sinecine ISSN: 1309-5838

Traumatic Sexuality in Samaria

In his fictional films, Kim Ki-duk, one of the most acclaimed South Korean directors of contemporary transnational cinema, usually focuses on transgressive deeds that are themselves traumatic and cause other traumatic events in turn. In other words, Kim Ki-duk’s narrative films represent transgression and trauma as two sides of the same coin. Kim Ki-duk is not the kind of director who adopts a stable moral stance. Suggesting certain attitudes towards certain occasions by confirming some deeds while disconfirming others that are in accord or discord with the current sociocultural prohibitions is a style of narrating he does not embrace. Rather than simply condemning subversions that have traumatic consequences, rather than rendering subversion and trauma as mutually exclusive for praising subversions and condemning trauma-inducing events, Kim Ki-duk perceives them always as interpenetrating phenomena that trouble unilateral morality. It seems that he tends to display fictitious worlds in which deviation from the law, on the one hand, paves the way for unconventional (bodily/psychic) experiences, and, on the other, entails violence, emotional breakdown, guiltiness, (self-) punishment and vengeance. Along these lines of thought, this paper discusses the depiction of female prostitution in Kim Ki-duk’s Samaria (Samaritan Girl, 2004). By borrowing some tools from psychoanalysis and poststructuralism, the paper shows that the film, in the context of deviant-traumatic female sexuality, leads its audience to a margin where they find themselves unable to reach generic moral answers regarding the relationship between the law and transgression.
Keywords: Samaritan Girl, psychoanalysis, prostitution, trauma, law, transgression.