HOMENews&Data > Resources > Human Rights Films/Video
Directed by Lee Eon-hee
Starring Uhm Ji-won, Gong Hyo-jin
Missing, the movie portrays the many issues women and migrants face in the Korean society, and of course making it difficult to watch as a mom, and a woman. However, upon reflection, I realized it was not a movie about a mother’s affection, but also about societal inequality, discrimination and unfairness. The relationship between ‘Gab (‘dominant’) and ‘Eul (‘subordinate’)’ is seen from two perspectives: Jisun and Hanmae.
Jisun falls under three categories: a working woman, a single mom, as well as a divorced woman. She is discriminated against by society, and judged by others at her workplace, and not the least, by her –in-laws. Due to the prejudice and different treatments Jisun is forced to endure, she has to struggle until late into the night, thereby not allowing her to spend a minute with her child. She constantly has to prove herself to others, that she is not inferior to them, just because she has a child. She has to prove all those wrong, who say they, “do not want to work with a woman who has a child”. It clearly portrays the reality of the male-oriented Korean society, in which a working woman is made a subordinate to her male counterparts, including the nanny who is given full control under the name of childcare.
In addition, this relationship was clearly seen through the life of Hanmae, the migrant woman. Immigrant women, as portrayed as marriage migrants, end up becoming the solution to the long-standing issues of marriage, labor and low fertility in Korea’s rural areas. Hanmae was seen to marry a man who is ‘old and out of the poor’ who lives in a remote area, typical of a Korean marriage with a migrant woman. She suffers as a result of not speaking the Korean language and endures physical violence, all of which she cannot resist. Her status of residence depends on her husband and her mother-in-law. She is branded as a sinner, because she cannot have a baby son. As a result, she endures forced labor and sex-related work to provide for the family. When her new-born girl is sick, she has to earn money to cure her daughter, yet she has no choice but to take any kind of job, including organ trafficking, and prostitution. While she is able to provide for her daughter physically and financially, nonetheless, she cannot become the guardian of her own daughter due to her status as a Chinese national. At the heart of the issue lies an abysmal and harsh reality for immigrant women forced to live a ‘subordinate’ life in Korea.