[FOUNTAIN]Despite woes, Korea is land of opportunityThe writer Choi In-ho received the prestigious Lee Sang Literary Award in 1982 for “One Deep Bluish Night.” The director Bae Chang-ho made a movie based on the short story in 1984, at the peak of the regime of Chun Doo Hwan. Mr. Choi, a best-selling 1980s writer, and Mr. Bae, a controversial filmmaker, paid attention to the United States as a spiritual escape and the “land of opportunity.”
Ho-bin, the male protagonist played by an acclaimed actor, Ahn Seong-gi, marries Jane, a Korean-American woman played by Jang Mi-hui, in order to get a U.S. residence permit. Jane had earlier married an African-American man to emigrate to the other side of the Pacific Ocean. She pursued the American dream, but was abandoned by her husband. Their dream and success did not come easily. The movie ends with a memorable scene of a gunshot echoing in Death Valley and a car horn reverberating, pressed by the bloody head of Ho-bin. The movie was a controversial one filled with social criticism, but over 500,000 people saw the film in Seoul alone; it was a huge hit by 1980s’ standards.
The movie “Failan” is 21st century version of international marriage for citizenship. The director, Song Hae-sung, portrays a tragic marriage between a Chinese woman and a Korean man in 2001, the golden year for President Kim Dae-jung. The film was not successful at the box office, but Mr. Song was named director of the year by Directors’ Cut, a group of young filmmakers. “Failan” also received the “best film” award at the Deauville Asian Film Festival.
Failan, a Chinese woman played by the Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung, marries a small-time hoodlum, Kang-jae, played by the Korean actor Choi Min-shik. The marriage is on paper only ― they do not even know what the other looks like ― but one day, he receives a letter from her saying she loves and respects him. Kang-jae sets out to search for Failan and rediscovers himself. But Failan, who came to Korea thinking it would be a land of dreams, sees her bubble burst.
An organized criminal agency that arranged paper marriages between Koreans and ethnic Koreans in China was broken up in Daegu recently. Despite the nuclear threat, impeachment, social turmoil and discord, Korea is still a land of opportunity.
by Oh Byung-sang
The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.