The Housemaid – More Than Just A Korean Erotic Thriller

I remember seeing the movie poster of “The Housemaid” when we were in Hong Kong.  Back then, we picked a Spanish film to watch instead.  I am surprised.  More often than not, films get released in Singapore earlier than in Hong Kong.  When sent me a media invite to preview the movie, I eagerly said yes.  I love watching Korean movies.  More so, I love watching Jeon Do-yeon’s performance.  “You Are My Sunshine” still breaks my heart every time I think about it.

“The Housemaid” is the type of film that the ending may disorientate you.  And I am sure there are more than one way to interpret the story.  Without giving out spoilers and if you do watch this film, pay attention to the seemingly irrelevant beginning and the bizarrely surreal ending and see if that warrants a valid connection.  There are details such as the housemaid’s burnt mark (that was not explained), her mother’s tomb (what about her father?), and some seemingly out of the sort one-liner dialogs – all of which that may or may not contribute to the story, entirely up to your interpretation.  For me, I love this aspect of the movie.  Having said so, I could imagine if one is to ignore these bits and pieces of seemingly irrelevant details, the thriller itself may not be as compelling.  Because of the lack of resolution in almost all fronts.

“The Housemaid” is a drama that takes place mostly inside a very rich household.  A family needs a young housemaid (hence Jeon Do-yeon) to help out with the housework and the upbring of the family’s young daughter.  A young and pretty wife who is pregnant with a twin.  A young and handsome husband who possesses of chest muscles that even I admire (from a bodybuilding point of view!).  And there is an old housemaid who keeps things running smoothly inside this gigantic house.  Later on, the mother of the young wife also comes into the picture.  The plot centers upon how these characters interact with one another, love and hate one another.  Solid acting, I enjoy watching.  And as for the sex scenes, I think they are artistically done (albeit a bit comical in parts).  Pretty much like the rest of the movie.  Jeon Do-yeon plays the role of an innocent and good hearted housemaid.  Trust me.  You will feel for her.

“The Housemaid” will be opened in Singapore this Thursday (Nov 11).  Below is the trailer.


  1. The Korean movie industry has been one of the more successful ones in Asia. I think my first ever Korean movie was Shiri – very good! The Housemaid sounds intriguing!

    1. Mark – Totally agreed on the Korean film production powerhouse. I have yet to watched Shiri though. I think it is sitting somewhere inside a TV cabinet.

  2. The secret formula of the korean movies are: Make the movie match real life and not making people match movies life.

    The main ingredients of the korean movies are based on the culture, behaviors, beliefs and feelings that actually korean people feels inside. The complexity of their movies comes on the simple index of the complexity of the whole human being. Like this movie…

    Shiri is good but the main plot is based on the non official engagement between the two koreas.

    Wanna get a closer inside on the korean culture? Watch “Bittersweet life”, simple storytelling but with yjr complexity of a real modern society.


    After reading your article…I had to think back to what happened in the beginning and think over the burn mark….My theory is the daughter grew up and killed herself over the trauma. It’s her at the beginning of the film.

    Or..this is a stretch she is the nanny. She grew up and did the same thing the nanny did, only this time she got revenge. And the girl who jumped off the building was her nanny instead.

    If none of the above then those were brilliant details to include along the story for foreshadowing.

    What I don’t understand is the very end of the film…why did they give her a Marilyn painting? Is she thought to be like Dostevekys Idiot too and is a symbol of innocence…I mean; how do I explain…In the show American Horror Story there is a maid character in it as well. The women of the show saw the maid for who she was, her soul, and the men, objectify her and saw her as a sex object. I’m trying to connect that to Marilyn and then in turn, to Jeon’s character. Maybe the gift symbolizes the daughter’s fate. And the reason why she appears to be emotionally absent is because she fears of what is to come of her.

    I think the film did a great job of showing the political differences in each class and how the women treat each other accordingly. The husband in this case, is untouchable and blameless with all the power money affords him.

    Everything after her being whisk away from a stretcher seemed like a dream. The ending is open to interpretation.

    That’s why I feel as if there were two stories being told at once. The little girl’s and the maid’s. There being two death’s who knows which one belongs to whom.

    1. Mia – After reading your comment, I watched the movie again.

      Now I remember, I also had similar interpretations like yours. If not for the burn mark, one interpretation is that it was the maid who jumped out of the window in the beginning of the show. The scene about her jumping off from within the house and then caused a fire was purely her imagination during her actual suicide.

      The burn mark is a tricky one. It could mean that in the past, she has suffered a bad burn. And that was the feeling she conjured as she committed suicide.

      In any case, I like your observation on the political differences. Cheers!

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