[Letters] The problem with creating stereotypes“The Irrevocable,” directed by Park Su-young, is a movie that explores the idea of a stereotype and the irrevocable consequences a stereotype can have. The movie evolves around a former child sex offender who moves to a new village and is judged by the people of the village because of his past.
Se-jin was a child sex offender. When he moves to a new village, something happens there: Choong-sik’s daughter suddenly disappears. As the news about Se-jin’s past spreads quickly, everyone casts doubt on him. The doubt eventually transforms Se-jin into a murderer.
With Choong-sik being separated from his wife, the only happiness in his life was his daughter. So, when his daughter went missing, he had to live a poor life. So he makes a decision to catch the perpetrator who kidnapped his daughter. Everyone supported his decision. In this situation, the fact that Se-jin was a child sex offender should not have spread to the villagers. The proliferation of the fact also helped consolidate the stereotype. People thought that since Se-jin was a child sex offender, he would be the prime suspect. But such a stereotype of a child sex offender causes two problems.
One is a denial of integration into the mainstream society. These days, the problem of sexual crimes against children is becoming more and more serious. So, parents naturally become more careful with their children, and become more concerned about child sex offenders. The village in the movie was no exception. People had a strong stereotype about a person who used to be a child sex offender, so they couldn’t accept Se-jin’s sincerity. In fact, there was no clear evidence that Se-jin was involved in Choong-sik’s daughter’s disappearance, and Se-jin denied that he was a criminal. However, no one believed his words and they wanted to catch Se-jin instead of the real criminal.
Another problem with stereotyping is what is called crowd mentality. Human beings are a societal creature, so they try to adapt to one another. Although mainstream ideas are sometimes proven wrong, everyone follows them almost absentmindedly. That’s due to anxiety about estrangement or the belief that many people’s judgment is usually right. In the movie, all the neighbors were suspicious of him, even arguing that his family must leave the village immediately. Sure, the people who believed him may have existed. However, they didn’t have any intention to advocate Se-jin’s honesty or innocence because they were mostly afraid of estrangement themselves.
Se-jin said to his mother, “I want to live an upright life.” But people’s stereotypical view toward him leads to a tragedy. Before Choong-sik heard the truths, Choong-sik murdered Se-jin. The truth was that Se-jin just helped Choong-sik’s daughter, and the person who killed her turned was a bus driver.
The moral of this movie is that we should not trust stereotypes because they are not always true and can cause devastating effects in the end.
student at Dept. of Korean Language and Literature, Kyunghee University