Movie review: Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 Explores Differences In Gender Roles & Perceptions

Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (2019)
PG / 118 minutes
Opens 14 Nov / 4 ★

Who is Kim Ji-young? And why is her year of birth of interest? 

The movie, Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, is adapted from a novel with the same title, written by author Cho Nam-ju. According to Korean media, Kim Ji-young is the most common name given to a newborn girls the 1980s.

The plot portrays protagonist Kim Ji-young (played by Jung Yu-mi) as an ordinary woman in her 30s.

Kim is your typical office lady who works in a marketing firm. She is capable and a high-performer. But that came to a halt when she gives birth.

Since then, she has quit. She now spends most, if not all of her time taking care of her toddler, doing household chores and cooking up meals. Pretty much like every other housewife.

Kim is in a dilemma of whether to return back to work after her career break, in which Jung Dae-Hyun (played by Gong Yoo) has to apply for paternity leave. Otherwise, she will continue as a housewife.

With Jung’s mother against the idea of her son being the one who is taking care of the toddler, and their inability to find a caregiver, concerns start to weigh down on Kim.

Is she possessed? Or does she suffer postpartum depression? 

These questions start surfacing when Kim starts talking to her husband Jung Dae-Hyun (played by Gong Yoo) late in the wee hours of the night. But from someone else’s perspective.

No, this is not your typical horror film. Instead, this movie is as real as it gets, and is a reflection of society. “(The novel) reminded me of my friends, now married with children,” Jung revealed in a recent press conference.

Yet the novel, and the movie, still see their fair share of supporters and critics.

Supporters could resonate with how females are downplayed in Korean society. On the other side of the spectrum, people feel that the story over-generalizes men as people who are “sexist” and “abusive”.

Personally, I am no parent, nor do I have kids. But there were hearsays from people of another generation who told me that females were usually perceived to be the ones at home and cooking for the family. They are not expected to work either.

Korea remains as a generally conservative society, so is the movie portrayal still evident in present-day society?

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