No hugging, no kissing

My opportunities to watch movies online are limited by time, interest and what I can find for free. I have recently watched and blogged about 신부수업 Love so divine (Wikipedia, my blog), 아이엔지 …ing (review, my blog) and 순정만화 Hello schoolgirl (Wikipedia, my blog), and I have just finished watching 엽기적인 그녀 My sassy girl (which I have mentioned but had not watched). The video wasn’t subtitled, so I missed a lot, instead relying on synopses, reviews and commentaries online. Linguistically, the point of interest is that her name is never given; he, her parents and his aunt don’t ever address her by name, despite opportunities to do so.

The other thing I noticed in all four movies was the lack of romantic physical contact – no (or very little) hugging, no (or very little) kissing. I don’t know if this is a general thing in Korean movies. Four is hardly a representative sample. There are reasons in-story – the man in Love so divine is a trainee priest and the women in …ing and Hello schoolgirl and are (final year) high school students (and the men are older) (the two in the former get as far as holding hands but the two in latter don’t even do that, and older beta couple get half a kiss), but the two in My sassy girl are by any definition adults. The question isn’t will they or won’t they, it’s how much and when will they?

But it’s not just those four movies. Others I have seen are 사랑 A love (physically close but kept apart by circumstances), 괴물 The host (a family fighting a mutated monster) and 기생충 Parasite (some, but age and questionable consent).

I don’t know if this is a general trend in Korean movies. I obviously need need more examples one way or the other.

(See TV Tropes’ page on No hugging, no kissing which doesn’t mention Korean movies, and, conversely, The big damn kiss.)

PS I also recently watched 소녀X소녀 Girl x girl, in which their was no romantic contact, just people riding motorscooters together and a lot of low- to medium-level violence. I imagined a very different ending, because further down the search results was ‘Top 10 Korean lesbian movies’ (I’m surprised that there’s that many). I also many years ago watched 웰컴 투 동막골 Welcome to Dongmakgol (note that the Korean title is simply a transliteration of the English), which features two opposing groups of soldiers in a small village, with the only main female character a somewhat simple-minded mid-teen) and 왕의 남자 The king and the clown, in which there’s some contact (but I can’t remember quite how much) between the Joseon-period men.

PPS I have thought of two more movies. The one I’ll mention is 버닝 Burning in which two of the lead characters have rather perfunctory sex together.


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