Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gwang Hae - Korean Movie

Hwang Hae, The man who made king

To replace the bitter taste of movie watching experience in Korea  (where we saw Madagascar 3 in Korean, Blah!), I wanted to see the  movie MASQUERADE- 15 days lost to History (Korean Name is Gwang Hae- The man who made king) that is running successfully in Seoul since September. I was hoping to brave through the movie with my knowledge of Korean (equal to that of a three year old -as my Korean teacher carefully put it) when i found that Yongsan CGV runs subtitles in English for Korean movies on Thursday at 7PM and Sunday at 5PM. Yay!

The movie starts with off with intrigue. During the reign of the King Gwang Hae of the Joseon dynasty in Korea, there is an entry as told by the king- "Do not put on record, what is to be hidden" followed by 2 weeks' worth of records missing from the royal journals. The movie tries to fill in what could have happened during that time.

Masquerade- 15 days lost in History

As the kingdom is at unrest due to corruption, upheaval in the court along with the menaces from the Ming empire, the king is constantly under the threat of assassination. The king orders to find a look-alike to double up like him. The look-alike, though a commoner and a low-life, shows his love for his kingdom and ends up making radical changes that the real king was unable to accomplish.

The storyline -though not very new to us- was pleasing and fresh when seen from the Korean royal setting. The luxurious life of the King of Korea, the insignificance of the Queen and the extraordinarily lowly duties of the maids in the palace and corruption in the court along with their fear of the Ming dynasty in China during the Joseon period were also apparent. There were some well woven comedy scenes which added color but did not affect the serious tone of the movie and matched the storyline quite well. My only regret was that the chubby, cute little 15 year maid, Sa-wol, whom you know is going to be sacrificed, but cant help praying that the king would somehow revive her, gets killed just like in Tamil movies :( I was cruelly reminded that the story was made to fit a real life incident when the real king orders the fake one dead along with the royal secretary, to keep things under wraps. Tragic end to an otherwise wonderful movie.

I think it is an amazing experience to see the movie in its native tongue (with the subtitles, of course) for people to enjoy the it to the full. I especially loved the scene when the fake guy is ready to quit the masquerade but bounces back with an inspirational monologue to the court to rise up to the enemies and protect and defend its people than to be living in fear of the Ming dynasty. Though i did not understand a word of what he said, the emotion he displayed, the passion conveyed was extraordinary, bringing tears to my eyes. I have become a fan of that guy- Lee Byung Hun. He made me enjoy the funny antics when he was training to be king, made me feel compassionate when he consoles the Sa-wol, the teenaged maid, enraged when he was a reckless king and filled me with fervent ardor when he calls up to unite to protect the country and fight against the enemy!

The Hwang Hae king's robes
King Gwang Hae's gold and red robes in the movie

Hwang Hae queen's robes
Queen's embroidered silk hanbok

Hwang Hae queen's matching slippers
And the matching slippers :)

This movie is now available to see in Youtube with English subtitles here. Sorry, the link no longer exists :( It was removed.

ABC Wednesday: G for Gwang Hae
Thursday Challenge: Red


  1. Lovely review of a fascinating movie!

  2. Nice review. I watched similar movie called "Devils Double" on same line but more on the violence and commercial side.

  3. hey that's a nice review ...watching a movie in foreign language (of course with subtitles) is also fun !

  4. talk of korea and everyone talks about gangnum style song hahah

  5. The review reads good.
    No chance of seeing it here though.

  6. I am in love with Korea and all that Korean but live in the USA...I have watched millions of K-drama and now can speak passable Korean :) ya I am nuts...tell me how is it living in Korea?


    1. After the initial shock of moving into a country where i didnt understand the language, i think i have adjusted well. It is such a small country compared to the US, but with a rich culture and helpful, though shy people. The only thing that i am worried about is its cruel winters...

      It is lovely living in Korea. Why dont you come in for a visit? Oct is a good time. Fall colors, cool climate and tons of shopping!

    2. Yup planning to cone there in a couple of years...once I have saved enough money for all the stuff I want yo do and when my daughter will be old enough to travel with me and enjoy....but you stay there ok...we can meet and party together...

  7. I've translated ... your description of the film and it is an interesting film, as far as I can see it ... warm greetings from Germany ...

    1. Thanks for taking the pain, Geli :)

  8. Sounds interesting!

    I have read about some wonderful movies that are made in Korea with very beautiful story lines.

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  10. Great review. I love reading all your posts as well as your blog site. Keep sharing great such a great insights.

  11. I watched Korean dramas from time to time, even though I don't know the names of the actors!

  12. Sounds interesting, I have never watched a Korean movie.
    ABC Team

  13. This is new to me as well
    Madagascar description was FUNNY!
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  14. It sounds intriguing! But not sure there's any chance it'll make it to the US (maybe in select Korea-town places) - love the Gorgeous Gown, robes, everything!

  15. When I was in the Philippines, I used to watch their telenovelas but when I went there in Korea, never had a chance to see any lol. Looks like a good movie to watch as long as there is an English translation at the bottom.

    Gums and Gummies
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team.


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