Heavenly Homecoming to Stars (Byeoldeul-ui gohyang) (1974) Heavenly Homecoming to Stars (Byeoldeul-ui gohyang) (1974)
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Heavenly Homecoming to Stars (Byeoldeul-ui gohyang) (1974)

Once a bright and innocent girl, Gyeong-a (Lee Ahn-sook) overcomes the pain of being abandoned by her first love and becomes the second wife of a middle-aged man named Lee An-jun (Yoon Il-bong). But Yoon has a history of having driven his first wife to suicide through his pathological suspicions about her fidelity. Gyeong-a, who once had an abortion, is cast out by Lee when her past comes to light. She takes to drink, and is degraded to the level of a bar hostess by Dong-hyeok (Baek Il-seop). Then she meets an artist named Mun-oh (Shin Seong-il) and moves in with him. They embrace their mutual similarities and, in their own way, enjoy a happy life together. But Dong-hyeok comes looking for Gyeong-a and forces her through blackmail to leave Mun-oh. When she loses herself in severe alcoholism and self-loathing, even Dong-hyeok leaves her side. But Mun-oh discovers her whereabouts and comes to her. After watching her sleep until dawn begins to break, he leaves some money by her pillow and leaves the room. Gyeong-a continues to indulge in the bottle and has meaningless encounters with men. Then, one snowy day, she sets out to her hometown to visit her mother. In the mountains, she takes a sleeping pill and falls asleep in the snow, never to awake. Mun-oh scatters Gyeong-a's ashes on the river and looks back on her difficult life.

Notes

"The biggest blockbuster of its day, Heavenly Homecoming to Stars gave birth to Gyeong-a, a character that will go down in Korean cinematic history, and to the exquisite blend of the genre of hostess movies and the sensibilities of the period's youth culture"
Based on a blockbuster serial novel by Choi In-ho, Heavenly Homecoming to Stars achieved unprecedented success upon its release; lines like "Gyeong-a, it's been a while since we lay together" and "Mister, I'm cold, hold me" are still remembered to this day. Such devices as Gyeong-a's un-chronologically arranged flashbacks, repeated images, angled shots, echo sound effects, and vibrant, sensual montage shots allow us to gauge how Lee Jang-ho's visual aesthetics would unfold in his later films. The character of Gyeong-anaive and spirited, but doomed to be abandoned by her men in the end is the progenitor of the typical heroine of "hostess films." Indeed, at the time, numerous women who came to the city during the course of Korea's industrialization and modernization worked as hostesses in bars, and the movie reflects this state of affairs. Mun-oh, in particular, sees himself in Gyeong-a and tries to shelter her, but she is already worn down by the violence of men and thus in a different place from him. Heavenly Homecoming to Stars casts a critical gaze on male violence, the ideology of patriarchy, and the position of young women who were sacrificed in the process of modernization. At the same time, however, it links naivete with sexual excess and turns Gyeong-a into a voyeuristic object. In this way, Gyeong-a is placed in a contradictory position, and made to function as an empty signifier satisfying the desires of men as she wanders among them. Her most famous lines "It's a beautiful dream. I feel love for all the people who have brushed past my body. Their shadows, sometimes in love, at others in sadness, are engraved somewhere in my flesh" reveal this position through her own voice.

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January 1, 1970, 12:00 am