New Film's Racy Subject Is Likely to Raise Controversy

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New Film's Racy Subject Is Likely to Raise Controversy

"Club Butterfly," directed by Kim Jae-soo, is already the talk of the town, though it hasn't yet been released. This is largely due to its risqu?subject - spouses who exchange partners for sex - and the film's rumored frank treatment and explicit depiction of sex.

"Although we're used to hearing about 'wife-swapping' in the newspapers - for example, it was the subject of a big scandal in October - Korea is still conservative about sex.

It has to be dealt with very carefully," said Kim Hong-young, a 35-year-old married man in Seoul, in a typical comment by a member of the public.

"Club Butterfly," the partner-swapping sex club featured in the film, is based on a screenplay by An Sung-young that won a Korean Film Commission contest in 1999.

The director said he is attempting a serious exploration of the consequences of "free love." "In the film, more than anything else, I attempt to show that marriages which lack trust and love lead to disgrace and deep hurt," said Mr. Kim.

The story revolves around the love and troubles of two married couples. One couple seems almost to have given up on their marriage.

The other seems to have regained happiness - after spicing up their marriage by becoming members of Club Butterfly. Yoo (Yoon Dong-hwan) persuades his friend, Hyuk (Kim Young-ho, best known for his work on the stage), that the crisis crippling his marriage can be healed by joining the club.

Swayed by Yoo's seemingly renewed sex life and the pressure of his own unhappy marriage, Hyuk sends an anonymous letter to his wife, Jung (Kim Sun-young), inviting her to join the club. Jung, looking for some excitement, decides to play the game.

But her increasing dependence on the excitement she receives at the club slowly takes its toll on her marriage.

"In order to illustrate what I see as the breakdown of social structures today, especially that of the family unit, I needed to use a very chaotic situation. However, what they encounter in the process of wandering sexually is real love. Their pain teaches them about human nature," said Mr. Kim.

"There is indeed an increasing trend for exchanging sexual partners these days, and the film reflects that. It's an open secret in a lot of countries, regardless of age," said Jung Dong-chul, a psychologist. "However, it's wrong, and it's a shortcut to destroying your marriage."

"Club Butterfly" is scheduled for release in February.

by Kim Jae-seon

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