Probing the Korean Psyche with Park Chanwook

Today’s NY Times Magazine was rich with fascinating nuggets. First was a profile of a Korean filmmaker named Park Chanwook who has made superviolent yet intriguing movies that mostly have to do with vengence. In one film, a man whose daughter is kidnapped takes brutal revenge on the captured kidnapper. His whole family takes turns exacting their violent revenge, politely lining up one by one.

In Korea during the mid eighties, student demonstrations against the military regime created two classes of people: those who demonstrated, and were beaten or tortured by the police, and those who feel guilty for not taking part. Park said that this divide polarizes the whole society because those who participated are proud since they changed Korean society; and those who did not feel guity because they enjoy the benefits but did not sacrifice anything themselves.

One of Park’s movies is called “Joint Security Area.” It’s about South Korean soldiers who sneak over to the North Korean side and become friends with their sworn enemies. The movie will be remade by an American director and the location will be the US/Mexico border. It would be hard to duplicate Park’s unique style but the subject is tantalizing, and I look forward to seeing one of his movies–It’s coming this week from Blockbuster.