Just two decades ago, it was rare for movie fans to see actresses do nude scenes because of strict censorship and most stars were hesitant about undressing for the camera.
But as the domestic moviemaking trend took an innovative turn towards liberal expression, nude scenes no longer made much news. And interestingly, baring all turned into an effective strategy for actresses to prove their acting skills, commitment and passion for acting.
"I think of nude scenes as a crucial passage to become a real actress", said actress Uhm Ji-won
after shooting director Hong Sang-soo
's "Tale of Cinema
". "After stripping in front of the camera, I felt that I could now take any role".
Even veteran actresses with over 10 years experience have chosen to shoot nude scenes to reach a higher level of acting.
Top actresses Jeon Do-yeon
and Kim Hye-soo
each gained new perspectives in "Happy End"
and "Faceless Beauty"
But despite the changes, differing views on nudity often cause conflicts between actresses and movie producers, and end up hurting the actresses' feelings. In a recent case, a dispute broke out between actress Sung Hyun-ah
and the producers of the movie "Lover"
, as Seong protested against the promoting strategy to emphasize only the nude scenes.
"I filmed the nude scenes to make a good movie. I can't bear to see that such scenes are being used as tools of promotion", she said. "I am not an actress who undresses and tumbles about for no reason".
For such reasons, Seong declared that she would from now avoid nude scenes altogether.
Actress Moon So-ri
spoke along the same lines at a news conference for her new movie "Bewitching Attraction
". In the movie, Moon plays a sexy professor who seduces men openly.
"It is not the nude scenes that burden me. It's the people who like to make an issue out of them", she said. "I wish people would take the nude scenes as they are and talk no more about them".
The late actress Lee Eun-joo
shocked people by committing suicide and leaving a note that hinted the distress she felt about the nude scenes.
Beginning her acting career through director Hong Sang Soo's "Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors
", Lee committed suicide after the movie "The Scarlet Letter
" which included some bold nude scenes.
Going nude helps the actress to broaden the scope of her acting but often, it brings some disappointing results too.
Since nude scenes have no meaning unless it's in harmony with the whole narrative of the movie, many actresses fail to attain the title of a skilled actress even after shooting nude scenes. Actresses Kim Ji-hyun
in "Summer Time"
, Lee Ji-hyun-IV
in "Spectrum" and Kim Tae-hyun
are examples of such cases. And, for younger actresses, shooting nude scenes means giving up on becoming an "idol star".
From the first movie "The Butterfly" to award-winning director Park Chan-wook
's "Old Boy"
, both of which included nude scenes, it was clear that 24-year-old actress Kang Hye-jung
had chosen to become an actress rather than a celebrity.
Taking a different route from the mainstream celebrities, Kang was also cold-shouldered by TV commercials which demanded perkier and lighter images from a model of her age.
For such reasons, some actresses choose to stick to the traditional strategy to avoid nude scenes.
Shooting nude scenes was out of question for actress Jun Ji-hyun
who kept her exposure to the minimum and did not even allow having kissing scenes in her movies. Keeping strictly to her principles, Jeon succeeded in forming an image that made her the current most-wanted commercial model in Korea.
Movie critics, however, criticize Jeon for focusing too much on her "star strategy" to work on her acting, becoming an "actress without a soul".
After the major box office hit "My Sassy Girl"
, Jeon has failed to draw audiences to her movies including "Windstruck
" and "Daisy"
Despite her 14-year acting career, actress Kim Ji-soo
also made it a policy to avoid nudity.
"I don't want to make changes for the sake of changing. I don't want to take nude scenes to prove my passion for acting, which I have always had", Kim said in a recent interview for her new movie "Romance - Movie
Needless to say, nude scenes are often necessary for the narrative of the movie. Thus, the fact that actresses no longer avoid going nude to make the best movie is a positive turn of the trend.
But critics emphasize that nude scenes only have meaning when it is really necessary.
"The key point is how much the actress can act within the narrative of the movie", said movie critic Jeon Chan-il. "Actresses and moviemakers should both remember that the nude scenes no longer have meaning on their own, and audiences will approve of the scenes only when they are placed in the movie for clear reasons".
By Shin Hae-in