Once upon a time, there was a tiny country that nobody cared or knew about. However, it was magnificent for various reasons. The tiny country’s culture developed gradually and became influential further and further. Korea was once a weak small country, but it has now established a solid foothold in the world. Terms such as K-pop, K-drama, K-heart, and K-food show the impact outside of Korea, and those terms are even used as proper nouns in some nations. Among the many fascinating features of Korean culture are Korean literature and movie that express Koreans’ endemic mood and sensibility.
Please Look After Mom (2008)
“It has been a week since I lost my mom.”
Please Look After Mom
This novel has a distinctive style. Unlike most novels, the narrator uses the second person pronoun "you" instead of "I" and the name of the characters. Characters in the novel are from a typical everyday family, but nonetheless their lives are special. The main character’s mother devotes her time to her family, especially her children. She always does her best for them out of love. She gave up her chance at furthering her education in her younger days due to harsh circumstances. On the other hand, the family’s father is a selfish person who once had an affair and does not care about his wife. The eldest daughter is a famous writer. The son, the pride of his mother, leads a stable life. One day, an unbelievable event happens to the family, and it changes their lives. The mother fails to grab her husband’s hand at Seoul Station, and becomes lost. The family unexpectedly loses their mother. The husband loses his wife, and the children lose their mother. It might sound unbelievable given today’s society, but the mother is actually illiterate. After a week passes, the family members gather to discuss how to proceed. They decide to put up flyers hoping to her something from someone. However, they encounter trouble making the flyers. Each member attributes the situation to the others. They gather but are ready to hurt and fight each other, rather than unite in the mission to locate their mother. Will they find their mother? Will she return home? What future is waiting for them?
The book is divided into four chapters and an epilogue, and sheds light on Korean mothers through the memories of an eldest daughter in chapter one, the son in chapter two, and the husband in chapter three. In chapter four, the mother explains her life by gently expressing to her family her feelings toward her children and the husband. The scene in which the family gathers to make flyers shows their indifference towards their mother. They had to write her birthdate on the flyer, but no one knew it accurately. The mother remembers every small incident regarding her family, but it is only after they lose their mother that the family thinks of her. As time goes by, the family recalls memories of the mother. It is only then that they understand her, but it is too late. The book gives readers a chance to reflect on their own relationship with their mothers (or other family members). Readers can reflect on the sacrifice of their family members. The book also teaches us that things closest to us are most precious. Please Look after Mom might provide warmth with its own touching story and particular mood to readers who often forget preciousness of one’s familiar family.
“The absence of a plan means nothing can go wrong! You can make a plan, but life never works out that way.”
- Kim Kitaek
This movie examines social hierarchy. There are two different class families in the movie, but they have something in common. The two families both have four members. Except this, they are different in many ways. Kitaek, the main character in the movie, lives in a semi-basement dwelling and earns a living working part-time folding pizza boxes every day. The other family lives in a very nice home. The two families become intertwined through Minhyuk, the friend of Kiwoo, who is son son of Kitaek. One day, Minhyuk suggests Kiwoo to mange his extracurricular work because he has plans to study abroad. Kiwoo starts the tutoring job after falsifying his academic background. Kiwoo later, after talking with the mother of Dahye, the student he tutors, that Dahye's younger brother, Dasom, needs an art teacher. One thought quickly comes to his mind. He introduces his younger sister Kijeong to Dahye’s mom as an art teacher, but hides his relationship to her by saying she is a colleague’s cousin who had studied art in the US. With half the lower class family working in the house, they become greedier. Kijeong places the car driver in a tough situation, which causes the higher class family to fire him. Kitaek, father of Kiwoo, gets the job as driver for the family. Last, the original housekeeper is fired due to another created situation, so the wife of Kitaek becomes the replacement. How long can keep up this facade and live as parasites in the house?
The movie <Parasite> won the Palme d'Or award at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival. It was directed by Bong Joonho, who also directed <Okja> and <Snowpiercer>. Director Bong has received numerous compliments on his films and this film <Parasite> has become world renowned. Lots of people are now starting to look carefully at the Korean movie industry. It is indeed the kind of movie that keeps you sweating for the entire length of the film, all 131 minutes. It was the director's wish that the film made audiences feel uncomfortable throughout the movie and even more uncomfortable on their return to their homes after the movie. Parasite is a simple story, but it is a film that makes viewers think deeply. First released on May 30, 2019, the film is set to be re released on February 26, 2020, less than a year after the film was made. For any Sookmyungian who missed it the first time at theaters, now is your chance to see it on the big screen.
Kwak Lee Shinyoung / Woman Section Reporter
Lee Hwang Hayoung / Woman Section Reporter