Hope REVIEW A touching journey towards healing

Publish Date : 2021-11-29


Hope REVIEW A touching journey towards healing

The 2013 drama Hope sheds light on the real-life story of Na-young, whose case shook the nation back in 2008 when the eight-year-old was kidnapped, brutally beaten and raped in a church’s public bathroom by Cho Doo-soon, who was 56 at that time. Directed by Lee Joon-ik, this moving tale of grief and healing will surely upset and warm your heart at the same time.

‘Na-young’ is played by Lee Re as So-won, a name which literally translates to ‘Hope’. Her father, Dong-hoon (Sol Kyung-gu) acts detached, so Mi-hee (Uhm Ji-won) single handedly raises her while running their family store and secretly being months pregnant. The first few scenes show how both of the parents have to work twice as hard in order to catch up with their expenses, leaving So-won to tend for herself. 

One rainy day during her walk to school, So-won meets a drunk, unnamed construction worker who asks if she could share her umbrella, leading to the tragic incident. None of the violent scenes are shown for shock value, but the aftermath is just as destructive. After calling the emergency hotline on herself, her first reaction upon seeing her parents in the hospital is surprise; worrying that they’re off working, and her emergency might be a bother to them. Her scars aren’t only physical—they’re psychological and emotional too, and the event invoked trauma on her family as well. The audiences owe it to Sol Kyung-gu and Uhm Ji-won's performance, which made it easier to feel empathy for the pain a parent can go through if their child went through the same trauma. Lee Re's acting was also unbelievable, especially considering the fact that she was only seven during production.

Dong-hoon, desperate to reconnect with his daughter, wears a Cocomong costume in order to see her. In this form only as the cartoon sausage is where So-won trusts her father. The whole community gathers together to hold fundraisers for her recovery, showing that, with the help of supportive people, healing can come a little easier. In months time, So-won and the family are able to come home. Problems arise at court where the culprit’s sentence will be diminished to twelve years if proven that he was under the influence when the crime was committed, sparking rage in the survivor’s family and even the whole country. It’s a reflection of how screwed up the justice system can be by letting a child molester proceed with a lighter sentence only because he was drunk.

While Hope is a certified tear-jerker, it can sometimes be emotionally manipulative. This is evident in most Korean dramas, one of them being the infamous Miracle in Cell Number 7 (2013). There is something so painful about a story that is real, written on a melodramatic level to evoke intense emotions from its viewers. It is not even the violence or the gruesome fate So-won suffers that makes the audience cry, it’s the scenes where people get together to try and make her feel better that triggers their tears. 

The scenes are bright, colorful, and screaming of optimism. Although it is inarguably beautiful all throughout, it adapts the same coloring most lighthearted Korean dramas have today with its pastel tones reminiscent of Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon (2017). It completely contrasts the atmosphere of the earlier Korean film Silenced (2011), which also deals with similar themes of rape and abuse. Making a film based on real-life events can be difficult to leave air for mystery, but despite its predictable sound cues and its desperation for a happy ending, the story overall is still compelling and is sure to bring up a lot of feelings. It is a film so heavy it can only be seen once. Even talking about it feels heartbreaking.

The industry is littered with movies in the rape-revenge genre, which isn’t to say, a horrible trope, yet it obviously remains a fictional fantasy for survivors. Movies like Promising Young Woman (2020) and Revenge (2017) all focus on its female protagonists achieving catharsis by inflicting violence on their abusers, but it is rare that these films would show what it really takes for a survivor to put their life back together. Films like this might even feel empowering for a while, yet only leave survivors stuck wishing for the impossible to happen. Rape becomes nothing more than a plot point which turns its victims into fierce individuals hungry for retribution, left with no room to grow. Even the 2017 film M.F.A. shows a shattering realization that revenge isn’t the key to healing. Just like most people say, “Happiness is the best revenge.”

In the film, the family willingly gets psychological help and does their best to cope. So-won returns to school, all while wearing a colostomy bag. Her parents take extra precautions to assure that their daughter is comfortable by advising the faculty to lessen her contact with male teachers. Her friends make sure that she never walks home alone. So-won’s independence and determination, even at such a young age, is a perfect inspiration for survivors to take action and reclaim their peace after a life-threatening incident. Hope shows the panic attacks, the setbacks and still manages to look at the bright side of things, that everything is going to be okay. It is a heartwarming display of empathy and how much it can help someone who's in the process of rehabilitation. 

Not all survivors go through the same route. Some won't even be given the chance to recover. Some are still silenced by their abuser. But in a wide selection of films that talk about life after sexual assault, Hope is a glimmer of, well, hope. It is exactly what they need to see: a realistic motivation showing that things can get better. A reminder that life doesn't have to end after trauma. A reminder that they don't have to go through it alone.

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



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