A Hometown in Heart (Maeumui gohyang, 1949), written by Ham Sedeok (1915-1950) and directed by Yun Yonggyu (b.1913), is said to be the first Korean Buddhist film. It depicts Buddhism in a remote mountain region without even electricity. The main character of the film, an orphaned child monk, must decide what to do with his life. This paper argues that the central aspect of the Buddhism-related symbols represent Korean tradition and that the supporting characters represent socio-political forces in post-liberation Korean society just after liberation, pulling the young generation of Koreans in various directions. In particular, the film centers on feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and avoidance pressing challenges of a rapidly changing world. The authors explore what the film tells us about the filmmakers’ view of these anxieties and the role Buddhism plays in solving them. To this end, the article examines shared motifs found in Korean cinematic history. These motifs include the orphan, nostalgia, modernity, and karma. The article finds that while the film advocates breaking away from tradition to engage the modern industrialized world, it does so by supporting the notion that we all carry the most important aspects of Buddhism within our hearts. This is symbolized in the film by the Heart Sutra and the Red Lotus iconography of Mahayana Buddhism. The article concludes with a comparison of the period-specific elements in A Hometown in Heart and those in its 2002 remake, A Little Monk, directed by Ju Gyeongjung (b. 1959).
Ronald S Green and Chanju Mun. "Buddhism, Uncertainty and Modernity in A Hometown in Heart" Bulgyo munye yeon'gu (Studies on Buddhist art and culture) Vol. 6 (2015) p. 155 - 200 ISSN: 2288-9191. DOI:http://db.koreascholar.com/Article?code=312320