September 11, 2017

The Other Side of the Mountain: Why Does He Love Her

To refer to Son-ah (Kim Hyang Suk) "noble" would be a bit of an understatement. As her North Korean town's first homegrown nurse, we see her suck the blood and pus out of the throat of an ailing child, draw blood from her own arm to aid in the recuperation of a weakened young man, and pluck out pieces of shrapnel from an unconscious soldier's face with a pair of tweezers. Factor in her subsisting on the dregs of the porridge so others can eat a full bowl, and you'd be hard-pressed to come out with many other movie characters as self-sacrificing as her. Complicated she is not.

Yet you get the feeling that Il-gyu (Kim Ryung Min), the AWOL soldier who falls in love with Son-ah, is mainly drawn to her rosy cheeks and her maidenly manner, and that her strength of character is somewhat of an afterthought, although, to his credit that changes over time. But it's a lot of time to effect the change — decades in fact — as Il-gyu goes in search of his mom at the end of the war, reunites with his childhood pal (who's now missing half a leg), gets involved in some black market trading, and then heads over to Amsterdam to study to be a surgeon. Only after he's done his residency and established in his profession does he actually make it back to North Korea for a conference... wiser and richer but with a heavy heart.

Once he's landed in Pyongyang, he asks a cheery conference worker to track down his beloved — which she does. You can imagine his stupefaction when he discovers that not only has she stayed single while waiting for his promised return but she's also founded and runs a hospital architecturally modeled after a wood carving he'd made right before he left. Now that's devotion!

Footnote: Directed by Korean-American Joon Bai, The Other Side of the Mountain was co-produced by companies form North Korea and the USA!

No comments:

Post a Comment