What is it with Korean movies? Old Boy

. 2 min read

Okay, moving on to Park Chan-wook, another amazingly talented Korean director! In fact, I don't know which one of these two (Kim Ki-duk or Park) is better at what they do. The handle the same themes. They're almost the same age. (Oh, and have I mentioned yet that they're both Korean?) So the only reason I have covered two movies by Kim and am going to cover three movies by Park is that I've seen more of Park's work. And since I first saw Old Boy of his works, I'll start with that.

Old Boy (2003) (original title Oldeuboi) is a about a man who is kidnapped and imprisoned (by no legal entity, without a court hearing or anything) for fifteen years, only to be released for five days - during which he has to find whoever captured him. Or so he thinks. In fact, the question he should be asking isn't who's his captor; it's why they let him out now.

Doesn't that sound exciting? The whole point of the movie is finding out the question to that answer. It makes your brain tickle with the challenge. You want to figure it out yourself before the movie reveals the twist. (Although for the main character, it'll be too late.)

As always, since we're here on WIP, let's think about the movie in terms of philosophy and psychology. How has the man endured 15 years of imprisonment? Did he go insane at some point? How has he passed his time? Does he think the time was wasted, or did he see something of value in it? What would you do, apart from trying to escape, if you were kidnapped and locked in a confined space for 15 years?

Then, when the man is released, he completely ignores the shadyness of it - he's so focused on finding his captor that he doesn't stop to question why he was let go. He should have been smarter than that. He should have seen beyond the facade.

And in the end, when he does finally realize what the whole thing, the imprisonment and the relase and all, was about - he's consumed with regret and wants to forget everything. He doesn't want to live with what he knows. Instead of living the rest of his life with the burden, he wants his memory erased. He wants the easy solution.

How psychological is that?

I don't blame him for wanting to forget, though. I merely think it's interesting that more than living with the knowledge, and more than killing himself, he wants to forget. What's more, it's suggested that he deserves what he gets - but obviously he doesn't agree, at least not fully, because he isn't ready to live with the punishment.

So if you haven't seen Old Boy (the original Korean! NOT THE AMERICAN REMAKE) yet, go watch it - and see if you think anyone gets justice in the movie.