Sun-kyun Lee and Yu-mi Jung in Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa (2010)


(director/writer: Sang-Soo Hong; cinematographers: Park Hong-yeol/Jee Yune-jeong; editor: Hahm Sung-won; music: We Zong-yun; cast: Lee Sun-kyun (Jingu), Jung Yu-mi (Oki), Moon Sung-keun (Professor Song); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Kim Kyoung-hee; Asian Crush; 2010-South Korea-in Korean with English subtitles)
The director finds interesting ways to present a ménage à trois and expose the main characters as narcissists, flawed people and hypocrites.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Prolific Korean auteur Sang-Soo Hong (“The Turning Gate”/”Woman is the Future of Man”/”Tale of Cinema”) directs this captivating film about the relationship of a confused film student named Oki (Jung Yu-mi) with her worldly older professor Song (Moon Sung-keun) and the inexperienced sexually younger fellow student Jingu (Lee Sun-kyun). The movie comprises four short films that are inter-related. It’s set during the winter in Seoul. “Pomp and Circumstance” recurs as a melancholy theme for all four short films.

The first film is entitled A Day for Incarnation. It tells of a disgruntled thirtysomething filmmaker and professor Jingu Nam (Lee Sun-kyun) getting smashed at a faculty party and then while drunk the unhappily married filmmaker at a Q&A for his latest film implodes as he gets humiliated by questions from a persistent coed that he ruined the life of her girlfriend, his ex-flame, when he had an affair with her four years ago and crudely dumped her.

The second film is entitled King of Kisses. Jingu is this time a crazed twentysomething film student, madly in love with fellow student Oki, in the same Seoul college as in the first film. Both youngsters study under under Professor Song, a successful older director. Problem is that Song is also having an affair with Oki , and she can’t drop Jingu to the discomfort of Song.

The third film is entitled After the Snowstorm. During the snowstorm of the century, only Oki and Jingu show for the class of Professor Song. The frustrated teacher decides teaching interferes with his artistic talent and that he doesn’t have the gift to be a good teacher and reach so many apathetic students.

The fourth film is entitled Oki’s Movie. Oki takes two hikes up Seoul’s Mt. Acha, twice a year, during the New Year season, with each of her lovers, the student Jingu and the professor Song. Whereby she compares notes on them and eerily documents her relationship with each lover by commenting on such things as their restroom visits during the hike.

The director finds interesting ways to present a ménage à trois and expose the main characters as narcissists, flawed artists and hypocrites. By the fourth film we get it that Sang-Soo Hong is not that impressed with film schools as creative institutions and believes film-makers should avoid them or risk sinking into comfortable mediocrity. The pic is self-effacing, funny, profound and uniquely executed.