The process of recovering victims is one thing that should not escape our attention in dealing with cases of sexual violence. In particular, if the victim is a child, a minor—like So-won, the main character in this film. The impact and losses caused by the incident were too heavy for the victims—not only physically, but also mentally-emotionally, even socially. However, in reality, many people do not fully understand the importance of the recovery process for victims of sexual violence. Not all have been able to respond to cases from the perspective of victims, including the authorities such as the police, media, and courts. After all, the movie Hope(2013) tried to share hopes about the recovery process for victims of sexual violence. In the midst of all the difficult conditions, there is still hope for victims (survivors) of sexual violence. Previously, trigger warning for friends who have survived sexual violence and friends who are sensitive to violence.
Hope Film Review (2013)
Everything was fine before the fateful incident happened. So-won, her father and mother, each have a routine to lead their small family life—her father works in a factory, her mother takes care of the house while running their small shop, and So-won attends school. They would reunite at home at the end of the day, enjoying dinner—though often distracted by financial calculations and television shows. So-won's family is not a rich family, they come from the working class with financial conditions that can be used to finance daily life sufficiently. However, after the sexual assault incident happened to So-won, the family seems to be hit by a sudden misfortune that they obviously never expected. Everything changed in an instant: father could no longer go to work,
Film Hope (2013) adapted from the true story of a girl survivors of sexual violence in South Korea. 'Na-young' (pseudonym), the 8-year-old girl, was raped and tortured by Cho Doo-Soon, a drunken 57-year-old man. The case is known as the Cho Doo-Soon case, 2008. The court's decision which was considered unfair to the victim really aroused the anger of the South Korean people , considering this case was very brutal: 'Na-young' to the point of losing the function of her reproductive organs and defecation (anus). ). The film Hope (2013) seems to be one way to voice that anger and anxiety.
The film Hope (2013) focuses its focus on what happened after the violent incident, especially on So-won as a victim (survivor). Violent scenes are also not re-enacted, only depicted symbolically and implicitly. Even so, the audience can still understand how cruel the violence was to So-won and of course, can still feel the sadness, brokenness, and anger. It's definitely not easy for So-won to continue her life, especially since she almost died after being tortured by the perpetrators. The violence left So-won physically handicapped and deeply traumatized.
However, there is still hope for So-won, as the name suggests —So-won in Korean means hope . Yes, as the title suggests, this film also wants to share the hope for all victims (survivors) of sexual violence that recovery, even though difficult, is possible. The film Hope (2013) invites us to slowly step in with So-won to go through the recovery process and move on with life, with all the support from her family and friends. To keep looking at the hope for a better future.
Closer to the Character So-won in Hope (2013)
So-won in the film Hope (2013) is an 8-year-old girl who is cheerful, intelligent and critical. Every day he went to school—then the tragedy of sexual violence happened suddenly, unexpectedly. The violence even occurred in an old warehouse near his school, when he went to school. That morning it was raining heavily, So-won's mother had advised So-won to go through the big main road and not to cut through the small roads to be safer. So-won obeys her mother—but as it turns out, that doesn't keep her from that fateful event either. Due to heavy rains, the main road remains deserted without people when he encounters the violent offenders. These details seem to remind us to stop blaming victims—stop victim-blaming.The violence that occurs is entirely the perpetrator's fault, not the victim's. For example, not because the victim went through a lonely road alone. No, we can't use that as an excuse to blame the victim (even his family).
So-won was rescued and rushed to the hospital after she called 911 after the incident in critical condition, before falling unconscious. So-won's condition is very bad. His face and body were badly bruised and bleeding. In order to save So-won's life, the medical team also had to perform a colostomy procedure—making an artificial anus outside the body, because the cruel violence damaged her anus. The doctor said So-won even had to live with a colostomy for the rest of her life.
“The man asked me to share my umbrella. I thought of just leaving. But he was all wet in the rain and I should share. So, I did. People say it's my fault and don't say I did right.”
—So-won, in the film Hope (2013)
So-Won is also severely traumatized. She told her therapist over and over again, hoping that when she woke up, it would be just a bad dream and her life would go back to the way it used to be—but as it turned out, it wasn't a dream. So-won also vaguely begins to experience a suicidal mind, the desire and thought to be better off dead. So-won also experiences fear of her own father—after her panicked father is insensitive and careless to help So-won remove her dirty clothes that spilled from the colostomy bag, after they escaped from being chased by reporters at the hospital. So-won doesn't want to talk, she's more silent—unlike the old So-won.
When So-won has recovered physically and is able to return home and return to school, So-won is also very difficult to get through to the scene, which unfortunately is very close to her school and has to be passed almost every day. However, So-won wants to go to school. He wanted to see his friends, though he was worried about what they would think or say. Thankfully, So-won has the support of her school and friends. His schoolmates wrote words of support that were posted on the door of his mother's shop. Her male friends have been ready to escort her to and from school since the incident, helping So-won feel more secure.
“I felt like I needed to go home today and left after the second period. My friends may think it was weird. What should I say on Monday? I'm worried about that. I wish I wasn't sick.”
—So-won, in the film Hope (2013)
Throughout the film Hope (2013), viewers are also invited to see the counseling process that Jeong-seok, a professional assistant-therapist from Sunflower Center , for So-won and her mother. The audience is invited to listen to the depths of So-won's heart through her story to her companion. There is no judgment about right or wrong: with patience to accompany, all emotions can be expressed, accepted, and then passed without having to label them as positive and negative. Expressing what they feel and think in such a safe space is important for the recovery process for victims of sexual violence. The assistant (counselor, therapist) stands with the victim, from the perspective of the victim.
However, the most disturbing reality that is clearly highlighted in the film Hope (2013) is how the authorities related to the case have not had a victim perspective in dealing with the So-won case. The police ask So-won to identify the culprit's face through the suspect's photos, as they admit that it was difficult to catch the culprit—even when he was still lying weak after surgery at the hospital. Court asks So-won to come testify in person, must do a flashbackthat painful incident—while the trauma was still not healing. Reporters scramble to catch So-won and her family at the hospital, in order to question them about the incident information—which of course, doesn't really think about the mental-emotional condition of the victim and her family after the incident. The sentence handed down to the perpetrator was also unfair, only 12 years in prison, due to the perpetrator's unilateral claim that he did so unknowingly under the influence of alcohol.
"The bad man. He should be caught."
—So-won, in the film Hope (2013)
The support of her family and relatives has become very important for So-won to go through all this process. Indeed his father remembers that So-won said he wanted the culprit (bad guy, in So-won's language) caught and punished, because he had become very sick because of the culprit (bad guy)'s actions. So-won's desire is also what she strives for to become another priority for the family, in addition to the holistic recovery process.
Through the story of So-won, the film Hope (2013) reminds us that recovery of victims is possible, although the process is neither easy nor short. Wounds inflicted, both physically and mentally-emotionally, cannot heal as before before the incident—but victims can recover, become survivors, who rise to claim their lives again. The recovery process also needs to be supported by all parties, especially those closest to them. We need to provide a safe space. As recounted in the film Hope (2013), these supports help support So-won and maintain her hope for recovery. Yes, there is still hope for friends of victims of sexual violence.