The Wedding Day

Italian Premiere | Out Of Competition | Restored Classics | 50/50: Celebrating 50 Years of Korean Film Preservation


Master Maeng is the head of a mid-sized estate in the countryside which, despite having a fair number of servants, is not particularly wealthy or distinguished. Therefore he is overjoyed when, after traveling to the wealthy Kim family in Bellflower Valley, a day’s journey away, he is able to secure his daughter’s engagement to Kim’s son. He did not actually get to meet the son during his trip, but having heard of the son’s scholarly accomplishments, and witnessed with his own eyes the Kim family’s extensive wealth and property, he considers this to be a minor detail.

Maeng’s daughter Gap-bun is similarly overjoyed at the news, and begins to flaunt her newly-elevated status. The only person who seems less than happy at this development is Gap-bun’s servant Ip-bun, who used to share a kind of intimacy with her mistress, but can now feel this slipping away. Everyone begins making plans for the wedding, and Maeng is delighted to receive a large shipment of gifts from the Kim family. But then a traveling scholar from Bellflower Valley shows up at Maeng’s home, asking if he can spend a couple days to rest up from his journey. During a conversation with the manservant, he casually mentions that the Kim family’s son was born lame. Within no time, rumors have spread throughout the village, the Maeng family is in a state of panic, and desperate measures are being considered.

Based on a stage play by Oh Young-jin, The Wedding Day holds a prominent place in Korean film history. Made in 1956 as the populace was still struggling to recover from decades of colonization, national division and a catastrophic civil war, the film secured an invitation to the Asia Pacific Film Festival (Asia’s most prestigious film event at the time) and won a Special Prize for Best Comedy – the first ever international award bestowed on a Korean film. The news was greeted with great excitement in Korea, helping to instill a bit of optimism into an industry that would soon grow in size and begin to rack up greater accomplishments.

As a sort of Confucian satire that warns against excessive ambition and prejudice, the film feels more dated than a contemporary-set work like Madame Freedom, made in the same year. The humor too, may not work for today’s audiences in the way it did in the 1950s. Nonetheless the story builds momentum in an effortless way, and the character of Ip-bun leaves a particularly strong impression thanks to the subtle performance of Jo Mi-ryeong, who would go on to appear in close to 200 more films. The role of Maeng marks an early appearance by Kim Seung-ho, whose reputation would rise ever higher in the coming years (Kim, incidentally, would reprise his role in a 1962 remake of the film titled A Happy Day of Jinsa Maeng, co-starring Choi Eun-hee). As a snapshot of Korean cinema at the very start of its post-war revival, and a window into traditional Korean social mores, The Wedding Day stands as an important and memorable film.

Darcy Paquet
Film director: LEE Byeong-il
Year: 1956
Running time: 80'
Country: South Korea
01/05 - 4:20 PM
Visionario, Via Asquini 33
01-05-2024 16:20 01-05-2024 17:40Europe/Rome The Wedding Day Far East Film Festival Visionario, Via Asquini 33CEC Udine
Online in Italy until the end of the Festival