Friday, July 07, 2006

Three Extremes

Last night after some kimchi jiggae for me and mandu ramyeon for Hilly we went to a DVD bang (private movie room) for a cheap night out. We had both seen Oldboy by director Park Chan Wook and wanted to see another movie by him, Sympathy for Mr. Vengenace. I was told that the translation of this in Korean was 'Monster' (or rather, 'Monsutuh') so I asked if they had it and we went right in without my usual long period of indecisiveness with movie selections.

What we actually had got was Three Extremes (the Korean on the front said 'Monster'), which is a trilogy of short horror films, one Japanese, one Chinese, and one Korean, the last being directed by Park Chan Wook. In the end I wasn't disappointed at all that we didn't get the movie we were expecting.

In 'Box' by Japanese director Takashi Miike a woman is haunted by her twin sister's ghost. Park Chan Wook's film 'Cut' is about a Korean director who is held hostage and terrorized along with his wife in his own home by a psychotic extra.

'Dumplings' (from Hong Kong director, Fruit Chan) was the most disturbing and disgusting. The main character, in a quest for beauty in hopes to gain affection from her cheating husband, goes to a woman who makes "the most expensive dumplings". The reason they're expensive: They're make from aborted fetuses. I am not exaggerating when I say this was disgusting. And the crunchy chewing sound that goes along with every fountain-of-youth-meal is equally grotesque. Eating mandu will never be the same for me.

Along the same lines, I had never heard of placentophagy (yes, there really is a word for "eating the placenta after childbirth") until I moved to Korea. I was reading a translated Korean fiction book not long ago where the main character ran an abortion clinic and sold the placentas to women in the neighborhood who ate it for health and beauty reasons. I was shocked. I hope this truly is fiction that is not based on fact but I have my doubts. Some of the Korean superstitions about certain foods (and other typically inedible things) and the benefits they provide are absolutely ridiculous.

For now I'm off to work and then later tonight I'll be on a bus bound for North Korea. Peace.