For the better part of a century, the waning days of colonialism have provided fertile inspiration for Asian filmmakers. They recall a time when the exotic mystique of ancient tradition began clashing with a world becoming increasingly homogenized. In Japan, there’s the Taisho era provides this window; in China, there’s the end of the Qing Dynasty; and in Korean movies, the late Joseon has played the backdrop for several recent films and dramas.
HAE-EO-HWA – which director Park Heun-sik (MY MOTHER, THE MERMAID) – is the latest such project, and is looking at a release some time next year. The project just finished shooting in October, and will boast a stellar cast including Han Hyo-joo, Chun Woo-hee, and Yoo Yeon-sok.
The title comes from a term of affection used for gisaengs, the Korean equivalent of geisha or courtesans. The gisaengs’ beauty, grace, and intelligence earned them the moniker “haeeohwa” – which roughly translated to “a talking flower.”
Set in 1940s Korea, the film will follow Han Hyo-joo (whose LOVE 911 co-star just signed on to a Joseon era drama himself) as the titular gisaeng. Renowned for her beauty and talent, she dreams of becoming the nation’s best singer. The will also feature Chun Woo-hee (HAN GONG-JU) as a fellow – perhaps rival – gisaeng, and Yoo Yeon-sok (THE WHISTLEBLOWER) as an infamous songwriter and producer who I already do not trust. Jang Young-nam (HELLO GHOST) and Park Sung-woong (OFFICE) will also act in roles still unknown.