Short Films: Suddenly Last Summer (지난 여름, 갑자기 ) and Going South (남쪽으로 간다)

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I saw Leesong Hee-il’s (이송희일) two short films Suddenly Last Summer (지난 여름, 갑자기) and Going South (남쪽으로 간다) last night. I believe it was the first screening with English subtitles, which makes me feel a bit baller. One of the perks about living in Seoul is getting to see queer Korean films before the rest of the world. Then again, there aren’t probably too many people out there who would find that a perk…
Anyways, as this was the first screening, the director was there to have a Q&A forum after the films. A translator was provided for the crowd. I would imagine there were about 25 foreigners and 15 Koreans in attendance. Honestly, I’m not the best at reviewing films but I’ll talk about the films a bit and the Q&A session that followed. 콜?

I saw Leesong Hee-il’s (이송희일) two short films Suddenly Last Summer (지난 여름, 갑자기) and Going South (남쪽으로 간다) last night. I believe it was the first screening with English subtitles, which makes me feel a bit baller. One of the perks about living in Seoul is getting to see queer Korean films before the rest of the world. Then again, there aren’t probably too many people out there who would find that a perk…
Anyways, as this was the first screening, the director was there to have a Q&A forum after the films. A translator was provided for the crowd. I would imagine there were about 25 foreigners and 15 Koreans in attendance. Honestly, I’m not the best at reviewing films but I’ll talk about the films a bit and the Q&A session that followed. 콜?

Suddenly Last Summer focuses on the relationship between Sang-woo, a student, and his homeroom teacher, Kyeong-hoon. We learn in the film that the student had seen his teacher at a gay bar in Seoul. He then blackmails his teacher into spending a day date with him on a cruise down the Han river. Kyeong-hoon is obviously uncomfortable with this; grappling with his responsibility as a teacher and his desire to make love with his student set the tone for the short film.
(Kim Yeong-jae plays Kyeong-hoon, and I could definitely see why Sang-woo was smitten. Although he is somewhat of a butter face, his body was busting out of that button down. Yum.)

Kim Yeong-jae is on the left… look at those shoulders

*Spoiler* Kyeong-hoon tries to rebuff his students advances, but in the end Sang-woo makes his way into his apartment. After a brief physical altercation, it appears that the two are going to do something physical in a more, um, romantic way. And with that, the film finishes (leaving me to undress Kim Yeong-jae in my imagination). *End spoiler*

Going South starts out with Joon-yeong driving Ki-tae, back to base. Ki-tae decides to drug Joon-yeong and bring him south (hence the title). Cut through the film are epistolary flashbacks, which flesh out the story. The two were once lovers during the military, but Joon-yeong has returned to civillian life and a girlfriend. Ki-tae, obviously, isn’t very happy. He tries to reason out why Joon-yeong doesn’t want to be with him anymore.



*Spoiler* Part of this means having sex one last time, of course. Ki-tae takes a picture of Joon-yeong’s orgasm face to save as a momento of Joon-yeong’s emotional attachment. The two then wrestle in the mud, some of their issues are resolved, and Ki-tae decides to go AWOL. While Joon-yeong may live a heterosexual life, Ki-tae is determined to dance through his. *End spoiler*

The Q&A session started immediately after the film. Unfortunately, a lot of the time was wasted by an older Korean guy asking a question something like this: “I am not gay. But I saw this movie, and thought if gay people choose to have sex with other men, then eventually everyone will have gay sex and people won’t reproduce”. *facepalm*. Leesong Hee-il answered the question sensibly and diplomatically, talking about how gay people are born gay and how straight people have gay kids sometimes and gay parents have straight kids, but it took up a huge amount of time. Other questions talked about the use of colors (blacks and whites in White Night, the blues in Suddenly Last Summer and the greens in Going South) and the form of the film, but the conversation seemed to focus on homosexuality in Korean films. Leesong Hee-il wanted to talk about the films as films and was trying to avoid heavy talks. I get that he wants to make art for art, but art isn’t made in a vacuum… I would have been curious to see what he had to say about his films in context of Korean queer cinema, but by the time I had formed an intelligent question in my head, the session was over.

He ended his Q&A with talking about his next feature film, which will tell the story about a high school student who was outed by his counselor and the drama that entailed because of this episode. Looks interesting.

The two films were part of a trilogy with White Night (백야), which I have also seen but been to lazy to review. All three films had similar characters. One guy doesn’t open up at all about his feelings, while the other guy is a bit more aggressive and vocal. The tone is also quite similar. Although I found the films enjoyable, my boyfriend said the melodrama was a bit immature, and I could see why he would say that. Leesong Hee-il’s love stories do not seem very realistic, and though I can sympathize with individual characters on their emotional pain, I cannot fully place myself in their position.

Were any of my readers at the films? Did you enjoy it? 



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