Bitter sweet joke

* EBS International Documentary Festival
* Jeonju Film Festival

* Best Asian Project - Asian Side of the Doc
* Best International Projects Award - Sunny Side of the Doc


Bittersweet Joke

Category |Social Issues, Women
Year | 2012
Country | South Korea
Running time | 79' - 52'
Format | HD
Production | Productions Gongbang, Iden Pictures, Inc.
Director | Paik Yeonah

In Korea, the term “unwed mother” is associated with irresponsibility and infidelity. Despite social prejudice and financial hardship, nowadays more Korean women are choosing to raise their children in fatherless homes rather than aborting their babies or giving them up for adoption.

From 1998 to 2008, the number of unwed mothers increased by 500%. Hyungsook, forty years old, is one of them. She hasn’t seen her parents for six years because she had a child without being married. Her parents are ashamed of her and their illegitimate grandson. Her son, Junseo isn’t allowed to hang out with his best friend any more because he is a child of an unwed mother.

For Junseo, now two things puzzle this six-year old boy. First, Mommy and Daddy never got married. “It’s a secret,” Mommy said. Second, Junseo overheard Mommy tell her friend that Daddy is getting marred to some other lady…? Junseo is confused. Certainly, more things will puzzle him from now on.

Following four main characters, three mothers and one child, Bittersweet Joke challenges the conventional idea of family in Korean society. The characters’ hopes for a fairy tale ending complete with father figure and future romantic relationship are dealt with through irony. Using mothers’ private jokes and keen observations of their daily lives, the film examines the gap between their notions of family and traditional Korean values.

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