- a face of history hidden behind the family
Lee Na-young Korea Experimental Arts Festival Planner Cine21 Guest Reporter
THE DIRECTOR KANG JE-gyu made drastic changes in Korean movie history just 5 years ago. Compared to <SWIRI> which dealt with political ideology and an anodic characteristic of South and North Korea, <TAEGUKGI> focuses on family affection instead of containing a political theme. First of all, I was relieved at his selection of story-line. The director Kang Je-gyu is not a person who makes films based on absolute artistic values. He really strives for Korean movies to show the same big-scale scenes as Hollywood movies do.
Many Korean movies which have had enormous box-office power such as <SWIRI>,<Joint Security Area JSA>,<SILMIDO>, all focus on the ideology of a divided nation. Many movies use this kind of theme in order to cover the purpose of amusement with a serious artistic quality. But leading actors of <TAEGUKGI>, brother Jin-tae and Jin-seok do not show any kind of ideological conflict in this movie. The whole story is laced with tones of sacrificial love of an elder brother who wants to send his younger brother back home to his family. We also discover the deep affection of the younger brother who feels dejected by his elder brother's demon-like attitude as he struggles to save his younger brother's life under tragic circumstance.
There are some reasons why we can not treat this subject matter as a cheap sorrowful drama, because the story of this kind just shows our suffering in past days. They concerned on neither the reason why the North and South have to fight each other nor why they have to be called up for the war. The elder brother, Jin-Tae only longs for his sick mother and misses his lover who takes care of remaining younger brothers, and he wants his beloved younger brother Jin-Seok to go back to study quickly. Also Young-Shin, Jin-Tae's lover, worked for the North Korean army only to get some food from them. Their severe tragic situation, which drives their hope to despair, drop us in sorrowful emotion even without mentioning these miserable historical affairs obviously. The pitiable appearance of Jin-Tae is enough to show how the war can devastate common people's life.
Now, the most of the peoples related to movies are interested in the box-office power of the <TAEGUKGI> comparing to the <SILMIDO>. Of course I don't have a negative viewpoint on this matter. Also, this is a very positive affair in terms of the characteristic of these movies appealing to our own emotional feelings instead of 'humanism' or 'heroism' which can be found in movies like <Saving Private Ryan> or <Black Hawk Down>. However, if Korean movies want to attract spectators continuously through showing big-scale films, there are no way of escaping from boundary of 'Hollywood'. We are afraid that young people who watching many spurring media shows interests only at splendid spectacle scenes. Why don't we reminisce about those people who lost their hopes swept away by the war? And why don't we keep in mind the sacrificial affection for their family which was considered as a natural thing at the miserable war period?
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