Transgression

Image W1280
Film info

Director: Kim Ki-young
111 mins, 1974

Chim-ae and Dos-im are two orphans rescued from war fires by a Buddhist monk. They are now living in Seo San Temple located in a secluded mountaineering landscape. Away from liberated society and its temptations, they enter priesthood and soon become contenders for receiving the title of abbot. These friends go through a series of intricate trials proving the strength of their religious devotion.

Although disciplined and determined to study Buddha’s teachings, the characters have hard time resisting their natural passions: Dos-im is teased by hunger, Chim-ae – by a secret affection for the young Buddhist nun Myo-Hyang, who is just as torn by much-desired human touch and pleasure as her male counterparts. Mysterious, sensuous and comic as is typical of master auteur Kim Ki-young’s films, Transgression is a radical statement about characters who reject their body and soul with the hope of gaining freedom, but find themselves trapped by their choice — if it was a choice at all.