Night Journey

Directed by Kim Su-Yong.
With Yoon Jeong-Hee, Shin Seong-Il, Ju Jeung-Ryu.
South Korea, 1977, DCP, color, 76 min.
Korean with English subtitles.
DCP source: Korean Film Archive

One of the most vital and haunting visions of everyday life under the Park Chung-Hee dictatorship, Night Journey is a portrait of soul-crushing conformism and psychosexual repression centered upon two unmarried bank employees who live together yet are forced by social pressures to conceal their “unofficial” relationship from their office. Kim Su-Yong succinctly diagnoses a malignant moral and cultural decay in the embittered couple, whose drunken quarrels are their only release from their daily grind of mind-numbing money counting, humiliating sexist innuendo, and the rigidly enforced ritual of after-work drinking. A stylish and effective adaptation of Kim Seung-Ok’s (b. 1941) eponymous novel, Night Journey offers the figure of the restless wife, given poignant intensity by Yoon Jeong-Hee, as a cautionary emblem of the frustrated dreams shared by a generation unable to escape or even express their true anguish. Completed in 1974, Night Journey was rejected outright by censors who decried its bleak pessimism and only released the film in a truncated version four years later. A kindred spirit to the Young Sang Sidae group, Kim Su-Yong was mentor to Kim Ho-Seon, who worked as an assistant director on Night Journey.

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