Hye-in (played by Song Eun-chae) is a young Joseon-era woman who is for political reasons arranged to marry Lee Dong (played by Baek Do-bin). While Hye-in's loyal retainer Moo-gong (played by Yeo Wook-hwan) disapproves, for a brief period it seems like maybe the situation won't be so bad. Lee Dong then exposes himself as being a tremendous jerk, and so inevitably the narrative moves toward a typical revenge trajectory. "Lost Flower: Eo Woo-dong" ultimately distinguishes itself via sex, historical backdrop, and general misandry.
Let's start with the sex. Song Eun-chae has a pretty great body, and surprisingly, her performance is a pretty good match too. Hye-in is a mostly conservative woman and her moans, far from being the excess one might expect to see in porn, definitely portray a strong modest streak. In this regard "Lost Flower: Eo Woo-dong" makes very good use of the Joseon-era backdrop. It's precisely because Hye-in is covered up most of the time that her naked body comes off so impressively.
Ironically, in terms of actual content it's ultimately not Hye-in's body that's the instrument of her revenge, but rather her more lady-like courtesan equivalent skills. These too, are an obvious callback to a long-ago era rather than anything really erotic in the modern sense. A gayageum is a prominent musical motif here, and it's a testament to director Lee Soo-sung that the music actually comes off so well in context. Seduction, as it turns out, really is more mental than it is physical.
...Thus leading into the misandry. Which I actually consider to be a point in the film's favor. Modern sexual politics frequently dictate that it is wrong to portray women as bad for being sexually open. Rather than trying to romanticize courtesans, though, "Lost Flower: Eo Woo-dong" instead flips the perspective around by exposing the men as the ones being morally depraved- while the courtesans obviously enable this behavior, it's equally obvious who's actually calling the shots. Note one scene in particular where a courtesan is clearly weirded out by the direction this sexual encounter has gone, and only reluctantly continues after being ordered to do so.
It's this misandrist element that ultimately makes Hye-in's revenge so satisfying. She's deliberately and quite literally flipping the emotional perspective around so that Lee Dong is the who ultimately ends up humiliated, through the very same emotional means that he used to try and control her. I particularly liked how Hye-in's overall countenance never really changes. While she does put on a bit of a show for the sake of the men, right to the end it's only her relationship with Moo-gong that provides a genuine sense of intimacy.
Overall "Lost Flower: Eo Woo-dong" is just a fairly simple story, but it is nonetheless a simple story done rather well. While the sex is the obvious titillation factor intended to get people interested, Hye-in is a well-defined, simple conservative woman whose strike against the patriarchy is motivated largely by a strong sense of traditional, personal ethics. Naturally, it all ends rather tragically, particularly given that Moo-gong repeatedly offers a more pleasant solution. Really, though, it's hard to resist the fantasy of putting a jerk in his rightful place.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Lost Flower: Eo Woo-dong""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
[HanCinema's Film Review] "GROW: Infinite's Real Youth Life"
In 2013, Infinite went on a grand world tour. And I guess because these guys are pretty much on ca,...More
[Video] Added 2 teaser videos for the Korean drama 'Heart to Heart'
Added 2 teaser videos for the upcoming Korean drama "Heart to Heart",...More
Subscribe to HanCinema Pure to remove ads from the website (not for episode and movie videos) for US$0.99 monthly or US$7.99 yearly (you can cancel anytime). The first step is to be a member, please click here : Sign up, then a subscribe button will show up.