Korean Movie Review – The Hypnotized (2004), Scarlet Letter, and a question about sex in Korean cinema

25 Apr


A psychiatrist fails to help a mental patient during her stay in hospital. The doctor becomes obsessed with his former patient, seeks her on the outside and uses hypnosis to fulfill his sexual desires.

The trailer:


This movie is a glorified Skinemax flick featuring the star-studded debut of Kim Hye-soo‘s heaving breasts. It was advertised in Korea on that notion alone and won her an award for best actress! Unfortunately they were unable to carry the movie! and though admittedly quite nice, I’d personally already seen them in Tajja, which is, incidentally, a much better film in my opinion.

Things that amused me:

There are some artsy elements, such as the first scene where Jisu (Hye-soo) fanciful hallucinations transform into real horror. The set-up was promising.

The settings and designs are visually captivating. The psychiatrist’s office had a musical staircase! Each step of the staircase had a note. It’s a vertical version of the over-sized keyboard. This was utilized throughout the film and in the climax.

Jisu’s husband’s proposed to open up a Ramen restaurant across from ‘the hottest nightclub in Paris’, assuming it would make them millionaires. That cracked me up!

The negatives:

Just about everything else. It’s a psychological thriller with a weak story attempting to be a horror movie in spots and an ‘art film’ the rest of the time. What was billed as suspense was simply boring to me.

The ending was preposterous with some horrible CG thrown in for good measure (Jisu with half a head) but, as always, there is a lesson to be had: don’t have sex with your crazy patient while she’s under hypnosis or else she’ll haunt you from the grave and you will die a gruesome death.

I picked up no practical or witty bits of language.

Overall: 1 1/2 stars
Avoid unless you’re an interior designer or greatly interested in cinematography.



It’s worth noting that this film was released the same year as The Scarlet Letter (주홍글씨), a film laden with sex and violence, and also the first Korean movie I ever saw. Lee Eun-ju was the lead actress in the film and exhibited a lot of raw passion during the sex scenes, which initially caught me off-guard after hearing about how conservative Korea is. My shock must have paled in comparison to that of the general Korean population because Lee Eun-ju received a ton of backlash from this performance and eventually committed suicide. Very unfortunate. She was quite talented and lovely.

There must be a delicate line between baring it all and being too convincing in a sex scene, or perhaps there are different standards for different actresses. Was Kim Hye-soo sexy while Lee Eun-ju came off as sluttish?!?!  Neither of their sex scenes were exceedingly pornographic. Perhaps Kim Hye-soo’s performance was justified by the fact that she had many other performances under her belt in which she did not appear nude. Regardless of all that, it appears that Kim Hye-soo’s portrayal of an insane woman may have been an accurate reflection of the real Lee Eun-ju near the end of her life.


Posted by on April 25, 2008 in Korean Movie Reviews, Seoul Days


Tags: , , , ,

5 responses to “Korean Movie Review – The Hypnotized (2004), Scarlet Letter, and a question about sex in Korean cinema

  1. Hypnotist Daniel Normandeau

    February 4, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I wish there were more pages like yours! Really excellent material, thanks!

  2. elyas

    May 20, 2009 at 2:44 am

    is it kinda a festival movie? seems so mysterious. I want to watch it…..

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  4. Bath Towels ·

    November 4, 2010 at 5:28 am

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  5. Can Crusher

    January 26, 2011 at 2:08 am

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