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Masculinity In Jsa And Friend Essay

1310 words - 6 pages

Masculine Virtues in Friend and Joint Security Area

In most cultures, masculine virtues are seen as superior, and are represented by qualities such as integrity, loyalty, discipline, strength, and courage. At a time when South Korea was feeling anxious and uncertain about its state, the entertainment industry provided its citizens with films that portrayed these desired masculine qualities to give them hope of recuperation. Two of these films, Friend and Joint Security Area, depicted brave and loyal men and the filial relationships that they formed with each other to inspire a nation that had forgotten that it had these values.
In 1997, the Korean financial system collapsed and its ...view middle of the document...

It illustrated the relationships of four male childhood friends as they experienced difficulties. Each character embodied masculine characteristics that made them loved by the Korean movie-going public. Joon-seok, the leader of the group and the son of a powerful gangster, is the loyal and protective one. Dong-su, the other gangster, is the strong one who climbs up the hierarchical gangster ladder all on his own. Jung-ho, the clown of the group, is the charismatic and well-loved one who always gets along well with everyone. Sang-taek, the brain of the group, is the intelligent, principled, and successful one. All four characters personified desirable masculine characteristics that made them well loved and accepted by the Korean-movie going public.
Joon-seok showed his ultimate loyalty at the end of the movie, when he pleaded guilty for the death of Dong-su. When asked why he decided to plead guilty when the jury was already prepared to declare him innocent, Joon-seok responds “Embarrassment.” Dong-su was betrayed and murdered by his own gang, which is the ultimate embarrassment, and Joon-seok did not want his childhood best friend’s legacy to be tainted and humiliated by this betrayal. Joon-seok shows his protectiveness when he prevents Sang-taek from dropping out of school and becoming a gangster. Joon-seok realizes that Sang-taek has the opportunity to become successful so he keeps him out of trouble to ensure that his friend achieves the best. Dong-su is the strong one who, although was destined to become an undertaker just like his father and was poorer than the others, changed his destiny and became a powerful gangster. He, along with Joon-seok, also kept Jung-ho and Sang-taek from getting beaten up while they were in school. He manifested the masculine quality of dignity and refused to let his limitations to define his life. Jung-ho and Sang-taek both attended colleges and became successful career men, but also never forgot about their childhood friends who weren’t as smart as them. Sang-taek returned to Busan to visit Joon-seok and took care of him when he was at a very low point in his life. As seen from these descriptions, each of the characters protected and supported each other in different ways. Although they faced hardships that drove them apart, they were always “one another’s bodyguards and, as the film’s catchphrase illustrates, when they were together, they were not afraid of anything” (Shin, 122). Consequently, the film effectively promoted a united vision of nationhood and statehood through the brotherhood of these four male friends.
On the other hand, Joint Security Area took the approach of using North and South Korean soldiers who became close friends and formed strong relationships in the face of adversity, which is the ultimate virtue of masculinity, to attract Korea’s movie-going public. In addition to serving as a reminder of the masculine virtues after the IMF Crisis, the film also served as a beacon of hope...

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