The Surrogate Woman 씨받이 Sibaji
Shin, a nobleman, and his wife have been trying to conceive a male heir to continue his family name. The couple’s difficulty in conceiving leads Shin into a forbidden relationship with the young servant girl selected as the family’s surrogate wife. The lovers persevere even as their passionate affair is doomed from the start.
About the director
Im Kwon-taek was born November 2, 1934 in the province of Jeollanamdo in Southwestern Korea. At age 18, he moved to Pusan to look for work, and later again to Seoul where he worked for the Han Heung film production company. He spent several years as Chung Chang Hwa’s director’s assistant until he directed his own feature, Farewell to the Duman River, in 1962.
Im was prolific in the 1960s and 1970s. He was reputed to have made up to seven films per year in a range of genres – war films, comedies, historical films with adventurous swordplay, crime stories, and especially melodramas.
His 1981 film, Mandala, gained international recognition at the Berlin Film Festival 1981, and signalled a shift from commercial works to more serious dramas. In 2000, Im’s Chunhyang was the first Korean film to be invited to the Cannes Film Festival, and in 2002, his artist biography Chihwaseon won the Golden Palm at Cannes.
Source: Berlinale Werkschau Im Kwon-taek (Arsenal Berlin)
Film and Restoration
A celebrated Korean classic, Surrogate Woman brings to light the female plight in past and present Korean society. The film was critically acclaimed at its release, winning multiple awards at the 1987 Asian Film Festival, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress. Kang Soo-yeon also won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival 1987 for her portrayal of the eponymous surrogate.
The film’s existing negatives were in relatively good condition and enabled the film to be restored in 2K in 2015. The restoration concentrated on removing dust, scratches, and reconstructing the damaged frames. During the colour restoration process, director Im was consulted to ensure that the restored film was improved to show more detail, while maintaining the tone and authenticity of the original film version.
Source: Korean Film Archive