Seen in Jeonju

Archive for July, 2010

Blades of Blood (2010)

30th July 2010

lposter041531-k2<Written for the August edition of Asiana Entertainment. That magazine has now been published and I am now able to post the article here. Asiana Entertainment is available for free on all Asiana Airline flights> In 1592, Korea, then known as Joseon, stood at the brink of the Imjin War against neighboring Japan. It was a war that Korea eventually won due to superior naval strength that successfully cut of supply ships from Japan. On land, however, the Japanese army was much more successful thanks to superior weaponry and strong leadership. At the start of the war, the Emperor of Joseon was besieged by ministers with differing opinions on how to engage Japan and the ruler’s indecisiveness gave the Japanese forces an early advantage.

Lee Mong-hak (Cha Seung-won) was anything but indecisive. He realized that Korea had to fight and he had a plan. However, that plan included making himself king and he is willing to kill anyone who opposes him. One of those people who earns Mong-hak’s wrath is the father of Gyeon-ja.

Although ostracized from his family, Gyeon-ja (Baek Seong-hyeon) does not hesitate to rush to his father’s defense when Mong-hak comes to slaughter his family. For all his impassioned efforts, he is quickly subdued and left for dead. He is rescued by an eccentric, blind acupuncturist whom he learns is also an accomplished swordsman despite his lack of vision. Gyeon-ja begs his savior to train him in the art of fighting to gain vengeance for the death of his father. His unseeing benefactor, Hwang Jeong-hak (Hwang Jeong-min), eventually agrees.

Even though this film is set at the start of a war, it is neither a war movie nor a political thriller.  This is an action movie that shares quite a bit with the Hong Kong action movies of the 1970s whose plots often revolved around revenge. However, unlike the movies from decades earlier, this story has the multiple layers that we have come to expect from director Lee Joon-ik.  Director Lee is perhaps best known for his 2005 hit, The King and the Clown, which went on to win many awards domestically and internationally. In Blades of Blood, Lee creates situation where there are no easy answers.  Take, for example, the character of Lee Mong-hak. Although what he is doing is certainly treasonous, his motives were not necessarily evil. And while he is extremely ruthless on the road to make his dream a reality, he is also tender and charismatic, winning the heart of the lovely Baek Ji (Han Ji-hye) with his passions and dreams.

Deserving praise for his role of the blind swordsman is Hwang Jeong-min. His acting is flawless in this film and his interactions with his young ward are both funny and touching. Whenever he is onscreen, he steals the scene with either his dynamic fighting or his witty responses.

Blades of Blood is one of those rare films where history comes alive in an interesting and exciting way while not forgetting the stories of individuals caught up in the events. Watching this movie allows you to learn something about the ancient history of Korea but, more importantly, it will keep you entertained throughout its running time.

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Fly, Penguin (2009)

28th July 2010

fly penguinFly, Penguin was my favorite film from 2009 and it was recently released on dvd. My copy arrived yesterday along with The Man Next Door, Runaways From Home, Actresses and Boat, all from 2009 (bringing my total number of dvds of Korean movies to 526). I had been waiting for Fly Penguin for a long time and I had recommended it to many people. I was a little concerned when the promotional material I received advertising the dvd release did not list subtitles of any kind on it. Usually though, when a disk has no subs, that fact is mentioned. In this case, there was just an empty space where the subtitles information should be. As it turns out, this was just a typo or an oversight.  I am happy to say that this dvd has subtitles in Korean and English so, hopefully, it will be enjoyed by a wide audience.

Fly, Penguin is directed by Im Soon-rye and is more similar in feeling to her earlier works The Weight of Her and Three Friends than her popular movie Forever the Moment in that it highlights social problems in a lightly humerous, non-preachy manner. This film is an omnibus where  the characters of each storyline are related to each other through either family ties or their jobs.

The first story looks at a mother, dubbed a ‘helicopter mother’ because she is constantly hovering over her son. She wants her son to excel at school, as all mothers do, but she goes too far and gives the boy no time to enjoy his childhood. She is especially determined that he will master English even though he has no interest or special ability in the subject. She takes him to those ‘English Villages’ where students are forced to pretend they are entering a foreign country and speak only English, enrolls him in a ‘Taeglish’ academy–on top of his art instititute, but pulling him from ballet classes, arranges an English tutor for him and English telephone practice. She fails to notice that her son is withdrawing into himself and that her constant nagging and cajoling is leading him down a dangerous path unless someone is able to intervine on the boy’s behalf…

The second story takes place at the mother’s place of work which has just hired two new employees. Although everyone is excited to meet them at first, their individual mannerisms make it difficult for them to fit in and they soon, in their own ways become the subject of office gossip. 

One of the new employees has limitations on what he can eat and drink. This makes life very difficult for him as the boss of the company is constantly pushing his workers to accompany him to lunch, dinner and after dinner drinks. The boss is the subject of the third story. His wife and two children have been living overseas. This is not an uncommon practice in Korea among people who can afford it. The children attend high school in the foreign country, often living with the mother there, while the father stays in Korea and makes money–These fathers are often called ‘Geese Fathers’ as they must migrate back and forth to see their children. The father in this segment is where the title of the film comes from.  One of the office workers makes a pun about Geese Fathers saying that dads who can make the trip often should be called Eagle Fathers while those who can’t afford to travel should be called Penguin Fathers. In the case of the father in this part of the movie, his wife and children plan to spend summer vacation in Korea, but when they arrive after four years of living overseas, he realizes they are not the same people he used to know.

In the final story, we meet the boss’ parents. They seem to live comfortably in a good sized house but, after retiring, the old man shows no interest in going out. He constantly complains that his wife shows no signs of slowing down. She takes dancing lessons at the community center, attends concerts and has even learned to drive in her old age. This infuriates him as he expects her to wait on him hand and foot, but it is not until she brings up the word ‘divorce’ that he begins to realize how much he has to lose.

Im cares about all her characters and makes each one of them real. Even those whom we are clearly not meant to like, such as the boss’ wife, are handled with a gentle sensitivity and, whether we agree with them or not, have good motives to their actions. Again, if you like quiet, character-driven dramas, I am sure you will love this movie. I can confidently recommend this movie.

Posted in 2000s, Review | 1 Comment »

Korean Box Office: July 23-25

25th July 2010


Normally, I am pretty good at being able to predict what the box office will do from week to week. But I admit that I completely missed the boat this time. I had said that I did not think the new movies that opened last week would have much effect on the box office especially since most of them were children’s films which traditionally don’t do very well. Instead, they completely reshuffled the box office rankings. Of the movies that were already in theaters, only Moss fared decently–the rest were overwhelmed. The science fiction action film Inception took the top spot though forcing Moss to slip a place to the number two position. Everything else dropped three to five tiers. This coming week, eight new movies are opening. Of them Salt and Death Bell 2 may do well–but I was so far off last week that I am reluctant to make any predictions.  The new movies opening are listed below.


1. Cracks (uk)– d. Jordan Scott, starring Eva Green, Juno Temple

2. Death Bell 2 (kr)– d. Yoo Seon-dong, starring Kim Soo-ro, Hwang Jeong-eum

3. Doraemon (jp)– d. Kozo Kushuba voiced by Moon Nam-sook, Kim Heong-ah (Korean dubbed version)

4. Forgotton Bag (kr)– d. Kim Sang-cheol, starring Kwon Oh-joong, Lee Hyeon-woo

5. Oceans (fr)– d. Jacques Perrin <documentary>

6. Perfect Educations 7: Maid for You (jp)– d. Kenta Fukasaku, starring Kotaro Yanagi, Ayano

7. Salt (us)– d. Phillip Noyce, starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber

8. Taking Woodstock (us)–d . Ang Lee, starring Demetri Maritn, Imelda Stauton

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DVD Releases: July 25-July 31

25th July 2010

woochiWow–July went by quickly…  This week, there are no new DVD releases of Korean films. However, there is a movie on Blue-Ray coming out on Friday.  Woochi is a fun movie, good action, acting and special effects that requires absolutely no thinking. It’s the kind of movie you can turn on and then turn off your mind–not my favorite kind but as I said, the acting is good so that makes up for the simple plot. The movie stars Kang Dong-won, Kim Yoon-seok, Yoo Hae-jin and Im Soo-jeong. The blue-ray disc:  Korean and English subtitles, rated for ages 15+, 1080P High Definition 2.35:1 format, DTS-HD MA 6.1 ES audio, region code A.  The recommended price is 31,000 KRW. I don’t have blue-ray, and I have no intention of getting a blue-ray player, but if I did, I would be excited to see some of the extras on this disk. There are a ton of them–too many to list–but most exciting to me is the inclusion of info on the Woochi comic book that the movie is based on. This disk is available for purchase from July 30th.

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Index of 1971: 91-105

25th July 2010

I wound up watching a lot of Korean films this week such as The Devil’s Stairway (1964), Boy Meets Boy (2008), Possessed (2009) and Blades of Blood (2009). Unfortunately, I can’t write about them here right now because I had to see them for some commissioned writing and I won’t feel comfortable posting my reviews here until they are published in the journals/magazines they were for. So, in the meantime, I will continue with my indexing of the films of the 70s.  Click the thumbnails below to see the full-sized image or you can access each film by director through the tab at the top of the page. Enjoy!

1971-91,1971-92,1971-93,1971-94, 1971-95, 1971-96, 1971-97, 1971-98, 1971-99, 1971-100, 1971-101, 1971-102, 1971-103, 1971-104, 1971-105

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Moss (2010)

21st July 2010

mossThis week, my cable provider in Jeonju shuffled some channels around and gave us a new station called Indiefilm. This amazing channel plays indie and short films around the clock and I have had the chance to see some fantastic movies there. But, I can’t watch movies on tv 24-hours a day…so today I went to the movie theater to see Moss–a film I have been looking forward to.  I was not disappointed. The story is engrossing with many points of tension and suspense and, best of all, the acting is all-first class. The plot is based on a long-running comic book of the same name. I had not read the comic, so I cannot compare the movie with the book, nor did I have to read the source material to appreciate and understand the film. Perhaps I enjoyed it even more for not reading the story because every twist in the plot was a genuine surprise to me.

Briefly, the story is about Yoo Hae-gook (Park Hae-il) who visits his estranged fathers house upon the elderly man’s death. There, he meets his father’s friends including Cheon Yong-deok (Jeong Jae-yeong) who seems to have the entire community scurring to do his bidding. Hae-gook suspicions are raised when everyone keeps trying to convince him to leave quickly and he comes to suspect Cheon and his cronies of perhaps killing his father. After someone breaks into his home, the young man decides to take up residence in his father’s house indefinitely much to the frustration of the villagers. Veiled threats and hinted danger quickly become reality we soon learn that everyone has secrets and perhaps nobody is whom we think they are.

I cannot praise the acting in this movie enough. All of the primary actors deliver excellent performances including Park Hae-il, Jeong Jae-yeong, Yoo Joon-sang, Yoo Seon, and Kim Sang-ho.  I really appreciated the work by Yoo Joon-sang–I loved the confidence of his character Park Min-wook who always seemed like he was challenging anyone he was speaking with to a contest to see who would blink first. But, by far, the best and most memorable perfomance is given by the vastly underrated Yoo Hae-jin who plays Cheon’s close friend and assistant. I am definitely hoping he is able to bring home a Best Supporting Actor role for this role.

I don’t want to say anything more about the movie as it just recently opened in theaters. I strongly recommend you see it when you can.

Posted in 2010s, Review | 1 Comment »

Korean Box Office: July 16-18

18th July 2010


It was another good week at the theaters for attendence with people escaping either the deluge of rain on Friday and Saturday or the heat of Sunday.  Moss came out on top as expected and the media followed its progress from opening day predicting correctly that it would reach one million viewers by the end of the weekend. Meanwhile, both The Servant and 71: Into the Fire slipped quietly over the 3 million mark–a fact that would have been given much fanfare a few years ago.   This week marks the start of vacation for primary school students which explains why the movies opening this week are mostly for younger viewers.  I don’t expect any of these to have a strong influence on the top tiers of the box office charts though.  The movies opening next are listed below.


1. Detective Conan: The Lost Ship in the Sky (jp)– d. Yasuichiro Yamamoto, voices Minami Takayama, Kappei Yanaguchi

2. Inception (us/uk)– d. Christopher Nolan, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe

3. Maeumi 2 (kr)– d. Lee Jeong-cheol, starring Dalyi, Seong Dong-il

4. Paco and the Magic Book (jp)– d. Tetsuya Nakashima, starring Koji Yakusho, Akaye Wilson

5. Sorcerer’s Apprentice (us)– d. Jon Turteltaub, starring Nicholas Cage, Jay Baruchel

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DVD Releases: July 18-24

18th July 2010

This week we have a drama, a documentary, two movies and a collection of short films being released. I am excited about two of these although, because of the subtitle title situation, I will only be able to recommend one to non-Korean speakers.


First up, we have a documentary that was recently in theaters about an elderly man, described as foolish by his neighbors, who believes in following his dreams. The movie is entitled The Happy Man of Ulreung and is directed by Hwang Seok-hoon. Discs: 1/Subtitles:  Korean only/ Rating: All Ages/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 76 minutes/ Region Code: 3/ Recommended Price: 22,000 KRW/ available: July 20

Next is Secret Love starring Yoo Ji-tae and Yoon Jin-seo: Discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean only/ Rating: 18+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running time: 111 minutes/Special features (disc 2)– making, green & blue, poster shoot, galleries, music video, trailers/Region Code: 3/ Recommended Price: 27,500 KRW/ available: July 20

I have been looking forward to the release of Fly Penguin for a long time.  It was one of my favorite movies of 2009 and I have been recommending it to many people.  Unfortunately, the DVD information I have received does not list any subtitles at all.  That is disappointing because the movie deserves to be seen by a wider audience. (Also, this movie was screened at JIFF with subtitles, so I am hoping that it was just a matter of omission on the part of the promo info I received–my copy is on reserve, I will update when I receive it). Discs: 1/ Subtitles: None/ Rating: All Ages/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ special features: optional commentary by Im Soon-rye, production notes, interview with Director Im, trailer, music video, gallery/ Region Code: 3/ Running Time: 110 minutes/ Recommended Price: 16,500 KRW/ available: July 22


An MBC drama that has been running since March has the first 18 episodes compiled in a boxset.  Dongyi is a weekend drama which stars Han Hyo-joo, Ji Jin-hee, Lee Soo-yeon and Bae Soo-bin Dongyi Boxset vol. 1 – Discs: 6/ Subtitles: Korean, English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Region Code: 3/ Extras: Postcards/ Recommended Price: 77,000 KRW/ Available: July 22

Most people know Yoo Ji-tae as an actor appearing in movies like Oldboy and Natural City. However, Yoo has also been directing short films for about the last 5 years and we now have a compilation of these shorts in the Yoo Ji-Tae Collection. There are four short films included in this set–all but one are subtitled in English and Korean–one contains Korean and Japanese subs. I will provide the details of the individual films below. Discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean, English, Japanese (see below)/ Rating: Ages 15+/ Format: 16.9 widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Region Code: All Regions/ Running time: 120 minutes/ Recommended Price: 22,000/ Available: July 23 – The collection includes The Bike Boy (2005)-40 minutes, Korean & English subs// How Do the Blind Dream? (2005)–43 minutes, Korean & English subs// Out of My Intention (2007)–24 minutes, Korean & Japanese subs// Invitation (2009)–9.5 minutes, Korean, English & Japanese subs.

Posted in DVDs: New Releases | 1 Comment »

The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon (1972)

14th July 2010

story of janghwa hongryeonI received an order of DVDs yesterday that consisted entirely of the recently released movies of the 60s and 70s that I posted about here. The student in my house, probably tired of preparing for a graduate class, suggested we watch one. I let him pick and he chose Janghwa and Hongryeon.  That probably would not have been my first choice.  Don’t get me wrong, horror is one of my favorite genres, but this film is directed by Lee Yu-seob. In my opinion, he is not one of the better directors of the period. I had previously seen My Sister’s Regrets (1971), a ghost story like this one,  and Sister (1973) one of the worst of the 70s films I have seen. It was overwrought melodrama that constantly strove the make the viewer cry and constantly failed because all the characters were so bland I couldn’t care what happened to them. I think the running time of Sister was something like 70 minutes but it felt like the movie would never end.  Fortunately, Lee does a little bit better with The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon…but there was a lot of room for improvement.

The story is a classic Korean tale that takes place sometime in the Joseon period and the movie more or less the traditional plot.  Janghwa and Hongryeon are sisters.  Their mother had passed away and their father had remarried Mrs. Heo.  Heo is only interested in her new, wealthy husband’s riches which she wants for herself and her son, Jang-swe whose is mentally challenged and easily controlled by his scheming mother. Heo’s first step towards securing the potential inheritance for her son is to turn the girl’s father against Janghwa, the family favorite. To this end, she has Jang-swe catch and skin a rat and leave it in Janghwa’s bed in the middle of the night. She then awakens her husband on the pretense of hearing a man in the girls’ shared room and then convinces him that the bloody remains of the rat actually belong to an aborted child.  Janghwa’s father is furious that his daughter is not chaste and throws her out of the house. Jang-swe leads her away on horseback to a cliff and then informs Janghwa that he is under orders to kill her. Although he is brandishing a dagger, it seems unlikely he could actually carry out his mother’s plan, but Janghwa, shamed beyond bearing, opts to jump from the cliff on her own accord. A ghost is seen around the village and Heo convinces the family with the help of a dishonest mystic that it is attached to Hongryeon. The young girl is tortured under the guise of exorcism and she is drive mad. Searching for her sister, Hongryeong wanders into the pool at the base of a waterfall and drowns. It would seem that Heo has won except the ghosts of the girls appear to their father and a local magistrate and haunt them until Heo is brought to justice.

janghwa hongryeon 1936One of the things I wished Lee had spent a little more time with is how the ghosts of the title characters were depicted. Whenever they appeared, Lee used a red filter over them and lots of dry ice smog. Except for the fact that their hair was down and they were dressed in white, they looked like two normal women. Even the poster above makes them appear most ghost-like than they ever appear in the movie. That would be fine except that these apparitions were supposed to be so scary that several people die of terror just by looking at them. Now compare that with the 1936 ghost of Janghwa pictured right. The makeup looks pretty good– unfortunately the movie is lost at the moment– so I can’t compare the movies.  Korean  films from the 30s keep slowly turning up so maybe we can see this one day…

A little more effort should have been put into the tiger as well.  This movie takes the same approach to the tiger that Ggotne did. Instead of spending money on a tiger costume or a trained animal, the director opted for a poorly and posed tiger carcass–and not a very large one at that. Some stagehand off camera is holding the tiger’s hindquarters and jiggling the animal around trying to make it look alive.  Since it is posed in one position with glass eyes open and mouth agape–this does not work. It did make me laugh and it made me think, as bad as it was, this tiger was better than the horrible CG tigers in the recent KBS2 version of Gumiho. Trust me–they were bad and their overuse made me turn it off less than halfway the program through never to see the end.

I don’t usually write about the end of a film but in this case I have to.  And since the movie is 30+ years old, I think it will be ok. Plus, it is not exactly the end I want to discuss–it is the supposed end.  The Korean Film Archives (KOFA) gives a plot synopsis that states, at the end of the movie, Janghwa suddenly returns to life after justice is servied and marries the magistrate.  This does not happen.  No one returns from the dead in this movie…although..there is a spot where the bodies are discovered that I had an idea that she was suddenly going start breathing.  I think it might have been in writer Lee Hee-woo’s original script for the movie but someone realized how ridiculous that would have been. The final scene takes place at the shrine for the sisters shows the final fate of their father and step-brother who were not present when the magistrate’s men came to arrest the guilty parties.

It is a shame that the DVD does not have English subtitles which would have introduced the story to a wider audience. Maybe it is not the best of the 70s, and it is much more of a drama than a horror film, but it is the best offering from Lee Yu-seob that I have seen so far and I did enjoy watching the movie in spite of  its faults.

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Nightmare (2000)

13th July 2010

nightmareLast week I reviewed A Light Sleep starting a project I hope to continue of watching all the movies in my collection in the order they are shelved. I have had this idea for a while since there are many movies I own that I haven’t had time to see, but I delayed because I was waiting for my copy of The Wig to arrive as that would be first on the shelf  (they are ordered in Hangul).  But The Wig has been on backorder for the past two months so I started last week without it. I actually do not know how long I will be able to watch films and review them in order–as of today I have 522 Korean films & short film collections–Reviewing one per week would take me ten years to finish.  Two or three per week is possible during the summer and winter breaks, but with classes, commisioned writing for magazines and exchange program work such a schedule would be impossible. So I will watch and review as I can without giving myself stress or committing myself to an impossible task.  With all that said, the next movie in my collection is Nightmare aka The Horror Game Movie from 2000.

Before I begin a review though, I have to discuss the titles of this film. When I am doing research on old  Korean films, I often come across ads from the time that contain an English title only to discover that KOFA or KOFIC is calling it something else. For example, an ad for the 1972 Lee Hyeong-pyo film calls the movie A School Mistress while KOFA calls it A Woman Teacher on its website. Normally, this bothers me. However, in rare cases I approve of the change and Nightmare is one of those cases. If you look at the poster above and at the other two versions of the poster printed in 2000, you see the name The Horror Game Movie. That title is horrible and has nothing to do with the film. It is also far removed from the meaning of the Korean title Gawi.   Gawi is not exactly a nightmare either, but it is closer in meaning than ‘horror game.’ Gawi is a phenomenon where a person feels pressure on his’her chest and wakes to see a ghost trying to suffocate the sleeper. Now, before you scoff and dismiss it as legend, let me add a few things.  I have lived here now for more than 15 years. During that time, I have often let one or two students at a time live  in my home–I own a three-bedroom apartment, too big for one person and I enjoy the company.  I have heard about a dozen different gawi stories— 99% of the time, the ghost is a long haired woman as seen in movies though in one case the student told me of a thin old man. Each time, they said,  the ghost would crawl onto them and try to choke them or just rest on their chest so they couldn’t draw a breath. One of my more recent tenents was angry at me for not waking him when he was attacked by a ghost. While I do have my own ‘ghost’ story from my college days (that still terrifies me whenever I think about it–and I’m not even sure I 100% believe in ghosts), I have never experienced a gawi. Each person who told me about the gawi attack was under some other stress at the time such as exams, preparing to study abroad or preparing to graduate and begin a job hunt. However, the manifestation of this stress took a very specific and consistent form. It would make an interesting research paper for a cultural anthropology journal…

Before beginning to write, a read a couple of other reviews online and saw that the authors were complaining how they were tired of long-haired ghosts and how they were all a copy of Ring or how it had been done already in Whispering Corridors or Memento Mori. The appearance of ghosts  is not a post-Ring phenomenon. Look back at Korean horror films of the 60s and 70s.  The long, unkempt hair covering the face and sometimes used to ensnare people has always been present. Ghosts often wear long white dresses because that is what people are buried in. Even the idea of a long-haired woman ghost living in a well, made famous by Ring, was a concept that can be found in A Ghost Story of the Joseon Dynasty (1970) by Shin Sang-ok. I am not saying he originated the idea, but neither did Ring. To make a gawi anything but a long-haired woman ghost would in fact be making it a non-gawi.

Actually, while reading other people’s reviews complaining about the ghost, I was actually thinking “Was there really a ghost?’  In regards to the more famous Tale of Two Sisters, I am firmly in the camp that says there is no ghost anywhere in the movie. It is all in the head of a young woman with a guilty conscience and an Elektra Complex. In the case of real gawi experiences, I chalk it up to stress. In Nightmare, the grisly killings can also be credited to one of two characters rather than fully depending on a supernatural explanation.

The story revolves around a group of six friends who have yet to fully recover from the apparent suicide of a seventh member of their clique. This is partly because on the night she died, they had all turned against her due to the efforts of one of their members Sun-ae.  Sun-ae, Hye-jin and the dead Eun-ju-formerly-known-as-Kyeong-ah grew up together in a small village. Their were always rumors about the odd Kyeong-ah–stories of possession and death seemed to follow anywhere she went.–A shaman performing an exorcism on her dies, a bus she is riding on overturns and she is the only survivor.  Hye-jin’s father drowns trying to reach Kyeong-ah on a frozen river– Kyeong-ah moved away and changed her name to escape these rumors. Now in the same university, Sun-ae recognizes Eun-ju for who she was and tells the group of friends who had welcomed her in about her past. The group, already nervous around Eun-ju because strange things always happen in her presence (was that cat resurrected?), turn on her and reject her as a friend leading to her death.

What happens next is familar to anyone who has seen a horror or slasher film in the last 3 decades. The members of the group are killed off one by one in grusome ways. The question is, who is doing it?  We see the ghost doing the killing but, like a ‘real’ gawi, perhaps only the person being harmed sees it. A witness to one of the crimes gives a description to the police of a woman leaving the scene and the artist rendititin looks like one of the surviving members. Later in the film, a crazed character trying to save his reputation screams out that “I did it! I killed them all!” Such a confession leads credence to the idea that their is not ghost. Even the ‘twist’ ending of the movie cannot be put down to supernatural actions as the character who is experiencing it is known to have escaped from a mental institution where she was receiving treatment to help her overcome her guilt.   The film leaves it open for either interpretation–ghost or killer/s and I for one like it that way. I don’t want to see a horror movie that explains everything to me.

The acting in this movie is much better than it derseves to be. While the plot may appear somewhat standard with one character being killed off at a time, the actors are all outstanding. You have quite a few now big-named actors at the start of their careers. Notably, Ha Ji-won and Yoo Ji-tae.  I read one review which complained about Kim Gyu-ri’s character Hye-jin and her continued calmness and skepticism even after experiencing supernatural events. I can’t complain about it because I was feeling the same way. Her initial contact with a ‘ghost’ happens while she was sleeping and she could have just as easily fallen asleep in the library when she was wounded by the child form of Kyeong-ah–a wound that she notes is no longer there when she is fully awake and safely in the elevator. Incidently, this is the Kim Gyu-ri from Whispering Corridors 1 and Bunshinaba NOT the Kim Gyu-ri from Whispering Corridors 2: Memento Mori and Bloody Beach.

In general, I enjoyed the film although I did not love it. It was interesting looking at it from two angles after the movie was finished–one from a supernatural perspective and one from a logical stance.

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