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The Concubine

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Jonathan Tam
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The Concubine

The Concubine is directed by South Korean director Kim Dae-seung, and tells the story of concubine during the time of the Joseon dynasty in Korea. Needless to say with a film with a title like The Concubine, one can expect it very difficult to bring into the classroom. The Concubine is filled with periods of nudity, sexual intercourse and even gorey forms of torture - and so I don’t recommend it at all for any classroom context. Where The Concubine shines however is in its ability to demonstrate life in Korea during this time period.

Just as how kings ruled and royalty punished the commoners in other parts of the world, this was similar to life in the Joseon dynasty. Hwa-yeon is a concubine that is placed in this role by her mother. She is tasked with being impregnated and giving birth to a son with a young and easily persuaded King. The problem however, is that prior to this, Hwa-yeon was in love with a commoner, Kwon-yoo. Hwa-yeon’s parents discover this and make Kwon-yoo a eunuch. The control of royalty, the portrayal of the aristocratic life, and the customs of the Joseon dynasty are very much present in all scenes of the film and as a historical piece, it does a tremendous job of depicting the time period. On top of being a tragic romantic tale, The Concubine packs a pretty heavy punch right into the end.

I give The Concubine, a 6/10.