The Housemaid is a 2010 South Korean erotic thriller film directed by Im Sang-soo. The story focuses on Eun-yi, played by Jeon Do-yeon, who becomes involved in a destructive love triangle while working as a housemaid for an upper-class family. Other cast members include Lee Jung-jae, Seo Woo and Yoon Yeo-jeong. The film is a remake of Kim Ki-young’s 1960 film The Housemaid. It competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
Eun-yi is an innocent young woman who is hired as an upper class family housemaid, and is tasked to take care of the family’s small daughter and her pregnant mother, Hae-ra. Byung-sik is an older housemaid who has been with this family for a long time and holds many secrets. But soon enough, the master of the house, Hoon, takes advantage of his social position by slipping into the new housemaid’s bed.
Hoon’s visits become frequent and Byung-sik reports the affair to Hae-ra’s mother Mi-hee, who plots to give Hae-ra the control over her husband. Soon Eun-yi becomes pregnant by Hoon and wants to keep the baby. This is discovered by the family and Eun-yi is forced by Mi-hee to have an abortion despite the young woman’s pleas to let her keep the baby and leave the house. Her forced abortion turns Eun-yi’s already fragile mental condition for the worse and she decides to take the matter into her own hands…
A first screenplay for the film was written by Kim Soo-hyun, but after director Im Sang-soo had edited the script so heavily that Kim considered it to be entirely Im’s own work, she decided to leave the project and publicly expressed her dissatisfaction.Although the film includes some key elements of the original, Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid from 1960, Im has said that he tried to never think of it during the production in order to come up with a modern and original work. One major difference between the versions is that the original film took place in the middle class, while the remake is set in an extreme upper-class environment.
Im explains this with South Korea’s social structure around 1960, which was a time when the country’s middle class started to form and many poor people moved from the countryside to work in the cities: “women became housemaids who served not only for the rich but also the middle class and that issue had served as the basis to Kim Ki-young’s work. What I realized upon reworking The Housemaid in 50 years was that there are much more wealthy people now, people who are millionaires. … I wanted to depict the reality in which housewives from normal families have to undertake hard work too“. The film was produced by the Seoul-based company Mirovision.