Samaritan Girl
Director Kim Ki-duk is known as Korea’s enfant terrible. This is his 10th movie, the third time he has a movie in competition in Berlin and it is his first win – The Silver Bear for best Director. The prize is well deserved. With Kim Ki-duk there is not much middle of the road, you either like his films or hate them – you never leave the theatre indifferent to his films.

"Samaritan Girl" is not as violent as most of his films, but you should be prepared for a tough story with no happy end in sight.

Two young schoolgirls Yeo-Jin and Jae-Young are best friends. To get money for a trip to Europe they use an unorthodox way: Jae-Young prostitutes herself with older men, while Yeo-Jin makes the arrangements, saves the money and keep watch. Trying to avoid being caught by the police Jae-Young dies. Yeo-Jin is devastated. She never understood how Jae-Young could endure having sex with ”perverts”, but she feels a huge amount of guilt. As a way of atoning, she seeks out Jae-Young’s customers, offers them sex, accepts no money from then and even pays back the money they paid Jae-Young. Yeo-Jin lives alone with her widowed father, a police detective. He finds out, what she is doing and starts to follow her around. He then beats up the customers, without telling his daughter. However, one day he hits a customer a little too hard....

This is not an upbeat film. It addresses a problem, that has existed in Japan for some years (see the film "Bounce ko Gals"), and now is turning up in Korea: Young school girls prostitutes themselves in order to get money for the right clothes, cell phones etc. The movie is clearly on the side of the girls – they are too young to realize the dangers and consequences of what they are doing. The middleaged men on the other hand – many of them fathers to teenage girls themselves – should know better, and Samaritan Girl does not waste any pity on them, although not all of them are seen as complete villains.

To me Korea seems to be a society, where honor is a lot more important than in most western societies today. If a daughter prostitutes herself, it shames the whole family. But as Kim Ki-duk stated on the press conference in Berlin, this is also a movie about forgiveness. "Even in a situation like this a father should still forgive his daughter", said Kim Ki-duk.
Uffe Stegmann
March 31, 2004
PS: I got both Kim Ki-duk and Kwak Ji-min’s autographs at the Berlin Film Festival 2004!

Original Title
South Korea
Kim Ki-duk
- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ....and Spring (2003)
- Coast Guard (2002)
- Bad Guy (2001)
- Address Unknown (2001)
- The Isle (2000)
- Birdcage Inn (1998)
Kwak Ji-min
- This is her first movie
DVD Availability
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