Samaria (2004)

Genre: Drama

Samaria (or known as Samaritan Girl) is another outstanding work from director Ki-duk Kim. Filmed year after he gained international acclaim with Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring and in the same year as his other masterpiece 3-Iron. This movie notably earned him Silver Bear award for Best Director in  Berlin International Film Festival 2004.

Two teenage girls dream about trip to Europe, and as the source of the money they engage in prostitution. Jae-yeong (Yeo-reum Han) is the one who sleeps with clients and Yeo-jin (Ji-min Kwak) leads a role of improvised manager, a pimp, setting up "meetings", managing money and covering her friend while on job. One day she fails her duty and Jae-yeong finds herself amid police raid and in attempt to escape she hurts herself badly and soon after she dies in hospital. This turn of events leads Yeo-jin into guilt driven journey to pay back the money to past clients and sleeping with them in some kind of twisted redemption for her part in death of her friend. Her father, who is police detective, eventually learns about her doings and while unable to confront her, he instead takes his anger onto man with whom she slept.

Samaria is split into three chapters, Vasumitra, Samaria and Sonata, each trying to focus on different thematic aspects. Ki-duk Kim wanted to shed some light onto topic about prostitution of minors that is a big problem in Korea, but more important, being accomplished showing human nature in his works, to provide a closer look into relationships of people involved in such affairs. And he does it masterfully. A portray of tragedy that touches everyone around, it's full of believable sorrow and grief.

Another Korean drama where state of happiness is nowhere to be found, don't come looking for it here.

Interesting fact about the movie, similar to 3-Iron, is that it was filmed in about 11 days with tiny budget, a sign how skilled and crafty Ki-duk Kim and actors he worked with are, to be able to produces such quality film in such short time, showing that the budget and time don't play big roles in creative processes handled by someone talented and willing to create.

If Silver Bear is not convincing enough to watch it, I don't know what is. Highly recommended.

DVD from Amazon.