A comparison between the European folk tale and the recent South Korean film of the same name.

Hansel & Gretel (Brothers Grimm Style): So there are these kids, H&G whose parents are deathly poor, probably due to some medieval credit crunch or overbearing feudal lord (Marxist reading). They are so poor that they cannot afford their children. So, rather than give them up to the state – perhaps they lived in Haringey – they take them for a picnic, and then leave them in the dark wood – one assumes TO DIE. The kids have worked out this murderous plot however and have secreted shiny pebbles in their pocketses to surreptitiously drop so that they can find their way back to the paupers cottage. Their parents aren’t exactly overjoyed to see them again, so try the same trick again, but the precociously pebbled-up pair parry their perfidious parents again. Rather than set about the pair with a shovel like any honest child murderers, they clear the forest of all pebbles and try one more time with the abandoning in the scary wood plot. Kids, now pebbleless, use breadcrumbs instead which begs the question if the parents can afford bread, they can look after the kids. Local birds (also suffering shortages) snap up all the crumbs, kids are lost in scary woods. Until they come across a gingerbread house. A HOUSE MADE OF GINGERBREAD! Paedophiles only have bags of sweets, how evil can the owner of an entire confectionery house be? Very, it turns out as she is also a kindly old lady (for which read WITCH) puts up the kids, feeds them loads of sweets to fatten them up (a sure sign of cannible) and then sets about shoving them in an over. In a twist worthy of Scooby Doo, they dodge her, and burn her alive instead. And they all live happily ever after. Except for the trauma caused by burning someone alive and being abandoned by their parents. And the health issues which are bound to come with living in a house made of sweets. And still a lack of parental care.

Hansel & Gretel (Korean Movie Style): This is one of those “grown up fairytale horror movies” like Pans Labyrinth which isn’t really scary to adults and too gory for kids. Our hero Eun-Soo is a selfish man in his mid-twenties who crashes his car and ends up in a mysterious wood. Found by a young girl he is taken back to a picture perfect house where there are three charming kids and a nervous set of parents. The house is garishly coloured, covered with toys and all the food seems to be just sweets. Eun-Soo stays the night and the next day goes to look for his car. He ends up back at the house. Stays another night and the same thing occurs. Then the parents go missing, and the kids ask him to look after them. And then another couple turn up, a Pstro and his vain wife. Creepiness continues, the boy seems to have some odd psychic powers and the missing mother is found in the attic firstly covered in cobwebs and secondly turned into a china doll. Eun-Soo follows the boy into the woods and finds a mysterious door, inside he discovers the kids are over thirty years old. Coming back there is a stand off between kids and the nasty couple – who turn out to be child murderers. The tale is told of how the three kids were all in an orphanage with an abusive carer until Santa came one year and they developed psychic powers (via the gift of a book of Hansel & Gretel). They killed their evil carer and retreated into a fantasy land where they tried out different parent, none of whom had been satisfactory. Eun-Soo tells them to live a real life, they refuse, kill the nasty child killers and let him go.

CONCLUSION: The two versions are very different.