Recently, an abundance of narrative films about teenage girls suffering from sexual abuse and traumatic violence has been released in South Korea. Encouraged by the global wave of #MeToo movements, these films have created meaningful discourse about gender, media, and urban space. This paper in particular analyzes three recent feature films, Han Gong-ju (2013), Miss Beak (2018), and Another Child (2019), focusing on the representation of urban spaces as well as their gendered dimensions in narrative. All three films portray teenage girls’ struggle to overcome their traumas and injuries caused by rape, child abuse, harassment, and alienation from their own families, friends, and neighbors.
These teenage girls find genuine companionship and shelters in specific spaces, including cheap restaurants, an old amusement park, and shabby classrooms. These urban spaces are what Marc Augé calls “non-places” as they are too ordinary to reveal something special. Yet, as the teenage girls in the films recover from their injuries in these “non-places,” they also become places of psychic recovery. Monotonous and colorless places in modern cities become therapeutic and meaningful space through female solidarity and mutual care. Teenage girls in these movies are not just mere victims of traumas but “wounded healers” who could give consolation and encouragement to others who are suffering different traumas. What these films suggest is that “non-places” in the dreary urban life could become the new spaces of reconciliation and healing.