Youthful problems in a globalizing new world: Take Care of My Cat
Current South Korean movies have demonstrated the daily lives ofyoung persons from different outlooks. Interesting narratives ofyoung Koreans are depicted in diverse genres involving horror, comedyand gangster movies among others. Images and narratives of youngpeople in modern Korean cinema provide rich resources forcomprehending Korean community. Take Care of My Cat is onesuch film that looks at how young Koreans rise against socialchallenges apparent in their generation and the general populace.Through exploration of the day-to-day lives of youthful andmarginalized Korean females, the film outwardly raises the issues ofgender and friendship, consumerism and globalization. Additionally,the film provides viewers with a chance to self-reflect. Forinstance, the progressive feminist theme of female’s search foridentity motivates young viewers to reflect on the aspirations,problems and apprehensions, which prevail during the transition fromchildhood to adulthood.
Gender and Friendship
Take Care of My Cat features five twenty-year-olds fromdifferent economic backgrounds that became close friends duringvocational high school period at Inchon (Shin and Julian 124). Thedifferent interactions between the girls make the theme of friendshipapparent all through the film. What the audience learns is thatfriendship is difficult to maintain, while problems can also drawpersons to becoming friends. The difficulty in maintaining friendshipis apparent in the scene where Haeju crushed Jiyoung’s desire ofgoing overseas to undertake her design course. The statement isinsensitive and demonstrates a lack of consideration for Jiyoung’sfeelings. Haeju states that individuals that go to study overseas arewealthy (Shin and Julian 125). The friendship worsens when Haejugives back the gift Jiyoung gave her during her birthday citing thelack of time to cater for the kitten (Shin and Julian 125). At thesame time, it becomes apparent how problems draw people closer. Byobserving the drift amid Jiyoung and Haeju, Taehui attempts toreconcile their differences. She develops closer ties with Jiyoung, afriendship that proves beneficial when Jiyoung loses hergrandparents. Taehui is the only one, among the friends, presentduring the grandparent’s burial (Shin and Julian 125). This showsthat the two develop closer ties, due to the problems that Jiyoungfaces, reinforcing the significance of friendship.
Although there have been many films on friendship in South Korea,few have used females as their main characters, bringing about theissue of gender and what it implies to be female (Shin and Julian119). Take Care of My Cat compares to Friends in thatboth movies focus on the friendship amid a group of friends. Thedisparity is that in the former, the characters are female, while inthe latter, the characters are males. The movies demonstrate thediverse manners through which the theme of friendship in regards togender, and their historic moment, where issues on politics, ideologyand reception are becoming more intricate. Take Care of My Catis a representation of women in society, resisting the dominantideology in South Korea society as represented in Friends. Themovie challenges gender presumptions, which emphasize onmale-dominated friendship movies through revising and adding some oftheir principles with a feminist alertness (Shin and Julian 119).Take Care of My Cat acts as a female on-screenrepresentations. South Korea’s film industry majorly focuses onmale representation of its protagonists, a sequence that is broken bythe movie to depict that women can as well act as protagonists in amovie (Shin and Julian 125).
Consumerism in South Korea
The movie effectively demonstrates the pervasive longing forconsumer goods by most Koreans, described as passionless marketideals (Hae-Joang 51). Shopping is an integral part of Haeju andJiyoung’s lives. Similar to different young persons in modernKorea, the friends purchase things to depict their social status, andnot because they need what they are buying. It is fascinating thatboth friends demonstrate the similar viewpoints in their consumerconduct regardless of their class disparities. Haeju buys variousproducts and services, which include clothes and having plasticsurgery, and is described as someone addicted to shopping. Jiyoung’sis also driven by the desire to gain pleasure from consumption. Forinstance, in the scene where she borrows money, it is expected thatshe will employ the money meaningfully by repairing the sinking roofin her rental house, or get training for her professional objectives.On the contrary, she purchases a new phone with the money, whichassists in showing her social status as middle class, which she isnot. The desire to purchase apparent in the female characters is adepiction of the consumer society governing girl’s lives. Therising consumer culture of South Korea avails ordinary individuals,especially those that are young, a narcissistic feeling of authorityand wealth. Sociologists suppose that civilians from capitalistsocieties seem to purchase and possess items for socio-psychologicalreasons and to meet practical wants. Ownership of particular goods incapitalistic communities acts as a method of associating with aspecific social status.
Historically, Koreans identified themselves with bosses in regard towhat they produced and not individual possessions. In the rapideconomic growth period of military rule, the state restricted anykind of excessive consumption. However, changes from authoritarianismtowards semi-dictatorship, in addition to improved economiccapability of the urban middle-class, enhanced Korean’s likingtowards a consumer culture. From the 1990s, consumption as adepiction of social class has prevailed. Thus, the society is knownas a fast developing global consumer. South Korea has seen tremendousdevelopments in the buying of costly items. South Korea is amid themost technologically developed nations globally. Almost all youngpersons in their twenties have a mobile phone. This explains theincorporation of the mobile phone as an important factor in the film.The friends use mobile phones to communicate, which also work asaudio players and for taking pictures. It is apparent in the scenewhere during Haeju’s birthday the song congratulation playsas the ringtone of their phones. The phone acts as a mode ofexpression and positive reinforcement of the friendship.
The name of the film, Take Care of My Cat, is an adaptationof the stray cat that appears to be a representation of the uncertainand transformative lives of the five friends. Transformative becausethe film demonstrates the girls as free to do what they want in aperiod when personal interests are a major aspect of democracy, whichdiffers to the period prior to democratization (Song 132). The cat,Titi, changes ownership from one friend to another, which is thesymbolic depiction that the girls are not sure about their future.The female characters do not seem to have any permanent possessions,which makes it easier for them to leave, even their friendships andkeep moving to different places. This explains the constant image ofInchon Airport, subway stations, and Inchon Harbor, which are areasof arriving and departure. The girls have a nomadic lifestyle, whichis not self-imposed, rather deriving from external compels in theirlives. For instance, the passing away of Jiyoung’s grandparents,which sees her spend time in prison after, which she is depicted asleaving from Inchon Airport. The divorce of Haeju’s parents pushestheir going away. It is possible to argue that the situations thewomen encounter in the movie mirror the manner that South Korea optsto deal with the rapid procedure of globalization.
As the characters progress to miss the true and giving friendships,which they had while in high school, currently, Koreans might want toponder to the cheong culture. This refers to a period when localassociations were at one instance warm, intimate and formed alongclose ties. Such reminiscence seems to become apparent in nations,which face fast modernization as conventional and local idealsdecline. South Korea has experienced fast westernization, as well asurban development in the previous decades. The administration has inaddition hugely restructures the economic and social structures tomeet international standards, which the International MonetaryFund implemented following the 1997, Asian Debt Crisis(Song 144). Koreans have made strides towards globalization, andcurrently, the students often move to overseas nations. In thesimilar manner, Jiyoung and TaeHui desire to leave their homes andmove overseas. Take Care of My Cat demonstrates the efforts ofyoung females growing in South Korea evaluating sensitive socialmatters in modern society. The movie assists viewers to reflect onglobalization. As the cat represents international looking nomadiccharacteristics and naïve friendships, Koreans could also havedifferent feelings concerning globalization. The civilians mayexperience nostalgia about their past, but have adventurous spiritsfor the global present.
Hae-Joang, Cho Han. You are entrapped in an imaginary well: theformation of subjectivity within compressed development – afeminist critique of modernity and Korean culture. Inter-AsiaCultural Studies, 1.1 (2000): 49-69.
Shin, Chi-Yun, and JulianStringer. NewKorean Cinema.Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press,2005. Print.
Song, Jesook. A room of one’s own: the meaning of spatial autonomyfor unmarried women in neoliberal South Korea, Gender, Place andCulture. A Journal of Feminist Geography, 17.2 (2010):131-149.