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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

“Tell the Kitchen That There’s Too Much Buchu in the Dumpling”: Reading Park Chan-wook’s “Unknowable” Old Boy

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2006, v.46 no.1, pp.84-108
Kim Kyung Hyun (UC Irvine)
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Abstract

In all three films of Park Chan-wook's "revenge" trilogy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Old Boy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005), one can trace the emergence of "postmodern" attitude that takes up not only the point of view that the grand ideologies (humanism, democracy, socialism, etc.) are faltering, if not entirely dissipated, but also a belief that the image is merely just that: an image. Image here is that which is not an impression of reality, but a perception of matter that approximates the verisimilitudes of both space and time that may not have anything to do with reality. This renders a sense of the "unknowable." This article probes a number of elements that typify Park's films: the trope of revenge and its relationship with Nietzschean ressentiment, the stylized use of violence, the failing gap between the plane of representation and the plane of signification, and the various spatial, historical, and ontological markers of the "unknowable." All of these issues will also investigate, challenge, and contextualize the recent Western critics' response to his work that has problematized Park's films for having failing to produce social criticism.

keywords
Korean cinema Park Chan-wook Korean cinema Park Chan-wook

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both notoriously important publications for any independent films opening in the U gave harsh reviews to Oldboy,

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first published in 1998 was written by Tsuchiya Garon and illustrated by Minegishi Nobuaki,

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(1988) drunkard Mansus bar brawl lands him at a police station where he is detained overnight for additional questioning A small misdemeanor that should have only led to a small fine escalates into a far more punitive action because Mansu has a father who is in jail as a long-term political prisoner The Day a Pig Fell into the Well also includes a scene in which its protagonist Hyo-seop is sentenced in court three-day detention for instigating a fight with a restaurant worker at a Korean barbeque spot, In Chilsu and Mansu

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Park Chan-wook began experimenting with voiceover narration from Oldboy he employed an 60 year-old female narrator with long experiences in radio and television voice actor whose voice nostalgically reminded the viewers of radio dramas or popular television documentary programs like Ingan sidae,

Korea Journal