The specifically Korean tradition that is reclaimed in Sopyonje is the type of folk-song known as pansori, described as a musical sublimation of South-West Korea’s collective grief and suffering – in other words, a kind of blues. The film’s three central characters are itinerant pansori singers in the 1950s, a time when many aspects of Korean culture came under siege from Japanese and western influences. The story unfolds through flashbacks. A man named Dong-ho is roaming the rural hinterlands, ostensibly to find rare herbal medicines for his employer back in Seoul, but actually in search of Song-hwa, the woman he grew up with. Orphans, they were both apprenticed to the pansori master Yu-bong who pressured them to sacrifice everything for the art. Dong-ho rebelled and ran away, to become the man he is now. Song-hwa stayed, lost her sight, and outlived Yu-bong. Rumor has it that she is still traveling and still singing pansori… The tale has one truly shocking twist, but the overall …
Tag Archives: Korean
The story begins on a fine summers morning, when San-woo and his mother board a bus to the country. It is soon clear that the unsophisticated rural passengers annoy the seven-year-old urban boy. His mother is taking him to live with his 78-year-old mute, but not deaf, grandmother while she looks for a new job after a business venture failed in Seoul.
Choyonghan Kajok / The Quiet Family (1998) Jee-woon Kim, In-hwan Park, Mun-hee Na, Kang-ho Song, Comedy, Crime, Horror
A family decides to buy a lodge in a remote hiking area. Their first customer commits suicide and the distraught family buries his body to avoid the bad publicity. But their luck gets worse, the bodies start piling up, and the family becomes frantic to rectify the situation.
Henjel gwa Geuretel / Hansel and Gretel (2007) Pil-sung Yim, Jeong-myeong Cheon, Eun Won-jae, Eun-kyung Shim, Drama, Fantasy, Horror
When Eun-soo gets lost in a country road, he meets a mysterious girl and is led to her fairytale ike house in the middle of the forest. There, Eun-soo is trapped with the girl and her siblings who never age. Eun-soo finally discovers a way out which is written on a fairy tale book. But the book tells a story of none other than himself!
In feudal Korea, the evil King becomes aware that there is a peasant rebellion being planned in the country. He steals all the iron farming tools and cooking pots from the people so that he may make weapons to fend off the peasant army. After he returns the property to the people, an old blacksmith is imprisoned and starved to death. His last creation is a tiny figurine of a monster- Pulgasari, a Godzilla-like creature that eats iron. The blood of his daughter brings the creature to life, and fights with the poor, starving peasants to overthrow the corrupt monarchy.
Hong kil dong / The Avenger with a Flute (1986) Kil-in Kim, Chang Son Hui, Gwon Ri, Riyonun Ri, Action, Fantasy, Adventure
Due to the strict Korean Confucian laws, Hong, born an illegitimate child, is not accepted by his father and family. The legitimate wife (in the original novel, it seems to be his father himself for religious reasons) pays bandits to kill him but fails. He and his mother are saved by a Kung-Fu master who then starts teaching him…
The struggles of an artist. Jang Seung-up (1843-1897), also called Owon, focusing on the years 1882 to 1897, when Korea was in political upheaval, caught between China and Japan, the conservative dynasty dying, and peasant revolt at hand. Jang, born poor, has genius; a merchant, Kim, becomes his patron, finding him a teacher. Jang must convince others that a commoner can have talent, then move beyond his ability to copy old masters and find his own style. He’s bedeviled by a temper and alcohol, arguments with patrons as he seeks commissions, and relationships with kisaeng, particularly Mae-hyang, that start and stop. It’s the life of a restless spirit producing great art.
Mongryong marries the beautiful Chunhyang without telling his father, the Governor of Namwon. When his father is transferred to Seoul, Mongryong has to leave Chunhyang and finish his exams. Chunhyang, being the daughter of a courtesan, is also legally a courtesan. She is beaten and imprisoned when she refuses to obey the new Governor Byun, as she wishes to be faithful to her husband. After three years, Mongryong passes his exam and becomes an emissary to the King. He returns to Namwon, disguised as a beggar, just before Chunhyang is to be flogged to death at the governor’s birthday celebration.
A man tries to raise his two sons and two daughters under some of the most adverse conditions known to man. The father operates a horse-drawn cart, but in a city that is modernizing after the destruction of the Korean War, automobiles are making carts obsolete. The children are experiencing difficulties as well. The eldest son has flunked the bar exam twice and is not hopeful of passing it a third time to become a lawyer. The eldest daughter is mute and married to an abusive husband. The younger daughter tries to pose as a rich university student to move up in life. The youngest son has a penchant for petty theft.