Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden is probably one of the finest South Korean movies ever made.
Apart from Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook is arguably the most renowned South Korean directors. His Vengeance Trilogy is still considered to be the best revenge trilogy of all time.
In 2016, Park’s The Handmaiden was released worldwide and received favourable reviews from critics and the audiences, alike.
Most importantly, the tender lesbian relationship between the two leads (Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri) was the highlight of The Handmaiden.
The Handmaiden’s lesbian encounter
The Handmaiden is set in the time when South Korea was under Japanese colonial rule.
Nam Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) is hired as Izumi Hideko’s (Kim Min-hee) handmaiden. Sook-hee’s job profile is to help Hideko read for her uncle’s guest.
Hideko is promised to Count Fujiwara by her uncle to be married once the Count returns.
After a frustrating evening, Hideko asks Sook-hee to tell her what husbands expect from the wives once they are married.
Being the obedient handmaiden she is, Sook-hee decides to show instead of telling. She does this by sucking on a lollipop and kissing Hideko on lips.
“Why does the candy taste different?” asks Hideko while licking her lips.
She pulls in Sook-hee for another kiss but ends up sloppily licking her lips. She’s got the taste for it.
“So this is how it feels?” asks Hideko. “That’s what you will feel for the Count.” replies Sook-hee hastily.
Hideko, worried about her “cold body,” asks Sook-hee to touch her breasts. She feels it would be too cold for the Count.
Sook-hee demonstrates how Count won’t be bothered by kissing her breasts.
Then, Sook-hee shows how Count will pleasure her by kissing Hideko all over her body.
Eventually, Sook-hee finds her way to Hideko’s crotch.
The camera is now on Sook-hee, giving us the POV shot from Hideko’s vagina. The scene ends with Sook-hee staring at the camera and going in with her eyes closed and her tongue out.
Park Chan-wook’s creative choices
This is the second “scene of the week” article that features Park Chan-wook. The man knows how to film a memorable sex scene.
This time, with The Handmaiden, Park gave us one of the most iconic lesbian sex scenes in recent times.
Sook-hee’s use of lollipop to sweeten her lips symbolises Hideko’s waning innocence. She’s practically a child who has lollipops on standby.
The confusion of a girl-on-girl encounter refuted by bringing Count into the argument to legitimise the act works like wonder.
The girls are falling in love but they’re not even aware of it.
Lastly, giving the audience the POV shot from Hideko’s vagina is an inspired choice by Park.
Sook-hee’s lustily going in with her tongue out like a kid perfectly sets up Hideko and Sook-hee’s relationship.
It seems like Park Chan-wook had planned for this scene for years. The Handmaiden looks flawless because of such meticulous planning.
Fun fact: Park Chan-wook sent all the male crew members out while filming the lesbian sex scenes in The Handmaiden. This helped the two female leads get comfortable with each other.