Category Archives: foreign films

Go! Mrs. Go!–a Korean Drama

house and Namhae scarf 2016 012

My Namhae souvenir bandana

I will watch anything halfway decent in Korean in order to keep up my skill—such as it is—in that language. So I was delighted when I heard about Go! Mrs. Go! My sister said that she and her family were watching and enjoying this Korean drama, or TV series. I was surprised. They’ve been to Japan, and they love things Japanese, but Japan is not Korea.  It must be pretty good for them to like it.

It turned out to be a really good series, which I loved for several reasons, not just the language practice. (Note: There are subtitles, and I use them.)

First, Mrs. Go lives in Namhae, an island to the south of Korea. It’s a beautiful place, and I’ve been there. When I taught English in South Korea in 2000 at Chungwoon University, the faculty took a trip to Namhae. I fell in love with the place because of the beautiful views of the sea.

On the show, the main character, Go Bong Sil, lives in a lovely house there, with a greenhouse where she raises flowers. When her husband dies suddenly, her life changes and she has to figure out how to survive. She is a strong and kind woman. Through her kindness, she takes in a homeless South American man. When he leaves, he gives her a gift of seeds. They sprout and she makes a tea from them which proves to be rejuvenating to a lot of people, almost magical.

Bong Sil decides to move to Seoul, to the Itaewon district. There her adventures, good and bad, continue.

Maybe Bong Sil is a little too good to be true—kind to everyone, honest to a fault. She feeds everyone, always thinks of others, and is always instinctively helpful. Most of all, she has integrity.

But there are people like this, and I admire this fictional woman so much.

She gets to open her own restaurant in Itaewon. We see her cooking, and we learn a lot about Korean dishes. She cooks delicious and healthy food. She knows the health benefits of the various fresh ingredients she uses.

This is not unusual in Korea. One thing that struck me, when I lived there, was that the food was both delicious and healthy at the same time. It didn’t have to be a choice between the two.

South Korea is a traditional society, although it is changing as the whole world changes. Still, when I was there it was unheard of for a couple to show affection in public. This is shown in the drama Go! Mrs. Go!

On the other hand, one of the characters is a transgender female. Her story is touching, and she is portrayed in a very human, respectful way. That was something that surprised me, too, about this Korean drama.

I got hooked on it and found myself binge-watching Go! Mrs. Go! Now I’m looking for another good Korean drama, one that, like this one, appeals not just to youth but to older people too. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Like Father, Like Son–an Excellent Movie

I saw a good movie recently, Like Father, Like Son. It’s a Japanese movie (2013) about a father and mother who learn that their five-year-old child is not their own. Through an accident at the hospital, their baby was switched with another baby at birth. Keita, their adored little boy, is not their biological child.
It sounds like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, but it’s a contemporary story.  It’s a real shock to this couple, who have to decide what to do with this new information.
They meet their biological child, and the couple who have been raising him for five years, thinking he was their flesh and blood.  In contrast to the first set of parents, these two don’t have much money, but they do have a fun, easygoing atmosphere at home, lots of play, lots of overt demonstrations of affection. They also have two other children besides Ryusei, the boy who was born to the other parents.
The parents begin a regular sort of child-swap, in which each boy stays with his biological parents for the weekend. The parents and children begin getting to know each other as part of the process of deciding whether to switch permanently.  It’s heartbreaking.  And of course, the children are confused. Keita is used to a quiet, orderly lifestyle with a hard-working, loving but somewhat detached father and a mother who provides him with all the attention and care. The somewhat rambunctious new household he is sent to is very foreign to him, but after a while, he begins to enjoy his time there. His counterpart  Ryusei has a harder time with his new environment.  He acts out, and the parents don’t know what to do.
I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that everyone, especially the adults, seems to learn and grow from their experience.
It’s a very touching film, quiet, graceful, and thought-provoking. It’s easy to understand the characters and to relate to them.
I know that some people dislike watching movies with subtitles. I’ve gotten used to them, because I have the motivation of wanting to know other countries, languages and cultures. There’s so much more to life than what we already know and are familiar with, and movies are an inexpensive way to travel!