For further information please download the film sheet (PDF).
In a Seoul neighbourhood where mostly refugees from the north of the divided country have settled, office worker Cheol-ho lives in poverty with his family – his pregnant wife, his unemployed brother, his mother, who is still traumatised by war, and his sister, a kept woman thanks to the American soldiers. Plagued by toothache, he wanders despondently through the film; it’s others who take the initiative – with tragic consequences.
After Kim Ki-young and Shin Sang-ok, Yu Hyun-mok is considered the third pioneer of post-war South Korean cinema. Influenced by Italian neo-realism, his seventh film Obaltan is seen as a milestone. Made during the brief period of democracy between the overthrow of the dictator Rhee Syng-man and the military coup of General Park Chung-hee, the film was swiftly censored for alleged sympathies with the enemy to the north and then sank into obscurity. The Korean Film Archive had just a single 35-mm print to work with for its brilliant restoration, which has made it possible to rediscover a lost masterpiece. (Christoph Terhechte)
Production: Daehan Films, Seoul
Screenplay: Lee Jong-gi, Lee I-ryeong
Camera: Kim Hak-seong
Cast: Kim Jin-kyu, Choi Moo-ryung, Seo Ae-ja, Kim Hye-jeong
Running time: 108 min
Photo: © Korean Film Archive