Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Remember the first time you saw My Sassy Girl? Jun Ji-hyun was love at first sight, or for the ladies, Cha Tae-hyun was the studly oppa of 2001. You knew you had to marry them. But they found each other and left you crying to Sad Movie, which hurt even more because Cha Tae-hyun cheated on you again. After all those years, you’re still thinking about your first love. My Sassy Girl is your ex-lover; 2001 is 8 years ago, and that’s a lot of time in movie years. But can you ever get over that movie, that first crush you ever had?
When choosing the top ten Korean movies, there was a lot of sifting through much of the clichéd melodramas. From the excessive amounts of “cheese” that could go on a dozen pizzas, the overly excessive crying that can fill the Han River, and incoherent plots that would actually make “My Father” a good movie, it was only a matter of time before we found the gems of Korean cinema. And there were great gems found indeed. For a film to make the best ten Korean movies, it has to have the following: solid acting, an epic story, a noticeable impact on Korean cinema, and most importantly, an underlying message or meaning upon society. So without further ado, POPSEOUL! would like to present the top 10:

#10) Silmido

Silmido 1

Director: Kang Woo-Suk
Writer: Kim Hie-Jae
Genre: Drama, Action, True story
Release Date: December 2003

silmido 4

In the early morning of 1968, 31 young men are forced to run a five mile course with 50 lbs. of military gear and boots in the sweltering heat. After an exhausting trek of tireless running, these young soldiers crawl through muddy waters, navigate themselves to avoid barbed wire, and duck unrelenting machine gun fire during the afternoon. At night, they endure endless pain with heated stakes inserted into the shirtless men’s backs, leaving scarring burn marks on their bodies. Finally, filled with sweat, mud, and grime, they drag themselves to bed late at night to gather a couple hours of sleep in preparation to do the same hellish routine tomorrow. If this sounds like joining an elite Special Forces brigade, you would be correct. Welcome to Silmido soldier!

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Silmido is based on a true story of events happening from 1968 to 1971, although the details surrounding the event did not go public until 1999. When a group of North Korean commandos infiltrate the South to assassinate then Korean president Park Jung-Hee, the South Korean and US military barely intercept the would-be assassins before their mission is completed. As the North-South tensions reach their breaking point, the South decides to secretly train its own Special Forces codenamed Unit 684, to exact revenge and kill North Korea’s premier, Kim-Il Sung. Thus the story of Silmido Island and Unit 684 begins.

Silmido Island is 3.5 miles southwest of Inchon, and was used for the sole purpose of creating a squad of lethal killers. To make up this squad, a handful of death row criminals were given two choices: to be executed for their crimes or to join the Special Forces. As only a very few important government officials and military commanders knew of this new unit, they were to secretly train the group for two years until given the “green light” to go ahead and assassinate North Korea’s primer. During these two years of non-stop rigorous training, this handful of former misfits have became some of the strongest soldiers, deadliest snipers, sneakiest saboteurs, and most fanatical men ever trained. Yet when peace agreements started to look more likely in the days before Unit 684’s fateful mission, the South Korean leaders felt the unit was detrimental to a safe Korean peninsula. So what happened to these young men?
silmido 3
The film is built more around the surrounding drama, friendship, and struggles Unit 684 endure together, rather than going deep into the individual characters. This direction makes sense because understanding all 31 characters would not only take too long, but would also dilute the overall story. The corrupt politics between the various South Korean politicians, the rising tension between the two countries, and the officers’ decisions in training the assassin unit also add to the movie’s backdrop quite well. As everything in the movie builds up to the big finale, it is an incredible thriller and suspenseful ride, as the viewer will appreciate and understand Unit 684’s story even more.

One would imagine that a movie based on a true story would bring some controversy over true facts vs. fiction simply added for movie entertainment. Yet, according to various Korean reviewers and notes, the film portrays a fairly accurate assessment of what occurred during the Silmido incident without going overboard. But as with most movies dealing with war or real events, Silmido shouldn’t be watched as the next great historical discovery, but rather, as an untold story about a ragged group of 31 men and their impact on Korean history.

#9) Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder 1

Director: Bong Joon-Ho
Writer: Bong Joon-Ho, Kim Kwang-Rim,
Shim Sung Bo
Genre: Thriller, Crime, True Story documentation
Release Date: May 2003

A young woman met an unfortunate fate; she is found bloodied, strangled, raped, and thrown into a countryside ditch. Days later, around the same rural area, another woman’s corpse is discovered with similar brutal torture as the first. But who would do these murders? How did the killer pull off the murders? And most importantly, why would the murderer do such a thing? These are the questions that confronted the Gyonggi police force in 1986, as South Korea was confronted with its first serial killer that lasted until 1991.

Memories of Murder 2Memories of Murder skirts a fine line in retelling a sensitive subject, as the killings bring up painful memories and utter disbelief to the Korean public nearly twenty years ago. The balance between entertainment and sympathy has to be taken into consideration. Fortunately, the movie does a fine job in taking another angle on the brutal tale. While many crime thrillers would go into the killer or the murders, the movie shows how the good guys — the “justice” — are just as corrupt, unruly, and desperate to catch the killer to restore peace. In one scene, blind accusations are taken to the extreme as one suspect gets “interrogated” with fists and kicks. And for this, director Bong Joon-ho deserves praise for presenting the truth instead of taking old wounds and covering them up with new bandages.

Memories of Murder 3

Even if one is already familiar with the murder tale, the incentive to see this film lays in its consistent story flow and the male acting leads. Song Kang-ho takes the first lead as the blue-collar Park Du-man, an arrest-first-and-ask-later detective that doesn’t believe in evidence or logical arguments. Kim Sang-kyung, on the other hand, plays the more calm and sane polar opposite, detective . Together, they display a great acting job, showing the constant tension from their philosophical differences, the emotional toll suffered after each passing day, and the frustration of not having the necessary resources from their own police department.

Memories of Murder 4

Memories of Murder is one of the many movies that is largely unknown to non-Korean viewers, yet is definitely recommended to those that loves mystery, crime thrillers, or wants a modern perspective on the infamous murder case.

#8) 3-Iron

3 Iron 1

Director: Kim Ki-Duk
Writer: Kim Ki-Duk
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Romance, Crime
Release Date: October 2004

3 Iron 2When 95% of the main character is through his actions and not words, one can’t help but remember the old saying, “Action speak louder than words… much louder.” So what can one say about 3-Iron? If one were to look at the script of the main character during development, it would look similar to this “…” Exactly. Silence is an art. It leaves room for interpretation. It is rare for a lead character in a movie to speak so little, yet mean so much.

Director Kim Ki-duk is known to express his movies by using outside themes, such as the environment, sexuality, subtle silence, or violence to communicate to the viewer, rather than direct dialogue between actors. 3-Iron follows Young Tae-suk, a young, free-spirited, homeless man that breaks into peoples’ houses when they are away on vacation. His intent, however, isn’t to steal valuables. Rather, he uses the owner’s vacant house as a hotel for a day and becomes a “butler”: repairing broken appliances, doing the laundry, and cleaning. Tae-suk’s nomadic lifestyle, however, takes a sharp turn when he comforts an abused wife he meets after a break-in. As they start to become closer, Tae-suk knows that his wandering ways of living will change as well.

Through the silence and his many body gestures, the viewer learns of Tae-suk’s desire to live as a free spirit in secrecy, living as a ghostly presence in many homes without being noticed. Even when thrusted into confrontation and danger, he is a man of very few words, unflinching, unafraid, and not hostile of the consequences. Lee Hyun-kyoon plays the silent protagonist to a tee, as his body movements and facial expressions say more than his words. Lee Seung-yeon blends her acting skills as the distressed wife as she finds true happiness only when she meets her quiet co-star. The amazing part is that neither of the main stars, even as they fall for one another, rarely say a word to the other when expressing their feelings. Yet, during the movie, their adulterous romance is very believable.

3 Iron 3

3-Iron is a work of movie art, relying heavily on its great acting a lot more than any other movie feature. While the movie starts off slow, the viewer will find appreciation in seeing how Tae-suk grows and evolves throughout the film. Foreign movie critics certainly found appreciation of 3-Iron, as to date, has won six awards and was nominated six times for various categories. This film is a truly unique movie experience and one that should not be missed.

#7) Joint Security Area (JSA)

jsa movie poster

Director: Park Chan-wook
Writer: Jeong Seong-San, Kim Hyeon-Seok,
Lee Mu-Yeong, Park Chan-Wook,
Based on Park Sang-Yeon (author of DMZ)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Drama, War
Release Date: September 2000


In 1989 the Berlin wall fell and reunited Germany. But another wall along the 38th parallel goes without mention and it lies between two sides braced for an inevitable war. It is known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). When alarms started to blare throughout the DMZ, both the North and South Koreans started to fire upon one another. A deeply injured soldier made a limping run during the fire fight from the North to the Southern border. Two North Korean soldiers were found shot and dead along the border, as the two Koreas were tethering on the brink of all-out war. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) – a non-biased mediator consisting of Swiss and Swedish investigators — were immediately rushed to the DMZ to diffuse the escalating hostilities and uncover the truth. But who were involved in the incident? What happened exactly? Is there more to the story than the testimonies given?


Enter Major Sophie, an investigator of Korean descent, but Swiss citizenship. As Sophie’s first time in Korea, she begins in asking those involved what happened. However, as interrogation after interrogation revealed no results, it became apparent that the soldiers were keeping a crucial secret to finding the truth. When the testimonies from each Korea arrived, their stories posed two vastly differing scenarios that were inconsistent with the other. Even with Sophie’s unique questioning – such as the number of bullets fired and where the gunshots landed – and persistence to the case, without the soldiers’ cooperation, she was getting nowhere. As the investigation grinded to a hopeless rut, both Koreas threatened to extradite the NNSC back to Switzerland within three days. It was apparent that neither side wanted a fair resolution, but to instead believe their own account. However, Sophie had other plans.


While action-thriller Shiri explored both sides of the North-South Korean animosities in 1999, Joint Security Area (JSA) delves even further. Rather than taking the easy route and stereotyping one side as “good” and the other as “evil” or implying hidden biases, JSA director Park Chan-woon shows that both North and South Korean soldiers are, at the core, humans that can have empathy for one another regardless of nationality. The soldiers on both sides have deep, well thought-out, and compelling stories. This is commendable as this movie touches upon the most sensitive topic of Korean Unification and yet presents the subject tastefully.

The movie’s excellent pacing also deserves mention. Through the brilliant execution of bouncing between extended flashbacks and engaging interrogation scenes, the movie really shines at its brightest. The viewer then must go alongside Major Sophie as they piece together the scenes of truth and weed out the scenes of fiction. Only then can a full picture be revealed.

The acting is also top-notch as Lee Young-ae’s portrayal as the charismatic Major Sophie, Lee Byung-hun’s display as guilt-torn Sgt. Lee Soo-hyeok, and Song Kang-ho’s acting of the honorable Sgt. Oh Kyeong-pil were spot on. Many side characters in the film were also acted admirably as well. From being vindictive and disappointed during the interrogations, to showing anger, shock, and desperation during the flashbacks, the movie shows a wide variety of emotions. If there is one thing to knock about JSA’s acting, however, it is Lee Young-ae’s English dialogue. While she is not expected to be fluent in speaking English – as she is fluent in both her native Korean and German – both her pronunciation and script writing sounded clumsy and choppy.


Joint Security Area was one of the biggest blockbusters of 2000. Expenses were not spared in its cinematography due to the new Super-35 mm format, making the camera shots clean and sleek. Its environment was also surreal, as the film studio spent nearly $1 million US dollars into recreating the Pannumejoum truce village seen in the movie. While the film’s acting, presentation, pacing, and realism are all excellent, its deep underlying message is what truly sets this movie to a new level.


Oldboy 1

Director: Park Chan-wook
Writer: Hwang Jo-Hun, Lim Chung-Hyeong,
Lim Joon-Hyung, Park Chan-Wook
Based on Garon Tsuchiya (story),
Nobuyuki Minegishi (comic)
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: November 2003

A man wakes up in a shabby hotel room and has no clue how he got there. Recovering from a hangover the night before, he finds that the room has the basic human necessities: a desk, a bed, a bathroom, and even a small TV for news. Yet, when he goes to the steel front door, he notices there is a small slot on the bottom and is locked from the outside. He is essentially imprisoned in this room. He soon hears a quaint tune and seconds later, sleeping gas seeps into the room from the small door crevice knocking him out cold. When he finally wakes up, he notices his new clean clothes, a clean haircut, and a fresh new meal of pot stickers slid under from the door’s slot. How long will he be here? Who placed him here? Most importantly, why is this man even in this room in the first place? This is the new life of Oh Dae-su.

Oldboy 3

Famed Korean director Park Chan-wook creates a sinister, dark, mysterious, and engaging movie with his 2003 thriller Oldboy. Based off the Japanese manga of the same name, the film, for the most part, stays true to the original. From the get-go, this film sucks the viewer in, as they ask the same question as Dae-su, “How did I get in this nightmare?” A few days after he is thrown into his private prison-for-one, he watches a TV news report of death of his wife. To add further result to misery, he is also named the prime suspect of his spouse’s murder. With his wife dead and no way to get out, he goes into a deep depression, void of any real emotion.

Oldboy 4

Every day he lives in isolation from anyone doing the same routine: eating, exercising, showering, punching walls, watching TV, and sleeping. Whenever he watches TV, it represents his only window to the outside world. The years in his secluded prison pass by, as he witnesses major world events such as the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, the return of Hong Kong back to China, and the death of the late Princess Diana. One day, however, he is unexpectedly released from his prison he had called home for the last 15 years. This is just the beginning of his journey; now he can find answers to his questions above.

Oldboy 2

But imagine, just for a couple minutes, what would you be thinking if you had no human contact for the last 15 years, let alone one week? What would you do? Who would you call or go to first? How do you start the most basic conversations with people on the street? If you’re Oh Dae-su, you would feel the need for justice and take revenge on the people responsible for your 15-year imprisonment. If there is one positive from being secluded, it is the various skills he inherently developed. He honed his awareness by watching TV news, fighting prowess by practicing shadow boxing, and taught himself a keen sense of logic and problem solving by his motivation to finding the culprits. Irony sets in, as the skills he learns during his stay in prison would greatly assist him in catching the villains who threw him there in the beginning.

Oldboy 6

Oldboy is not for the weak or faint-of-heart. The film seriously questions one’s own morals, values, and life itself without “sugarcoating” its intentions. It is intended to make the viewer uncomfortable. Yet, the viewer will be rewarded. Between the movie’s dark tones, vengeful feelings, and sadistic atmosphere, the viewer is pulled into Oh Dae-su’s world. The ending is also crafted quite well, as it contains a both shocking twists and more questions to ponder. Where many other films have difficulty in presenting mature themes, Oldboy succeeds in exploring deeply mature and painful subjects. Choi Min-sik is the actor that makes this dark and mature film work, as his portrayal of Oh Dae-su is amazing.

Oldboy 5

This is Park Chan-wook’s 2nd movie on this list and it’s no fluke; his movies are just that good. While some of the movies on this list are unheard to non-Korean movie fans, Oldboy is known in many world movie circles. The film has garnered many awards in various film festivals (17 awards total), great praise from movie critics, and a must-see reputation from netizens. Even famous movie directors, such as Quentin Tarantino, who is known to have made films similar in nature to Oldboy, enjoyed the film so much that he wanted it to receive the 2004 Cannes’s Palme D’Or award. Instead, that award went to Michael Moore’s much safer and anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 911.

As with the recent Hollywood trend of importing successful Korean movies, a US remake of the film – starring talented US actor Will Smith and directed by none other than Steven Spielberg – is in the works. Hopefully, we can look forward to Smith duplicating Choi Min-sik’s incredible acting and Spielberg paying homage to Park Chan-wook’s masterpiece.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lotte 2 Hanwha 0 (My record from home games is now 2-7-1)

Well I finally went to my first baseball game after the first surgery. And if this is the result, I think I will watch the games on TV for the rest of the season.

Hanwha has a great baseball team, they just can not pitch hit nor field, but they are still a good baseball team. (Its a bad joke)

Well I thought that the Eagles might actually do something when I saw that #99 Ryu Hyun-Jin (Monster) was the starting pitcher. He only gave up 2 runs with one of them being at the top of the 9th. Once again "Kim In-Sik" can not manage a pitching staff.

Hanwha just could never get anything together yesterday and it just looked horrible. No wonder they are in last place and with this ace it looks like the 2nd straight season in a row without any playoffs.

The rain delay was not fun either yesterday. It was just a sad game without any happy hanwha fans. And once again I yelled at the Giants fans for copying an American song as their "Lotte Lotte" SONG. (Some things never change)

This looks like, with the 2nd surgery scheduled for 13 July, and this Hanwha mess, it will be a very long summer here in the ROK.

In another KBO related story... I received this from eastwindupchronicle.com and I posted this on http://www.cjbaseball.com/. CJ looks like he has another chance and this time its with the Dooson Bears. I so want to see CJ pitch a great game vs SK.


The Korean media is reporting that CJ Nitkowski has been claimed by Doosan. Funny thing is, I don’t think CJ himself knows this yet. He’s currently on vacation in Japan and Twittered that he’s waiting to hear if he clears waivers, saying “if I clear I’ll stay in Japan for a while before I head home, if not…”

That was two hours ago. Someone tell (or maybe Twitter) CJ that SK’s arch rival claimed him.

Later he Twitters: “Text from my old SK translator says: “Emergency: call me ASAP” Having trouble making an international phone call right now. Will try later.”

Trouble making an international phone call in Japan???!!! But they have such state of the art payphones in all the hotel lobbies.

But I digress. This could be a GREAT move for Doosan if they can get Nitkowski, who I think is still a capable reliever and could have some serious revenge on his mind come Korean Series time. Could be a very interesting storyline to follow. And I can’t say I wouldn’t be rooting for CJ.

That is, if someone can get to CJ.



Friday, June 26, 2009

Movie Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I so wanted to like this film. I went to a digital screen and saw this film twice on opening day. After the second time, I realized that I did not want to see this film again for the rest of the summer.

The sad thing about this movie that I can actually see a great film in this film. This film badly needs a 20-30 minute edit and a lot of the scenes could used a tighter direction. The main idea must have been, Let's make more robots and let us add a heck of a lot more explosion and let add a hot evil alien female that wants to kill Sam. It was just too much and all of this bloated shots actually took away the heart of the film and just absolutely ruined the film for me.

Some of the viewers are going to have their own issues with Mudflap and Skids, also known as the twins. Some critics have called these 2 racist and compared these 2 to Star Wars infamous "Jar Jar Binks" I will let you, the viewer, make up your own minds about these 2 robots.

The one thing I loved about this film was the showing of the Military as men of honor who believe in what the robots are doing. Watch for the little scene of Prime and Robert Epps, It is a small scene , but the small joke, I got it.

This film is worth at least one viewing at a digital screen. I can not recommend it anymore than that.

Grade D+

Wheelie: Is that the best you got, huh? Is that best you can do?
Mikaela Banes: What are you doing here, you little freak?
[Mikeala burns his left eye off with a soldering iron]
Wheelie: That's my eye, you crazy bitch! Easy Warrior Goddess, I'm just a little salvage scrap drone.
Mikaela Banes: Then I'm your worst nightmare

Opened in South Korea on

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Her Name Was Neda: A Generational Chance for Freedom

by Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI)

Her name was Neda. In Farsi, it means “the voice.” True to her name, she loved music; sought freedom; and she’s dead - shot down in the streets by the Iranian regime’s state sanctioned murderers. She must not have died in vain.

Today, Iranians and Americans face a generational chance for freedom - one that ensures a rogue regime’s implosion prevents a nuclear confrontation.

Regrettably, our president’s “post-American” foreign policy presumes talk can thaw the murderous mullahs’ hearts and attain a “grand bargain” for peace in our time; consequently, while Iranians demanded their freedom from a barbarous regime, the president vapidly opined: “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be… We respect Iranian sovereignty.”

Then, as the crisis escalated, the president optimistically noted:

“You’ve seen in Iran some initial reaction from the supreme leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election… And my hope is - is that the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices, to express their aspirations.”

Tragically, the supreme leader’s deep concern drove him to step on the throats of pro-democracy demonstrators, like Neda.

Next, on June 20th, the president stated, “The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.” It was painfully evident just how far behind them he stood: “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States.”

With these contradictory statements of support and appeasement, the president returned to square one: “The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.”

In truth, the Iranian people have already judged the regime and found it wonting. The supreme leader, his cleric cronies and their puppet government have never respected the dignity of the Iranian people or governed through consent. This is why the regime stole the election and shoots peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators. Implying otherwise mocks the Iranians risking and losing their lives for liberty.

As for the claim that American “meddling” in support of the demonstrators plays into the mullahs’ hands, the Iranian regime will claim this regardless, for as our president noted, “That’s what they do.”

Yet, what matters is not what the regime says about America, but what the demonstrators think about America. Presently, brave Iranians watch as our president still holds an open hand to the regime that opened fire on them…that opened fire on Neda. This is the passive, disastrous policy of Jimmy Carter that led to the rise of this rogue regime; not the courageous policy of Ronald Reagan that led to the demise of an evil empire.

The surest, safest termination of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and support of terrorism is to hasten this fanatical tyranny’s collapse by supporting its people’s liberty. Taking its rightful place amongst the community of free nations, a democratic Iran will necessarily realize and reverse the insanity of this terrorist regime’s homicidal obsession with nuclear weapons. Thus, for their liberty and our security, the United States and the world must do everything in our power to further the Iranian demonstrators’ sacred claim to freedom. We know Neda did.

Further, in the grand strategy of our War for Freedom over terrorism, how we aid pro-democracy Iranians’ will remind the world who we are - we are Americans: the revolutionary children of freedom who have lived and died defending our liberty and extending it to the enslaved and oppressed. We will do no less today in support of our Iranian brothers and sisters.

Today, Neda’s voice calls to our consciences and warns that the fate of Iranians’ liberty is entwined with the fate of Americans’ security. We must not miss this generational chance for freedom - again one that ensures a rogue regime’s implosion prevents a nuclear confrontation; and that Neda and all liberty’s martyrs shall not have died in vain. As Americans, we must seize this moment and help Iranians seize their freedom.

That’s what we do.


Click here “Tehran Scream” video of Neda’s murder. Viewer discretion is advised.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The most important story about Pixar's Up that you will ever read

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Saturday, June 20, 2009

When 10-year-old Colby Curtin saw the trailer for Pixar's new movie Up she had just one final thing to accomplish before her time ended on this world: she had to see that movie. Thanks to the efforts of a family friend that cold called Pixar as well as the employees at the company, last week Colby got her wish and watched Up. She passed away only seven hours later, succumbing to the cancer that was destroying her body.

The only reason this incredibly heartbreaking story is getting heard is due to The Orange County Register and writer Annie Burris. The Register heard about the act and contacted Colby's mother Lisa Curtin to confirm, which she did. Nobody at Pixar wished to comment on the event, leaving it up to Colby's family to decide if they wanted the public to know about their daughter's passing and how she wanted so badly to see Up before it was too late for her.

Within a day after the friend of the Curtin family had contacted Pixar a representative from the studio had spoken with Colby's mom and arrangements made for a Pixar employee to come visit the Curtin home with a copy of Up on DVD. The next day the Pixar representative knocked on Colby's door and brought with them not just a copy of the movie to watch but also a gift basket of Up related collectibles. The Pixar employee talked a bit about the making of the movie and then stayed to watch it with Colby. When it was too hard for Colby to open her eyes Colby's mom described what was on the screen to her daughter.

There's more to the story than that and I think it's better told if you read it for yourself. Colby's simple but incredibly important request should remind us that away from the hype and business of making movies, films can have an incredible impact on a person's life. A lot of people like to dream about the fame and fortune that accompanies success in Hollywood. The people at Pixar certainly deserve all of the kudos and rewards that their movies have brought them but when you hear about a story like Colby's and realize that the people working for that company made this screening happen for that little girl in such short order, and without any desire whatsoever for anyone to ever know that it happened, I think that's incredible. There are plenty of headlines to read these days about the corporate culture of greed and its lack of empathy for the human condition, so when a company like Pixar does something so human and just for one family, I think that they should be commended -- and that you might remember the story of Colby the next time you see Up.

-Orange County Register.

Colby Curtin got her final wish.

The 10-year-old girl desperately wanted to see the new Disney-Pixar movie, "Up." But the cancer-stricken girl was too sick to go to a theater.

Thanks to a family friend who got in touch with the movie studio Pixar, an employee of the Emeryville-based company arrived at Colby's home with a DVD copy of the movie, The Orange County Register reported Friday. The girl died later that night.

Colby's mother, Lisa, said she had asked her daughter if she could hang on until the movie arrived.

"I'm ready (to die), but I'm going to wait for the movie," she said her daughter replied.

"Up" is the animated tale of a grumpy old man who, after his wife's death, tries to fulfill their joint dream of visiting South America by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating away.

"When I watched it, I had really no idea about the content of the theme of the movie," Colby's mother told the Register. "I just know that word 'Up' and all of the balloons and I swear to you, for me it meant that (Colby) was going to go up. Up to heaven."

Colby, who was diagnosed with vascular cancer in 2005, saw previews for the film in April.

"It was from then on, she said, 'I have to see that movie. It is so cool,"' family friend Carole Lynch said.

But the girl's health began to deteriorate. On June 4, Curtin asked a hospice company to bring a wheelchair so that her daughter could go to a movie theater but the chair was not delivered over the weekend, Curtin said.

By June 9, Colby was too sick to go anywhere.

Another family friend, Terrell Orum, called both Pixar and Disney, which owns the animation studio. The message was received by Pixar officials, who agreed to send someone to Colby's house the next day with a copy of "Up" for a private screening, Orum said.

The employee arrived with the DVD, stuffed animals of characters and other movie memorabilia.

Colby was unable to open her eyes to see the movie so her mother described the scenes. When her mother asked if she enjoyed it, the girl nodded, Curtin said.

The Pixar employee left after the movie, taking the DVD, which has not been released. Lynch, who was with the family during the screening, said the employee's "eyes were just welled up."

A call to Pixar seeking comment was not immediately returned Friday.

Colby, with her parents nearby, died later that night.

Her mother said one of the memorabilia left by the Pixar employee was an "adventure book" based on a scrapbook that, in the movie, is kept by the wife of the main character.

"I'll have to fill those adventures in for her," Lisa Curtin said of her daughter.

Last week I did my movie review of the film UP and I still can not really believe what I saw in that film.

I have been one of Disney sharpest critics for their distorting in historical films, (Alamo, Remember the Titans, The Rookie) but in this case i find myself actually wanting to stand up and cheer for them for doing this simple act of kindness for a little girl who lost her fight with cancer.

Well Done Disney and Pixar, A job well done indeed.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

After a lot that has happened to me over the last month, I thought that this blog needed some humor.

What can I say, I Loved the Texas cartoon.
Well today in the USA it is Father's Day. This is one of the days that I really miss the fact that I can not be with my 2 children. Claudia and Sean McStay.

With everything that has gone on with me this summer. I have really missed those 2 wonderful children of mine.

One day if you 2 find this blog, please remember something, Everyday I have prayed for you 2 and me to be reunited and that I love you 2 both very much. I have know idea where you 2 are nor do I know how to call you. That is why no Christmas nor Birthday gifts from me.

On days like today, I just usually stay low and try not to bother anyone.

Also on Father's Day its also another day that I miss my own father. We lost him in 2004 due to cancer, that we think came from his exposure to the Agent Orange, when he was station near the DMZ in the 1960's. I am remembering how he dealt with his cancer and how I have been trying to do the exact same thing.

I told my doctor a few days ago, "Panic is not a term in my vocabulary right now!" I have too many former student around this area and a few of them have heard what is going on with me right now. If I panic, they panic and my fellow teachers panic. Panic is a luxury that I can not do."

I am remembering what my father told me about his cancer, He told me, "Mike, either I am going to beat this or I am going home to God." I have told A few of my former students these exact words.

I am a little nervous about surgery #2, this could be a complicated one so on July 13, please pray a lot for me.


To my 2 children, I miss you every day but on days like today, I miss you both a lot more.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Well it looks like http://www.cjbaseball.com/ is finally finished with his playing baseball here in Korea.

He just posted this via twitter.

"That's a wrap. Had a very nice exchange with the G.M. Glad this is over. Wanted to pitch but wasn't.

He later posted this link on his blog.

I am sorry that SK did not work out for him. It looks like he just wants to go home for awhile and I wish him the best on his next move.

Friday, June 19, 2009

OK, well I know have a partial clue of what the heck is going on here with the tumor.

So as of today, I will check into the hospital on July 10th and they will have surgery on the 13th.

The Dr. said that mine might be harder than most,(I know, big surprise..right?)due to where the blockage is at and the fact that they have to get my Colan back into my body and get rid of my bag. Then they have to look and see what kind of cancer is their. They are not going to know anything until they get inside me and look around.


So, i asked a few questions.

Diet, what can I eat, the dr said everything is ok, but to try and stay away from red meat. I will still ban soda, beer and stick with what I have been drinking for awhile. I am now at 132 kg or 290 pounds.

Keep up the exercise and the work is OK but I really need to rest when I can.

I might be in the hospital for 2 weeks, or more.. but 2 weeks is a good guess.

After recover, I have no idea, that will be determined.

I am doing the Surgery at Eulji Hospital near Dusan Dong, the other one just finally ticked me off with they way that they kept letting my bag leak. After 3 visits to the ER, because of there errors, I have had enough of their medicine.

I will ask that someone please agree to look over my dog soju on the 9th and I am not sure when i will exactly be back.

Maybe one more fundraiser, will be needed, I am still not sure. Since i am going to a better hospital, this will definitely increase the cost.

Well that is all that I know for now..

Please everyone pray for me and love someone, if you have them and keep reminding them that.

Mike McStay

Woori Bank
Account Name: McStay, Flynn M.
Account Number: 1002-929-503133
Swife Code: HVBKKRSE

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Movie Review: UP

To be honest, I really was not expecting much from this film. I knew that it was a Pixar film and that I had liked the small preview of it that I'd seen online. I was thinking that this will be a cute kid’s film that I will never want to see again about a boy an older man and a dog exploring South America. The previews tell you that this will be a light film, when I actually saw it I could not believe the quiet dept that make this small film into an instant classic.

This review will be heavy spoilers through, so if you do not want the film spoiled for you, please stop now and see it in 3D when it comes to South Korea on 30 July 2009.

Like I had stated earlier, I really had no hopes for this film. It was going to be a small, light, kids film, that I might like. The film opened up exactly like I thought it would with a goofy boy, wearing explorers goggles, watching his hero on the movie screen and seeing his hero fall from grace and maybe his hero redemption. I kept thinking OK, “So why is this a good film?”

The answer is because what happens next in the movie.

The goody boy meets a crazy girl and they find in each other that they want to both be explorers and that she has already made an adventure book. She has a few pages filled up and she tells him that she will keep the rest of the pages blank until she can go to South America and see a huge waterfall and fill it with stories from her life there. You are also shown that she gives him a grape soda badge and they are both now part of the same club. Then the film takes the step from good film into a great film and what was so awesome, there were no words used so this part will easy play in foreign theaters.

What you are shown for the next 4.5 minutes is that goofy boy, Carl Fredricksen being married to that explorer girl, Ellie. You are silently shown their entire life together and how they both loved each other. You are shown some good times and the bad times, but you are shown one thing, and that is the love that these two people have for each other. Richard Corliss of Time called it "the sweetest, saddest 4½ minutes you'll ever see on film."

Director Pete Docter intended for audiences to take a specific point from the film, saying:

"Basically, the message of the film is that the real adventure of life is the relationship we have with other people, and it's so easy to lose sight of the things we have and the people that are around us until they're gone. More often than not I don't really realize how lucky I was to have known someone until they're either moved or passed away. So if you can kind of wake up a little bit and go, "Wow, I've got some really cool stuff around me every day", then that's what the movie's about."

It was like they made a 3-5 minute version of "The Notebook" and they tell the story without any words, just with love and life that anyone in the audience will be able to follow. When you see that Ellie had died and the love is gone from his eyes, I was realizing that I might be seeing a way better film; than I thought that I was going to see.

Due to those two not being to have any children and that fact that the court has declared him a public disturber and that he must now live in a retirement home. Carl looks at the photo of Ellie and decides to do 1 last adventure, he makes a big balloon out of thousands of small ones and he takes his house up and with him and they are both going to South America.

Now this part of the film will leave a lot to the imagination of the audience and it will, at times be a stretch to believe but, for whatever reason, this part of the film works as we see Carl go on his adventure and now he has a sidekick a boy by the name of Russell, a Wilderness Explorer stowaway on Carl's flying house. This part of the film I will leave unspoiled because you will have to see it to believe it.

What I thought was a great idea near the end of the film is when Carl finally finds Ellie old Scrapbook and he looks at it and then he discovers that she added a lot of new pages to it and finds her mementos of her life with Carl after they were married, and a final note from her thanking Carl for her adventure and an encouragement for him to go on an adventure of his own. Invigorated by Ellie's last wish, the man goes into "HERO" mode to save the day.

I must say that I loved how the film ended and the extra pictures throughout the credits. When you decide to see this film, please get their early and do not leave your seat because if you do, you will miss something. This film will definitely become a Blu-Ray purchase, once it become available in this format.

Grade. A+

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Movie Review: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.

I can honestly seeing 2 ideas about this film, once you leave the movie theater. If you have seen the original, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), then you will definitely hate this film. If you have not seen the 1974 original film, then I think that you will like this film.

I had seen the original years ago, I can clearly remember that it was Walter Matthau vs. a very believable Robert Shaw as the villain. I remember being scared of this bad person because when he said that he was going to do something, you actually believed him and that is why I hated this remake, John Travolta as the villain, is just not believable. I thought that he could be a bad gut but after watching this, he needs to sick to older mentors or older heroes roles.

But if the bad person can not carry the film then its hero must and after seeing the original, it was very clear to me that Denzel Washington could not save this film. As a hero, I never felt sorry for him and when the film shows his warts, I never believed it and it just made the film and the hero into someone that I was not pulling for.

In a hero film, the audience must decide to be a good person or the cheer for the bad guy and when the film lets you cheer for neither, as this one did, you are left with a mess. At the end of this film, I felt that I had lost my $ and was cheated by an inferior product trying to be the 1974 classic film.

If you have seen the original, then please pass on this film at all cost. If you have not seen the original, then this film, is worth at least one viewing to see weather or not, you will like it.

Grade D-

Opened on 11 June 2009 in South Korea.

Ryder: Life is simple now. They just have to do what I say.
Movie Review: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

I really had some huge hops for this film. The idea of a museum actually coming to life at night, just sounded too weird, but it had a great cast and great story and it worked. Sad to say, the 2nd film, this film, fails on every level.

I have tried to think of just one reason why this film did not work for me but there were any reasons and here are a few reason why this films just does not work for me.

1. The villain- If you are going to cast a bad person, make the audience hate him. In this film the villain is Hank Azaria, every time he spoke, I kept hearing Moe Szyslak, his voiced character from the popular TV show "The Simpsons" Every time he tried to be bad, I heard Moe and it just was never believable.

2. The love story: OK, you are trying to tell me that a wax statue of Amelia Earhart that comes to life as the sun goes down and our hero, Larry Daley,in a love story is even remotely believable? I never bought into it and it just seemed to drag the film down with this bad idea plot.

3. Jonah Hill:

You show him a lot in the trailer but in the actual film, he is only in it for about 3 minutes? Are you actually kidding me? The trailer leads you to believe that it will be a partnership between him and Ben Stiller to save the day and instead we are sold a joke that the film never recovers from.

By the end of this film, whatever magic the first film had was gone and in the end we are left with this mess that could have been great but in the end, will only spare us to death.

Please pass on this film at all cost.

Grade D-

Opened on 4 June 2009 in South Korea.

General George Armstrong Custer: We're Americans, we don't plan, we do!
Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

Of all of the Summer films that were coming out in 2009, this was the one that I was looking forward to the most. After watching it, I wanted to take a terminator and shoot everyone involved in the making of a turd of a film.

As one film critic said:

TERMINATOR SALVATION is about accomplishing 3 things.

1st – John Connor has to meet his dad, Kyle Reese and hand him a photograph of his mommy.

2nd – John Connor must become the leader of the resistance.

3rd – John Connor must get his scar.

I knew about all of this and the previews looked great and when I finally got the chance to see the film, I took it and sat down and watched it. After it was over, could no believe that anybody would think that this is was a worthy turning over of the franchise to Director McG.

I was expecting the same Christian Bale, who as Batman was ready to save the city from a madman. In this film, its like Bale shows up, yelled at a light person and took his check and went home. I never believed him for once as John Connor.

If you actually try and follow this plot, it goes from a maybe believable idea, to the end where you are left thinking, who made this and why the plot holes never really seem to tell a whole story. It looks and felt like a greatest hits album with no heart of its own.

I could write more about how bad this film is but really, what is the point? The film, at the time of the writing of this review, had been considered a disappointment in the US crowd, while the international market has seemed to like T4. (in Korea alone it has sold over 4 million tickets.)

Please do not even waste the time to download this huge disappointment of a film.

Grade F.

Opened on 22 May 2009 in South Korea.

John Connor: [to Marcus] You and me, we've been at war since before either of us even existed. You tried killing my mother, Sarah Connor. You killed my father, Kyle Reese. You will not kill me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I still can not believe what happened on Saturday night and I am still at a lost for words on how I can ever say thank you enough for the fundraiser.

I am a very simple man. I try and do what needs to be done and sometimes, I use, lest just say, very different ideas on how to solve a problem.

Today I was handed about 1.9 million won for the fundraiser that was held for me on Saturday night. I will put this money asap into the war chest and on Friday 6.19 I can repay a huge favor that was given to me a few weeks ago.

Someone told me that this was a testament to me and that everybody wants me back in tip top shape.

I have never really asked for help before this happened. If their has been a problem in the last few years, I have usually prayed about it and attempted to solve the problem. Most of the time I have done a good job with it. The outpouring that I have received here in the last month has humbled me to the point, I really have no idea how to say "THANK YOU" except just to say it and I really mean it.

Seeing Harsha as a bartender, seeing Annie selling cookies, seeing the photos of people setting up for the party. Seeing a lot of people just to say to me, Mike, we give a frack about you! It was just too much to take and I am still trying to say thank you to everyone who came together for this event.

I have to go to the hospital on the 16th at 0900 and then I have to go back on the 19th at 1130. This is when I get told when I have to face my second surgery. As soon as i get back from the Dr. I will post the info here and on facebook.

Once again everyone, thank you...

Woori Bank
Account Name: McStay, Flynn M.
Account Number: 1002-929-503133
Swife Code: HVBKKRSE

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mike McStay Fundraiser
Let's Party Hard for a Big Cause
Woosong Social Club
Friday, June 12, 2009
7:30pm - 11:55pm
J Rock ( Next to ANN outlet by Eunhang Dong Galleria)
Daejeon South Korea.



Big Mike Mcstay was recently admitted to hospital with growth in his digestive system. He had an operation and has been on a liquid diet for around ten days.

The total hospital bill for the first of the 2 needed surgeries is close to 2.7 Million Won.

We want to throw a fund raiser to

a) Help with the bill

b) Show Mike we are all with him through these troubling times.

The good people at JRock are providing the following :

1) 5000 Won Cover including a free drink ( All proceeds to Mike)

2) Pizza sales ( Half the list price to Mike) e.g. Margarita pizza 12,000 Won with 6,000 Won going to Mike

3) Reserve tables ( Half the proceeds to Mike)
One large pizza , one pitcher of Red Rock, 6 tequila shots and 6 highballs / draft for 50,000 Won

4) Bake sale ( All proceeds to Mike)

5) Red rock pitchers ( 15,000 Won with 5000 Won going to Mike)

6) Raffle draw
a. Big Ticket Item Draw ( All proceeds to Mike) - Wii or an iPod
b. 50 – 50 draw ( Half the proceeds to Mike)

Lets celebrate end of exams and party hard for a good cause

For those of you who cannot attend the Fund Raiser next Friday, there is an account to which you can send donations.

Woori Bank
Account Name: McStay, Flynn M.
Account Number: 1002-929-503133
Swife Code: HVBKKRSE

Yes and I can not say thank you enough to all of you wonderful people for helping me right now.

once again, no one has done a biopsy, so no one knows if the tumor is cancerous or not, so please lets do not jump the gun here.

as for western union information I have no idea how $ get wired to Korea, so if anyone knows please leave a comment on this blog.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Well everyone I am home form the hospital.

It has been a long day at the hospital. I was supposed to get out by 2pm it was after 4pm and almost 5 pm.

Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong, but I am home in Daejeon and taking it easy right now.

Tonight I will see natm2 and them I will take a huge rest until Sunday, when I go to church.

I am a little tired but I am ok. I will try and find someone who can read Korean and add my woori bank acct for the # to wire $$ and I will see if paypal can help on this one.

I do hope that everyone is ok and please keep me in your prayers.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

hi, its mike again with another update.

Well I am getting out of the hospital on 6-4-09.

so far part 1 of the 2 part surgery cost is 2.8 million won that I have to pay so far. The total bill w/o insurance is 5.8 million. I hope that this clarifies some confusion about what is going on.

A few of you have asked what can they do when I get back home, please get me some wet dog food for Soju, please make sure I have enough dry food for her also. I will be on a strict diet for the next 6-8 weeks until round 2 of the surgery. So please stock me up with fruits and veggies and some very simple recipes that i can eat for the next 6-8 weeks. A small amount of meat is of but, I Will try and eliminate as much of it as i can for my diet. I have to be at 120 kg for the surgery. I will be weighed in a few days and I will list that also.

Round 2 is when they do the biopsy and then they do surgery on the tumor. Part one has been a complete success, its the part 2 one that I am worried about.

As for an account to wire $$ to, please let me get back home and I will need someone who can translate Korean so we can list my woori bank acct info.

I am doing OK, I am on solid food and I am feeling pretty good right now.

once again thanks for all of the visits, I have really appreciated them.

I will update the status in a few days..