to a life of singlehood. Like a modern priest. he offers advice to couples regarding an aspect of life kept from him. Whereas, in Wanee & Junah, Jung-woo has a real loving relationship. He has to struggle within the homophobic confines of modern South Korea, but his relationship doesn’t end tragically.

And Wanee appears to acknowledge how the relationship she has with Junah comes with privileges Jung-woo does not have. Noy Thrupkaew has noted the main contradiction of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. In the episode where our Gay Super(Consumer)heroes aid a nervous Straight man about to propose to his girlfriend, Thrupkaew notes,

As for the actual proposal, the experts watched it unfold on a TV in their chic “loft.” The men were breathless, fanning themselves, holding hands. And when girlfriend Tina struggled out a “yes,” they screamed and jumped up in delight. The moment would prove cruelly ironic not 12 hours later, when President Bush declared his opposition to gay marriage with the announcement that his lawyers were drafting legislation strictly defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This came after news of a growing backlash against gay rights, perhaps prompted by the recent Supreme Court ruling against a Texas anti-sodomy law, or, conservatives speculated, the increased visibility of queer people in culture and entertainment. (9Noy Thrupkaew, “Queer Factor: Are Bravo’s latest shows the new gay minstrelsy?,” The American Prospect Online, August 4, 2003. Available at http://www.prospect.org/webfeatures/2003/08/thrupkaew-n-08-04.html))

There is a moment in Wanee & Junah when Wanee appears to be aware of this contradiction as it relates to Korean society, where she is being indirectly counseled in relationships by a Gay man who, by being Gay, is denied the right to marry the man he loves. Wanee, from the roof of the studio, watches the playfulness in Hyun-soo returning to Jung-woo. The two lovers jokingly push each other while sitting on traffic barriers, as if to symbolize the barriers they must work around, and play around, in Korean society as Gay men. The rooftop provides a panopticon-like view. Except in this case, the initial power of the panopticon to repress, to keep people confined within supposed cultural norms and rules, is being subverted. The original idea of the panopticon was a guard house in the middle of a prison chamber that allowed for the viewing of all the prison cells circling it, thus, giving prisoners the impression that they are always on view by authority and must act properly and police themselves because they never know when they might be caught for their transgressions.15 Wanee is not policing cultural expectations16 from her panopticon perch. She is attempting to free her culture from this policing, hoping for her culture to accept the love that, in present efforts to maintain face, dare not show its face.17

Like the distance of the rooftop, Hyun-soo is always shown from a distance. And his face is never shown in focus, as if to show how Gay and Lesbian Koreans have to present themselves out of focus in Korean society. We could parallel this out of focus view of Hyun-soo with director Kim Yong-gyun’s choice to occasionally use blurry shots as Wanee’s point of view as a sign of the physical toil of her job. The first example of this POV shot shows up when we see Wanee first see her Metrosexual Junah in the film. Ironically, Wanee’s blurry vision allows her to see what others keep out of focus.

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Upon seeing Hyun-soo return to Jung-woo, Wanee smiles, happy and hopeful for them. She then enunciates this joy with a satisfied sigh, “The weather’s so great!” Immediately after this utterance, thunder erupts, as if to let her know all is not well. The thunder’s primary signification is that she needs to continue the work of mending her relationship with Junah, but it also signifies that Jung-woo and Hyun-soo still have obstacles before them.

It is in movies like Wanee & Junah and Road Movie that we see greater space being provided for the multicultural in Korea, especially concerning the Gay and Lesbian Korean experience. Of course, improvements are still to be made. I still can’t interpret Jang Sun-woo’s Lesbian man-hater as anything more than a weak cliche if not a vicious stereotype. But for those who looked at South Korea as a place that would never find a cross-legged space at the table for Lesbian and Gay Koreans, one might want to reconsider that position. There are signs flickering on the screen that are gradually opening up the cinematic space for Queer Koreans that will hopefully fully limn societal space as well.

  1. Adam Hartzell, “Notes from the Hong Sang-soo Retrospective.” Koreanfilm.org. Available at http://www.koreanfilm.org/hongss2.html []
  2. Recently, Hong Suk-chon, an openly Gay television actor, returned to TV in the miniseries Perfect Love after a three year hiatus. Prior to this hiatus, Hong was a popular character on a popular children’s television show. He had trouble finding television work after he publicly affirmed rumors about his being Gay during an interview where the interviewer brought up the rumors as a joke to be discounted. Excised from the actual televised portion of the interview, Hong’s affirmation that he was Gay was leaked by a magazine two weeks later and Hong refused to deny what the magazine claimed. The producer of the children’s television show wanted Hong to deny these rumors. Since Hong refused, he was quickly fired from the show. (Norimitsu Onishi, “Korean Actor on Comeback After Coming Out.” San Francisco Chronicle, Monday October 6, 2002, D4.) Whether or not Hong’s return to TV represents a trend in South Korea towards greater acceptance of Lesbian and Gay Koreans would require more than just a sample of one. []
  3. Yes, the New Order song was very popular in South Korea. []
  4. Choosing to cast Kang Hyo-jin in this role as a confident, self-assured Lesbian is interesting since she played a homophobic “friend” of the character of Min-ah in Memento Mori. []
  5. Vito Russo, The Celluloid Closet. HarpersCollins: New York, 1987. []
  6. Kyu Hyun Kim, Brief review of Road Movie (Kim In-sik, 2002), Koreanfilm.org. Available at http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm02.html#road []
  7. In an interview with Darcy Paquet at Koreanfilm.org (http://www.koreanfilm.org/ejyong.html), director E J-yong (An Affair (1998), Asako In Ruby Shoes (2000), and Untold Scandal (2003 []
  8. Maureen Turim, The Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese Iconoclast. University of California Press: Berkeley, 1998. All quotes are taken from page 213. []
  9. I have been unable to confirm if Kim Su-jin is really Deaf. Nor have I been able to confirm if the character of Young-sook is signing in Korean Sign Language, another Sign Language such as Japanese or American, or gestures merely meant to signify a Sign Language. Since it does not appear to be a gibberish created by Hearing people, since the character is a Deaf Korean, and since Sign Languages observe as much diversity as Spoken Languages, sometimes even more so, I refer to Young-sook’s language as Korean Sign Language. []
  10. Much to the disagreement of my roommate, (Sorry, Thien.), I will utilize the function of footnotes to argue my case that Young-sook is being courted by a colleague. In the only scene where her Korean Sign Language is translated in English-subtitles, Young-sook asks Wanee if the drawing on her desk is of her “boyfriend.” (To which Wanee responds, “It’s a secret,” further underscoring the many secrets in the film.) Since disabled characters are so often de-sexualized in film, Young-sook asking about someone else’s “boyfriend” can be argued as setting her character up as one possessing romantic agency. Later, a colleague leans towards Young-sook with a beverage can in each of his hands and she smiles as if she knows he’s trying to woo her. Since, contrary to how mainstream media portray Deaf people, not all Deaf people can read lips, when her colleague says out loud, “She’d want coffee,” we can make a fair assumption he’s admonishing himself out of his previously unsuccessful attempts to express his interest to Young-sook. In response to this effort, Young-sook proceeds to laugh coyly and takes the can from him, signing to him something, perhaps “Thank you.” My roommate argues here that the colleague is merely asking Young-sook about advice concerning his attempts to woo another woman in the office. However, this colleague never interacts with any other woman in the office besides Young-sook. His two other scenes with Young-sook involve him playing badminton with her as her “partner” and later congratulating her in KSL about a job done well on their most recent assignment. All this tends to suggest that Young-sook is being courted by a Hearing colleague, crossing a taboo of cross-linguistic, cross-cultural lines as well as the taboo against “able-bodies” courting “disabled” bodies. And the fact that so much of this courtship goes un-translated keeps these secrets, these taboos, “unspoken.” That is, at least for those who are not knowledgeable in Korean Sign Language. []
  11. For a good introduction to this phenomenon, see discussion of the premier Metrosexual, David Beckham, in this article: Mark Simpson. “Meet The Metrosexual.” Salon.com, July 7, 2002. This article may require subscribing and is available at http://archive.salon.com/ent/feature/2002/07/22/metrosexual/index.html
    Also see Genevieve Roja “Here Come The Metrosexuals.” Alternet.org, September, 29, 1993 available at www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16847 []
  12. As I reinforce in my summary, Metrosexuality is more often discussed in relation to changing definitions of maleness rather than changing definitions of femaleness. The emergence of Metrosexuals is full of complex issues, such as the issues that arise when a majority group appropriates aspects of the cultural identity of a minority group, that deserve greater discussion than I give here. []
  13. Here is the dialogue of the male salesperson who is slightly cut off from view behind Junah that exposes this as the commercial it really is. “So I can use this notebook as a phone simultaneously.” As if this isn’t enough, to show time lapse, another new female salesperson is brought in after a quick editing cut to add, “You can use it as a phone and pick different melodies.” I won’t assist in this blatant product placement by naming for you what the brand of computer is. []
  14. Nor will I assist the brand identification here. []
  15. Michel Foucault. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books, (Reprint Edition) 1995. []
  16. And “policing cultural expectations,” under which Lesbian and Gay Koreans must struggle, is further underscored by the character of Hyun-soo being a policeman. Hyun-soo has to police himself within Korean society, making him the one in his relationship more likely to feel the familial pressure to get married. []
  17. Interestingly A Hot Roof also subverts the initial symbolism of the panopticon. It is on the roof of their apartment complex that the women rebel against the men below. The panopticon of both A Hot Roof and Wanee & Junah places women in the panopticon-view and allows them to expand what is permissible in the societal cells they gaze upon. For it is from this position that the women can better see the big eyes the patriarchal panopticon has. Ironically, both directors use the panopticon to free Korean society from some of its cultural shackles rather than to tighten those shackles. []
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