The Ascension of Han-ne
Director: Ha Gil-jong
Cast: Hah Myung-joong, Jeon Young-sun, Hwang Hae
Film genre: Drama
96 mins, 1977
Ha Gil-jong’s personal favourite among his films blends period drama and horror to interrogate the negative impact of South Korean traditions.
In 19th-century Korea, a woman is saved from a suicide attempt and brought back to the village of her rescuer. Here, she is regarded with fear and suspicion, with many believing she will bring them bad luck owing to the pronouncements of a corrupt shaman.
The masterful, eerie extended opening sequence beckons in a powerful and severe depiction of an easily manipulated community, and of those that exploit their fears. Although set far in the past, Ha critiques the present, as he explores how folkloric and often misogynist traditions echo into the present day, in a society framed by archaic patriarchal convention. Often disturbing, and audacious in its use of tropes from traditional ghost stories, it’s one of Ha’s most intriguing films, boasting some unforgettable set pieces.