The South East Asia region is generally very traditional and conservative in its outlook. Homosexuality, for instance, is often treated in a way that those in the West may find perplexing and retrogressive. South Korea is a prime example. Whilst not illegal in the country there’s no official acknowledgement of LGBT rights. It’s a subject rarely tackled in its national cinema but King and the Clown was well-received and remains one of the best Korean films of the last decade. A Girl at My Door focusses on the discrimination inherent within Korean society and social issues which the country faces.
After a scandal in Seoul, police academy instructor Lee Young-nam (Bae Doona) is hastily transferred to a job of chief of police in a rural town. She find the change of pace and uncultured ways of the locals hard to adapt to, and whilst she secretly drinks at home, shuns their drunken lifestyles. When she discovers a young girl (Sun Do-hee – Kim Sae-ron) being beaten by her father (Song Sae-byeok) Young takes her away to live with her. It soon becomes clear that Sun Do-hee is really troubled, whilst the locals begin to cast doubts about the nature of their relationship.
July Jung’s film is an impressive drama with brilliant performances from the two leads; both of whom waived their fee to appear. This is due to the subject matter, with funding only being obtained from the Korean Film Council. A Girl at My Door is a multi-layered drama about alcohol and abuse set against a stigma of homosexuality. It’s reassuringly Korean in its off-kilter nature and intensely emotive in its subject matter.
A Girl at My Door is released on DVD by Peccadillo Pictures on Monday.