Tamilnadu Thiraippada Iyakkam

This entry is part of 34 in the series 20080424_Issue


Tamilnadu Thiraippada Iyakkam,


National Folklore Support Centre

Jointly present



6.00 P.M.: The Classic

Kwak Jae- young / 2003 / Col / 130 Min


6.00 P.M.: An Affair

Je-Young Lee / 1998 / Col / 105 Min

The Classic

The movie starts in the present day. The daughter, Ji-Hae (Son Ye Jin), is

cleaning up around her house when she comes across a box full of old letters that

detail the story of her mother, Joo-Hee (who is also played by Son Ye Jin, in a dramatic

tour de force). Periodically in the movie, Ji-Hae reads one of those letters, which

starts a flashback scene in which the story of the mother is told. These flashbacks

are intertwined with Ji-Hae’s own story, in which she falls for a fellow student involved

in the school theater. The movie details both relationships. The mother, Joo-Hee, visits the

Countryside as a student one summer and meets Joon-Ha (Jo Seung-woo). Together

they explore the countryside, playing near a river which they both will always remember

as their special place. When a storm starts, and they take shelter together under a

tree, but not before Joo-Hee twists her ankle and is rendered helpless. Joon-Ha takes

her on his back and they run home, only to be confronted by her parents. Before they separate,

Joo-Hee gives him a necklace, which he keeps close as a precious

reminder of their time together. Unfortunately, as often happens in affairs of the heart, a third party prevents any deepening of their relationship. Joo-Hee has been promised by her parents as a

bride to Tae-Soo, Joon-Ha’s friend. But Tae-Soo, a noble friend, finds out about Joo-

Hee and Joon-Ha’s attraction and helps the two communicate secretly by using his

own name in place of Joon-Ha’s in their letters. When Tae-Soo’s father finds this out,

however, he beats Tae-Soo. Tae-Soo tries unsuccessfully to commit suicide so that

his two friends can be together. Meanwhile, in the present, Ji-Hae falls for her friend’s love interest,

but he seems not to notice. Then, in a sweet scene, they take shelter from the rain together

under the same tree. He uses his coat to cover both of them and escorts her to

where she needs to go. The moment, while magical, does not go anywhere as she

feels his help was only due to his generous nature and not from any feelings for her

on his part. Back in the past, Joon-Ha is guilt-ridden over his friend’s attempted suicide

and Joo-Hee’s own guilt. Determined to prevent any more hurt to her, Joon-Ha joins

the army and goes to Vietnam. There he loses his eyesight while saving a fellow

soldier. When he returns to Korea, he meets with Joo-Hee, trying to hide his blindness,

and convinces her he has married in hopes she will move on with her life. Though

heart broken that their relationship cannot continue, she does move on and eventually

marries Tae-Soo, Joon-Ha’s kind friend. After they have been married for several

years and have a young daughter, Ji-Hae, Joo-Hee is approached by friends of Joon-

Ha, who relate Joon-Ha’s last wish: that his ashes be scattered by Joo-Hee in the

river, now reservoir, where they first met. She then finds out that Joon-Ha only got

married after she had a son her daughter’s age. The heart-break is too much;

she cries. In the present, Ji-Hae’s own story unfolds. Her love interest reveals his true

feelings for Ji-Hae, feelings that mirror her own. It is also revealed that their taking

shelter together during the storm was no accident; he purposely left his umbrella

behind so that he could join her under the tree. Then, when Ji-Hae pensively reveals

her mother’s story to him, tears stream down his face. He wordlessly lifts a necklace

from around his neck and places it around hers. It is the necklace that Ji-Hae’s

mother, Joo-Hee, had given to Joon-Ha when they met. The circle is completed; Joo-

Hee’s daughter and Joon-Ha’s son have fallen in love.

An Affair


An Affair is a 1998 South Korean film. The quiet film about a woman

who falls in love with her sister’s fiance was the 7th-highest grossing

Korean film of 1998 and won the Best Asian Film award at the 1999 Newport

Beach International Film Festival.

Somewhere in between Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘In the Mood for Love’

and a TV-drama, this movie about adultery from South-Korea somehow

manages to appeal to a broader audience while retaining integrity movieas-

art wise. Lee Je-young was unbeknown-est to me, but I just realized he

made three movies (and quite different ones at that) with a widely popular

appeal that I really enjoyed unrelated to each other.

This is a doomed relationship; the interesting thing is that they are

not judged in any way in the portrayal and it therefore becomes a meditation

on love, the impermanence of it and of life itself. Quite profound.

Lee Mi-suk is amazing in the role, and looks better than ever as 38.

Venue: Indian School of Folklore

(Academic Wing of National Folklore Support Centre)

#505, 5th Floor, Kaveri Complex,

96, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam,

Chennai – 600 034. Ph: 28229192 / 42138410

(Behind Hotel Ganpath)

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