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Movie ‘Habitual Sadness’ Analysis Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Jan 28th, 2022

Purpose of the Documentary Habitual Sadness

“Habitual Sadness” is a documentary that gives a record of historical events in Korea. It serves as a reminder of the humiliation, oppression, and harassment that women experienced during the two world wars. Japanese men sexually oppressed Korean women during the Second World War. In this documentary, women who underwent this oppression share their painful memories with the rest of the world. The documentary, therefore, gives evidence of the strength of Korean women; they survived the oppression. They were very old during the filming of the documentary.

Kang Duk-Kyung, one of the comfort women, hopes that everyone will watch the film because it may encourage many people to help the comfort women. She adds that they feel hurt, and vows to fight the Japanese until they are all dead. These Korean women are seeking compensation from their government for the pain and suffering they experienced during World War II. They also seek acknowledgment for the role they played in the world war, and are afraid that they might die before the government meets their demands. The women made art, which they displayed at a museum in a communal home where they lived.

They made paintings as a way of expressing their pain. This art shows the rest of the world the pain and humiliation they experienced. It also prompts other women to fight for their rights. Advocating for women’s rights will help curb future sexual oppression and slavery.

Lack of Feature Films on Comfort Women

Filming the experiences of comfort women in Korea is very difficult. This difficulty comes about because the women still live in shame and pain. They are not ready to share their stories with other people since it is humiliating. In my opinion, the lack of feature films on common women is because of the ill-treatment they received from the people of Korea. Due to their experiences, their consideration as objects of sexual pleasure and not as victims of oppression and slavery is to be expected. In addition, I tend to think that the comfort women cannot entertain treatment as objects again since it caused them pain and shame during the war.

The isolation of the comfort women is also a contributing factor to the nonexistence of films on comfort women. I think the isolation makes them feel unwanted and outcasted of the community. The isolation alienates them from the rest of the world. They struggle with emotional distress resulting from shame and the pain from their experiences. Based on the analysis of Korean movies with female roles, I have learned that the roles did not empower women but rather, show women the consequences they might face if they overstep boundaries. Telling their experiences brings back the pain they have been trying to forget.

Major Issues in the Film

The documentary, “Habitual Sadness,” shows the problems that women faced all over the world during World War II. In Korea, women were ashamed of what Japanese men did to them. The film reveals how some women died due to venereal diseases, while others served as shields for the Japanese soldiers. Many other women died from regular rape. These experiences were shameful and humiliating. The women did not even want to go back to their families because of this shame. Their families and the Korean government did not pay any attention to them. They lived in poverty in a home that a Buddhist charity built for them.

No man wanted to marry any of these women due to their experiences. They conceived and bore children because of rape and sexual slavery. Worse still, they remained illiterate, and no one listened to their pleas despite demonstrating for two hundred days in front of the Japanese embassy. These women are heroes and survivors of political war and should receive fair treatment.

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