No Regrets

No Regrets (Huhwihaji anha), directed by Hee-il Leesong, is a Korean film that focuses primarily on the life of Su-min (played by Lee Young-hoon), who leaves an orphanage at the mandatory age of 18 and ultimately works as a male prostitute at a host bar in Seoul. Before becoming a prostitute, Su-min runs into Jae-min (played by Lee Han), an older gay man, who becomes infatuated with his masculine good looks. Afterward, Su-min is fired from his day job at the factory, but Jae-min is the son of the owner of the factory, so he arranges to have Su-min reinstated. When Su-min finds out that Jae-min has arranged to keep him on the job, he goes to see Jae-min and quits, throwing his business card in his face. Before long, Jae-min tracks down Su-min at the bar, and he continues to show an interest in adopting Su-min as his lover. Su-min, however, has little experience with the bonding that takes place either in a family or in gay life, so he cannot at first imagine becoming Jae-min’s partner. After he accepts the concept and appears to be truly in love, Jae-min’s mother insists that her son must marry a woman whom he does not love, whereupon the gay lovers quarrel, and Su-min must adjust accordingly. Filipino audiences will see some similarity with themes in “macho dancer” genre developed by Lino Brocka—the host bar scene, bisexuality, the class structure in gay life, and male prostitutes who sell themselves due to economic circumstances but are not necessarily “gay.” Korean straights may ponder the repression of compulsory heterosexuality but will wonder why Su-min did not join the Korean army immediately after leaving the orphanage. American and European gay audiences may be sexually attracted to the masculine and short-tempered Su-min. Unfortunately, however, the film has not broken out of the film festival circuit to become available more widely. MH

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