30th April 2012
Archive for April, 2012
28th April 2012
This coming week, there is but a single Korean movie being released for the first time on DVD. It is the indie film Dr. Jump directed by Lee Seong-ho and starring Park Hyeonk-gwon, Park Hee-bon and Na Soo-yoon. For some reason, the cover of the DVD and the upbeat tagline on the box reminds me of the ‘high-teen’ films of Korea in the 1970s.. and that is not a bad thing at all. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 12+/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Auido: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 65 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 25,300 KRW/ Available: May 3rd.
25th April 2012
Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, his week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 25 from Tuesday, June 2, 1896. In this issue: The editor voices his complaints against Japanese actions toward Korea, the courts refuse civil cases until the king returns home and gunshots are heard in the city! <<Reminder: All opinions expressed in the newspaper are the views of the editors of The Independent. They do not reflect the opinions of this website and are reproduced here for the sole purpose of providing historical context>>
According to the Kobe Chronicle the English editor of the Yorodzu seems to have taken exception to our statements relative to the justice of Japan’s claims for indemnity for Japanese killed in Korea. But the Chronicle gauged him rightly. He proved to much. He claimed that Japan’s motives were purley philanthropic and unselfish in declaring war against China over Korea. Of course no reasonable man could accept this statement for it is quite patent that the Korean question was merely the key that unlocked the kennel of the “dogs of war” and was not the only cause at all. As to Japan’s having given large sums of money to Korea it is true that three million yen have been borrowed but the Korean government secured much of it from the Japanese Bank at an enormous rate of interest.
We advise the Yorodzu not to open the question of the fisheries dispute a few years ago for of all the outrages pepetrated again unoffending people this seems to us the worst in recent years. The Japanese simply wanted the fish and they practically drove Korea to the wall about it. From time immemorial the women of Quelpart have been accustomed to do the fishing, wading in the water, nude. (Quelpart was the name of the Ducth ship that was the first European vessel to spot Jeju Island after going off course on the way to Japan. Subsequently, Jeju Island was called Quelpart for decades by Europeans–tom). Japanese boats came in fleets and simply seized the whole industry and the people of Quelpart were left to shift for themselves. We cannot but conclude, all things taken together, that this talk of aiding Korea has not been demonstrated in facts. What the Japanese people want is the trade, the wealth of Korea and having, like the day dreamer in the Arabian Nights, kicked over the tray of wares that was tohave resulted in a princely fortune, they feel like the English editor of the Yorodzu whose consistency is of that quality that in one sentence he says the Japanese Government was horrified at the murder of the Queen and in the next says that her fate was inevitable and deserved. In other words he is an epitome of the Japanese people in that though horrified at the crime he was glad it was committed, but finding that he has been the cause of his own downfall, whines about it. He “does not care whether Japanese subjects were provied with passports or not.” The indemnity ought to be collected with fire and sword if necessary. That is to jump from the frying pan into the fire for as we have pointed out before, Japan and Korea mean much to each other and though Korea’s government be not as advanced as could be wished the wealth and resources are here which, properly developed, would prove a great benefit to Japan, but so long as Japanese merchants and pawn-brokers are allowed to impose upon Koreans, the door to Korea’s wealth will be shut tighter and tighter against Japan. We admire Japan and rejoice in her prosperity so long as she is fair and honest but we fear that she has so aroused the hatred of Koreans that even should “fire and sword” wrest from her indemnity, the key to her wealth would have been lost.
There is just one thing that we would say and say it loud enough to reach the ears of the most interested and that is that it makes little difference what kind and benevolent wishes and intentions the Japanese government has toward Korea so long as Japanese merchants are allowed to brow-beat Koreans and bully them into purchasing goods or so long as the Japanese residents are busy helping unscrupulous money lenders foreclose mortgages on Korean houses, they will make no progress toward gaining the commercial foothold in Korea that they desire.
Hon. John Barrett, the US Minister to Siam, left Seoul on Sunday for Japan.
Hon. J. Komura, the Japanese Minister, has gone to Japan for a short visit. He left Seoul on Sunday.
Mr.Min Yung Chun, who was lately pardoned from his banishment has arrived in Seoul and now is in his country hone near Han Kang.
Prince Pak Yung Hyo arrived in Yokohama from San Francisco on May 21st and is now in Tokyo.
Lieut. Meister, BRN left Seoul on Sunday for Japan. He intends to go back to England by the earliest steamer.
We learn from Peking that the Chinese Government intends to make a start in the formation of a new navy with the consequence that Peking is full of agents of shipbuilding firms who are busily engaged in submitting pans and models of eery description of war ship– Pekeing and Tientsin Times.
Urgent reprots coming to the Departments from the Governors and Magistrates require immediate reply, but often these cases are replied to only after some months and a gread deal of inconvenience and trouble to the people in general result. It is hoped that the Department will dispatch al business that requires immediate attention.
HIGM’s Consul, F Krien, Esq., gave a dinner party on Friday night in honor of James Barrett, US Minister Resident and Consul General to Siam. The guests were Hon. John M.R. Sills, Hon. John Barrett, Dr. H.N. Allen, Lieut. R.R. Belknap, US Navy, Dr. Philip Jaisohn.
The Communication Bureau will establish a postal system to Kyeng Sung and Kang Ke districts. The mail carrier will leave Seoul once every day commencing with June 15th.
We have mentioned before the inconvenience caused by the rejection of certain cases in the law courts and we now learn that ‘until the Queen’s funeral takes place and His Majesty returns to the palace such matters will not receive official attention. ‘ Pray, what connection is there between the funeral of the Queen or the King’s return to the palace, and these civil cases? None whatever. The courts should act promptly and vigorously and clear the docket of all these cases that are pending, which block the course of general business.
Much trouble and delay is caused by the failure of officials to rise early enough in the morning to get to their offices by nine o’clock. They should remember that they are servants of the Commonwealth and should show a fair degree of energy and promtness in the discharge of their official duties.
Steps are being taken to establish a fire department in the city. An order has also been issued regarding the contamination of wells in the city.
The money collected by the city court in the shape of fines has been turned over y the Dept of Justice. It is principally in copper coins and is put away by the dispursing clerk in the Law Dept. At the end of the month the Fiance Dept orders the employees of the department to be paid out of this fund. Recently in counting this money it was found that two cents were missing from each package supposed to contain a dollar. Somebody surely must be responsible for this shrinkage. Let him be found.
The Police Department has issued an order to suppress the devil worship in and about the city. So far the police have closed 322 places of Mutangs and the like in Seoul <I just want to point out that the mudangs were/are not devil worshippers….tom>
Last Wednesday there were reports of two gun shots in the Japanese barracks in Ju Dong. The Korean police in that neighborhood went there and investigated the guns and found that a Japanese soldier had shot off the guns to chase away evil spirits. The police told them of the city ordinance against the shooting of guns in the city and the soldier confessed his ignorance of the regulation and apologized for the occurrence.
On Saturday the Minister of War and other officials of the government with a few foreigners went to the front of the palace and saw the calvary drill.
We are glad to learn that the chief of the Government Steamship company Pung Nam Ju did not discharge the employees under him with the view of putting his friends in the places, but in compliance with the orer from the Dept. The Department is taking steps to reduce the unnecessary expenses of all branches of government service and this company is also included in the list of reduction and hence the dismissals of the less important clerks.
The Minister of Education, Shin Ki Sun returned to Seoul yesterday.
24th April 2012
There will be three Korean movies opening this week, two films and a documentary. The first film, from the director of Happy End and starring Park Hae-il and Kim Ko-eun, looks promising. It is called Eungyo. Here is the trailer:
Spring, Snow also looks very good but is a definite tear-jerker. A sometimes under-appreciated, aging mother learns that she has a disease may shortly claim her life.
The documentary is called Red Maria which examines the lives of women across borders, nationalities and social status and shows are they are interconnected without ever having met
The first two films look like they might have potential to do well in the box office, but they have some impressive competition in the form of the Avengers (us) which is being heavily advertised on television and is a likely candidate to come out on top. Other films being released this week are Titanic II (us), Crayon Shin-Chan (jp), Armadillo (denmark), Cat in Paris (fr) and Turn Me On, Goddammit (norway)
22nd April 2012
I was not at all sure how I was going to like the documentary Dancing Cat. The movie is about stray cats in Korea and I feared, before watching, that the film would go one of two ways. First, it could be terribly depressing. It is a fact that there are stray cats all over the place in Korea and that the vast majority of these animals are unhealthy, unclean and will likely die in a horrible way. I know that already, and I did not want to watch an hour long public service infomercial on the problem. The other way they film could have gone was overly sweet and sentimental attaching human emotions and motives onto the animals actions much how certain members of my extended family talk about their pets. I like cats and I had several over the years but I was not sure I wanted to see a sugary view of the feline world. Fortunately, director Yoon Gi-hyeong is successfully able to navigate the two pitfalls I mentioned and provide a look that into the lives of alley cats that manages to be hearwarming without being saccharine and to make its point about their plight without be preachy.
The film alternates between two voices. One belongs to director Yoon who tells the stories of Sweetness and Darth Snooze, two stray cats living outside his home, through motion pictures. The other voice is that of author Lee Yong-han who tales and memories of the cats residing near his apartment are told through numerous still photos. In fact, that was technically one of the most interesting parts of the film. The still photos worked so well in telling the story and were so cohesive that after a short time, I forgot that they were not moving images. Lee describes himself as a poet and traveller and a quick internet search reveals that he has several books to his name. It was not until he returned from a trip to Tibet that he became curious about the cats living all around him and he embarked on a project that at first may have been a way to find inspiration for a new book, but in fact became a passion and began a love affair with the animals. He admits to the fact that prior to starting his book research, he had no particular interest in cats at all, but the affectionate when he talks about them reveals that his stance has changed and he is now firmly a cat lover. He has also created numerous other cat lovers through his three best-selling books on the cats in this film. His first book, Goodbye Kitty and Thank You caught the attention of director Yoon and inspired the creation of this film.
This movie is not a retelling of Lee’s books. Half of the movie is told through Yoon’s camera and he imitated what Lee had already done… following and eventually caring for the cats and kittens outside his home. Yoon is normally a director of television advertisements but he successfully makes the jump to documentary-maker and perhaps the format of commercials actually assisted him as the vignettes that comprise the film are relatively short but, like a well made ad, they manage to create characters and evoke emotional responses in that brief time they are airing.
Through these two men, lives of Gusty, Blossom, Bessie, Yellow, Stranger, Sweetness, Snooze, Limpy and many others are projected on the screen and from there are forever embedded in the minds of the viewer where they will not be forgotten. The movie points out that while housecats will live for an average of fifteen years, these stray cats live only for three.. and most meet violent ends. Although the movie does not dwell on this point, it does hit home on a couple of ocassions.
Perhaps it was too soon after the death of my family dog that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, but after watching this movie I immediately headed over to the cat pages of the Korean Animial Rescue website (http://www.animalrescuekorea.org/adoptable-cats) and browsed through the images there. Of course, I know that adopting a cat on a whim would not be a good idea and one should be prepared for all the work and commitment that goes into owning an animal. Not to mention the fact that I am out most of the day and the cat would be alone with fish tanks and the indoor pond (http://aqualandpetsplus.com/Pond,%20Tom%20Giammarco’s%20Indoor%20Pond.htm).. It would be a terrible mistake to take in a cat. Still, it is a testimony to the power of Dancing Cat that I was even considering this course of action, however briefly.
22nd April 2012
In the 1970s, director Kang Moon-soo returned after a nearly thirty year absence to direct Little Star, a film based on a popular singing group of the 70’s and early 80s. At least one of the singers appearing in the movie, Kim Aerisa, went on to continue with a moderately successful music career after Little Star (or at one point Little Star Family) broke up. Below is the information on the film. Just click the thumbnail and enlarge to see the full-sized image. Oh, and if you want a laugh, you should see the image the IMDb approved for this film.. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0322812/) I used to enter film information there and this was one of the reasons I stopped. The editors never check anything. That video box cover has nothing to do with the Korean movie Little Star! I wanted to upload facts on the movies that cannot be altered except by me.
A far more prolific director, and one who was much more important when discussing Korean cinema, was Kim Cheong-gi, creator of Robot Taekwon V, Ttoli and numerous other animated movies.
To see information from other directors from this decade, simply click the tab marked “The 1970s” at the top of the page. Oh.. and any similarities between Kim’s Wonder Princess and DC Comics’s Wonder Woman is purely imagined…. She is a unique character and does not violate any trademarks.. really.
Up next: Kim Dae-hee
21st April 2012
I have been busy with exams and had a hard time keeping up with posting this week.. It happens every semester around this time. Most of my students seem to think that I am busy during exams, but it is actually the week before that is busiest for me as I have to get everything prepared. But I am catching up on many things today and may even have time to watch one of my new DVDs that came this week– (I received Dancing Cat, REC, Children of Darkness, Byeongtae and Yeongja and Spellbound)
This coming week, we have two Korean films being released onto DVD, the omnibus First Love Stories and the documentary Never Say I Can’t.
First Love Stories– directed by Park Beom-hoon and starring Lee Jeong-ah and Kim Seong-gon. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: English and Korean/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 16:9 letterbox/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 114 minutes plus 20 minutes of extras/ Suggested Retail Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: April 27th.
Never Say I Can’t– directed by Kim Yeong-jin and starring Kang Won-rae (former member of Klon), Na Yong-hee. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for all ages/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 72 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: April 27th.
21st April 2012
Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, his week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 24 from Saturday, May 30th, 1896. In this issue: Problems arise between soldiers and the police of Seoul, the Magistrates ignore royal edicts and a rivalry starts between the Independent and some Japanese papers
** The May number of our Seoul cotemporary The Repository appeared on Wednesday. The range of subjects treated in this number is very large, including Korean history, travel, missions, poetry, politics, correspondence, notes and comments. It provides a variety of broad enough to please all its subscribers. It is a distinctly new departure in jounalism in the East in that it proposes to interest those who have the mission cause at heart and also those who are engaged in business or other pursuits; and to please all parties is probably not as easy as it looks. We believe that people in the East are willing to read an occasional paper on missionary subjects if it is well written, to the point, fresh and not too long. It must have something to say that has not been so often as to become stale. It is not so much the saying of something new as the saying of old things in a new way. Absolute originality is a thing unknown in these days. We consider that the Repository has shown a good taste in its Missionary utterances thus far.
*** Our attention has lately been called to a product of Korean soil which we believe will one day take a prominent place in the exports of the country. We refer to what the Koreans call Mo-si or grass-cloth. It is supposed to have originated among the Malays who call it ramie. It is a plant of the thistle family but without briers. The fibre is obtained from the inner layer of bark. For many decades attempts were made in the West to invent a way by which the fibre could be separated without leaving it rough and knotty and at last t has been accomplished by French experts. Clothing has been a universal necessity for some six thousand years or more and will doubtless continue to be and any people does well to foster the production of fibre producing plants. Korea seems specially suited for the raising of this plant and we hope that when the time comes for the Government to appoint a commission for the purpose of examining into the agricultural status of the country with a view to improvement of wasteland this promising vegetable will not be overlooked.
*** The Official Report on matters connected with the events of Oct. 8th and the Death of Her Majesty, a translation of which was printed by the Repository in its March issue, has been put into the Unmun for distrobution among the officials but there has been such a demand for it outside that it has been found necessary to reprint it. We canot admit the statement of the Japan Mail that everything was done that could be done to incriminate the Japanese. It was the facts that did it and not the court. The Gazette is tired of thequestion but we are also tired when we think of the Korean Government paying an indemnity over the dead body of its Queen. This truly fatigues us.
Kwak ChongWun, of Seoul, owns some rice fields inYong Tam district and last year he gathered 600 bags of rice from them. The Magistrate seized it immediately. Kwak complained to the Home Department and an order was issued to the magistrate to return the grain to the owner. The Magistrate was highly indignant at Kwak for daring to make a complaint to the Department. He however disgorged 200 ofthe sacks, keeping 400 back. We advise Mr. Kwak to make two more complaints and get the rest of his rice.
We learn from several sources that all edicts and laws have been copied andsent to the different districts throughout the country, but the Magistrates do not proclaim them to the people. Hence the people do not learn the real intentions and wishes of His Majesty and the government. We hope the Home Department will find some way of informing the people in the country of the actual condition of the government and that the new laws and edicts may reach even the most distant villages.
The police arrested and turned over the the War Office three soldiers who were found gambling outside the South Gate.
Yi Chang Sik of Sa Dong came home on Monday night in a drunken condition. His wife scolded him for his disorderly conduct and put him to bed. At midnight a policeman passing his house heard a peculiar noise or grunt in the room near the street. The policeman entered the house and made investigation of the matter and found that the drunken man had got up from bed and gone into the room near the street where he had hanged himself from a beam. The man was soon untied by the policeman and restored to consciousness. The man’s wife was in her room and could not get out as the door was locked outside evidently by her husband lest she might come to his rescue.
On Tuesday evening Policeman Kim Tal Ryong while off duty went to call on a friend outside the little West gate with three other friends. While he was in the house the three other friends were waiting outside. As Kim did not come out for some time there three men looked in at the gate to see what was the matter. All of a sudden a soldier with a crowd of men pitched into the three policeman and beat them unmercifully on the ground that they had looked into a private house. The Police Department reported the case to the War Office and the soldier was promptly discharged.
The Japan Mail thinks that the Independent does not exercise enough care in choice of its news taken from Japanese papers. It refers to a secret treaty between Japan and Russia regarding Korea. The fact is we find in the April 24 issue of the Kobe Chronicle and the may 5th issue of the Herald the same statements as taken from Japanese papers. We would print to the fact that none of the Japanese papers contain reliable news from Korea except now and than an item which is better obtained in Tokyo than in Seoul and it is a choice of evisls either way. (The Independent later prives to be correct when Russia reveals most of the contents on the secret treaty a year later–tom)
From the 5th of June the Communication Bureau will establish a postal system to Hai Ju, Hong Ju, Chun Chon, Ham Heung and Wonsan districts. The mail carriers will leave Seoul every day.
We reported in a previous issue the case of So Yung Sik, formerly a Chusa in the Home Department, who issued a false order exemting the tax on a Salt manufactory. So has been discharged by the Department and fined $22.40.
The students of the government schools will have a picnic outside the East gate today. They will have some athletic excercises and other sports.
The Seoul court has posted a notice in conspicuous places in the city, regarding criminal law. Itis hoped this will tendto lesson the number of offenders.
Pak Pang Kil of Seoul is a well known character here as a bunco-steerer. He was in prison forsome months on account of some grave offense, but was released after the edict of general amnesty on February 11th. Lately he passed himself off as a chusa in the Foreign Office, also he claimed to know every high official in the Government. He claimed to have the power of appointing policemen through his influence with the high officials, buthe must be paid at least eight dollars to secure the appointment. Several men paid him the desired amount hoping to get appointed. He collected $126 from them. The police arrested him yesterday and he is in jail awaiting trial. (The term bunco, or bunko, steerer is used to refer to a con-artist– tom)
“There is a tradition in Japan, among some of the old residents, that Japan possesses an admirable climate,” remarks ‘Lookers-on’ in the Gazette. “I have been in Japan some years now, and have never known two years alike. The weather has been as capricious as a Japanese Cabinet and as uncertain as the railway service.”
According to the Yusin Nippo, a telegram has it that the Chinese Government is negotiating another foreing loan– this time for 50,000,000 teals — and that the Emperor has sanctioned it.
The China Gazette says– It is reported on apparently good authority that the entire Russian fleet has been ordered to assemle at Chefoo to be ready to take over Port Arthur as soon as Li Hung Chang has signed certain documents in Russia.
Sunday Morning– Mamma: “Now, Johnny, I want you to tel me where you were yesterday afternoon. Your shoes are in a terrible condition, and your trouse are mud up to the waistband.” Johnny: “Didn’t you tell me, mamma, that I should not talk about weekday matters on the Sabbath?”– Boston Transcript.
17th April 2012
It seems like a flood of new movies are listed as opening in theaters this coming Thursday. However, among them there are only 2 Korean films. Both are smaller releases and one is a documentary so neither is likely to have a strong impact on the box office charts. The first trailer below is from the film DUET directed by Lee Sang-bin and starring Ko Ah-seong with James Page.
The documentary is FOREST OF TIME directed by one of my favorite directors Song Il-gon. It stars Park Yong-woo and Rina Takagi.
Other movies opening are: The Ides of March (us), Picture Me: A Model’s Diary (us), Crazy Horse (us), The Box (us), Gods Own Child (in), The Robot (in), Dangerous Experience (jp), Broken Blade (jp), Once In A Blue Moon (jp), Jump Ashin! (taiwan), Les Regrets (fr), and Heartbreaker (fr)