Alienating the Maternal Instinct in Bong Joon-ho’s Mother
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 4, Issue 5, September 2016, Pages: 61-67
Received: Jul. 21, 2016; Accepted: Aug. 15, 2016; Published: Aug. 25, 2016
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Author
Ann Meejung Kim, Department of English Language and Literature, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
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Abstract
Bong Joon-ho’s critically acclaimed film, Mother, explores and complicates the idealized motherhood with its portrayal of a deeply troubled and violent mother. The heroine, the “mother,” is an herbalist in a provincial town whose life revolves around protecting her mentally challenged adult son. When he is charged with a murder that she believes he has not committed, she takes matters into her own hands, trying everything in her meager power to clear his name. For this film, Bong makes a bold statement in that he wishes to “explore the dark side of motherhood.” Casting Kim Hye-ja, an actress beloved by Koreans for her “motherly” roles, is the first step in de-familiarizing the familiar image of devoted Korean mother; however, the film achieves the goal by pushing the limits of such “motherly devotion,” setting up a situation that begs her to break boundaries. This paper argues that the film succeeds in complicating the maternal instinct by surprising the viewer, whose force to surprise lies in the film’s clever contextualizing: the ways of alienating the subject is deeply rooted in the Korean context, which makes the surprise even more dramatic and effective in destroying the idealized motherhood.
Keywords
Bong Joon-ho, Mother, Motherhood Ideology, Sexuality, Violence
To cite this article
Ann Meejung Kim, Alienating the Maternal Instinct in Bong Joon-ho’s Mother, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 4, No. 5, 2016, pp. 61-67. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20160405.11
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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