6.3/10
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2 user 3 critic

Gwi-hyang (2016)

Two Korean girls, Jung-Min (14) and Young-hee (15) are kidnapped by the Japanese Imperial Army and taken to a 'Comfort Station' in China. There, they join other kidnapped girls in serving ... See full summary »

Director:

Cho Jung-Rae

Writers:

Jung-a Jo (adaptation), Cho Jung-Rae (screenplay)
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5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Soon-Hyoung Cha Soon-Hyoung Cha ... Yoshimi
Park Choong-Hwan Park Choong-Hwan ... Hirose
In-gi Jeong ... Jong Min's father (as In-Gi Jung)
Yoon Jeong-ro Yoon Jeong-ro ... Kuroda
Han-na Kang Han-na Kang ... Jung-Min (as Kang Han Na)
Seo Mi-Ji Seo Mi-Ji ... Young-Hee
Jung Moo-Song Jung Moo-Song ... Kinoshita
Ji-hye Oh Ji-hye Oh ... Jung-Min's mother
Geun-soo Park Geun-soo Park ... Park Man-ee
Choi Ri Choi Ri ... Eun-Kyung
Hong Se-na Hong Se-na ... Ok-boon
Kim Si-eun Kim Si-eun ... Boon-sook, comfort woman
Baek Soo-Ryun Baek Soo-Ryun ... Song-Hee
Son Sook Son Sook ... Young-ok, Young-hee
Ji Yoon-jae Ji Yoon-jae ... Saito
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Storyline

Two Korean girls, Jung-Min (14) and Young-hee (15) are kidnapped by the Japanese Imperial Army and taken to a 'Comfort Station' in China. There, they join other kidnapped girls in serving Japanese soldiers as sexual slaves known as 'Comfort Woman'. By the end of the war, only one of the girls survives. Decades later, an elderly lady attempts to reunite with the spirit of her lost friend. Inspired by the testimony of Kang Il-chul. Written by Darwin, RacnKel(amendment)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

South Korea

Language:

Korean | English

Release Date:

25 March 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Spirit' Homecoming See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,960,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,341, 1 April 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$119,113, 3 April 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

JO Entertainment See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cho Jung-Rae raised almost half of the film's budget through crowdfunding; over 70,000 people donated $980,000. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Some pretty scenes make this worth watching
28 October 2016 | by mrrcottSee all my reviews

Spirits Homecoming (2016)

It is alleged that during World War 2 the Japanese army kept 1 million women from occupied countries and kept them as slaves where they were euphemistically known as 'comfort women'. If little is known about them, it may be because their story has not been told in film before. The film took the director 14 years to make. The actress playing Jungmin (Ha-nung) was not paid but will receive a share of the profits.

This film is effective at showing how girls as young as 14 were removed from their homes and ordered to with dozens of men daily, and where they faced terrible punishments for disobeying orders. The film is set mainly in 1943, interspersed with scenes in 1991 where a much older Young-OK tries to settle her past and say goodbye to her friend Jungmin who didn't survive the war.

When Eun-kyung goes to a temple to train as a shaman, she helps Young-OK communicate with Jungmin. The past is linked with the present in all kinds of interesting ways. Eunkyung is affected by her father's murder as one of the comfort women is by watching her brother's death. Keepsakes are given from character to character and the elderly Young-OK is seen cradling a charm totem much like the one given to Jungmin by her mother in the past.

The film doesn't shy away from scenes of violence both physical and sexual. Day in, day out, the girls are expected to have sex with dozens men which doesn't stop even when they are menstruating. There is no way out from this and girls who attempt to escape are rounded up and shot. However, it achieves a certain poetry in later scenes, such as when dozens of white butterflies float in the meadows, a visual metaphor for the souls of the girls returning to their homes.

Viewers familiar with Korean cinema will notice a sense of a nation finally able to acknowledge its past and the brutality of the Japanese occupiers in particular. Japan's invasion of Korea has already been depicted in recent films such as The Handmaiden and Age of Shadows. This film has a strong sense of Korean identity, with the traditional folk song Arirang played prominently in several scenes.

Lead actress Ha-Nang is very innocent and pure, playing a girl of 14 who somehow doesn't lose her innocence. Son Sook has the eyes of someone who has seen too many horrors but still has the capacity to forgive. The movie could have been better edited but it tells a difficult story well.


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