A/B side VIBES. Greatest Hits from ‘80s & ‘90s
A Hot Roof
개같은 날의 오후 (Gaegateun nal-ui ohu)
South Korea, 1995, 110’, Korean
Directed by: Lee Min-yong
Screenplay: Lee Gyeong-sik, Jo Min-ho, Jang Jin, Lee Min-yong
Photography (color): Seo Jeong-min
Editing: Park Gok-ji
Art Direction: Jo Yoong-sam
Music: Lee Young-hoon
Producer: Lee Sun-yeol
Cast: Ha Yu-mi, Jeong Seon-gyeong, Son Sook, Kim Bo-yeon, Song Ok-sook, Hwang Mi-seon, Im Hee-sook, Lee Gyeong-young
Date of First Release in Territory: September 8th, 1995
It is the peak of summer, and South Korea is in the midst of a blistering heat wave. At Rose Apartments, transformers are exploding, the power is unstable and tempers are running hot. Since few homes are equipped with air conditioning, many of the residents are sitting outside in the shade, chatting with neighbors, eating watermelon and trying to pass a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Then they all hear a woman scream. One of the residents has run outside and is crying for help, as her abusive husband tries to forcibly drag her back into their apartment. Her face is bruised and she begs for assistance. At this point, a group of men out playing cards glance over at the disturbance, but make it clear that they won’t interfere in “another family’s business.” A large group of women, however, are outraged, and when the men fail to respond, they attack the man themselves.
Quickly overpowering him and beating him severely, pandemonium breaks out in front of the apartment. Before long an ambulance has carted away the man, who is seriously injured, and the cops start rounding up the women. Telling them they are guilty of violence against the “victim” (meaning the man), the cops tell them they must all go to the station. Stunned and furious, the women decide to run. In this way, ten women end up barricaded on the roof of the apartment, refusing to come down, as a large group of policemen and angry husbands glare up at them from below.
A Hot Roof was released in 1995, in an era when the aim of many Korean filmmakers was to make entertaining movies that also contained a meaningful social message. Quite a few of those works touched on the issue of gender discrimination, although ironically, these films were all directed by men (it would take a few more years before newly opened film schools and the decline of the old “apprentice system” would lead to new opportunities for women to direct).
With its vibrant performances and effective mix of humor and outrage, A Hot Roof is effective at capturing the frustrations and limitations women dealt with on a daily basis in 1995 (and, for the most part, continue to deal with in 2023). It’s the diverse group of actresses who really elevate the film, each bringing a different sort of energy to the roof. Jeong Seon-gyeong (To You, from Me) is the most recognizable face, leaving a big impression as a trash-talking bar girl, but every character is given at least one moment to share the spotlight. Two thieves played by Lee Gyeong-young and Kim Min-jong (both from Trio) also provide some very amusing comic relief.
There are aspects of A Hot Roof that may come across as dated to contemporary audiences, but the work is sincere in its desire to open viewers’ eyes to the injustice in our midst, and to give the audience something to discuss as they file out of the theater. In that sense, it works as well today as it did in the 1990s.
Lee Min-yong (b. 1958) started in the film industry as an assistant director to Park Chul-soo and Song Young-soo. He made his debut with A Hot Roof (1995), which was a box-office hit and which earned him Best New Director prizes from all the top local awards ceremonies including the Grand Bell Awards and the Blue Dragon Awards. His follow-up, Inch’Alla (1996), was a big budget overseas production starring Lee Young-ae and Choi Min-soo that crashed badly at the box office, but which remains a defining work of its era. His third and final film to date was Season in the Sun from 2003.
1995 – A Hot Roof
1996 – Inch’Alla
2003 – Season in the Sun