THE GIRL PRINCES
왕자가 된 소녀들
Directed by Kim Hye-jung
Official Selection, 2012 Seoul LGBT Film Festival
1950s Korea saw the rise, and sadly the brisk disappearance, of female gukgeuk, a form of musical theater in which women played all the roles, including those of men. In its heyday, the stars of female gukgeuk were idolized by screaming fans, some fanatic to the point of stalking, suicide, and even incorporating the stars into their own wedding photos. For the performers, female gukgeuk represented an opportunity to explore a much broader range of emotions and experiences than that permitted by 1950s femininity, and the actresses formed uncommon sisterhoods in their acting troupes. Some even found love.
THE GIRL PRINCES is a historical overview of a forgotten phenomenon, but more than that, it follows many of the performers today, now in their seventies and eighties. Some are still performing, some still dress and sound masculine despite rarely being on stage. Throughout the documentary, they lovingly reminisce and reflect on their careers and legacies.
Through archival footage, rare photographs, and most importantly, the bodies and demeanors of the living legends themselves, the film becomes a counter-history of Korean womanhood and show business in the post-war period, proposing gender performance as not just repressed history, but something downright noble. –Brian Hu