The Hand of Fate
Part film noir and part espionage thriller, this melodrama narrates the tragedy of a divided Korea through a tale of forbidden love.
This 1954 classic unfolds a love affair between a bar girl cum North Korean spy and a struggling student who is revealed as a South Korean counter-espionage agent. Will love triumph in spite of the film’s anti-communist vein?
Released in the aftermath of the Korean War and the establishment of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the film comes across as a parable of its time and the effects of Cold War geopolitics. But the film’s focus on the anguish of its femme fatale and her newfound post-war values extend beyond a mimesis of history. Director Han Hyeong-mo brings the crisis to a culmination, if not controversy, through a poignant finale that calls for strength and hope in a united future and a lovers’ kiss – the first on-screen kiss in Korean cinema.
This film will be presented in 35mm, courtesy of the Korean Film Archive.
Cast & Credits
Born in 1917, Han Hyeong-mo made propaganda films during the Korean War before his directorial debut with Breaking the Wall (1949). His fourth feature, Madame Freedom (1956), scandalized the Korean public for its portrayal of women and their sexual freedoms, while establishing him as a major figure of Korean cinema in the ‘50s. He passed away in 1999.
Han Hyeong-mo Productions
Yoon In-ja, Lee Hyang, Joo Sun-tae