The Age of Beasts, a compilation documentary by Jeong Jae-eun, is part of the series Modern Korea 2 produced by Korean Broadcasting System (KBS). The programme traces the long struggle for women’s rights, from challenges to the misogynistic legislative system in the late 1980s to first-ever court case against sexual harassment and the enactment of the Act on the Punishment of Sexual Violence and Protection of Victims in 1994.
Striking against the violence prevailing in the 1980s, some victims turned perpetrators. The film’s titular “beast” is the word used by a woman who in 1991 killed the man who had raped her when she was nine. The director defends the phrase as one “denouncing the barbarism and violence of the times.”
Women-centred narratives were easier to find in TV dramas and teleplays, featured prominently here, than in the news and current affairs programmes. Skilfully put together, KBS archival clips perform a kind of ‘disk defragmentation’, giving the history of women’s struggle its rightful place in Korea’s modern history.