I’ve been teaching English to Koreans for 8 years. So, getting along with them has given me the opportunity to understand their rich culture, custom, and history. I’ve been trying to learn how to speak, read , and write basic Hangul. I’ve even loved their food ,and…allow me to cite the ones I always crave such as ssamkyupsal ( 삼겹살), ttakbeoki (떡볶이), panjeon (파전), jjajangmyeon ( 자장면) , ramen (그리고 라멘), and to name a few. Hmmm… My mouth is now watering. ..And I am even now trying to be a pale imitation of their fashion. Jeez whiz, I still haven’t let myself be eaten by their system completely.
There is one thing that makes Koreans differ from us Filipinos: Their deep history that has molded their consciousness. That’s why it has been hard for me to understand them in terms of their socio-cultural and economical policies. Koreans place too much value on familial hierarchy. Young people address the elderly with respect, patently obvious in their language- the custom which is somehow no longer a big deal in the Philippines. Also, almost all Koreans are under pressure to conform to the standards of their educational system. Students go to academy ( 학원: Hag won) to equip themselves with more skills. They even take part in more extra-curricular activities as another credentials once they look for lucrative jobs because hunting a job is suicidal. Their (close) friends can be even their frenemy in all aspects of life should the need arise that they have to consider their own interest. So, time is not more than gold, something I was not even used to when I started working for them. The long and the short of it, Koreans have been taught how to hit the ground running by this kind of dog-eat-dog culture.
Right after watching the movie, Ode to My Father, I sent a message to my beloved Korean students that I cried over it, and because of this movie, I respect their country, especially their history more. I explained further that this is a blinding revelation to me; I learned from this movie how Koreans transformed themselves into new blood after the long period of extreme poverty during the Korean war. It shows how the war shaped Koreans’ philosophies in life beyond their powers of endurance and resiliency. For instance, due to extreme poverty, they had to work hard to make their ends meet. They had to sacrifice by living away from their families while working abroad. They had to consider their families’ future no matter how life-threatening the available jobs were. They were all determined to pull out the load weighing them down –the fighting spirit that has been observably inherent in their characters even up to this day. Perhaps, after this horrible chapter of their history, it’s now their cultural “meme” that they should never let something like this pass again.
People must learn many moral lessons from the movie. The one that etched on my mind is that we can come up with alternative solutions to our problems. In the movie, Hwang Jung-min, the main character, found ways of how he could help alleviate his family’s miserable life condition. I believe that he can as well be the representation of all Koreans who did the same way. 🙂
The movie even made me break into tears as though the hem of my cloth was not enough to dampen my eyes. So, make sure that when you watch it, a hankie is not enough , but a diaper will do. It shows how the first Korean families were separated from one another after the 38th parallel, demarcating North and South Korea. I could not stop blinking my tears away some lachrymose scenes such as when Hwang Jung-min looked for his younger sister who had been missing for many years, and eventually found her on TV and when he stayed in his room and had an apparition talk with his father. They were heart-breaking. T_T
Would that the movie were novelized, it would be more compelling and deeper, and I would surely wet its pages because of the emotional scenes conveyed in beautiful sentences.
Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)