by Yoon Na Rae, January 2, 2015



Country: South Korea     Year: 2014     Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

As the title betrays, this is one of the most heartbreaking films I've ever watched. Though I don't exactly know how to handle pain – not sure if anybody does - I started this because of the poster. How could I ignore a film starring Jung Jae Young and Lee Sung Min?! After Confession of a Murder, I watch any film Jung Jae Young is in with a huge amount of love, even before the film starts.  And don't let me start on Lee Sung Min! The truth is, I call any actor/singer 20 years or less older than me, oppa! I kept raising the difference to be able to include Cha Seung Won Jung Jae Young is included because they're the same age -. Anyhow there are only three actors older than that – their birthdays are in the 60s -  whom I call oppa; Choi Min SooKim Seung Woo and Lee Sung Min. You got what I mean, right?

Therefore, I started this. Now that I finished it with bloated eyes, broken heart and an immense amount of hatred to its whole existence; I realised once again that I shouldn't watch such films.

So, Lee Sang Hyun (Jung Jae Young) is an ordinary factory worker, who after losing his wife to cancer, lives with and for his teenage daughter; Su Jin (Lee Soo Bin). One day Su Jin neither comes home nor picks up her phone. Her father, thinking she's spending time with her friend, goes to work as usual. Upon receiving numerous phone calls from detective Jang Tok Gwan (Lee Sung Min), Lee Sang Hyun goes to the morgue to identify his murdered daughter. Once he finds that she is truly his daughter and that she had been kidnapped, drugged, raped then murdered; he loses himself. Day after day, he visits the police station waiting for ''justice'' to be done. Detective Jang only tells him to go home and wait. Not being able to sit and wait like ''an invalid'', Lee Sang Hyun decides to bring the murderers to justice, on his own.

The film addresses many globally and humanly problematic issues. It tackles minor punishment and the huge differentiation between minor and adult criminals. It also presents the other point of view that crime is a crime no matter who does it. It shows possible reasons behind these crimes. Minors running away from home and minor prostitution are presented as well under the same light.

It painfully presents the never-solvable question: is revenge justifiable? Provided the ridiculous law and the trampled-on justice, is it really wrong for a father to avenge his daughter? What is justice and who sits its commandments? Is there really one way to separate right from wrong and judge people? What's with the absurd but worldly believed conviction that ''a kid can kill an adult but an adult can't kill a kid''? Are criminals also children? Should they be forgiven and treated as kids even if they don't feel the slightest bit of regret? Who's to be blamed? Who's the criminal? Are kids to be blamed for their crimes? Or their parents? Is it society?     

The film is based on the novel, The Hovering Sword by Keigo Higashino, which in its on way places all the cards on the table, slaps the world to wake up and leaves. It leaves us with open questions, wrenched hearts and an endless longing for peace.



Country: South Korea     Year: 2013     Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Do you unconditionally and absolutely like T.O.P? Do you fall for him no matter what role he takes, even a merciless assassin who believes he's some kind of invincible God? Well, if you found him irresistible in Iris and could not hate him even after all the cold-blooded murders and the petrifying smirk, then you've been brain-washed dear, and this is the film for you.

Ri Myung Hoon (T.O.P) finds himself and his younger sister Hye In (Kim Yoo Jung), in a forced labour camp after their dad (Park Sung Woong) was killed by fellow North Koreans. The North Koreans killed the dad who was a spy in South Korea after his mission was completed and accused him of treason. To escape the labour camp and save his sister; Myung Hoon accepts the offer made by officer Sang Chul (Jo Sung Ha) to go to South Korea as a spy. Under the name of Lee Tae Woo, 19-year Myung Hoon goes to South Korea and enrols in school.

The film traces the tragic life of the young boy. Finding himself a serial killer, trying to protect his sister, missing his country and falling in a brand new experience makes him waver. Still, he carries on the mission. But what lies at the end of the road? What awaits the helpless boy?!

Well, I honestly don't tend to like North Korean stuff. I just don't like hearing one side of the story and being so sure that I won't be able to hear the other side. Still, as a film, it's great.

This film questions our humanity. What exactly is being human? Are killers labelled? Do they look like monsters? Or are they just other human beings with different circumstances? Again, the thin line between what's right and what's wrong. The gray area that we cannot escape but we hate to admit we live in.

Another heartbreaking film for this weekend. Sorry guys…

    Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp


Country: South Korea     Year: 2010     Genre: Horror

I'm not the horror type AT ALL. Whenever I see the word horror, I push the film down and keep pushing it until I delete it from the list. But there's that thing about Death Bell that makes me watch it. I'm sure I'd be watching a sequel if they shoot any. The thing about Death Bell is the crazy cast and the fact that the story presents more deep ideas than horror. Like Death Bell 1, the story takes place in a high school. It's not about what the crime was or how revenge took place. It's about why the crime took place at all.

The film tackles, like many other works, the terrible school life in South Korea and how the students are taught to fight one another. The notion that they aren't friends but rivals is put into their heads until they unconsciously act upon it. That rivalry is more strongly presented in the first movie. Death Bell 2 concentrates on students taking major issues for fun. Nothing is a big deal to them. Alcohol, sex, bullying, lying and rape are all for ''fun''. Till the very end they only care about their own safety even if it means causing others' death. Like I mentioned above in Broken, kids believe they're kids and they'd be treated accordingly even if they commit crimes.

The most painful part about this series, for me, is the teacher's role. I've been a teacher for 3 years, and I can't imagine how a teacher can be this way?! Well, it's again more emphasised in Death Bell 1, how a teacher can actually cover terrible crimes for their own good. How a teacher can actually participate in a crime or even initiate it! I might not be the best teacher out there, and I know very well the pressure teachers fall under; especially in South Korea, but that's really unacceptable. Watching such films makes me feel the burden on my shoulders heavier and the responsibility greater. To have many lives in your hands, how literally and metaphorically one word can kill a life.

Death Bell 2 has less horror stuff than the first film. I still believe this series is worth watching even for horror haters.

Sorry for the horrible recommendations for this week. I won't ask you to enjoy.