South Korea: Land of the Free(bies)

I got to attend a special screening for FREE of Cha In Pyo’s newest film “Crossing”. The regular showing is on June 26th. It was held at theatre 12 of COEX Megabox, a multiplex located in the business district of Gangnam. I had two tickets but I went there by myself. My husband took care of our son 😀

The cinema is located 600 meters from Samseong station. I got my tickets 5 minutes before the scheduled showing at 8:30PM. I didn’t have dinner so I bought a regular sized popcorn (3,500 won) and a bottle of Gatorade (2,000 won).

I really hoped that Cha In Pyo would be there, but of course that was really just wishful thinking. Majority of the audience were non-Koreans and I could say that I was the only Filipina there. The theatres capacity is 124, I counted the seats, but there were a few vacant seats.

The story is about a father, Kim Yong Soo (played by Cha In Pyo), a North Korean soccer player turned miner, who crossed the borders to China to find medicine for his pregnant and Tuberculosis infected wife. He worked in China to earn some money but lost his savings in a raid. A people trafficker tricked him (and others) to go to the German Embassy for freedom. He found himself in South Korea while his son and wife were in the North. He hired a broker to help him contact his family, but his wife has died and his son was sent to the labor camp.

The setting in North Korea looked like it was the 1950’s but it was subtitled as “Present day North Hamgyung province in North Korea.” I’d seen several documentaries on the north and I thought that the movie reflected the lives of people there as told by defectors. I’d seen stories of North Koreans trying to enter foreign embassies in China to gain freedom. I’d read stories of how unsuccessful defectors were sent to labor camps and how badly women who got pregnant in China were treated. There were scenes of children eating dirt, stealing, and scavenging for food. They made me guilty for buying that expensive popcorn!

One of the scenes I won’t forget is when Yongsoo tried to buy medicine that was prescribed for his wife in the North in South Korea. He was told that if he could bring his wife to the hospital, medications for her disease are free. I didn’t know that before.

I stayed until the credits were done as I tried to absorb everything. The boy who played Cha In Pyo’s son is good. The movie is okay, not the best I’d seen and it’s also not the worst. It just didn’t affect me as I’d expected. I think people should watch it, specially South Korean kids so they will realize how lucky they are! They should be thankful to those who gave up their lives so they could be free.

So I hope you guys watch it when it arrives at theatres near you. They might show it with English subtitles in selected cinemas in Seoul.

12 comments

  1. there was this hour-long documentary film done by british mediamen on north korea which i fortunately saw on a cable channel.. — a family is provided with (one or two-bedroom) apartment, provided with a tv where channels are only about the north korean gov’t. (tv viewing time is also controlled), children go to school early and study really hard– thinking that they are doing those to please their president…

    like what you said, south korean children are really so lucky compared to north korean children. and still, many people complain about what they dont have rather than being thankful with what they have…

    i could never imagine myself living in such conditions.. life must be respected and people must be allowed to live according to their will…

  2. @eden, AzureWolf >> it’s depressing… i think they should change the ending

    @Beena >> you are such a smart girl… when I was your age, my friends thought I was weird for liking history and old stuff

    @jehan >> i’d seen that documentary… those are “model” citizens… living really good lives in north korea…

  3. Well When I saw the movie I was touched. And I feel that we as the WHOLE world need to fix this HUGE problem. totalitarianism Is not a pretty thing. The North korean army itself doesn’t even know about the advancement in technology outside. While we the USA is converting from Digital to HD in around 3-4 months the people of North korea is facinated by static “full” Digital TV (and terrible ones at that). All sorts technology that exercises freedom of speech etc. are banned such as PC’s Cameras and so on and so forth. This move shows even that a Pencil sharpener is a precious device.
    As I have proved my point it is a dificult place to live. China can’t even be compared to N. Korea.

  4. you’re very lucky to see this movie Crossing! i’d like to see this when it comes on dvd with subs of course. i’m just starting to learn Korean language slow but sure! this is unrelated to Crossing but how do you like living in Korea as a Pilipina (i’m pinay also) as i’m truly interested in living & working there someday! pls if you don’t mind sharing the experience just briefly i’d appreciate it! take care (ingat)

  5. i saw the film.life’s reality..moving!! it’s a film that would make you realized and appreciate your existence..lets count our blessings,live a simple life so others may simply live.

  6. I’m a big fan of Asian (particularly Korean) cinema.
    I’ve heard about the film a long time ago, and I badly want to see it. But I guess it’s not available in the Philippines.If you have a copy of the film, please, please, do contact me through my e-mail. Thanks!

  7. I loved the movie, although sometimes I think there might have been some sort of exaggeration, I don’t know. One of my relatives works for an NGO and goes there almost every month for a volunteer work, and she said it is not the way western media pictures it for us. One thing about the movie is that it is made in a perfectly “Korean way” that is very or even too dramatic, without a sign of happy ending, so that everybody has to die at the end. But i liked the main caracter play and i think the boy play was also great!

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