Korea's first-ever female film director passes away at 94
You've probably never heard of Park Nam Ok, who passed away in her home in Los Angeles on April 8th. Over 60 years ago, she became the first woman in Korean history to direct a feature film. Let's take this moment to reflect on the life of one woman who wouldn't let anything stand in her way.
The struggles endured by Park Nam Ok are ones that none of us can ever imagine. As a female film director in an industry dominated by powerful males, in a society that was just as male-dominated, the feisty filmmaker faced obstacles day in and day out. Nothing, however, would prevent her from finishing her movie. Shooting scenes with her baby on her back, and feeding the cast and crew herself, Park directed her feature debut The Widow in 1954, about the struggles of women who lost their husbands during the Korean War. With a script written by her husband, and a production company started by her sister, Park tackled a much-controversial social issue at the time. But for a number of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with her talent, the film was a flop.
There's no question Park Nam Ok is a historical figure, a woman who should be remembered, celebrated and honored for the life that she's lived and for all those that she's changed. She's not only paved the way for future female film directors in Korea, but for girls who aspire to be filmmakers all over the world. During an interview she gave for a documentary film made about her in 2001, Park discussed what it was really like for her as the only female director. "I suffered tremendously when I was filming The Widow, but looking back at that time, I would give anything to re-live those days." She's an artist, a true pioneer.
Thank you Park Nam Ok. For all that you've done for us.
Park with her baby on set
Movie poster for The Widow, 1954