South Korean director Byeon Young-joo is well-known for socially-critical films. Her latest, Helpless, is based on Japanese writer Miyuki Miyabe’s 1996 novel of the same name.  The story addresses the “ills of contemporary society,” such as private loans, bankruptcy, and credit ratings – all of which are still relevant issues a decade and a half after the book’s publication.

Through the film rendition, Byeon allows her audience to follow the life of the main character, Sun-young, whose life is “completely taken over by family debts and brutal violence” which eventually drive Sun-young down a path of “self-pity” and “evil deeds.” Byeon describes in an interview with The Korea Times, the widely circulated English-language daily newspaper, her encounter with author Miyabe in Japan where Byeon gave her a DVD copy of Helpless. After watching the film, Miyabe said she hopes to see it released in Japan as well. The book, and its descendant film, appear to have struck a chord with Asian society.

Tags: Korea Herald, South Korea, film, societal issues, Byeon Young-joo, Helpless

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