Monday, January 31, 2011

Queen Bee; or, Return to the Hive

In the comments to this post, seouldout pointed out Korean movies from the mid 80s that dealt with foreign teachers. Today I'm going to look at the 1985 film Queen Bee (여왕벌) (Note: some NSFW images are below.)

A synopsis in English can be found here, while a longer synopsis in Korean is here, and a poster (likely a vhs cover) is here. I was at the Korean Film Archive in Digital Media City this week (which is now very close due to the AREX line being completed) to catch a screening of Declaration of Idiots, and afterward went up to the film library to see if Queen Bee was available. It was (on VHS), and armed with a camera I took shots of some of the more interesting parts of the film. It seems it was shown on TV last year, so there are .avi files floating around on the internet (but to join Korean sites to download it you need all ten fingerprints, a blood sample and a dodo feather, so that might take awhile).

Here's the poster for the film:

I'm sure you'll never guess from the poster what happens in the film or how foreigners are portrayed.

Queen Bee begins with a woman dressed as a traditional dancer and using what looks like a traditional iron, heated in flames, to burn lines into a drawing (of a threesome) on a piece of paper. Then a mostly-unseen black man bursts in and rapes her.

The woman is the mother of Mee-hee (played by Lee Hye-young, who played the principal in Boys over Flowers) and the synopsis of the movie (found on many sites in Korean) says she was with an foreign English teacher and when they broke up, she felt ruined and became an Itaewon girl. I don't remember hearing any mention of English teachers in the film (there were no subtitles, so I may well have missed it, though it would be odd not to pick up those particular words). In fact, many of the foreign men we see - at least at the beginning - speak some Korean.

At any rate, the film then cuts to the present day and we see Mee-hee practicing in her dance studio and teaching young girls traditional dance.

We then meet her sister, Jeong-hee (who's a student, played by then 17 year-old Jo Yong-won (seen here two years earlier)), and they wash each other at the sauna.

(Photo from here.)

From there we move into the hive of scum and villainy known as... Itaewon. Mind you, it's Itaewon in 1984 or 1985, so it looks a bit different than today. The action mostly takes place at the Hippodrome club, where 80s music and fashions abound. Below, Mee-hee verbally fends off a foreign woman who has accused her of taking her guy. It's about the only time in the movie a foreign woman has a speaking part.

We meet a few of her female friends, all 'Itaewon girls,' and then she leaves with the guy below, whose name I forget.

They're confronted by Gyeong-su, a friend of Mee-hee's who has feelings for her and who wants her to change her ways (but whose job - working at a pig farm apparently on the bank of the Jungnangcheon near where the girls live - may not be so appealing). The foreign guy leaves him in the dust and sneers at him.

The foreign guy doesn't end up in much better shape, however. After passing through another club (where a woman is having sex with a foreigner on a chair in the corner), they have a meal at a haejangguk place, where the foreigners speak varying degrees of Korean (and apparently like Korean food; "Where's the kkaktugi?" asks someone). She teaches him to order and after eating they go to his place and Mee-hee whips him and then lets him climb all over her, but before he can do the deed, Mee-hee uses her whip to knock him off of her and walks away. He isn't too happy.

She returns home, and the next day her sister asks about her night ("I didn't hear you come in last night"). Mee-hee meets another bearded American the next night who she admonishes for not speaking Korean to her. He tells her, "I thought I'd practice my English." Also at the restaurant is the guy from last night, who is friendly enough with her.

Mee-hee's sister Jeong-hee goes out with a less-than attractive Korean friend that night to Itaewon (of all places!) and he is apparently affected by the lust in the air, and upon seeing a yeogwan, tries to pull Jeong-hee towards it. She refuses and flees down the steps (the tall ones at Itaewon's east end) and is almost hit by a car. The driver, a foreigner, steps in when her date arrives and she makes it clear she doesn't want to talk to him.

She gets in the car to escape and they drive off. Her date yells, "This is Sadaejuui! Sadaejuui!!" (following the strong, or toadyism).

The guy offers to drive her home and tells her his name is Richard, and that he's a professional photographer. She thanks him and says she's a student. He tells her "I pray for God to see you again" (he sounds German, but is supposed to be American). He gets his wish, meeting her on a bridge while out taking photos a few days later, and he takes her to his studio. On the walls are artistic photos he's taken which seem to have a lot of breasts in them.

Mee-hee is shown teaching and practicing at the dance studio where other dancers rehearse a performance which seems to mix traditional Korean and modern dance. She heads off to Itaewon and bumps into the foreign guy we saw first who tells her, "You tease me - try me! I've got to show you how good I can be in bed!" Jeong-hee, meanwhile finds out what her sister is up to in Itaewon, and follows her. This helps her to feel it's okay to date Richard, who takes her out to dinner and then they head to Itaewon to go clubbing. They walk by Wendys (anyone remember where in Itaewon that was, exactly?).

At Wendy's is the foreign guy from the first night and his friend (who sounds Scottish).

What follows is this conversation:

A: ____ will come from Hong Kong in a few days with the goods.
B: Are you sure nothing will go wrong?
A: Don’t worry about it. I will not let anything happen to spoil your dream life of Itaewon.
B: You can have your three essences of life here: women, liquor and joints. That’s why I like this country so much. I’m gonna make a record of having affairs with a hundred girls.
A: Meehee’s always on her high horse like a queen bee.
B: I’m afraid it’s not that easy for you. She’s not like other Itaewon girls. She chooses her own men, and doesn’t give a damn about the guy when she conquers them.
A: I’ll wait and see. Hey, your visa has expired, hasn’t it?
B: I’ll have to rip off a girl.

Just then a girl sits down, and the guys smile at each other.

Jeong-hee is out dancing with Richard; Mee-hee sees this and walks away in disappointment.

The first foreign guy sees Mee-hee leave and is disappointed, but Mee-hee's friend decides to cheer him up with a little bathroom sex. However, they are disturbed by evil black man, who asks him where the hell Steve is.

Steve was seen at the beginning of the movie with another of Mee-hee's friends.

The film cuts to Steve, who is currently having sex with the girl above, who tells him she loves him and that he belongs to her. Suddenly, evil black man bursts into the room, pulls Steve off of her and throws him to the ground saying, "How can you have fun here while I was in jail!?"

Steve tells him that the girl on the bed is a gift for him, which cheers him up. Evil black man smiles and strips, while the girl looks on in horror. As he rapes her, Steve watches with an amused look on his face.

Just to clarify, this is a South Korean movie.

Jeong-hee and Richard leave Itaewon, but they guy she went on a date with earlier tries to approach them once they're in the car. Richard slams the door into him and knocks him down before driving off.

Mee-hee's friend Gyeong-su (who is trying to save he from this life) finds him and helps him up. They go off drinking makkeolli together. Meanwhile, Steve and evil black man exit the motel they were in (without the girl).

Evil black man says, (with an Australian accent, by the way) "Yeah man, that was a good time. That’s what friends are supposed to be like. She was terrific. In fact, I think we’ll have to do this every night."

The hotel owner splashes water (or soju?) like holy water upon their path after they’ve left and spits after them.

The scene then cuts to Mee-hee walking down the street. Evil black man has obviously met up with the foreign guy from the beginning, who obviously devises a plan for revenge: sic evil black man on Mee-hee. He points her out and says how hot she is, which accomplishes the desired effect:

Evil black man approaches, and the usually calm and cool Mee-hee is scared. He pushes her off the street and up against a wall where he starts pulling off her clothes. Gyeong-su walks by and sees this and intervenes, but is knocked down. Foreign guy grabs him and seems to want to force him to watch:

Instead, evil black man slaps him around until police sirens scare them away. Mee-hee is thankful to Gyeong-su and takes him to a yeogwan where she undresses and offers to sleep with him. He instead covers her up, tells her to get her act together, and leaves.

Meanwhile, after promising to be his model, Jeong-hee poses for Richard. He happily takes photos, which progress to nudes...

...which progress to a happy Richard and... well, I can't tell if Jeong-hee is enjoying herself or in great pain (anyone who has seen Gang Su-yeon in the Surrogate Womb will have seen a similar performance).

The next day we see them embracing in front of Jeong-hee's apartment, where Richard tells her, "I love you baby, I want to marry you." Mee-hee sees this and confronts Jeong-hee, telling her not to make the mistake she did. The argument becomes heated, Mee-hee slaps Jeong-hee, and then the conversation continues as Jeong-hee takes a shower (when I tried to find this movie on Emule, that scene was the only clip that turned up, for some strange reason).

Mee-hee can't make the danger that foreigners pose sink in, though it does for the viewers, who are treated to a flashback of her mother's rape by another evil black man.

Alas, Mee-hee was right. Foreign men are scum. Jeong-hee learns this the hard way, when she goes to Richard's apartment and enters despite Richard not answering the door:

Though Richard is having sex with another girl, he isn't the least bit surprised:

When she stammers that he said he loved her, he replies, "Yes, we loved each other… but love is one thing; marriage is another." Then from nowhere his friend grabs Jeong-hee:

Richard tells her, "He’s my friend. And friends share everything." With no reaction from the Korean woman he was having sex with, he then gets up and, saying, "Come on, let’s have fun together," watches as his friend rapes her (the third time in the film someone has watched another person rape (or attempt to) a woman they're dating).

Cut to Steve's ex-girlfriend walking through the streets of Itaewon, enchanting tourists as she hands out flowers saying, "I love you Steve," and talking about marriage as she flutters about, obviously having lost her mind. Jeong-hee runs along a bridge over the Han River (the 63 building visible in the background) and sees the girl standing at the railing.

Jeong-hee later talks to Mee-hee and tells her what happened, saying, "We’ll be queen bees together." She then goes to the disco club and dances alone. The dance floor fills and suddenly we see this sign:

There were quite a few clubs like this at the time (50 in Itaewon), as I noted last week.

At any rate, the foreigners-only sign suddenly smashes (shades of Fist of Fury?) as a coffin is pushed through it (presumably belonging to Steve's ex-girlfriend). Koreans dressed in traditional clothing enter the club:

West vs East.

While Jeong-hee stands with the confused foreigners, we all know she'll eventually reject the dark side. The Korean friend she went on a date with earlier in the movie is part of the group of mourners, who break into the mix of traditional and modern dance seen being rehearsed earlier in the film. He takes her hand, and though reluctant at first, joins in the dance.

She has rejoined the Korean nation, and has been saved. The Korean mourners, having won this challenge, leave the den of western corruption the way they came. Mee-hee, however, wants more than her sister's redemption - she wants revenge. She dresses up and lingers in front of Richard's apartment, asking for a ride to her dance studio.

He offers to take photos of her dancing. She seduces him and they have sex, while she has flashbacks to her rape by an evil black man.

Finished, she climbs off and reaches for a knife, and Richard's blood splatters over the drawing she was working on when she was raped. We then see her dancing a traditional dance:

She dances in the dark as the camera pulls back from her. Just as she's about to disappear in the distance, still dancing, a shot of the Han River fades in, and she appears to disappear into it. Cut to Jeong-hee and Gyeong-su standing next to the river as part of Mee-hee's costume floats away. Jeong-hee walks away, and the film ends.

The message seems to be: Foreigners who can rape, do; those who can't, watch.

Luckily, as I've noted here and here, things have changed a great deal in the 25 years since this film was released. The portrayal of foreign English teachers in films and TV today is far more positive, right?

Even Min-seo's revenge on her English teacher Haines in Bandhobi is rather similar:

I suppose one thing absent in Queen Bee is foreigners molesting children:

Mind you, I haven't yet gotten to the 1984 film Between The Knees, another that seouldout suggested.

I'll save that for another day, however.


Unknown said...

When did they get rid of the Wendy's!?!

F5Waeg said...

Wow. Just. Wow.

Please update if you can find this

Lawrence Barry McCook said...

I remember seeing that movie on late-night TV several years ago. I didn't take it as personally as I could have, because it was a drop in the ocean of '80s Korean late-night rapesploitation featuring only Korean-on-Korean rape. More serious I thought was the attitude toward women. Honestly this one's silly, but the rest of the genre is silly in the exact same way, minus the bonus of foreign rapists.

Charles Montgomery said...


K said...

Before my time, but I think it was where the Burger King was until it moved in 2008.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

@Paul, Wendy's went bankrupt in the mid-90's.

matt said...

There's an article about foreign fast food in Korea from April 1988 here, and a similar one talking about them in different locations in Seoul from 1992 here. As for Wendy's location in Itaewon, it seemed to be set back from the street (see the tables here) making it unlikely that it was in the old Burger King location. There are a few places like that on the strip in Itaewon where it could have been.

racetraitor: fair enough, but Korean film and dramatic series on tv feature quite a few sympathetic Korean men in relationships with Korean women which don't involve them being complete assholes or rapists. I guess the question might be, how many sympathetic depictions of foreign men in relationships with Korean women are there out there?

Kamiza said...

Interesting that rape was a common feature of S.K. films in the mid-to-late 80s. One could very easily read the sub-text of a patriarchal social structure hearing the sound of its funeral bells, seeing that it was in the 1980's that Korean women made the most advances in all of Korean history: female enrollment in universities rose drastically, women in the workplace rose to almost 50% (albeit still in a "Miss Kim, coffee please" subservient role), and the divorce rate almost doubled from the 1970s.

Funny that "Queen Bee" deals with this exact issue: young headstrong women determined to make it on their own, instead of in the traditional role destined for them. Gotta love the standard sympathetic Korean dude in these films who wants to make it all better for the lady with his desire to save her through marriage and couping her up with his bitchy-arse mom. (Interestingly, this sentiment still exists among many Korean men, in and outside of S.K.)

Matt has done a great job reviewing lots of recent SK films
with this persistent theme of foreign male pursuing a Korean female, much to the frustration of the good Korean male friend.
Gotta love how the foreign dude--even half-breeds like Daniel Henny--is he victim of violence at the hand of the K. dude.

Yup. Nothing has changed in hundreds of years.

Unknown said...

I actually saw some of this movie about a year ago. I was in Seoul at a hotel with my GF chilling out and flicking thru the cable channels when bam we seem the seen where the older sister is beating the bearded wayguk who is really enjoying it. Watching further and noticing the scences filmed in Itaewon I was hooked.

So I spent a week or two trying to find the movie. Found it for sale on Vvideo. Was going to buy it and convert but things fell apart. Months later I was looking again and I was able to find a rip on some Korean file trading site but alas no English subtitles. My Korean sucks so I commissioned some one to make me a subtitle for the movie.

I was actually going to tell you about this movie months ago but I could find no way to contact you GUST. But it looks like you found out about it anyways.

I have not released the movie yet on a file trading sites. But for any of those that want to get the movie off me can email me at for details.

seouldout said...

Nice find. That seouldout's memory is a bit dodgy, though.

The foreigners featured in this film were the gold and high-value consumer goods smugglers. The German who acted worked as a German and English teacher. Between the Knees features the evil-doer foreign teacher (sadly, a music teacher), but far fewer juicy foreigner roles in that one.

These films came during what Koreans call(ed) Chun Doo Hwan's 3S era - sports, screen and sex. Recalling my long-ago conversations, the Koreans alleged Chun sought to distract the Korean public with entertainment. Chun and later Noh Tae Woo also played the anti-foreigner card - after the Kwangju Uprising many in S. Korea hated Chun (and his family), and during his reign began the period of American pressure to open the market.

Wendy's was an Itaewon institution. It, and Old Germany in Hannam-dong, and Swiss Chalet on the road to the Hyatt (still open I hear), were the only places one could dine al fresco. Wendy's had the best locale for the people watching, and on the nice weather weekends it was packed. Wendy's also had great salad bar - very rare in the day. The plate they'd give you was the size of a ashtray, but the tray was the size of a... well a tray, but a big one at that. The foreigners filled the entire tray with salad and the fixins. Three or four foreigners could empty the entire salad bar. Needless to say, the Wendy's manager hated us.

Matt is correct about it not being in the old Burger King location. Walk away from the intersection and past the Nashville there's the stairs that go the road where the Wolfhound is. Notice that the building beside the stairs is set back from the sidewalk about 2 metres. Wendy's was in the building - later occupied by Schlotky's. For you real old timers you'll recall near to Wendy's was Popeye (not Popeye's Fried Chicken).

matt said...

Aha - I wondered if that was where Wendy's stood. Actually, in the movie the camera pans as they walk by and you could see Popeye next to it. Popeye is also where the evil-doer foreign teacher (or someone who looks like him in older age) is sitting in Between the Knees - Lee Bo-hee sees him from her car and thus starts the flashback to her experience with him.

Thanks for the details of Wendy's back in the day. Did you know the people in the film personally, or just by reputation?

seouldout said...

A few I know quite well, but most are friends of friends who I've met over the years when they'd visit Korea. In Korea still there are many former Peace Corps guys, current DoD civilians, and teachers. The smugglers I'm friends with long ago moved to Hong Kong and Bangkok. Of all the stories the smugglers' stories are the least known, but their exploits amongst the most entertaining.

matt said...

This fascinating comment by Simon was posted 20 minutes ago (here). I'm reposting it here:

I played the friend of the main foreigner with the thin beard and glasses(not Richard). I'm in the scene on the terrace in front of Wendy's. I have not seen the movie. In 1984, I had just arrived in Korea to try land a teaching position. One evening a nice young Korean man came into the courtyard of the yogwan in Northern Seoul that was most popular with budget travelers with a lonely planet guide to Korea in their backpack. He was looking for many extras (western guys) in a Korean movie for one night of shooting and for two guys who were going to stay in Seoul for a couple of weeks for more extensive roles. I had been an extra a couple of times in movies in Hong Kong and the Philippines. So I thought nothing of it. Bernd, a guy I had befriended at the yogwan, and I agreed to take the two roles and also be in the shoot where there were many guys needed. We asked what kind of movie it was and what kind of scenes we would be doing. We were told it would be a couple of party scenes and would involve some dancing. I was not looking forward to the dancing... The Korean also wanted our passports so they were sure we would stay in Korea and complete all the scenes we would be required to do. The other extras wouldn't have to because they would be doing one night of shooting which was going to be in two days time. Bernd and I discussed in German about handing over our passports. I advised Bernd to not even show them our passports and use fake names as I had done as an extra in the Philipines and Hong Kong. Both Bernd and I wanted to settle in Korea for a few years teaching English and didn't want to get kicked out by immigration. The Korean man said he would have to discuss it with his boss. I was worried he would get my real name from the lady who ran the yogwan. He told us he would let us know when he came to pick up the whole group the day after tomorrow. Next post will be about the first night of shooting.

Simon said...

Our first night of shooting for Queen Bee. (I have watched the movie just now. Thanx for sharing John)
Bernd, and another friend (Austrian guy I had met in Hong Kong) and I, together with a bunch of regular backpackers were picked up by our friendly Korean Contact in a minibus and taken out of Seoul to a little town where the shooting was going to take place. It was dark and we had no idea where we were taken as we were all unfamiliar with Seoul. Years later I figured out it was uijeongbu (a town north of Seoul and near an large American Base and I suspect it was in a yogwan or brothel). Before the shoot, Bernd and I had discussed being recognized later by our students once we had landed jobs as teachers. This would risk getting kicked out by immigration. Bernd decided to hide his face as much as possible in the scenes. I decided not to wear my glasses. When we arrived, there were already foreign and Korean women. First scenes were party scenes on the lower roof of the building. A snippet of these can be seen at 13 minutes into the movies, with me in the foreground sitting and drinking an awful American beer(my first and last American beer btw, but at least I didn't have to dance). The last scene on the roof was where one Korean actress was sitting on a chair and a kneeling foreigner would pull her panties from under her skirt. We, the foreigners, protested because we were told we would only have to do some dancing. The film crew reassured us by saying that the girl would be wearing her panties and a second pair already halfway down her legs, so not to worry. One guy I didn't know volunteered and the scene was shot a couple of times till the director was satisfied. At this point the foreign women were taken home in a minibus. The panties pulling scene didn't make into the movie.

Simon said...

First night shooting in uijeongbu continued:

The next scene was going to be shot inside the building in a large Korean style room with sliding doors. At this point, we were told there would more nudity. In the previous scene there had been a few guys with their shirt off. It was past midnight by this time and the town was very quiet. We hadn't been paid yet and didn't want to pay for a couple of taxis home. We weren't even sure if we could find a taxi that late in a small town. Half the Korean actresses had refused to participate and were taken back in a minibus and thus a potential ride back gone as well. Since I had been an extra before and got along fine with our contact, I was asked to negotiate on behalf of the guys and our Korean contact negotiated on behalf of the film crew or director. The whole situation had become very tense. Basically, we started demanding a lot more money as a delaying tactic None of the guys was willing to take his underpants off. In the end, we accepted about double the original fee and got to keep our underpants on. On a personal upside, there would be no more dancing, no more American beer and we would get to go home. We had to wait a little because they needed more Korean girls. We were utterly surprised when they found about a half dozen girls willing to do the scene within 10 minutes or so and they had no qualms about stripping down to their underpants ,either!?!?! And this in a small Korean town in the middle of the night, (remember we hadn’t a clue to where we were). When I asked our friendly Korean contact, he told me they were prostitutes. I guess they were faster negotiators than us. The whole atmosphere was weird, because the Korean actresses that had decided to stay were clearly distressed. Luckily I ended up with a prostitute on my lap. She was very calm if not bored, maybe because she had her back to the camera. We had to pretend to be making love. I decided to keep my face hidden behind her head or keep my head down so the camera wouldn't catch my face as well just like Bernd just to be sure. I had done a scene very similar in Hong Kong (with my and her clothes on) so I was confident about making it passable and passionate looking while protecting myself from future embarrassment. Bernd got a side shot so he decided to keep his face away from the camera by turning his head and pressed against one side of her face, neck or shoulder. We discussed this in German so the film crew wouldn’t clue in. The whole scene involved about nine couples or so in one room devoid of furniture. After a couple of takes, it was over.
Next post is about the ride home in the minibus.

Simon said...

First night of shooting: Ride home
After the shoot, we, the foreign guys hired from the same yogwan, were taken back in the same minibus.
It was almost dawn when we got to go home in a minibus. The Korean actresses went home in another minibus. In the bus, my Austrian friend told me it had been absolutely horrible and he felt sick during the shooting of the last scene. His partner had been one of the actresses and he had to rub his hands all over her breasts. She had been shaking throughout. he thought she was very inexperienced and innocent. He was glad he was going to go back to Hong Kong and didn't have to do anymore scenes. Bernd also had been partnered up with a prostitute and it hadn't been bad at all. He was also confident he had been able to hide his face during all the takes. For my future students, I relied on my "no glasses" trick. Funny how watching "Get smart" reruns helps your career in Korea. For my relatives, I was confident I had been able to hide my face during the sex scene. Not that Korean movies were popular in the Netherlands at the time. This scene didn't make it into the movie, thank god. During the ride back it was clear to me that our Korean contact was embarrassed by how the whole thing had gone down (He was a mensch in the English sense of the word). It had definitely been a lot worse than my previous worst shoot (repeated sprinting in tropical heat on a soccer pitch all day for a Hong Kong Soccer TV Movie)

Simon said...

The issue with the two roles (Bernd for Richard's friend and me for Michael's friend Jack)hadn't been settled and we hadn't been paid. Two of us went to movie company's office somewhere in Seoul. They were nervous about us leaving before the shooting and recording of the voices was over, but we were not prepared to hand over our passport or show them. Our fear was a future student would recognize one or both of us in a year or so when the movie came out, call immigration, immigration steps to the movie company, movie company gives them a copy of our passport or even just our names. Immigration looks us up in their database and steps to our employer and we lose our jobs and are banned from Korea. Another reason we didn't want to hand over our passports is that we might have to leave Korea for a few days to get working visas if we found teaching jobs. Furthermore, we complained about being lied to regarding what kind of scenes we were supposed to play and not being paid right after the shoot. After promising to stay around for all our scenes, we got money for the two of us and the rest of the guys in the yogwan for the first night of shooting. We were given dates for our next scenes. My next scene was to be on the main drag of Itaewon. I would have lines, a first for me. They asked me to dress nice. I had bought some dress pants and dress shirts in Hong Kong for getting a teaching job, so that should be OK. next post about the second night of shooting.

Simon said...

My second night of shooting.
This was shot on the main drag of Itaewon resulting in the following scenes:
At 22:00, Jack(me) standing in front of a itaewon shop window, light up a cigarette and watching Richard's girlfriend and her Korean admirer.
At 36:00 Richard and Jung Hee strolling down Itaewon morphing into Michael and Jack(me) having a wonderful conversation at Wendy's.
At 47:00, the intro to the Rape scene in the alley, featuring Michael, the African-American, and Jack as far as Mihi being dragged down the stairs into a dark alley. This was the first time, I met the two main foreigners in the movie. The guy playing Richard was a German artist in real life. The guy playing Michael was a Israeli bodyguard in real life. Both guys were really nice, and I became friends with both of them. They both had handed over their passports to the movie company and they were to get paid after all their scenes and voice recording were done. As far as I know they were the only ones who had that arrangement. All the other foreigners were paid per scene. Both German "Richard" and Israeli "Michael" had been in Korea for a while and had had Korean lessons specifically for their lines. It was German Richard who explained to plot and purpose of the movie (inflaming hatred of Western men residing in Korean).

Simon said...

Shooting in Itaewon continued...
Scene with me lighting up and watching Richard's girlfriend stroll by. I don't know what the function is of this scene in the movie. I remember being nervous about not coughing in the scene because I didn't smoke. Also lighting up was not something I was familiar with. Notice how I didn't inhale (Thanks, Bill Clinton) and lowered the cigarette quickly away from my face as I for sure would have had a horrendous coughing fit. I do think I tracked Richard's girlfriend pretty well despite not wearing glasses and having to do it in the dark (Like Norad tracking Santa).
Next the Wendy's scene

Simon said...

Shooting in Itaewon continued with Wendy's scene...
This is my first scene with lines which started with a stupid cigarette again. I relied on my "don't inhale" trick for that. I remember discussing and rehearsing the dialogue with Israeli "Michael" and neither of us understanding the expression "on a high horse like a queen bee". Israeli "Michael" was annoyed with having to blow smoke into the Korean actress' face at the end of the scene. I was glad about not having to do that and also that it looked like I wouldn't have to any naked scenes with Korean actress in shock that evening. I distinctly remember being able to relate to the goods from Hong Kong line as I had just finished my career as a luxury goods smuggler based in Hong Kong which had come to its natural end since I had collected too many stamps in my passport, I had no dual nationality (unlike some of my smuggling friends), and my passport was not due for renewal. Israeli "Michael" and I could also relate to the "expired visa line" as I had just spent a year and a half traveling SE Asia. By the way, it is not my voice in the movie, which I will explain in later postings.

Simon said...

Shooting in Itaewon continued with third scene (47:00 in the movie) "intro to rape scene" with Israeli "Michael", the African-American GI and Jack(me) discussing Mihee's sex appeal and Michael and Jack encouraging the GI to go check her out, where upon he goes to Mihee and drags her down the stairs. I had no idea it would be followed by him raping her which was filmed later at a different location. I briefly talked to the American "rapist" prior to shooting the scene and all I remember is that he said he was a GI stationed at the local base in Seoul and had walked from there to Itaewon as it was not far.I would become very familiar with those stairs as later Bernd, a French friend of us and I would live just around the corner down the stairs in a 3 bedroom apartment for four years or so. Whenever we craved fresh vegetables, we would pile up at the salad bar at Wendy's. The other option was to stroll down to the American base and try sneak on illegally. I was very successful at this because I used a quiet back gate that was very wide and manned not by Americans but an old Korean guard in uniform. I would rarely get past the young Korean guards if they were on duty. I would walk through at the opposite side of the gate and wave a piece of ID (just a paper the same size and color as a GI's ID. This worked amazingly well until about six months before the Olympics when they really beefed up security at the base. Prices were really low and it was kind of stepping into 1950's America including the prices for groceries, movies. I would book the squash court there. Highlight was one time kicking two huge GI's off the squash court because I had it booked. That took balls with my Dutch accent and non-military haircut. I never got caught, once I was inside the base. It was the best place to buy cheese and sliced beef. The only thing was, I had to go to Namdaemun to change Korean Won to US Dollars on the black market, but I still came out way ahead. I remember missing the thrill on the base, the few times I was there legally( on a date with an American woman with Military ID). But I digress slightly. At the end of the evening shooting in Itaewon, it was time to get paid. The pay guy with the money gave me 10.000 Won less than agreed! I demanded the full sum agreed upon. He gave me a few thousand Won more. I took it and continued protesting. He gave me a few more and so on. I was extremely annoyed at having to harass my money out of him. I came to two thousand less than agreed upon because I wanted to catch the last bus back to the yogwan and not pay for a taxi. With the smoking, drinking lousy beer from cans, nude scenes, and not getting paid properly, I was becoming very fed up with the whole thing and I still didn't know yet that there were going rape scenes in the movies!

Simon said...

Finding out from Bernd, German “Richard” and Israeli “Michael” about other sex scenes.
One evening, Israeli “Michael” and I were talking. He had just finished filming a sex scene with Mihee earlier that day. This is the “kinky” sex scene (13:40) with him enjoying being whipped, him kissing her legs, and groping her breasts. He told me he had been and still was utterly disgusted with the shoot. Prior to shooting the scene, the director had physically demonstrated to him how to scene including groping Mihee’s breasts. Right after that, the cameraman had “demonstated” how to grope Mihee’s breasts. After that, several other guys of the film crew needed to “demonstrate” how to grope her breasts. Israeli “Michael” told me it had been sickening. After many “demonstrations”, he had to do the scene and had felt horrible for the Korean actress. Later he told me about the rape scene where the American GI raped Mihee in the alley and he had to force the Korean guy to watch. It left quite an impression on me to see how much this Israeli bodyguard was affected by the whole thing.
Later, German “Richard” told me a very similar story on how it went his sex scene with Jung-Hee at 54:00. I’m not sure but either Jung-Hee’s or Mihee’s real life mother had been present during the shooting of all her daughter’s scenes which made it all the weirder.
I talked to Bernd before and after his rape scene (1:07:00)with Jung-Hee and a spectating German “Richard”. Bernd was really concerned about being filmed close-up, so he was going to employ the same strategy as in the deleted sex scene in uijeongbu (hiding his face as much as possible). Once you know what Bernd is doing, it is the most hilarious rape scene ever. It doesn’t even look like a rape scene because the rapist is obviously more concerned about hiding his face and himself than about appearing to rape her. I think it is worth it to get a hold of the movie just to watch this scene. Afterwards, Bernd told me he was pretty confident he had been able to hide his face quite well. Since neither he nor Jung-Hee had been naked in the rape scene, he couldn’t hope for Korean censors deleting the scene. It was quite funny with the two of us hoping either the editors or censors would cut out our scenes as much as possible. On top of that, I had landed a teaching position at a hagwon that was owned by an American lady, so I needed to go for a few days to Hong Kong (or abroad at least) and apply for my teaching visa at a Korean embassy or consulate. I hated everything about “Queen Bee” ;smoking, lousy beer in cans, dancing, naked Korean extra’s in state of shock, Korean actresses being groped by the whole film crew prior to shooting, being lied to about upcoming scenes, having to hassle employers just to get paid 90%, risking losing a steady teaching position and getting kicked out of Korea. Just to name a few.
Next post will be about my final sex scene.

Simon said...

My sex scene in a hotel somewhere in Seoul.
At any rate, especially after talking to Israeli “Michael”, I was really dreading my next scene that was going to be shot in a hotel room, so I assumed it was going to be a sex scene as they hadn't instructed me on what to wear, either. I was picked up by minibus and taken a long way from my yogwan to an area in Seoul I had never been. I had no idea where in Seoul I was being taken. The hotel was a non-descript modern building and the room was on the seventh floor or so. The crew was still setting up when I got there, so I sat on the floor with my back against the wall away from the bed where the Korean crew was busy, far from the door because people were walking in and out with equipment. The Korean actress or actresses weren’t there, yet. I was the only foreigner there. I just didn’t want to be there and felt very alone and trapped. The Korean contact person and a guy from the crew came over and explained to me what the first scene was going to be. I was relieved to find out I wouldn’t have to go completely naked. I was supposed to do a sex scene with one Korean actress and at the end somehow roll off the bed with bed sheets that by happenstance stayed draped around my waist so my ass and genitals would remain covered. I would get further instructions once the Korean actress arrived. I continued sitting on the floor looking at the door. Somebody offered me a cigarette which was the last thing I wanted. I was dreading most of all what had happened to Israeli “Michael” and German “Richard” with their sex scenes; the film crew taking turns pawing the actress to “help me understand what I needed to do” and then me having a go at it as well. I also dreaded having to do it with the actress with the mother hovering around. I didn’t know which actress it was going to be. A little later something was flung at me from across the room and it landed next to me on the floor. All the crew in the room were laughing. I looked to see what it was. It was a pack of condoms. OH, SHIT!!! No Way!! I wasn’t quite sure if that had been a practical joke, but now I had a single focus. I was going to try to get out of this mess. I decided to sit still for a little more and out of the corner of my eye I kept an eye on the hotel room door, waiting for the coast to clear. After a minute or so, there were no people going in or out and I went for it. I decided to pretend to walk to the bathroom that was close to the door as in all hotel rooms. I walked past the bed where a few people were setting up. Since nobody was looking, I walked past the bathroom door and pulled it shut, so it would look like I had gone inside. I continued on through the room door into the hallway. To the right were the elevators and the adjacent room were the crew was. I looked left down the hallway and saw the fire exit and ran as fast and as quietly as possible towards it, went throug it and ran down the stairs which I’m very good at. Once on the ground floor instead of going through the front lobby where I might get spotted, I bolted through another fire exit at the far of the hotel and I was outside.

Simon said...

In Hiding.
Having just ran out of the hotel back exit,I ran as fast as I could to the street and ran across the four lane road which luckily was not busy. I had no idea where I was in Seoul. I ran to the nearest bus stop and hid behind the bus shelter. I looked back for the first time and saw no one following me. Dutch stinginess prevented me from hailing a cab and none of the numbers on the bus sign where lines I was familiar with. I jumped on the first bus that came by and looked back to see if I was followed. Still clear. I wanted to get as fast as possible to my yogwan, pack, pay and get away before they would get there. Luckily the bus got to an area of Seoul I recognized and I got off and switched to a bus that would take me close to my yogwan just off Saemunanro and Saejong-daero. Got off the bus and ran toward the yogwan. The yogwan had a central courtyard. I peeked into it to see if anybody from the film crew had beaten me to it. It looked clear so I entered and told the landlady to prepare my bill and climbed up the ladder to my room that was higher than most. Packed my backpack in 1 minute or so. Luckily, I travel light. Climbed down and went to the landlady to pay. She could tell I was nervous and in a hurry and asked me where I was going. I answered Hong Kong. I had the following scenarios running in my head:
1. They would find me and I would have to do the sex scene after all.
2. They would find me and rat me out to immigration who would kick me out of Korea and I would not even have to bother applying for my teaching visa.
3. They would not find me, but come to the yogwan and get my name and nationality from the landlady and rat me out to immigration and my teaching visa application would get rejected at the Korean embassy in Hong Kong.
Problem was my flight to Hong Kong was booked in a couple of days and I had to pick up application papers from my hagwon just before that. I would have to hide in Seoul for a few days.
A French friend of mine, who had already gotten his teaching visa and had started work, was staying in a yogwan a couple of kilometers down the road near Chongro-2-ga. No other foreigners were staying there and the yogwan was hidden on the north side of Chongro. My French friend had moved there because he needed to sleep at night whereas the traveller’s yogwan was noisy with late arrivals and early departures. I asked my friend to tell Bernd what had happened and to keep quiet to where I was hiding. I met Bernd later and he told me that our friendly contact had come by the Traveller’s yogwan looking for me and that the movie company was very angry with me. I asked Bernd to tell them I had left the country for Hong Kong, which would be true in a couple of days. Bernd had finished a scene with German “Richard” (32:20) where he had been in the background, so he hoped he wouldn’t be too visible in the movie. Bernd was worried about his next scene with German “Richard”. This is the scene with him in close-up with German “Richard” sitting in the car(1:18:30). Whereas I had relied on my “glasses off” trick, Bernd came up with the “glasses on” trick, sunglasses that is. He was going to wear them and hopefully, nobody would ask him to take them off. After that shoot, he came back very happy, because they had let him keep his sunglasses on. That was his last scene and he was confident he had been able to not show his face too much. He only had to do the voice-over thing in the studio and that was it. For the next couple of days in Seoul, I made sure I didn't get anywhere near the Traveller's yogwan or the district where the movie company had their office. Also, I avoided contact with anybody related to the movie. A few days later, I picked up my visa application papers from my employer and sponsor and flew to Hong Kong.
Next comment about return to Korea.

Simon said...

Applying for teaching visa and returning to Korea
After I had received my Korean teaching visa in Hong Kong , I returned to Seoul, started work and looked for an apartment with Bernd and our French friend. I went back to the yogwan off Chongro-2-Ga and never came near the traveller’s yogwan just off Saemunan-ro. From Bernd, I found out that a British or Irish guy from the traveller’s yogwan on Saemunan-ro had done the voice-over for Jack(Role I played in Queen Bee). I ran into the friendly Korean contact person from the Queen Bee movie company once. I ducked my head and ran away hoping he hadn’t recognized me, but he had. He let me know through Bernd and my French friend that he would not tell the movie company and vice versa I explained through Bernd and my French friend why I had run away from the set. I further found out that the script had to be rewritten because I had left halfway during the shooting of the movie. Now that I have watched the movie, I am pretty that Jack’s and Steve’s roles were rewritten. Maybe originally, Jack and Steve were one role. The role of Steve is obviously played by an American GI in real life. Also I think that the same person who did my voice-over, did Steve’s voice-over as well. From the instructions that I got for my scene in the hotel with the rolling off the bed and the bedsheet as a loincloth so to speak, I was supposed to do sex scene (41:00) where Steve is making love to a Korean woman only to be pulled off her by the American GI, who at Steve’s encouragement rape his girlfriend. I am so glad I ran away from that scene and that movie and am forever grateful to the guy who threw the packet of condoms at me just before the shoot in the hotel room.
Next comment will be about the Queen Bee coming out in theaters and on VHS.

Simon said...

Aftermath for German “Richard” and Israeli “Michael”.
A couple of months after the movie had finished, I found out from friends, that German “Richard” and Israeli “Michael” had been betrayed by the movie company, who had gone to Korean Immigration and ratted them out. Korean Immigration dutifully, kicked both of them out of the country and banned them from re-entering Korea for a number of years. The movie company had done this so they wouldn’t have to pay them, which I remember amounted to something like US$20,000. The movie company had their passports, knew where they were staying, so it must have been the easiest bust for Korean Immigration. A couple of years later I met German “Richard” at a Sunday brunch at an American Hotel on the slopes of Namsan. He confirmed the story. Bernd and I were so glad we had refused to show them our passports, let alone hand them over. By this time, Bernd, my French friend and I had steady teaching positions with valid working visas, sharing a really nice apartment in Itaewon.
Bernd and I were still worried about “Queen Bee” coming out and being recognized by our students. But a year went by without “Queen Bee” coming out in theatres and we speculated the movie company had gone bankrupt or the Korean Censors had nixed the whole movie. We stopped worrying about the movie coming out. Fast forward to another year later or so and one day Bernd got off the bus from work and walked the short distance to his apartment. There was a little video rental store right by his place and he got a real shock. Taped to the window was a huge poster of him holding a Korean woman down as the main character of Queen Bee!! Not only was he on the poster, but his face was fully exposed as well!! He stepped into the rental store and demanded to buy the poster before anybody recognized him. He got rid of it pronto. Luckily I wasn’t on the cover of the VHS or the poster and by this time I had shaved off my moustache as well. Nevertheless, we had a couple of nervous months, but in the five years we were in Korea neither of us got ever got recognized. Bernd and I never rented the video. Both of us were wondering how we had missed the theater release. Later, I found out that it had never been released in theatres in Seoul, because it had been regarded as too anti-foreigner with the Olympics coming. Just like Dog Soup was officially of the menus in Seoul, but not in the rest of the country. Instead it was released in theatres in other cities and the country side. Back in the mid 80’s, there were very few foreigners living outside Seoul and maybe Pusan. I never did another movie. I taught legally for five years, but had a few very close calls with immigration doing extra work on side.

matt said...

Simon - thanks so much for telling this story! I was curious - do you remember when it was that the movie was filmed? It seemed to come out in 1985, though to be honest, I can't find the exact information (perhaps its because, as you said, it was only released outside of Seoul). I'd be curious if it was filmed around the time of the 'French teacher incident' in 1984.

If you have time and could email me at mattvanv, I'd like to ask you a few other questions.
Thanks again!

Unknown said...

one shot looks like liam neeson. ^__^

Atze said...

I can't believe that I've stumbled upon this blog after all these years. I'm Bernd and I'm absolutely amazed about how many details Simon is still able to recount concerning that movie "Queen Bee" we both starred in back in July 1985-30 years ago!
Reading through your account last night,Simon, I had one flashback after another,scenes, long forgotten, came back to my mind and for one moment I even thought I could again smell that exotic perfume Jung Hee was wearing during the "rape scene" (what a joke !). Simon and I (both high-value consumer goods and gold smugglers at the time) were living and teaching in Korea from 1985-1990, Simon left in 1991 I believe. I have never returned since. We shared a 3 bedroom house together with Christian (French) during most of that time just behind Wendy's and were regular customers at the "Sportsman's Club", the in- place to be at the time,foreigners only(remember Jim, the American-Korean doorkeeper?)I hear Korea and Itaewon have changed dramatically since that time as well as the value of the Won and I'm pretty shure I would suffer a big culture shock were I to return. Does anybody here have a link to that movie ? And , by the way, who are you, seouldout ? Pretty sure you're Rob from Canada, aren't you ? And Simon: We last exchanged news with each other 10 years ago.Your old E-Mail is no longer in use.Get in touch,mate !