Woke up with borderline hypothermia. Since the ger had no light whatsoever, I had to crawl into my sleeping bag liner/extra liner/sleepbag in the dark. This was fine when I went to sleep as the fire was still on and burning bright, but through the night as my vitals fell, I realised I mustn’t have utilised the layers as well as I should. I woke at 6am with just a thin liner and half the sleeping bag covering me. I was so cold I couldn’t zip the sleeping bag back up as my hands were numb. On top of that-if you’ll pardon the phrasing-my arse was still pounding from the horse.
We got ourselves to the main ger a fill ourselves with Kazakh bread a tea. The tea they drink here is very milky and since there isn’t much caffeine you can drink it all day. We both got a real taste for it. For the rest of the morning we either lazed around or hiked the farm. The lambs were up so we played with them, saw a few yaks strolling around. The dogs made an effort of trying to chase them but thought better once they got close. Big buggers, yaks.
A man heavily in debt decides to kill himself by jumping of a bridge in Seoul, only to fail and become stranded on an island in the middle of the river cutting through the South Korean capital. His inability to swim sinks his chances of escape and he resolves to stay alive. As the weeks and months pass he is initially unaware that over the river from an apartment window, an eccentric recluse is watching him, until she decides to send him a letter.
There are some films which I put into a chart that I keep in my head. The chart is colour-coded and properly indexed. The name of the chart is ‘The Kooky Calculator’. It categorises and critiques movies on; you guessed it, their kookiness. There are three main categories on The Kooky Calculator: the ‘too kooky’, the ‘suitably kooky’ and the ‘king kooky’. The ‘too kooky’ includes “Be Kind, Rewind”, “The Science of Sleep” and Zooey Deschanel: some of them good movies with wonderful scenes but lose themselves inside their own eccentricities. ‘Suitably Kooky’ have amongst them gems such as “Adaptation” and “Little Miss Sunshine”, good pictures with great ideas but with just too much kooky for it to be a classic. ‘King Kookies’ is where only the best can sit. Films that toed the line of kookiness but still left me emotionally involved and thoroughly entertained. ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ is there, as is ‘Sideways’ and ‘Welcome to Dongmakol’, and now, so is ‘Castaway on the Moon’.
I recently posted a video by Seoul-based games company ‘Studio Shelter‘. The video is a ‘faux-demo’ for a video game which tells the recent history of South Korea. A day after it was posted I got a response from the guys at Kimchibytes.com asking for a quick run-down of what was actually going on, so I’ve given it a go.
If you enjoy a bit of history but are more of a watcher than a reader then read on.
South Korean game company Studio Shelter have put together a demo for a (fictional) game titled ‘Democracy Demo’. If you were part of the ‘8-bit generation’ and grew up with the likes of ‘Street Fighter’ and the original ‘Mario’ you will swoon with nostalgic delight at this video which humorously (and quite accurately) depicts the modern history of South Korea from the end of Japanese occupation (1945) to the present day. Knowing a thing or two about South Korea helps (depicting former president Lee Myung-bak as a rat will please many) but it will entertain nonetheless.
A North Korean ‘ghost’ agent, famed in his home country as the ultimate patriot, finds himself embroiled in a scandal involving his wife, a translator at the North Korean embassy and other high ranking government officials. A traitor has been identified, but can we believe the intel? All the while the movements of all concerned are being closely surveyed by the South Koreans, with help from the CIA.
The story of Choi Ik-hyun (Choi Min-sik), a former customs officer turned businessman and his tumultuous rise through the ranks of Busan’s organised crime syndicate.
Choi Min-sik is my hero. After he starred in Oldboy he had the pick of the litter in Korean cinema, he could have done anything. What did he do? Made a boxing film. After which he went on a self-imposed exile to protest the Korean government’s decision to cut screenings of Korean films in cinema’s by 50% to make way for more Hollywood tat, then made a film about the Himalayas that no one watched and then made I Saw the Devil, playing one of the most sadistic characters in film history. You never know what to expect with Mr. Choi. Here he is playing a sort of idiot savant. A man seen sometimes as incredibly inept and socially backwards but also has the aptitude to mastermind multi-layered business deals.
The film is very smart and all the actors are first rate. Ha Jung-woo is all at once charming and frightening as the head of the syndicate. After My Dear Enemy and surprising turns in Kim Ki-duk’s Breathe he is unquestionably one of my favourite Korean actors at the moment. The pacing of the film is masterful, with flashbacks and flash-forwards working well into the story and the production design is fantastic.