Manse for Chollywood!
'The Story of a
Nurse' (1971)

Synopsis and analysis to a North Korean Feature Film about a young female heroine.

Depictions of women as self-sacrificing heroines are a common archetype in movies produced in the DPRK and this is an excellent example. The plot, as described above, follows many of the main conventions of North Korean movies in that it has as a central figure someone who the viewer may assume is unsuitable for the job they are asked to do. In this case it is a woman working a dangerous and heavy job in a war zone; who is emboldened by an encounter with a doomed character who teaches her some life lessons with his dying actions and words. Thus emboldened, she is able to carry out her tasks with renewed vigour and determination from which she benefits by achieving the goal of Party membership. Just how much this means to the doomed heroine is revealed by her dying wish (after sacrificing herself selflessly to save an injured and thus helpless man) which is for her membership card and fees to be sent to the Party Central Committee, a dying wish which is also replicated in the Korean Revolutionary Opera A True Daughter of the Party and clearly shows the high value these characters place on loyalty and devotion to the Party and the cause to which they have just sacrificed their life in martyrdom.

Kang Yon Ok is chosen for the stretcher-party to evacuate the wounded soldiers. Seeing Tok Jun who dashes into the shower of bullets and Myong Ho who, though wounded, says he can’t leave the battle site, she ponders over what kind of person a party member is. The division hospital gives Yon Ok a mission to escort serious patients to the rear. She braves dangers and difficulties, finding food for the patients and giving her blood to save them during the mission. She accomplishes her mission successfully and finally returns to her unit. She becomes a party member as she has wished so much. She does her best to carry out her mission as a soldier and a Party member. During a fiendish bombing by the U.S. air pirates, she dies a heroic death to save a patient by covering him with her body.

From the book, Korean Film published in 2008 by Korea Film Export & Corporation

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