Three Henpeck Generations is a rather exceptional film by director Yu Hyun-Mok who was recognized as an auteur of films dealing “strong woman and weak man” couples that were recreated in the sixties comedy genre as well as in ‘people’s films’ and dramas. Gong Ju-Sa lives his whole life as a henpecked husband after he becomes a son-in-law taken into the family of an established blue-blood ‘yangban’ house. His son, Gong Chi-San, tries to rebel against women’s authority, but in vain, and he is also a henpecked husband after “this family’s tradition.”
Strong women occupy the position of patriarchs and the conflict between men and women becomes the main theme where the effects of the sexual, gender-related changes of the time are depicted comically in Three Henpeck Generations. The interesting thing here is that the reversed gender roles are not attributed to the introduction of modern Western culture but to feudal class society’s tradition of taking in sons-in-law. Therefore, the Western family model of the nuclear family appears here as a way to relieve the troubles brought about from the unequal relationships between men and women. We are able to examine how Korean society in the Sixties related traditional things to gender and realizing new forms of family and family ideology through this film.
Yu Hyun-MokYu Hyun-Mok
Born in 1925, Yu Hyun-Mok is one of the pioneers of Korean cinema with his 43 films including his 1961 masterpiece, An Aimless Bullet. He has been serving as professor at Dongguk University since 1976. His works include his debut feature, The Crossroad(1956), Daughters of the Pharmacist Kim(1963), and Son of Man(1980).