Gyeong-Ah’s Daughter (2021) London Korean Film Festival 2022

November 8th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Jung-eun Kim; Cast: Kim Jung-Young, Ha Yoon-Kyung, Kim Woo Kyum, Kim Woo Kyum, Lee Chae Kyung; Republic of Korea 2022, 117 min.

Family relationships are complex and the transition between childhood and adulthood can be particularly fraught in the digital age when traditional parents discover their kids are not only having sex, but sharing explicit content on the internet. A dramatic discovery sets up the frantic first half of this feature debut by Kim Jung-eun, who then unpacks the slow fragmentation of the mother/child relationship at its heart.

Gyeong-Ah (Jung-Young) is a typical example of a clingy parent whose focus, due to her difficult marriage, has always been her daughter. Yeon-Soo (Yoon-Kyung) has left home and is teaching philosophy in a secondary school where she is extremely popular relishing her newfound freedom after the leaving the gloomy parental home behind. She hardly ever sees her widowed mother Gyeong-Ah (Jung-Young) who works as a carer in a small Korean town where both women seem to have been on the receiving end of abusive relationships with men.

Out of the blue – the young teacher gets a sex tape containing explicit photos of her in the nude, filmed by her ex-boyfriend Sang-Hyum (Kyum). Their affair had ended acrimoniously and clearly Sang-Hyum is out for revenge. But when the tape goes viral her mother holds her adult daughter responsible rather than supporting her, even though she is the victim of a revenge crime.

The plot then turns on the different reactions and desired outcomes of the crime. Rather than siding with her daughter Gyeong-Ah demands financial compensation; Yeon-Soo wants her lawyer to go for the jugular with a custodial sentence for her ex.

A hectic first half gives way to a tonal shift into the more slow-burn nuanced exploration of the relationship breakdown showing the inner struggle between mother and daughter as the generational conflict plays out between two very different generations of women in Korea. AS


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