The feature presentation, minus popcornOh, how we crave an escape from our daily routine. Just when you announce you can’t endure it anymore, thank God, it’s time for a vacation. The strange thing about vacation, however, is how obsessed you get about maxing out your time. After several all-night wrestling matches with computer, guidebook and brochures, you plan everything to make it perfect. When the supposedly flawless vacation ends, however, you’re left wanting another vacation in the truest sense.
That was the case on my last vacation to Jeju island. I was grimly resolved to make it memorable and that’s why I put the Jeju Shinyoung Cinema Museum on my agenda. The first of its kind in Korea, this museum was the right place to go for the ideal voyage, at least according to all the tourist material I read. Shin Young-gyun, an old-time actor, opened the homespun museum in June 1999.
“Since the opening, we’ve had more than 300,000 visitors a year, which tells us that the museum is now both in name and for all practical purposes the tourist attraction of Jeju island,” says the museum’s publicist, Kim Young-kwan.
The museum does contain a decent collection of film equipment dating to the early stages of cinema history; all kinds of cameras and movie projectors are found here.
The most elaborate section concentrates on filmmaking’s earliest era, where the fundamentals of cinemato- graphy are displayed. Seeing gigantic antiquated equipment like a Zoetrope, a circular device with a set of still images that appear to be moving when spun quickly, I came to understand how an after-image effect works. A collection of miniatures used in sci-fi films was rather crude, but bearable.
The good stuff ended there. After taking a few photos of images of Korean movie actors, pasted on the walls and ceiling of the Hall of Fame, there’s little else to do.
The section on contemporary Korean cinema is practically empty. And the costumes from Korean movies, such as military uniforms from “Joint Security Area” arranged on mannequins, are so backward. There’s even a small collection of movie posters that your average cinephile could rustle together without breaking a sweat.
Of course, you can picture yourself as Sylvester Stallone in the 1993 flick “Cliffhanger;” a digitally produced photograph is yours for 2,000 won ($1.70). But some facilities seem altogether unrelated to film, like the miniature TV studio where visitors can be photographed as a news anchor, for another 2,000 won.
I exited the museum, totally disappointed, into a sculpture garden of movie characters. Here, you can take a picture (this time for free) sitting on a bench where a replica of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump is seated with his famous box of chocolates. Passing this grove of not-so-clever looking characters, I came to see the best part of the museum: a cliff whose 2 kilometer long (1.2 mile) promenade by the emerald-blue sea provides ample room to space out and soak up nature.
So the cinema museum was not a complete waste of time after all.
by Chun Su-jin
Jeju Shinyoung Cinema Museum is in Namwon, a one-hour drive from the airport. Admission fees: 6,000 won ($5) for adults, 4,000 won for teens and 3,000 won for children. If you call ahead, (064) 764-7777, an English guide is provided, free of charge. Or visit www. jejuscm.co.kr.