Archive for November, 2010


An Index to Peruse Before You Die

November 25, 2010

You are dying. Everything is in decay. Everything stops, and everything drops.

From birth you hurtle toward a great terminus, the interim little more than an array of futile distractions. Prior to this most final of curtain calls, however, you should devote some of the time you have to watching a selection of Korean movies and, fortunately for us perpetually doomed mortals, Nick Mann has completed his series of portentously titled pieces on Korean films that he wished to bring to the attention of wider audiences. He confessed to having second thoughts regarding his choice of recurring title but I have grown quite fond of its foreboding bombast and so urged it to remain unchanged.

I am very grateful and flattered that Nick put these pieces together and requested that they be displayed here. Some of the films featured may be more familiar than others but these pieces have all generally proven quite popular on this blog and have been warmly received. Below you can find the links to all eleven posts assembled in an index for easy access.

Korean Movies You Should Watch Before You Die

1 Haeundae

2 My Sassy Girl

3 Oldboy

4 Mother

5 The Art House ‘Duck’ (Kim Ki-duk)

6 The Good, The Bad, The Weird

7 Obaltan

8 Happiness

9 Memories of Murder

10 Scandal Makers

11 Secret Sunshine


Korean Movies You Should Watch Before You Die #11

November 19, 2010

This is a guest post by Nick Mann.

Secret Sunshine

Back in 2007 a quiet little domestic release caused a minor sensation in Korea when the leading lady was awarded ‘Best Actress’ at the prestigious Cannes Festival.  The international recognition piqued interest in Korea, but upon its release most viewers were underwhelmed by the film, finding it too slow and frustratingly enigmatic.  As time goes by Secret Sunshine is likely to be forgotten save for the trivial fact that it won an award at Cannes but this is a shame because it is, in my opinion, one of the best movies of the last decade and a pinnacle of achievement in Korean cinema.

Miryang is a town near the southern tip of the Korean peninsula and lends it’s name to the movie referred to above; the English title, Secret Sunshine derives from a rough translation of the Chinese characters used to represent the name – this is explained in one of the film’s opening scenes as the central character Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) arrives in town for the first time.  She is moving here with her son, and though she claims this is the hometown of her late husband, her motives for moving are not exactly clear, and viewers must speculate or infer along with supporting characters why she chose to leave her life in the big city behind.

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Mixing It Up

November 12, 2010

I was 25 years old before I finally found a sport that I genuinely enjoyed. I’d had a passing interest in combat sports for many years but didn’t come to properly explore this until I came to Korea and discovered the abundance of quality martial arts broadcast on cable TV here; from the well-known (and now entirely dominant) American brand, the Ultimate Fighting Championship to the now-defunct Japanese organization, Pride Fighting Championships and the strictly stand-up (striking) fighting promotion, K-1.

Now there is a sport I follow. I watch the main monthly UFC events on Sunday mornings and the highlight shows on Friday evenings. I seek out footage of significant fights in the smaller promotions in whichever corner of the internet they’re hiding and I read up on statistics and fighter biographies and career histories. Like many other men my age I finally have a head filled with useless sports trivia albeit in a sport that, although extremely fast-growing, still remains slightly outside the mainstream (I haven’t been able to apply this knowledge in a pub quiz as yet). That’s not to attempt to overstate my knowledge of the sport, by any means. I don’t actually train in any martial arts myself and, in all likelihood, I couldn’t fight a bag of shit. What I can do is provide a summarized understanding of MMA (mixed martial arts) for the layman in an attempt to address some enduring misconceptions of the sport that I still see appearing in various publications and voiced by people around me. Read the rest of this entry ?



November 11, 2010

It’s that time again…..

Happy Pepero Day one and all.

Let’s salute the shameless corporate audacity of a confectionary company inventing a special day for people to buy tons of their crap. Huzzah!

It’s a Lotte fun.


Pastures New

November 1, 2010

Blog productivity has been lax of late and I have my usual litany of excuses for that. My review of A Serbian Film has performed well above expectations and seems to reflect the underground buzz and notoriety surrounding the movie. It is now the single most viewed piece on the blog and watching that happen over the past few weeks fooled me into thinking that I was somehow staying busy in a passive sense.

Add to that, I’ve had a busier-than-average month in the physical realm. I volunteered to be a demon extra in an ultra-low budget horror movie being made by a fellow ESL teacher here in Korea and got to experience the joys of latex make-up effects for the first time in my life. Test footage and a trailer for Nic Calder’s upcoming film, Fear Eats the Seoul, can be viewed here.

Our school festival rolled around once again and I was conscripted to participate in a comical stage performance with my fellow teachers that involved donning a Tae Kwon Do uniform and pushing my face through layers of cling film wrapped around a picture frame. It was a kind of slapstick martial arts parody that also featured teachers engaging in mock sword fights and snapping chopsticks between their clenched buttocks.

October culminated in myself and my wife having to pack up our wee home and move to a new, and better, apartment which, although satisfying in the end, meant we had to sacrifice Halloween celebrations and shell out cash for new furniture items. The official story is that I was therefore too busy organizing the move to do any blogging beyond battering out a piece on Bloodsport.

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