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[DVD Review]A look at the girls’ side of gundae

May 02,2008
How crazy is it to wait 730 days for a lover?
A recently released Korean DVD, “Crazy Waiting (Gidarida michyeo)” portrays the painful separation period that young Korean couples endure due to the mandatory military service imposed on men here.
For patient people, 730 days might not seem that long, but it can be an eternity for young lovers.
As one of the last divided countries in the world, Korea sends its young, healthy men in their early 20s — typically the prime of their lives — into the military. The length of the service is generally two years but varies slightly depending on the armed branch.
In this film, four couples have to go through tearful goodbyes. It’s sad for the guys, but even more heartbreaking for the girls, who must send their loved ones to some countryside training camp where they don’t even have a decent heater.
After the initial, emotion-ridden phase, however, the girls’ worries about their boyfriends soon dissipate into a tidal wave of loneliness. Crazy Waiting, however, doesn’t just show the hardship of the guys’ gundae; it focuses on the girlfriends’ story.
Each relationship has its ups and downs, but the military service is the overriding theme in this story, creating empathy among the four couples who come from various backgrounds.
Each couple copes with the loneliness in a different way, writing their own conclusion.
All of the girls face individual crises when they confront their loneliness. Two start cheating on their boyfriends. One couple breaks up a few months after the boyfriend’s departure. In the end, only one couple survives gundae — but they are a bit scarred after their tempestuous on-again, off-again bouts.
The title Crazy Waiting expresses well the flood of emotions that overwhelm the lovers. While the girls appear to be the ones taking control over whether to sustain their relationships, they are in fact still fragile and emotional.
None can escape making a decision that will hurt their significant other. Considering the important phase of life that gundae occupies in the life of young Korean adults — every college student worries about it — it’s surprising that Crazy Waiting is one of the Korean film industry’s few explorations of this issue.
The mandatory military service is regarded by some young adults as an annoyance due to its length. Crazy Waiting approaches the concept from an optimistic yet critical viewpoint. It presents a different ending for each couple.

Crazy Waiting
Directed by Ryu Seung-jin
Starring: Sohn Tae-young, Jang Geun-seok, Yoo In-young, Kim San-ho, Jang Hee-jin, Danny Ahn, Han Yeo-rum, U Seung-min
Running Time: 108 min
Subtitle: English
Genre: Drama, Romance

By Susan Yoon Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]


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