1997 / Im Kwon-taek > This is not exactly the introduction I expected to Korea’s most prolific director, but I imagine it can only get better. Downfall (or Chang) holds an impressive showing by My Wife is a Gangster’s Shin Eun-kyung as a naive girl thrown into the world of prostitution at a young age. Piece by piece, we are shown the transformation of a society, an industry as well as a woman over time. Unlike typical films on the subject, Im utilizes his central character as a way to study Korean history, from the days of Park Chung-hee’s presidency to the Olympic Games in Seoul. However, Shin’s character’s journey slowly starts to feel too methodical, and we soon stop empathizing. Together with the fact that it’s hard to guess if this is meant to be a social commentary or simply a bystander’s view, the film fails to achieve the level of pathos needed to compliment its components.