The quiet angst of yearning and unrequited love are beautifully depicted in this classic, award-winning 1961 South Korean film.
Told from the perspective of the innocent 6-year-old Ok Hee (Jeon Young Seon), “Mother and a Guest” follows her life with her grandmother (Han Eun Jin), her mother (Choi Eun Hee), and their maid (Do Kum Bong), who all live together in what their rural village refers to as the “widow house” because three women are widows.
Their proper, orderly existence is challenged when Mr. Han (Kim Jin Kyu), a friend of Ok Hee’s uncle, comes to board with them. Ok Hee develops a special bond with Mr. Han, who falls in love with her mother. Despite their growing love for one another, Ok Hee’s mother can’t overcome her own perceptions of society’s antiquated protocol for a young widow and rejects Mr. Han’s love.
“Mother and a Guest” is also known as “The Houseguest and My Mother.” The 1961 South Korean film is directed by the venerable producer-director Shin Sang Ok. The film is based on a bestselling short novel by Chu Yo Sup and won the Best Film award at the 1961 Asia Pacific Film Festival. It also was South Korea’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 35th Academy Awards, but it was not accepted as a nominee.
Another Korean film titled “The Houseguest and My Mother” was released in 2007 and bears no relation to this earlier, classic film.