In Kim Soo-yong's Splendid Outing, Yoon Jeong-hee plays a successful business executive who departs for a small coastal village in order to escape her life in Seoul. However, upon arrival she is attacked and forcefully taken to a small island to live as Yong Dal-ho's wife where she is subject to beatings and rape. After more than a year, she is able to flee the island and find her way back to Seoul, but unfortunately her company has gone bankrupt and no one can recognize her as she is pregnant, sunburnt, and dressed like a country working woman. Seeing no other option she jumps off of a building she used to own and the film suddenly cuts back to her sitting in a car in the coastal village she arrived at in the beginning of the film.
At the beginning of the film, we see Chairman Gong (Yoon) speaking to a women's leadership organization at which she tells the group,
Men represented power, but the age of power is over now. No matter what kind of power, it is no match for wisdom and intelligence. (7:17)
남성은 곧 힘이요 힘이 권위이던 시대는 지났습니다. 어떤 종류의 힘도 명철한 지성 앞에서는 굴복하고 만다는.
That night while lying on her bed smoking, she looks at what appears to be a painting of an island hanging on her wall and remembers various things she has heard regarding her unmarried status.
Ms. Gong, how long are you going to stay like this? You should get remarried. Whether it be at home or at work, you need a man. It's time you got remarried. The sooner, the better. (16:01)
공회장, 재혼을 하셔야지 언제까지 버티시려고 그러십니까? 어떻습니까, 공회장? 아무래도 생활에서나 사업에서나 남자란 필요한 존재 아닙니까? 이제 그만 재혼을 서두르십시오. 늦을수록 손해입니다.
Darcy Paquet has noted that while the "gender issues are impossible to ignore," it is not a feminist film. He locates the core of the film in understanding that "subjugation and humiliation may be only one false step away." Paquet's analysis of the thin line between success and humiliation is key, but I would put forth that this line is only thin due to the societal constraints that women face in Korea -- thereby making Splendid Outing a very strong type of feminist film.
Despite Gong Do-hee's immense success, she cannot break free from the pressures of re-marriage. While everyone around her seems to respect her in the appropriate ways, she still cannot be seen as a woman or leader without having a husband.
When she leaves Seoul for the tiny fishing village and enters what seems to be her dream sequence, we can see her life as she imagines it under the subordination of men -- in this case represented by marriage. She is constantly beaten, she is raped, and she lives with her "husband's" concubine. When she explains her situation to doctors, no one believes her and they simply laugh at her story. She becomes a non-entity. Her marriage invalidates her life and her history.
Kim Gi-yeong noted that Splendid Outing was a typical and formulaic film; however, its statements on marriage and gender equality in society and in the workplace came at a prescient time in Korea's economic development. Yoon Jeong-hee's strong performance grounds the film and the Kim Soo-yong's stylistic filming on the beautiful Yokji Island in Tongyeong make it a highly watchable and endurable film.
Thanks to the Korean Film Archive, this film can be easily seen online with Korean, English, and Italian subtitles. Thank you!