Korean Horror: The Housemaid

The Housemaid

South Korea | 1960 | 111 min. | Kim Ki-young

October 15, 2023

Korean Horror Film Talk & Screening Series

A bizarre and seductive housemaid systematically destroys her employers’ world in what film historians call one of the top three Korean films of all time.

Related Event

Korean Horror: Week 2 - Succubi & Killers

In week two, we’ll explore the dreadfully dark corners of desire through the succubi-like woman in the famed Korean film The Housemaid (1960) and the killers in auteur Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002).

After moving into a beautiful gothic home, the well-to-do Kim family hires a young woman named Myung-sook to be their housemaid. But her increasingly bizarre behavior—catching vermin with her bare hands, bullying the children, and spying on the married couples’ love-making—soon escalates into a full blown assault on the tethers of their nuclear family. Universally lauded as one of the top three Korean films of all time, The Housemaid established auteur Kim Ki-young as Korean cinema’s “Mr. Monster” and introduced his signature tropes—strong women pitted against weak men, gothic spaces, and lots and lots of rats. The Housemaid is a must-see masterpiece of psychological horror that reflects 1960s South Korea’s anxieties about gender, class, and filmmaking itself.

Content Advisory: Discussions of and depictions of suicide, sexual coercion, accidental death, rats.

  • Original Language Title: Hanyo
  • Director: Kim Ki-young
  • Principal Cast: Kim Jin Kyu, Ju Jeung-nyeo, Myung-sook, Eom Aeng-ran, Ko Seon-ae, Ahn Sung-ki, Lee Yoo-ri
  • Country: South Korea
  • Year: 1960
  • Running Time: 111 min.
  • Producer: Kim Ki-young
  • Screenplay: Kim Ki-young
  • Cinematographers: Kim Deok-jin
  • Editors: Kim Ki-young
  • Music: Han Sang-gi
  • Language: Korean
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • US Distributor: Criterion/Janus Films
  • International Sales: World Cinema Project