by Yoon Na Rae, November 13, 2015

"Brief and powerless is Man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power." 

Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship''

This quote by Russell summarises the theme of this weekend’s films. Though I embrace the words of my favourite English writer Thomas Hardy: ‘’I’m not a misanthropist!''

For once in a while, we need to put all our blurry screens aside and look at the world with clear eyes. The romantic ideals we prefer to indulge in are necessary for us to survive. But once in a while, we need to face the reality of what the world has come to be.

Phantom, The Submarine

Country: South Korea     Year: 1999     Genre: Action, Thriller, War

I was not slapped in the face this way since I finished Libera Me (almost a year ago) but after watching this, at least Libera Me provided reasons behind the actions. At least the villain was mentally ill and became that way for a reason. At least the victims there stood by each other’s side to fight evil. But here!!

South Korea has finally got its nuclear submarine. It was built to strengthen the country’s defence but is not known to anyone that is not directly involved. The people working in it are supposed to be dead and only exist as numbers. In the name of establishing the country’s power and protecting its dignity, Number 202 (Choi Min Soo) schemes against authority and sets his own plan to stop the humiliation his country went through for 5000 years of its history. His plan is cruel, outrageous and inhuman. Someone had to stop him. Number 431 (Jung Woo Sung) steps forward.

Number 202: My plan will stop history from repeating itself; therefore I never hesitate to get rid of the obstacles in my way. Call my actions atrocious all you want. To stop the humiliation once and for all, many people will die but another history will be created, a history that will give my country the upper hand and make me a hero. So what if people of other countries fade away, only my people matter. Being blind is not so bad because I don’t have to see what I don’t want to see.

Number 431: Thoughtless romantics leave only scars. History is not made by one person. If we change, history will not repeat itself. I cannot watch millions of people die so aimlessly. This is insane. I need to stop this madness before destruction devours humanity. Even if I sacrifice a number of people, a greater number will be spared. I’m alone. No one is by my side.

When there’s no right answer or a safe choice, any answer is wrong. The consequences of each answer will be great. The film gives away a glimpse of how the world will end. In the name of ideals and politics, lives become mere numbers. That’s why out of all the people on the submarine only 431 is given a name, because he doesn’t belong to that destructive power.

The film is extremely intense and raw. I kept grabbing my bed’s sheets. It’s so dark and shocking. The chemistry between the leads is incomparable. The cast are amazing. Acting, writing and production are superb. One masterpiece of pain.

Boys Don’t Cry

Country: South Korea     Year: 2008     Genre: Friendship, Historical, Drama

What the Korean war left was not a huge number of deceased, but a destructed country. Homeless youngsters had to do all kinds of labour to survive. But the vigour of youth doesn’t stop at concentration camps. To fight poverty, loss and humiliation, the youth use every trick in the book but to no avail.

The film is dark, depressing and heartbreaking. No, there’s no hope. Yes, the world is rotten. And definitely hard work and ambitions get you nowhere. A rather too realistic account of an after-war city.


Country: South Korea     Year: 2006     Genre: Action, Drama, Tragedy

When living an ordinary life becomes an impossible mission. When the whole world conspires just to shatter your dreams of having hope. In a world that doesn’t forgive. A world that doesn’t forget. A world that doesn’t care. Without turning into a beast, can a person, really, survive?

Kim Rae Won at his best. And what a character! Though on the surface his character is simple, it’s actually one complicated and deep character. Throughout the movie you can only care about what he’s feeling, what he’s thinking or what he’s seeing. How does he see the world when it’s treating him this way? How did he use to think in the past and how did he change? If only they let us inside! If only they let us borrow his eyes to see HIS world. But no! Because the world doesn’t care. Because his perspective of the world doesn’t matter.

When you watch the film, you’ll see why it topped the box office. You’ll see why Korean celebrities always mimic Kim Rae Won’s speech in this movie and why this speech is so famous. You’ll see why the film is always mentioned. And you’ll see how pathetic we are and how disgusting our world is.