Seen in Jeonju

Land of Scarecrows (2008)

6th November 2009

land of scarecrows“First the children will become sick. Then the hospitals will be overflowing with the dying. You should leave here now, ” intoned the old man.  No, he is not a prophet of doom stirring up fear of swine flu.  He is the homeless old man who pops up from time to time in the film Land of Scarecrows, rather dark movie with a ray of hope in an unexpected place from director No Kyeong-tae (Last Dining Table). 

The story focuses on three main characters struggling to find that hope in a land where the clams they find are rotting, insects appearing out of season and dying in mass, and something horrible is contaminating the water.  The first one we meet is Ji-yeong aka Ji-seok.  Ji-yeong is confused sexually. Born a woman, Ji-yeong is convinced that she is a man trapped in a woman’s body and believes her problems stems from growing up near a landfill which screwed up her hormones.  We meet her on her way to the Philippines where, in her Ji-seok persona, she is part of a ‘tour’ group selecting Filipina brides. Although she/he decides not to participate at the last minute,  she winds up meeting the second member of the cast.

Rain Lopez is a woman growing up in poverty in the Philippines. She picks through garbage to eke out a living while she holds on to her single dream.  She has been swept up by the romance and opulance of Korean dramas and dreams of marrying a sensative, handsome, wealthy Korean man.  She joins a company that arranges marriages and which promises her that she will “meet her Korean prince.”  Unfortunately, most of the candidates that come through fall far short of expectations.  When Ji-seok proves himself to be much more sensative than any of the men she met so far, knows that he is the man for her and takes steps to join him in the squalid little home.

If he knew of her plans, the third member of the cast might try to dissuade her.  He is Loi Tan, a young man who was adopted when he was six by a Korean couple while they were travelling in the Philippines.  They raised him as their son— at least that is what they tell him and what he would like to believe.  In truth, he was more like unpaid labor and, when they are finally tired of him, they simply let him go.

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