What is shojo? 箪笥 장화, 홍련 

What is shojo? 箪笥 장화, 홍련 

In one of our exit survey responses (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2TWK6S9 we will pass your feedback on to our sponsors – The Japan Foundation Sydney, The University of Queensland and the University of Tasmania) one of our gallery attendees queried why there was a poster of A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) included in the exhibition.

Is this appropriation?
Is it ignorance?

I want to thank whoever queried my inclusion of this poster and to talk a little bit about both the film, my poster and flier collection, and to start thinking about 少女 and 소녀 (shojo and sonyeo).

A Tale of Two Sisters is a South Korean film initially released as 장화, 홍련 (Rose Flower, Red Lotus) during the start of what we now recognise as the first hallyu or Korean Wave in 2003. There is a 2009 US remake, The Uninvited which I haven’t seen but which has apparently suffered from comparisons to other Asian horror remakes.

At that time I was a student at university in Japan. I saw this film (released as 箪笥 a large trunk or chest of drawers) late one rainy summer night in a small art cinema in the middle of nowhere. The tale of sisters, step mothers, death, and betrayal is straight out of a Grimm Brother’s tale – and indeed, the film is loosely based on a tale that dates back to the Joseon era (1392-1897). There are some distinct crossovers here between early versions of Cinderella and Two Sisters – namely to do with mothers, clothing chests, and untimely deaths caused by daughters …

In some ways, the inclusion of the A Tale of Two Sisters poster is a link to the ideal of girl culture crossing borders and boundaries.

However, as we will see in my next post, my 箪笥 poster reflects my habit of lining my working spaces in ephemera and beautiful things that inspire me in my day to day work and research.

Emerald L King

Image shows a Tale of Two Sisters Japan release flyer, a post card for retro/1930s kimono brand ‘Furifu,’ a reproduction of a Meiji period advert for Mitsukoshi department, a flyer from the Okayama Yumeji muesuem circa 2010.


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