Seen in Jeonju

Archive for August, 2012

Trailers for new Korean movies in theaters August 9th.

6th August 2012

We have three Korean movies opening this coming week– two comedies in historical settings and one documentary about penguins.  Let’s start with the comedies.

Tears in the Antarctic was made by the same directors of the excellent Tears in the Amazon, Kim Jin-man and Kim Je-yeong.

Next we have a comedy that was given a test release this past weekend and wound up appearing in the top ten at the box office. I Am The King is directed by Jang Gyu-seong and stars Joo Jin-hoon and Baek Yoon-shik.

And finally we have The Grand Heist starring Cha Tae-hyeon and Oh Ji-ho, directed by Kim Joo-hoon

Other movies opening this week include LA, I Hate You (us), Unrest (us), American Reunion (us), Stake Land (us), Last Caller (puetro rico), Animals United (de), Last Circus (es), If You Die, I’ll Kill You (fr), Sister (fr), and Love (tw)

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Moodori (2006)

6th August 2012

79596Sometimes I buy movies for the very reason that I know nothing about them.  Moodori is one of those films. I knew the basic outline of the plot but I really knew nothing else about it. And apparently, when the DVD arrived, I simply filed it alphabetically and never thought about it again until the other day when I was browsing through the shelves wondering what to watch and it caught my eye…barely.  I absolutely hate the DVD cover and the posters made to promote the film. They seem to eager to depict more of the slapstick side of the film which a) I could have done without and b) if you were going into this expecting pure comedy, you would be sorely disappointed.  I think those in charge of marketting would have done themselves better by advertising the movie as a black comedy along the lines of A Quiet Family.. (and have the film’ s editor leave some of the more base comic scenes on the cutting room floor)

I actually found the situation the film sets up rather interesting. Basically, there is a remote village at the base of a mountain whose north face is a sheer cliff.  The area is said to be haunted and looking over the ledge at the mists below can “make even the sane ones want to jump.”  Because of this, the area has become a destination of poor despondent souls seeking to leave this wordly coil behind.  However, when one of the elderly residents of this small village receives money from a mourning father as both a thank you for finding his son’s body and suicide note to him and as an apology for ‘disturbing the quiet of this peaceful village’ a mercenary streak emerges among the three most prominent members of the community.  They come up with a plan to fleece the suicidal visitors who come to the village for as much as they can get before their lives are ended by building an inn and a small mart where they can charge pretty much whatever they want.  At some point, they start taking things a step further by stripping some of the more valuable personal items from the bodies such as bejeweled hair clips and wondering if one not-yet-dead guest has gold teeth.  There actions and attitudes become increasingly repugnant until ironic tragedy strikes. Frankly, I was expecting some sort of ironic tragedy to make an appearance as the screenplay was clearly building towards it, but even I was caught offguard at the nature of the event that forces everyone to reconsider what they are doing.

Complications occur with the presence of an online suicide club that has made its way to the mountain. Almost cultlike, they have a series of rules they feel they must follow in order to correctly kill themselves and achieve happiness in the next world. And unknown to everyone, a down-and-out reporter has infiltrated the group thinking that she is on the story of the decade.  She is more than happy to play at being one of them but when the time comes for them to kill themselves en masse, she has to frantically come up with ways to keep them all –and especially herself– alive.

While most of the movie was not bad, and some of it had quite a bit of potential as a dark comedy, the reporter and her producer are where the film fails. Many of their interactions take the form of that lowest form of comedy–bathroom humor.  In particular the farsical PD spends all but his first and last scenes on the toilet talking to the reporter with a strained grimace across his face and the conversations punctuate by farts.  Really not at all my style.. and it adds absolutely nothing to the film.  The PD, beyond his first appearance does not serve a function in the film at all except for cheap ‘laughs’–if anyone actually laughs at this kind of humor.

What really surprised me was that this reporter whom I thought was chewing up every scene she appears in with her overacting, was none other than Seo Yeong-hee.  Ms Seo played the memorable murderess in the excellent film Bedevilled a few years ago. I can say with confidence that comedy is NOT her forte, however she seems to have made several attempts at it.  Looking at her filmography, I see she has appeared in movies such as Liar, Mapado, and Fortune Salon.  Compare those films with other, non-comic films she has  appeared in such as Chaser, To Sir With Love and Bedevilled and..well.. there is no comparison. So please, Ms Seo, don’t make any more comedies…

Moodori is available on DVD with English subtitles.. If you can get it from the discount bin, I recommend picking it up… but only from the discount bin..

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Korean Box Office: August 3-5

6th August 2012


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New DVDs: August 5-11

5th August 2012

M2012072443185There is just one Korean movie being released on DVD this week– Doomsday Book, a science fiction ombibus by directors Kim Ji-woon and Im Pil-seong.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 2.35: 1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 113 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available from August 8

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The Independent: Tuesday, July 7, 1896

1st August 2012

Continuing with my project of retyping the issues of Korea’s first English-language newspaper, The Independent, this week features the next edition, vol. 1 no. 40 from Tuesday, July 7nd, 1896.<<REMINDER: The Independent was written over 100 years ago and the opinions expressed within DO NOT reflect my own . –tom>>  In this issue:  A report of the Fourth of July celebrations in Seoul, the rivalry between the Supreme Court and the Chief of Police continues and a child trafficking ring is exposed.



The weather seldom favors Yankee patriotism on the fourth of July as it did last Saturday. A clear sky, a gentle breeze and balmy air all helped to make it a perfect holiday.  An airy canopy, kindly lent for the occasion by the War Department, broke the force of the sun’s rays while numerous policemen kept back a surging crowd of Koreans who had never before beheld just such a concourse.  The exercises opened with a piano overture followed by prayer and a few remakrs by the Chariman.  After the singing of some of the national choruses the Declaration of Independence was read and then the speech-making commenced.  “The New South,” a subject pregnant with meaning and of lively interest to all true Americans, was the theme of the first speaker, who was given the arduous duty of doing justice to it in ten minutes.  In forceful language he told us that the New South was new agriculturally, educationally and above all industrially and showed by a novel but convincing argument that the possibility for this new and more glorious South was the abolition of slavery. It showed the South the real value of labor and made labor-saving machinery and methods imperative. It popularized education and saw the foundation of a thorough system of common schools. It compelled men to explore the mineral resources of the South and soon it was found that untold wealth was right at hand. Iron and coal lay side by side. This was the beginning of a commercial activity which is rapidly enriching the South.  They are beginning to manufacture their own cottonrather than send it all to the North or to England to be made up.  The speaker said that if fifty years ago there had been the same number of railroads connecting the North and South, the war would have been impossible, because there would have been the means of connecting the two sections and of giving them an intimate knowledge of each other that would have bread a fraternal spirit which would in turn have found some other solution of the difficulty besides the arbitrament of war.  Altogether it was a grand good speech and one that tended to make us all prouder of our land than ever before.

Next we had a speech on Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in the East, a stirring address, showing what Anglo-Saxon energy and devotion have done in bringing the truth to these peoples and emphasizing the fact that the missionary is here not only to preach to these people but still more to live before them, and that the range of his beneficent activity is as broad as the needs of mankind.  The forms of his service are manifold, but have beneath them all the Gospel of Christ which is the foundation and bulwark of Anglo-Saxon civilization. Then we listened to an oration by our Minister, in which the truth was forcibly enunciated that true patriotism is no narrow, self-centered sentiment, but a broad, generous influence which sees good in others as well as recognizing faults in one’s self and which is not puffed up, vaunteth not itself, doth not behave itself unseemly.  It was good, wholesome advice to all Americans especially to such as live in cosmopolitan places like Seoul.  The fact is one needs to get out of America and gets a bird’s eye view of her to learn her weak points as well as her strong ones. One of the things that this Fourth of July brings to be thankful for is the news that 30,000 more offices have been put under civil service regulations. This is applying medicine to the one sore spot in American politics, and we rejoice in it.

The celebration was attended by many of our friends of other nationalities who, we doubt not, rejoiced with us in the fact that the greatest experiment ever attempted in republican goverment is proving a success.

Brief Notice

WC Hillier, Esq, HBM Consul-General expects to spend the heated term in Chemulpo instead of going to Japan as it was reported.

The new Japanese Minister Hara was expected to arrive in Seoul yesterday from Chemulpo.

Mr Muhlensteth of the Royal Telegraph Office returned from his trip to Japan last Friday, and expects to commence his duty as Intructor and Manager of the office in a day or two.

The railroad contract between Seoul and Eui-Ju was signed by the Korean Government and the French Minister. The conditions of the contract are said to be similar to those of the Seoul-Chelmupo road.

The Governor of Song Do reports that 500 insurgents arrived at that place. The War Office dispatched one battalion to that place on Sunday last.

Four hundred insurgents entered Chul Won district on the 25th of June and carried away the Government revenue amounting to $126; $200 of a private individual; $152 from the hotel keeper; 3 oxen, 2 horses and 60 pairs of shoes. The people in that district were panic striken.

Eleven Japanese policemen went to Song Do last Saturday for the purpose of protecting their nationals in that place.

Son Suk Ku of Myo Dong drove out from his house a skick child of his servant fearing that the child had a contagious disease. The child died on the street. The police arrested Son for his cruel action.  This forcibly demonstrates the necessity of establishing a public hospital for the needy and homeless ones in Seoul.

There is a gang of men whose business is to entice the innocent female children of poor and ignorant classes and carry them away for immoral purposes.  The Independent received a number of letters from the parents of those unfortunate children complaining of the horrible business of these low and immoral characters.  We have no other power to stop it than bringing the matter before th public in hopes the authorities will take steps to prevent them from ruining these ignorant helpless creatures.

“I see there has been considerable discussion recently as to whether Shakespeare was a mason.”  “Well, I should think that we were justified by the reports that have come to us concerning him in believing that he often did the work of a mason.”  “How so?”  ” Why, all writers agree that he often went home with a brick in his hat.”  <I don’t understand this joke at all– confused tom>

On account of the quarrel between the Chief of Police and the ass’t Judge of the Supreme Court over their rank question the Supreme Court can not attend to the public business and the Court has been practically closed for two weeks.  It seems to us ludicrous that such a little insignificant matter as the rank question between two officials of the Government should block the routine business of the Supreme Court of the land.  We are told that there are over 30 cases accumlated in the Court and waiting for decisions, and several men are still in prison suffering the head and confinement on account of the quarrel.  We hope the higher tribune will see to the matter and let the machinery of the Government run smoothly.

The Governor of Eui Ju reports that a famrer named Kim Ye-Rem owed some money to his neighbor Kim Dal Ho.  The latter dunned him for the money and the farmer thought the best way to get out of the trouble was to kill himself. He committed suicide by hanging on a tree in back of his house. The two suns of the suicide considered the death of their father was due to his creditor, and they went to the creditor’s house, bound him with ropes and hung him on the same tree where their father met his self-inflicted death. The Governor had the culprits arrested and they will be punished according to the law of willful murder.

The King of Swaziland amuses himself by rifle practice, and the targets which he practises on are his servants. The other day he came down to his palace in Bremersdorp from the mountain and shot six servants with a Winchester repeater in cold blood, and says he was satisfied with his skill in using the weapon.

The Governor of Kong Ju reports that a thief named Kang Chun Sik dug open the grave of the mother of Song Kyeng In and cut off the head of the corpse. He put a notice on the grave saying that if Song Kyeng In wanted to recover the head of his mother he must bring $80 to a certain spot in the grove near by.  Song reported the case to the Governor and a squad of police was dispatched to the place named by the thief. The thief tried to run away when he saw the police approaching, but he was overtaken and put in jail.  The Governor requests the Dep’t to enlighten him under waht law he be charged and punished, as there is no precedent, and the law books do not mentions such cases. The Dep’t is considering the case at the present.

The Japanese population in Wonsan, at the end of April last was 1,298 including 802 males and 496 females living in 277 houses.

His Majesty, the Emperor of Germany, conferred the order of the Grand Cross of the Red Eagle on Viceroy Li Hung Chang. A similar honor was conferred upon Marshall Marquis Yamagata who arrived at Berlin about the same time as the Chinese Envoy.

Thourhg the efforts of M. Gerald, China has authorised French engineers to connect Lungchow with the Tongkin railway.

Queen Wilhelmina of Holland is reported to be betrothed to Prince Bernhard Henry of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in June. She is sixteen and the Prince is eighteen years old.

The Japanese Minister, Mr. Hara, has received the 3rd order of Merit and the middle cordon of the Rising Sun from the Emperor.

Several Democratic State conventions in the United States have declared in favor of a gold standard and a strong feeling is manifested in American business circles in the same direction.

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