The opening scenes of The Hand of Fate reveal the ingenious method by which Margaret (Yoon In-ja) covertly passes messages to the North Korean army, by coding the information she has gleaned from others into classical music scores. She befriends a young man, Young-chul (Lee Hyang), a poor student and Margaret decides to help him. It appears she is seducing Young-chul, but is it out of love or to recruit him ? Famous for showing the first onscreen kiss in a South Korean film, this work challenges perceptions of love beyond the boundaries of social status, personal beliefs, geography and politics.
This melodramatic spy-thriller love story - with its visually striking, film-noir style, is not only anti-communist propaganda, but also a commentary on the shifting roles and expectations of Korean women. Made at the time Korean society was only just emerging from the horrors of the Korean War - which left it separated by the Demilitarized Zone, this film reflects the tension, suspicion and uncertainty that would be recognised by the audience in such a recently divided country.