Herstory (2018) - South Korea
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (FCCA)
The story and struggles of “comfort women” during the Japanese war is one of the most atrocities that is still pending recognition and apology. “Herstory” goes the route in not showing cinematic flashback and in return focuses on the present and how these former “comfort women” deal with the future and past in a courtroom drama setting. Led by travel agent owner played by Kim Hee Ae and ethic Korean Japanese lawyers, the small group of brave comfort women traveled across from Busan to Japan over a period of nearly a decade to fight for injustice and right the wrong. This is an inspirational film that will likely bring tears to your eyes.
Kim Hee Ae plays a strong Korean woman who chairs the Woman Association in the 80s and 90s as she put aside her business for a good cause that nobody believed in. The quadrant of older Korean former “comfort women” (played by Kim Hae Sook, Ye Soo Jung, Lee Yong Nyeo and Moon Sook) all excel with their respective qualities as their tears and tortured hearts are hidden beneath their positive and cheerful outlook. The court scenes when they have to retell those horrific stories are so graphic and detailed that will likely touch even the faintest of heart.
There are so many good things about this film that made it almost perfect. Director Min Kyu Dong insist on not going cliche with flashback is to be complimented as it will not manipulate the audience into an infernal of emotions, rather we experience as we see it in the present. Horrors and tragedy of war are tough to film and this film touches upon the current #metoo movement that have been going on for decades. The fight for justice, what is right and a simple apology is still lacking from the Japanese government. By the end of the film, we understand that the last of the quadrant of the Korean comfort women already passed away, it’s a sad reality that justice have not been served. It is also a timely reminder that the fight goes on, the legacy lives on and history should not repeat again.
I rated 9/10