A story of two 13-year-old boys in a small country village during the last days of the Korean War. Sungmin's father gets a job at US army camp through his daughter's American boyfriend, and... See full summary »
A story of two 13-year-old boys in a small country village during the last days of the Korean War. Sungmin's father gets a job at US army camp through his daughter's American boyfriend, and the family gets richer. But Changhee's father has been long-lost and his mother can't even afford one meal a day for her children. One day, the boys peep into a deserted mill-house which is unofficially used for prostitution, and find out Changhee's mother with a GI soldier. Changhee sets fire to the place and runs away. Months later, Sungmin hears a rumor that his best friend has been killed by a group of angry American soldiers and makes an empty grave with other boys. A year later, Sungmin's father gets fired for stealing things from the camp. Sangmin goes to Changhee's grave to bid farewell and the family leaves the village. Written by
Stevie Cho <email@example.com>
This late nineties Corean film is based on the experiences of the film's director, although the events of the film may not be directly translated from his experiences. The film centers on a family in a village during the Corean war, near a US military base. It displays the poverty that Coreans suffered from during the war, the high prejudice against refugees from the North and the negative and positive effects of having the US presence.
It doesn't pull its punches when it comes to story. Impoverished widowed Corean women resort to selling their bodies to US soldiers for money to feed their families. Some Coreans take advantage of the US presence to gain employment. People die at each others' and at US military hands.
The directing style however is very restrained, shooting primarily from a fixed camera at a distance. Therefore, it creates a distance for the viewer, which may make it immediately difficult to connect to the story. But I don't think it's a terrible technique, because, in some ways, the technique renders us helpless as viewers and helps further the case for the film to be in a the past and observational, rather than intimate. Yet, because of the nature of the story, it's still easy to become connected with the characters, especially the protagonist, a young boy.
All in all, I'd say this is a solid effort of an art film. It's certainly not a happy or uplifting film, but a brooding meditation on the crimes of the past, both from within and from outside the Corean people. And like a lot of Corean works, the theme of continuing on despite suffering is present as well.
It's good. 8/10.
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