Friday, October 27, 2006

OK, so the Nogeun-ri film is complete

Posted by Robert Koehler


WARNING: If you have anything around you that might damage your computer screen if thrown at it, I suggest you remove it before reading on.

Anyway, Yonhap reports that Lee Sang-woo has completed work on his film on the Nogeun-ri incident Want to learn more? OK:

After many news reports and documentaries about Nogeun-ri came out, director Lee Sang-woo felt obliged to make a fictional film to tell the story. He wanted to ask the U.S. government whether there was no other way than war, a question still relevant today.

“Writing the scenario, I asked myself what story I have to tell. This is not going to be about the incident, not the event, but it’s going to be about the people. It is going to tell the relationships that people had in the small community and how intimate and beautiful they were, and ask them (the U.S. military) if they knew what they were doing. They were destroying these beautiful human beings,” Lee said after shooting the film’s last scene in Sunchang, South Jeolla Province, early this week.

I don’t want to use one independent filmmaker’s take on history to be indicative of attitudes as a whole, but after the success of “Welcome to Dongmakgol,” one has to ask whether Koreans and Americans view their shared history in remotely the same way. This is particularly the case with younger Koreans whose collective memory of the Korean War and the role the United States played in it is being shaped by films like this and “Dongmakgol.”

This question is worth exploring, because this shared history is supposedly part of the reason we keep the Korea-U.S. alliance going. If U.S. intervention in Korea is increasingly viewed as a tragedy that destroyed families and communities and kept a nation divided, what reason does Washington have for maintaining the child of that intervention—the Korea-U.S. alliance—especially at a time when the two sides view their national interests in increasingly disparate ways?

BTW, I’m not arguing that topics such as Nogeun-ri or U.S. misdeeds should not be explored by filmmakers. As artists in a democratic society, Korean filmmakers have a duty to explore all aspects of Korea’s past and present. But as Lee clearly points out and as anyone who watched “Dongmakgol” could tell, the films do more than just examine painful incidents pertaining to U.S. history in Korea—they seek to deny any positive role the United States may have played in post-Liberation Korea by constructing fantasy worlds of happy villagers playing in the fields until they were brutally interrupted by the evil Americans and their warlike ways and exploitive capitalism. Even relatively even-handed “Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War” does little more than depict North and South as moral equivalents (with U.S. and UN contributions ignored completely)—there was no “good side” or “bad side,” and the question is never addressed whether the men chewed up on screen died for anything at all. With “Dongmakgol” drawing over 8 million viewers (5 million in its first four weeks), its historical viewpoint obviously resonates with a large segment of the general population. And it goes without saying that it does not bode well for the future of the alliance when the peoples involved no longer share a common memory of even the “foundation myth” of the alliance itself.

P.S.: I would also like to make clear that in no way, shape or form am I suggesting that Koreans emulate the disturbing levels of hero-worship and moral/patriotic simplicity of American war films. My favorite U.S. war film, for example, is Terrence Malick’s “A Thin Red Line,” which is morally ambiguous about the U.S. campaign in the Pacific, to say the least. But what we’re seeing here with “Dongmakgol,” the upcoming Nogeun-ri film and, to a lesser extent, “Tae Guk Gi” is equally simplistic stories that simply substitute ethnic nationalism for the flag-waving of American films. And that’s not a good thing.

Here We Go Again

Expect another anti-American hatefest film much like Welcome to Dongmakgol that drew record Korean audiences with it’s story of North and South Korean soldiers joining together to kill Americans in order to save a rural village during the Korean War.

As usual the Korean media gets the whole incident wrong from the start. A theme in recent Korean movies is that life in rural villages was some kind of idealistic paradise until the big, bad Americans come and ruined it. If anyone wants a good cinematic example of what life before, during, and after the Korean War was like in rural Korean villages than I encourage you to see the excellent Korean movieThe Taebak Mountains Watch this movie and then compare it to the crap that is Dongmakgol. The people in these villages were dirt poor and life was hard which made many of these villages agreeable towards communism and uprise against the South Korean government including villages in the No Gun-ri area.

Also the villagers were not evacuated by US soldiers and without a doubt they were not strafed by US aircraft during the No Gun-ri timeframe as the Yonhap article claims. Finally 500 people did not die at No Gun-ri, maybe 50 at best. How do I know all of this? Read my series of postings that I did last year on this very subject. The evidence is overwhelming about what really happened at No Gun-ri but when Pulitzer Prizes and millions of dollars in compensation money are at stake, who cares about the truth?

I have no doubt this Nogun-ri movie will just be as equally as crappy as Dongmakgol. There was definitely a tragedy that happened at Nogun-ri however the number of people killed and the motivations and the circumstances behind what happened are not what the leftists want you to believe. I did a whole series of postings on what happened at Nogun-ri and what really happened is actually quite clear once you get around all the lies and propaganda put out there by both the Korean and US media. I encourage everyone to interested in what really happened at Nogun-ri to check out my postings at the link below.

The Truth

If the filmmaker is basing his movie off the AP article than he is basing it on an article that has been proven to be fraudulent. He is making a movie based on what he wishes Nogun-ri to be instead of the actual reality.

This would be like making the Dr. Hwang movie based off what he people wish him to be, “The Pride of Asia” curing all these paralyzed people and ignoring the facts a few brave journalists uncovered to prove he is a fraud.

Time to End the Screen Quota

I generally write ”DOA” posts after an action by either government documents some new low in bilateral relations. The government isn’t responsible for the content of what Korea’s notoriously militant film industry makes, but it wasn’t responsible for the content of “Yoduk Story,” either. So on one hand, fictionalized movies about No Gun Ri or formaldehyde dumps get the protection of monopolistic screen quotas and government subsidies (and just in time for FTA talks, too!), but on the other, those who would make or finance a small-time musical about just one of North Korea’s concentration camps arethreatened with prosecution under the National Security Law.

Never mind that nobody has actually figured out exactly what happened atNo Gun Ri; the reporters already had their Pulitzers by the time we learned that some of their “eyewitnesses” weren’t even there. Either way, I’ll go out on a limb to suggest that this film’s scenes of bucolic village life won’t feature any North Korean infantry dressed in peasant clothing.

The only other point I would add is this: if those Chinese imperialists hadn’t intervened in Korea, why, the entire peninsula would be unified today. Yodok would be paved over with greenhouses and the streets of Chongjin would be packed with bongo loudspeaker trucks heaped with produce instead of dying kkotjaebi Why war indeed. The more I hear the question asked, the more I wonder myself. Overall, however, I increasingly see the U.S.-Korea alliance as a perfectly good idea that’s outlived much of its usefulness, at least as presently configured.

Another interesting perspective here. I saw “Typhoon,” and I didn’t dislike it as much as this reviewer did. My favorite part was the ridiculously Canadian accent of one actor, cast in the role of one of the film’s Yankee villains.

The film will be released in June 2007 here in Korea.

Soap Box time.....

I hated Welcome to Dongmakgol with a passion for many of the same reasons that were listed above. I thought that it was very anti-US Army and in no way showed the truth. I fear that next June it will be the same lies attempted to be shouted so loudly that they will become the truth and that the people who don't know any better will believe these lies.

Well it looks like I will have one heck of a film review for Twitch out of this one.

Oh BTY. I have been accepted as a writter for Twitch Sunday I will try and complete my first article about my trip to the Busan Film festival.

I will keep an eye out for all news related to this film.

No comments: