Between gender discrimination in the workplace and rampant “spy cam” porn (“molka“), South Korea is not known for its exemplary treatment of women. However, Korean women are fighting back—the #MeToo movement that swept Western societies took hold in Korea last year starting with movements against sexual harassment and anti-molka protests.
Miss and Mrs. Cops captures this social zeitgeist, featuring Mi-yeong (Ra Mi-ran), a former hot-shot detective who gets sidelined to work at a civilian complaint desk after giving birth, and her sister-in-law Ji-hye (Lee Sung-kyung), a passionate young cop who got put on complaint desk duty after messing up an operation. The action starts when a woman comes in to report that she was raped on camera, and about to be the victim of spy cam porn. Mi-yeong and Ji-hye become frustrated at the mostly male police force’s lack of action, and take matters into their own hands.
Just Another Buddy Cop Movie?
Miss and Mrs. Cops draws heavily from the “buddy cop” genre, with characters that would not be out of place in pretty much any other buddy cop movie. The film would be otherwise unremarkable, if not for its feminist take on the genre. We learn that Mi-yeong is not the only female police officer who faced gender discrimination—many of her other female colleagues were also sidelined because of their gender. At the same time, Ji-hye’s male colleagues show little concern for the victims of spy cam porn, caring more about their own performance reviews than seeking out justice.
As is typical in buddy cop movies, comedy helps lighten the mood throughout a movie that revolves around an otherwise serious backstory. As part of an undercover surveillance operation, Ji-hye and Mi-yeong get tattoos; perhaps in a jab at foreigners who get nonsensical tattoos in Asian languages, their tattoos read “FBI” and “NYPD” respectively. Mi-yeong’s unemployed husband pops up throughout for comic relief, often becoming the target of gratuitous (albeit accidental) violence such as being hit with a trash can, or having a gun thrown at his head.
Strong Feminist Undertones
However, Miss and Mrs. Cops doesn’t stray far from its darker themes. In the movie, the news reports about women committing suicide after being featured on spy cam porn. Meanwhile, the individuals behind the spy cam porn ring reveal themselves to be evil men who go as far as formulating their own “date rape” perfume that knocks out and paralyzes their victims. Much of the drugging happens at a nightclub, which parallels the Burning Sun nightclub scandal that rattled the Korean entertainment industry earlier this year (despite the fact that Miss and Mrs. Cops was likely done filming by the time the scandal came to light).
Perhaps the strong feminist undertones turned away men at the box office; while the film smashed box office records, Korea JoongAng Daily reports that more than three-quarters of the moviegoers were women. Online reviews also showed a stark contrast between men, who rated the film 1.6 out of 10, and women, who rated the film 9.6 out of 10. It turns out men don’t like being called out on misogynistic behavior—who would’ve guessed?
While Miss and Mrs. Cops hardly offers anything new in terms of plot, its timely exploration of the challenges women face in Korea makes it worth a watch. You’ll pick up a few laughs along the way as well.
• • •
Miss and Mrs. Cops (Korean: 걸캅스)—South Korea. Dialog in Korean. Directed by Jung Da-won. First released May 9th, 2019. Running time 1 hour 47 minutes. Starring Ra Mi-ran and Lee Sung-kyung.