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ON THE OCCASION OF REMEMBERING THE TURNING GATE

Apr 03, 2018
  • Writerby Pierce Conran
  • View1314

2002115 MIN | Drama, Romance
DIRECTOR Hong Sangsoo
CAST KIM Sang-kyung, CHOO Sang-mee, YEA Ji-won
RELEASE DATE March 21, 2002
CONTACT Miracin Korea
Tel : +82 2 3445 8775
Fax : +82 2 3445 8744

With his fourth film, arthouse filmmaker Hong Sangsoo found his largest ever audience in Korea while also building his footprint overseas with a work that weaved humor into his introspective character musings. On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate (hereafter Turning Gate) (2002) also gave actor KIM Sang-kyung his first feature film role.

KIM plays Gyung-soo, an actor based in Seoul who experiences professional disappointments after being blamed for the financial failure of his last film. After being dropped from an upcoming production by the company he worked with before, he becomes depressed and decides to visit his friend in the countryside. He travels to Chuncheon and soon meets a woman who becomes attached to him but whom he quickly grows tired of. He then moves on to visit Gyeongju and on the train there, he meets another woman who recognizes him from the past.

Playing the depressed actor with a dose of sexual charm, KIM’s performance balances melancholy and humor, and offers a compelling precursor to his next and most famous role, when he appeared as a stoic Seoul detective in BONG Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (2003). KIM would go on to appear in several subsequent Hong films, as would his co-star YEA Ji-won, who plays one of Gyung-soo’s lovers.

Compared to Hong’s current work, Turning Gate is far more graphic in its depictions of sexuality. In one instance, two naked prostitutes paw at a partially clothed Gyung-soo and his friend in a dank room drenched in red. Gyung-soo’s sex scenes are, for their part, animalistic but functional and devoid of eroticism.

Though narratively straightforward, Turning Gate relies heavily on patterns of repetition, and deciphering these is part of the film’s allure as viewers try to guess whether Hong is having some fun, at the expense of his characters, or making a more serious observation. Either way, the result is never less than exhilarating.

Turning Gate was Hong’s commercial peak in Korea, having attracted over 125,000 viewers. He may not have reached the same level at home with his many subsequent works but his popularity outside of Korea in undeniable. As his works have become increasingly amusing and have begun to feature his muse KIM Min-hee, they have indeed continued to find acclaim all around the world. 

Most recently, his 22nd film Grass was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and his 23rd work is already in post-production.
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