Two Korean films--vastly different

It's 6:25pm and I'm sitting in the practically empty theatre. There's maybe 20 of us in total in the audience. We're waiting to see the film "The Road Taken." I wonder if it's because of the subject matter that doesn't attract crowds? Since there is such a small audience, the person collecting surveys for the drawing is forced to talk to people indivdually who can't seem to figure out..what a survey is. Questions like, what's the survey for? What do I need to fill it out? Do I have to fill it out? Are called out randomly. I roll my eyes annoyed. If you were a regular festival goer, you would know that it's in your best interest to fill out the very short survey to be entered into the drawing. I started to feel like I was back in high school and these audience members were whining kids who didn't want to do their homework. One woman in the audience called out quite snottily that she didn't receive a pencil to fill out the survey. Where was her pencil? I took a deep breath in at the stupidity of some people. I recognized her as the woman who minutes before downstairs at the ticket booth was complaining that she couldn't buy her tickets a day in advance. There's always one person...

"The Road Taken" is based on the true story of Kim Son-Myong who spent 45 years in jail for standing up for his beliefs and ideals. He was a south korean who joined the North Korean army and was imprisoned for being a communist traitor. The film starts out light...showing how living in a prison has it's own routines and expectations. How friends or commrades as they called each other were the lifeline to survival. They had a tapping system on the walls that enabled them to communicate with one another. Outside news was told through this way. But soon, you started to feel like you were in that prison with them. It started to become repeitious. Torture, bad food, little humanity and yet, still not surrendering to South korean politics were the only thing that kept these men in jail. Even after 45 years of the character who played Kim Son-Myong is released and free to go on a special pardon, there isn't that sense of redemption. I was left feeling...quite sad. Not really inspired by this man's fight. Just wondering, if it really was worth it? His whole life..gone, spent in a jail. He watched as all his friends left or died. And for what? To be loyal to his beliefs?

Thankfully, the next movie I saw that night was the Korean, romantic comedy (emphasis on the comedy) called "Please Teach me English." The backbone of the story was Korea's facination to learn english. It's believed that if you speak english, it will advance your career, your love life and will open all doors to the infinite possibilities in life. Na Yeong Ju, an entry level, government offical is picked out of everyone in her office to learn how to speak english because of a run in with an angry customer. She attends enlish classes and meets Park Mun-Soo, a slick rick playboy type who she immediately falls for. He in turn likes the Australian English teacher, Cathy. I was anticipating this movie being similar to "My Sassy Girl," my all time favorite Korean film. But...it actually topped it. I have never laughed so hard in a movie theatre! And it wasn't just sections that were chucklesome. The whole movie...I laughed, the audience laughed...every was laughing. Certain parts, the audience even clapped, they were so entertained. This was the kind of movie experience I was used to at this festival. A packed crowd, craning your neck to read the subtitles..and laugh out loud fun. Hands down, I would recommend this movie to anyone who needs a little pep in their step. A Korean film not to be missed!