London to Kuala Lumpur: Complicated Relationships

Diary: Thursday 29 October

To sleep or not to sleep?


It is not often that I get the opportunity to watch so many movies in one go.

I am on my way from London to Kuala Lumpur and the best thing about flying Emirates is that there are around one dozen Korean films to choose from its vast collection of international films.

These four films have different storylines but they all concern complicated relationships.


Enemies In-Law (위험한 상견례 2)


In Enemies In-Law (위험한 상견례 2), a doting mum and dad raise a son whom they love dearly and whom they hope will follow in their footsteps.

The problem is that the dad steals priceless Korean antiques from museums to sell to foreign collectors, and the mum is a counterfeiter. She is such an expert forger that “it is said that if she wanted to, she could even forge the evidence that Jesus was Korean”.

Flattery is part of the ruse. In one scene the mum tells her next victim that she has ‘beautiful eyelashes’. So beautiful they resemble ‘camels’ eyelashes…grazing by the Nile river.’

In another family, a widower cop dad raises three daughters. Policing is their life and the whole family have jobs with the police force. The raison d’etre of the dad is to catch the nation’s top thief and counterfeiter, who have so far evaded his attempts at arresting them.

A complicated relationship arises when the son of the criminal family falls in love with a daughter of the police family. She falls in love with him too.

This is a humorous and imaginative film. Fortunately, unlike Romeo and Juliet, it does not end in tragedy, although at times you do wonder how there can be any kind of reconciliation between both families.


Twenty (스물)


In Twenty (스물), three boys meet at high school and become firm friends. Naturally there are problems with girls and after some break-ups one of them comments that “I am too old for this”.

When you have children of this age and are approaching 50 (like I am) you really have to laugh at their earnestness. They decide to think about their future and whilst walking along a path, they come across a fork in the road: “We are now forced to choose between between our dreams and reality.”

One of them chooses ‘reality’ (he leaves school and works to earn some money for future tuition fees) and another chooses to follow his dreams (by going to art college). The third, who is a real character, refuses to choose between dreams and reality: “Can I point out there’s another road behind us? ”

So he returns to his old high school lifestyle and starts a complicated relationship with a girl who is not what she seems to be.

Watching this film I realised I didn’t want to go back to being 20 again. Incidentally, I am flying to Kuala Lumpur to attend a friend’s 50th birthday. We met when we around 20 and have been friends for 30 years.

I enjoyed our university days but it is better to be 50 not because life is any easier, but because we now have 30 years of experience to cope with what life throws at us…and belief me, sometimes life throws things at you with quite a great force.


Perfect Proposal (은밀한 유혹)


Perfect Proposal (은밀한 유혹) is a story of revenge set aboard a luxury yacht, whose owner is extremely rich as he owns half the casinos in Macao. His illegitimate son contacts a young but able woman, and asks her to help him inherit his father’s wealth.

As the Will stands, the money will not go to him but to charity, unless the father marries again (his first wife died in an accident). Therefore what this woman has to do is to make sure she gets hired as the rich man’s new carer, make him fall in love with her, inherit the money and split this 50/50 with the illegitimate son.

A complicated relationship evolves between the old man and his new carer and at the same time, between her and the son. There are definitely moments when you realise that perhaps both father and son are in love with the same woman.

This being Korean drama, there is an unexpected twist (I am definitely lacking in the scenario-development department) which made for a gripping end to the film.


Northern Limit Line (연평해전)


The complicated relationship in this film is between the two Koreas, North and South.

The history of the Korean War and the North/ South divide will take some explaining and this is not the time for it. The film is set in 2002 during the World Cup match between South Korea and Turkey, and the action takes place in the Yellow Sea in a disputed maritime near Yeonpyeong Island

The film’s brilliance lies in engaging the viewer in the lives of the South Korean naval officers. When the attack by the North Koreans begin, I felt that I could not bear it if some of these young men did not return to their families.

At the end of the film, there are interviews with the original crew of the naval boats, which made the film feel even more personal.


Camel toy at Dubai Airport…with beautiful eyelashes?