BY Julie Jones | Feb 23, 2016 01:11 PM EST
Gisaengs have been the subject of several k-dramas and films such as "Hwang Jin Yi." Most stories about gisaengs focus on their heyday, the Joseon era, but the upcoming film "Haeeohwa" is set during World War II when gisaengs no longer officially existed.
Here's a little background about gisaengs to provide some perspective. These women were courtesans that were carefully trained and accomplished in fine arts, poetry and prose, but they were also slaves who could make few choices about their own destiny. While some gisaengs earned a lot of money and acquired fame, they could not escape the gisaeng class and children born to gisaengs, even if their fathers were noblemen, often became gisaengs or slaves too.
In 1895 Korea officially abolished the class system and slavery. Technically free, some gisaeng then went to work elsewhere but others continued to work as entertainers and prostitutes. By the end of World War II, gisaengs as entertainers had all but vanished.
The story of the film "Haeeohwa" focuses on a gisaeng in 1943, when the Japanese ruled Korea.
Jung So Yool, played by Han Hyo Joo, is a gisaeng with exceptional vocal talent who dreams of becoming a singer. Han Hyo Joo's recent film roles include "Beauty Inside" and 'C'est Si Bon." She has not appeared in a drama since the 2010 drama "Dong Yi."
Yoo Yeon Suk plays Yoon Woo, a composer who wants to write a romantic song that moves hearts. Yoo Yeon Suk also appeared in the film "Beauty Inside" and the film "Perfect Proposal." His last drama was 'Warm and Cozy" about a Jeju Island restaurant.
Chun Woo Hee plays Yeon Hee, So Yool's best friend and a fellow singer. Chun Woo Hee's film roles in 2015 included "The Piper," "The Wailing" and "The Beauty Inside." Her last drama appearance was in 2011, in "Vampire Idol."
"Haeeohwa" has an April release date.
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