Seen in Jeonju

Archive for October, 2012

Daughter of Fire <1983>

28th October 2012

Daughter of Fire <1983>– Director: Im Kwon-taek. Starring Park Geun-hyeong <as Hae-joon>, Bang Hee <Yong-nyeo>, and Kim Hee-ra <as Hwa-ryong>.  Running Time: 108 minutes. Release Date: November 5, 1983>

daughter of fireHae-joon’s life seems to be crumbling around him. The pressures he feels from day-to-day life are compounded because his daughter is seriously ill and in some sort of unresponsive trance. His wife and mother-in-law are extremely religious and are attempting to heal the girl via prayer and they resent that Hae-joon is not joining in on their efforts. And then there are the nightmares. Hae-joon is unable to sleep as he is haunted by images of his mother and the sounds he associates most with her– the sound of the drums and chanting that goes along with traditional exorcisms. It seems Hae-joon’s mother was a shaman and was happiest when performing the rites used to appease spirits. Talking about this situation with a psychologist, Hae-joon is barely able to discuss his mother without his stomach churning and nearly vomiting. This leads to the him to understand that he has to return to his roots in South Jeolla Province to find the source of these feelings. He begins his search with Hwa-ryong, the one-eyed woodcutter who, despite his abuses to the young Hae-joon and Yong-nyeo, was the closest thing the young man had to a father. The old man begins his story from the point he knew it and tells of how he became infuriated when Yong-nyeo was performing a ceremony to put at rest those souls lost at sea. Despite being raped by him, Yong-nyeo appears to forgive Hwa-ryong and stays with him however, she had apparently lost part of her sanity and kept a violent rage bottled up inside. Eventually she had killed herself by walking into a fire. Hwa-ryong, and several other men that Hae-joon interviews, including one that is most likely his father, justify there horrendous treatment of Yong-nyeo as the only method they could think of to save her from herself. She needed saving because in the ’60s, shamanism had been made illegal by the government. To practice it was to risk arrest.

Watching a shamanistic ceremony heralding the annual parting of the sea at Jindo, Hae-joon has an insight regarding his nightmares when he views a group of Christians competing for attention and praising God for the miracle of the tides. Hae-joon realizes that he has always been happiest when watching the ancient Muist practices and feeling the freedom of their dance. He realizes he has been lost since abandoning his own belief system in favor of what was foisted upon him. Returning home, he snatches his daughter away from a particularly intense ‘healing’ prayer service that involved the laying of hands -much to his wife’s embarrassment and dismay. When he confesses to his prim wife that his mother had been a practicing shaman, his candor is met with a slap across the face. Leaving his home, Hae-joon finds his way to a local shrine where a woman calling him ‘my son’ welcomes him with open arms back into the fold.

Shamanism, or Muism, is the earliest form of religion in Korea. It continued when Buddhism and Confusionsim were introduced into the country.  Christian missionaries succeeded in surpressing it, but were never able to do away with it completely and many  Christian families continue to perform rites to their ancestors upon the anniversary of their deaths or by their tombs at major holidays. In the late 1890’s, the mayor of Seoul, a confirmed Progressive, made shamanism illegal and began having the police round up the practioners, arrest them and destroy their shrines and the images of the gods and spirits. The shamans fought back by hanging pictures of old kings with their gods and, as it was illegal to desecrate the image of a king, policemen also found themselves facing arrest for following orders. The Muists were not so successful in fighting back when Christianity gained a much stronger foothold in the ’60s and certain ceremonies were made illegal. The government wanted to hide many traditional ’superstitions’ from the eyes of foreigners and there were many movies made at this time where the village shaman is depicted as an vestige of the past preventing development and growth such as Kim Ki-young’s excellent film Goryeojang in 1963.  By the ’70s however, shamanistic practices made a comeback and today there are several hundred recognized shrines in Seoul.  Here in the country there are even more..I live within a stone’s throw of two or three mudang’s homes–recognizable by red flags held high on bamboo posts.  There is a television show on cable TV called The Exorcist where a mudang visits people to rid them of evil spirits in their home.. <I do not watch that show after a couple of viewings.. just like shows I’ve seen in the USA like Ghost Labs or Ghost Hunters, they are clearly faked>

However, Hae-joon is not the son of a mudang — a shaman who is possessed by a god to perform healings, exorcisms or make predictions. Instead, his mother was a Seseummu, and given the region and the music with the ceremonies, probably a dangol.  s5When characteristic of a seseummu is that it is an inherited position. Seseummu were not generally possessed by gods and ghosts in the ceremonies. Instead they summoned the gods through song and dance and their assistant would become possessed so the spirit could communicate with the masses.  We see this difference in the first ceremony we witness in the movie– the first woman is a mudang trying to make the spirit possess her. Yong-nyeo then steps in to assist by performing her dance for the spirit. However, this is not just trivia. It explains Hae-joon’s disturbing visions which is a symptom of the illness that often precedes becoming a full-fledged shaman. Normally, shamans are women but men can also become shamans.  It also explains clearly Hae-joon’s daughter illness.  She is undergoing ‘Shinbyeong’ in which her body is prepared by the gods or spirits.  It is a condition that can last a decade or more. From the premise and stance of the movie, we can guess that all the laying of hands and faith healers Hae-joon’s wife can summon will have absolutely no effect on the afflicted child until she can embrace her destiny.

The movie is quite clear in its position of calling for a return, or at least acceptance, of the traditional practices. This is obvious by the detail and care in filming the beauty of the traditional ceremonies and costumes. And the bright colors and joy of those costumes and songs are contrasted sharply the somber clothes, faces and hymns of the Christians. Hae-joon’s wife and inlaws are joyless, narrow-minded and unforgiving. The Christian protestors are drab and dull in comparison to the events around them. And the laying of hands during the faith healing is strongly equated with fakery and showmanship and Hae-joon’s comes to believe it is a false religion, unsuitable for the mental health of Korea. It is no accident that he at first consults a psychologist when he is undergoing his visions.  It was predicted by Christians and intellectual writers in the early ’80s that psychology would come to explain much of the phenomenon formerly attributed to ghosts and spirits.

The movie itself takes work to get through. There is a lot of talking and very little action. Even the discussed self-immolation of Yong-nyeo is not depicted. But it does present an interesting arguement that would have been new at the time this film was made and flew in the face of decades of teaching and conditioning.  Unfortunately, this movie is not available on DVD. I was able to see it on Hana TV. With the interest in Im Kwon-taek, however, it does have a better possibility than many older films of being released on DVD.

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New DVDs Oct 28-Nov. 3, 2012

27th October 2012

no dvd

Well, the above image is not 100% true.  There is one film being released on November 1, but its release date was pushed back from last week.  You can see the information about All About My Wife by scrolling down to last week’s listings..

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Trailers for Korean Films opening October 25, 2012

25th October 2012

There will be five new Korean films opening on screens across the nation today. Here is a sneak peak into the choices of films we can pick from—

ALMOST CHE– a comedy directed by Yook Sang-hyo and starring KIm In-gwon and Yoo Da-in.

INTACT CITY– a mystery/thriller directed by Kim Moon-heum and starring Jo Seong-ha and Kim Seok-hoon.

HOUSE WITH A VIEW– is a sex-comedy directed by Lee Soo-sang and starring Kwak Hyeon-hwa and Ha Na-kyeong

BARBIE– a drama starring Lee Cheon-hee and Kim Sae-ron, directed by Lee Sang-woo. This trailer has English subtitles…

Finally there is OPEN TO YOU– a horror film directed by In Jin-mi and starring Lee Yool-ri and Park Hye-rin done in documentary style..

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Korean Film on DVD: Oct 21-27, 2012

20th October 2012

M2012101743990Although this is by no means a new movie and has been released several times before on DVD, a new version of BEAT will be available this week.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean, English, and Japanese/ Rating: for mature audiences/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: 2.0 surround sound/ Running Time: 115 minutes/ Recommended Retail Price: 17,600  KRW/ Available: October 23

T2012090743382ARCHITECTURE 101– Directed by Lee Yong-joo and starring Uhm Tae-woong and Han Ga-in. Number of discs: 2+ a 329 page continuity book / Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 12+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 117 minutes + 3 hours of extras/ Recommended Retail Price: 27,500 KRW/ Available: October 25.





T2012101843872ALL ABOUT MY WIFE– directed by Min Gyu-dong, starring Im Soo-jeong and M2012101843989Lee Seon-gyun.  Number of discs: 3/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 116 minutes + extras on second disc and OST on the third disc/ Recommended Retail Price: 29,700 KRW/ Available: October 25.

DERANGED– Directed by Park Jeong-woo. Starring Kim Myeong-min and Moon Jeong-hee. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 109 minutes/ Recommended Retail Price: 25,300 KRW/ Available: October 25.

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The Female Boss <1959>

20th October 2012

The Female Boss <1959>– Director: Han Hyeong-mo.  Starring: Jo Mi-ryeong <Joanna Shin>, Lee Soo-ryeon <Kim Yong-ho> and Yoon In-ja <Chief Editor Lim>.  DVD Running Time: 105 minutes.  Released in Theaters: unknown

20121014_195036Last week, when I reviewed the movie If, I made reference to The Female Boss when comparing when comparing what I felt was an archaic theme in the newer of the two movies. However, after watching The Female Boss after several years of not seeing it, my opinion has changed and this romantic comedy from the 1950’s fares much better than I originally thought and it is unfair to compare If with it. Oh, it does have its moments of sexism by both genders, but these are balanced with a casual sexual equality that that permeates the film. 

The movie begins with a brief and hostile encounter between a man and a woman from very different social classes.  The man is clearly from the working class– or he would be except,as we learn a few moments after the encounter, he is currently unemployed.  The woman is obviously wealthy from the way she is dressed and manner of speaking. She has an English name, Joanna, addresses others with English titles of Mr. Kim or Miss Jang, and feeds her dog Fig Newtons.  This surprised me.. I have been in Korea for 18 years now and I have never seen Fig Newtons in the stores around here, but apparently they were available in the late 50s… now I want a fig cookie…

Anyway, the fact that her dog is snacking on such ‘expensive Western cookies that most people can’t afford’–as the angry Yong-ho puts it– she is hogging the public phone with her business calls. The infuriated Yong-ho takes his frustrations out on Mario the dog by kicking him!!  The immediately made me dislike him immensely and, what is worse, he is unrepentant. “Why shouldn’t I kick a puppy?” he asks using the above defense that it is eating better than most people. I am not alone in disliking Yong-ho. Joanna shares the sentiment but, when he comes for a job interview for her magazine Modern Woman, she hires him out of spite in order to take revenge on him. At one point, she yells at him for two-hours straight which he is forced to take because, as Yong-ho states, ‘it is her right as the boss.’ 

As is required in a romantic comedy, two people who hate each other are destined to fall in love. However, Yong-ho is not without rivals for the hand of Joanna as Mr Oh has his sights set on her. Oh is older, foolish, and very wealthy. Joanna has been stringing him along because of the potential help he can be to her magazine. She has successfully published eight issues of Modern Woman, but the latest issue is three months late because she does not have the money to afford the paper she needs to print on.  Mr. Oh offers her a solution, but she carefully and craftily manages to secure the paper from him with a promise of ‘no strings attached.’  It is clear that Oh is besotted with her and hardly minds the fact that she is using him and is disappointed when she announces that she does not need his help in paying for the paper when her uncle comes through on an agreement she made with him.  Her uncle had asked to borrow Yong-ho for a company basketball game– a part of the movie that seemed endless to me as I hate basketball and almost every basketball movie I have seen seems to end with a three-point shot as the clock runs out.

Joanna and Yong-ho have grown closer over time but their happy ending is delayed as Yong-ho wrestles with the problem of her being his boss–not because she is a woman, but because her behaviour of late has been unbecoming of a company chairperson. However, that is a short-lived glitch and the two are happily married. Joanna chooses to retire and stay home while Yong-ho becomes director of the company.  What is interesting here is that retiring from publishing is Joanna’s choice unlike in If where Ha-yeong seems to be bullied into giving into Seon-woo.  This point that Joanna is still equal is underscored by a minor character named Miss Jang. 

KR_Female_Boss,_A_still03While working in the company under Joanna Shin, Miss Jang began secretly dating photographer Mr. Yang. The company at that time had very strict ‘anti-dating’ policies– Mr Kim is even called on the carpet at one point when it was suspected he was dating a woman who had no connection to the company or publishing at all.  Jang becomes pregnant is offers her resignation which Joanna accepts. However, she also orders Yang to resign as well as he broke the n0-dating rule and it would be unfair if Jang bore the full brunt of the punishment on her own when two people were involved. We learn at a later point that Jang and Yang are married. Still later, after Kim Yong-ho has taken over management of Modern Woman, we see that Mrs Jang has been promoted to the number-2 position in the company. Her husband, still a photographer, seems to be taking the lead role in raising their baby when he delivers baby photos to the office. However, it is shown that they are equal partners in their relationship as Yang makes plans to travel down to Masan for a few days with Kim.  The sign hanging over Mr Kim’s desk, ‘Men are Superior to Women’ is hung there merely for comedic effect as it replaces the earlier sign which claimed ‘Women are Superior to Men.’  It does not reflect the facts shown nor the theme of the movie which would be that both sexes are equal.

Was this a reflection of society at the time? From the notes I have read regarding women in Korea in the 1950s, it was. Between the end of the Korean War and the military government of the sixties, women did gain ground in society . In ‘56 and article written by Ma Hae-song was published declaring that the Era of Women’s Liberation was at hand because ‘thanks to the democratic world, women can be liberated from age-old restrictions and be free. Men and women are equal.”  This is a sentiment that would rarely be seen shown seriously in Korean movies of the succeeding decade, although it would become a favorite topic of the movies of the 90s and in throwbacks like If.

Another thing I found interesting in this story was what happened with Interviewee Number 2–a thing that could never have happened if this film was made just two years later.  Interviewee Number 2 is a proud patriot who is made the butt of an extended joke in the film. His extreme nationalism is laughed at by all the workers in the office who hear him–and made to look  intentionally foolish by the camera– as he calls upon all young people to rise up and fight the communists. Although Joanna keeps cutting him off and trying to get the interview back on track, this passionate young man cannot keep quiet about the necessity to battle communism.  Had this movie been made later, the intentionally ridiculous Interviewee Number 2 would have been the hero of the story and no one, neither characters in the film nor the audience watching, would have laughed at him publicly.

I actually found a lot to like about this film and enjoyed it very much. The Female Boss is on DVD with English subtitles as part of the Romantic Comedy Collection of the 1950s box set.

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Trailers for Korean films opening Oct. 18

17th October 2012

There is one Korean movie and six Korean-made documentaries opening this weekend. We’ll start with the movie. It is a mystery directed by Bang Eun-jin entitled Perfect Number. The movie stars Ryu Seung-beom and Lee Yo-won.

The first of the documentaries is Mac Korea featuring President Lee Myeong-bak and directed by Kim Hyeong-ryeol.

And you know that its an election year when we have a second movie featuring President Lee called Rememberce of MB. At least this one seems to match my own views on the subject…

Next we have a nature documentary of a type of bird that flies between New Zealand and Alaska. The movie is called The Great Flight.

If someone were to twist my arm and say that I had to see one of these documentaries this weekend, then I would choose this next one..Bittersweet Joke. Director Baek Yeon-ah looks at the lives of a handful of unwed mothers and their children. Actually, no one would have to twist my arm– this one looks good.

The final documentary is a 3D concert from the group INFINITE called INFINITE Concert Second Invasion Evolution The Movie 3D.

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Korean movies on DVD: Oct 14-20

14th October 2012

This week there are three movies being released on DVD for the first time. However, the first on this list is not really a Korean film. It M2012100943870is included here because it is an omnibus that contains a short film by director Bong Joon-ho  called Shaking Tokyo.  The omnibus is entitled TokyoNumber of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 112 minutes/ Recommended Retail Price: 9,900 KRW/ Available: October 14.

T2012092543755Don’t Click– Directed by Kim Tae-kyeong, starring Park Bo-yeong and Joo Won.  Number of Discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dollby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 93 minutes plus 40 minutes of extras/ Recommended Retail Price: 23,100 KRW/ Available: October 17.

M2012100543855Finally we have Millionaire On The Run which was directed by Kim Ik-ro and stars Park Jin-yeong and Jo Seong-ha.  Number of Discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital  2.1/ Running Time: 107 minutes/ Available: October 18

Two of these three, I would like to I have absolutely no interest as I see it as a vanity piece for a certain former singer/music producer…

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If <2000>

13th October 2012

If <2000>– Director: Han Deok-jeon, Starring: Lee Hye-yeong <as Ha-young> , Yoo Tae-woong <as Seon-woo> and Kim Ui-seong <as Dr. Park> . DVD Running Time: 92 minutes. Released in Theaters: June 24, 2000.

107490Dr. Lee Ha-young is a leading urologist and a modern woman with ideas that society deems radical. She strongly believes that men are near obsolete and sets out to prove by example that an independent woman can live a fulfilling and happy life without the need of a husband. However, she dreams each night of being a mother and clearly loves children. Wanting a baby of her own desperately, Ha-young is inspired by a trend reported in Japan where a growing number of women are opting to become single mothers through artificial insemination. Coincidently, reporter Shin Seon-woo has been tasked by his editor to turn in an article denouncing artificial insemination as a danger to society and he is ordered to get the opinion of Dr. Park, a respected obstetrician.  The good doctor flatly refuses to assist in writing the article, but recommends Dr. Lee instead for, as he states, “she has far more expertise in this area.” Shin does as instructed, although he makes it clear from the start that he does not respect the doctor and goes so far as to substantially alter the article she submits in order to get it to match his own ideas which are namely that career women avoid marriage and are therefore usable as sex objects for males. Part of his ideas may have been formed by his co-worker Mi-ra, journalist by day- improbably clad leather lover by night- whom Seon-woo has been sleeping with on and off for a while.

In retaliation for Shin having altered Ha-young article, Ha-young and Dr. Park pretend to perform a phoney vasectomy on the reporter in which they give him an injection of viagra instead of a pain-killer.  Rather than either suing or simply letting it go, Shin finds a moment where he thinks he can get revenge on Dr Lee by forcing her onto a roller coaster that she is clearly reluctant to ride when he runs into her by chance at the Daejeon Expo. This proves to be a bad idea due to her pregnancy.  Learning of her condition, Shin is initially scornful and considers Ha-young a hypocrite and worse until he realizes that their is no father. His feelings soften towards her but she now despises him. They seperate for a good six months until Ha-young is nearing the end of her pregnancy. She is beginning to feel that there is something missing in her life and the pair iron out their differences just in time for Ha-young to go into labor. During subsequent events..getting to the hospital, labor, and an emergency blood transfusion– shows Ha-young that she needs someone in her life she can rely on. Man, woman and child then settle into a picture-perfect life in the quiet of the countryside while Christmas snow swirls outside there windows and the happy, albiet disembodied, laughter of a baby is heard.

107486Wow. This morale of this film felt quite archaic to me– like a Korean film right out of the 1950’s. Next time I will review  A Female Boss <1959>, where a handsome, young, new employee teaches a magazine owner her place in society and I think we will find the theme of the two films, although forty years apart, are quite similar. The theme of If is that Woman needs a Man and Motherhood is the ultimate and perfect career for every woman. A woman without these, according to the movie, is empty and the film gives us numerous examples of Ha-young feeling incomplete without a husband by her side– not to mention her constantly pregnant best friend forces the issue just about everytime the pair meets. However, the movie does go a step further than many its 1950’s predecessors do.  It lets us know that the same applies to men.  After realizing his love for Ha-young, and breaking up with his insatiable girlfriend, Shin Seon-woo is at a complete lost. Without being able to express his love and fulfill his destiny as Ha-young’s husband, Shin is a mess and spends most of his nights drinking despondently until he is finally able to confront Ha-young and work things out.  The whole ‘babies make for a perfect life’ motif is evident in other imagery as well such as the halo-like making the doctor seem like a saint performing a miracle during the birth of Ha-young’s son <pictured right> or the smiling, computer graphic  fetus imitating its mother’s actions in utero while Ha-young is swimming in a pool at the hospital.. and there are many, many more.

But while the film may differ slightly from the older movies by stating man needs a woman as much as woman needs a man, it is not so fair minded in how it views sexual freedom Despite all the talk, jokes and images of sex in the film, this screenplay is very conservative. When Shin Seon-woo first learns that Ha-young is pregnant, his normally good looking features turn into a frightful sneer as he grumbles that ‘they are all the same.’  Even though he is allowed to frequently meet women, apparently, in his mind, Ha-young is not. Although she is ‘redeemed’ in his eyes when he learns that no man was involved..except from afar.. in the making of her baby, one has to wonder how he justifies his double-standards. Of course, his girlfriend/co-worker is shown not to be the marrying kind not only from her actions and her attire, but she is seen playing pool with a foreigner. There are other movies earlier than this that I can think of where association with a foreigner led to assumptions about character and sexual activity– for example, in The One Love from 1980, the lead couple break up because of a photo of the woman’s mother standing with a foreigner turns up.  Although this does not always apply today, in 2000 it did–especially in a film like this that seemed to be resisting trends and appeared determined to espouse ‘ideals’ of earlier decades.

There are quite a few graphic and entirely unnecessary aspects in this film such as extreme close ups of an actual circumcision and another of a real child birth. These go along with the unneeded sexual imagery like the animated flowers and sperm scene at the beginning of the movie.  Despite these and the fact that I disagreed with this film on so many levels, It is watchable if you are not expecting much more than a traditional K-drama which totes the line that marriage and family are the be-all and end-all in life.  That is not to say that  I recommend you run out and buy the DVD <as I did>. Save your money for any number of better films.

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Trailers of Movies released Oct. 11

11th October 2012

This week there are two movies Korean movies being released this week.

This first trailer is for Company Man directed by Im Sang-yoon and starring So Ji-seob and Lee Mi-yeon.

The second is Star, starring singer Hwan Hee and Kim Soo-yeon. It is directed by Han Sang-hee and looks, to me, exactly like any number of Korean television dramas. In fact, if it is not turned into a 14-part drama some time next year, I will be very surprised… oh, there is an ad at the beginning of the trailer that can be skipped after a few seconds.

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Vanishing Twin <2000>

7th October 2012

Vanishing Twin <2000>– Directed by Yoon Tae-yong. Starring Ji Soo-won <as Yoo-jin>, Ku Pil-woo <as Art Lover> and Kim Myeng-s00 <as Jin-ho>.  Running Time: 94 minutes. Release date: September 23, 2000.


While everyone else is enjoying the Busan Film Festival, I decided to take what little free time I had this weekend and watch a couple of DVDs that I hadn’t gotten to before. The first was Iri from 2006, but I was so disappointed with that film that I decided to put off writing about it. The other film I watched was Vanishing Twin, which was also a bad choice..but not as bad as Iri.. Maybe I will write about that film later on but I have already mercifully forgotten most of it so it will have to wait until I can view it again..and that won’t be for a while. 

Vanishing Twin starts off with an interesting premise. Yoo-jin has been having nightmares recently involving a younger version of herself, the greenhouse their mother kept, a mewing cat and her sister..apparently hanged by an umbilical cord.  When she awakes, Yoo-jin is reminded that her sister, Seung-jin, is coming from the USA for a visit and this triggers memories of their childhood together. The pretty Seung-jin, an artist, and had asked Yoo-jin to pose nude so she could sketch her and Yoo-jin readily agreed. It was hard to say no to her charasmatic sister. However, Yoo-jin’s brother-in-law, Jin-ho, arrives at Yoo-jin’s house alone and announces that Seung-jin is dead. Needless to say, Yoo-jin is shocked and this leads her to look into her sister’s life but, along the way, Yoo-jin learns more about herself and dredges up memories and feelings that she had apparently surpressed over the years.

One set of these memories and feelings revolves around Jin-ho. Through his dreams, we learn that Seung-jin had hung herself. However, although he is in mourning, Jin-ho does not hesitate to express his feelings for Yoo-jin in an awkward moment where Yoo-jin is caught trying on her dead sister’s clothes. Jin-ho nearly forces himself on the startled Yoo-jin who flees the house and returns to her own home. Shortly thereafter, her friend is telling a Native American myth in exactly the same way that her sister used to tell it. She learns that her friend heard it from a man identified by his cyber ID of ‘Art Lover.’  Yoo-jin logs onto the chat room that she is told Art Lover frequents and introduces herself to him arranging a time and place for the two of them to meet so she can learn more about Seung-jin’s life.  Art Lover plays coy with the information but their meeting is made more insteresting when police interrupt and attempt to arrest the mysterious man. The pair escape and hide in an abandoned warehouse in a run down part of town. The close quarters of their hiding place leads Yoo-jin in the following to days to fantasize about what could have happened instead of the reality where they parted ways.

370It is not long before the two meet again and Yoo-jin tries to force the information out of him. There is definitely sexual tension underscoring their relationship, however Yoo-jin fails to get anything more than a glass of wine and a cookie out of the meeting. On her way home, she witnesses her husband arguing with a woman who is revealed in the course of the conversation to be his mistress. When she confronts him with this, he becomes furious and calls her a hypocrite.  Although he is completely unaware of Art Lover, he pulls from the past and mentions how much Jin-ho is in love with her. Denying it at first, Yoo-jin later remembers a time when she and Jin-ho had sex in her mother’s greenhouse. Yes, it was before she was married..but her sister was engaged to Jin-ho at the time and, to make matters worse, Yoo-jin knows that her sister was watching at the time and looks right at her during intercourse. Realizing this about herself frees Yoo-jin of the constraits she had placed upon herself. She sleeps with Art Lover in her store, leaving Jin-ho outside the locked door waiting for the appointment he had with her. She now feels nothing but disdain for her husband and the future of their marriage does not look good, nor does her relationship with her brother-in-law. It also does not seem as if she will be meeting Art Lover again. Instead, Yoo-jin has awakened as an independent, sexual being free to love as she wishes.

Well.. that is as much meaning as I could ascribe to the film. In actuality, the screenplay seems little more than a ninety minute excuse to build up to the sex scene between the two leads..with several minor sex scenes thrown in.  Th title Vanishing Twin, which is from the medical phenomenon where one fetus in a pair of twins disappears in the first trimester of pregnancy–either reabsorbed, miscarried or absorbed by the stronger twin,  is probably the best way to describe what happens to the story of Seung-jin as her sister’s self-discovery gradually, but completely comes to dominate the film. Everyone forgets about Seung-jin…

Vanishing Twin is available on DVD. My copy is from CineLine and does not contain English subtitles..but that is not a big loss. I cannot recommend this movie at all.

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