Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cheonggyecheon in Films

Yesterday I mentioned Robert Neff's post at the Marmot's Hole quoting from (and showing a photo from) a 1958 article about the future covering-up of Cheonggyecheon. At the time I remembered some films from the past featuring the stream, including Homeless Angels (1941), which I wrote about here. In that post, I showed this photo and wrote:

Perhaps the stream above is Cheonggyecheon, but it's worth remembering that there were dozens of streams in Seoul that were covered up in the twentieth century by both Japanese and Korean governments.
Choi In-kyu, the director, went on to direct several other (less 'pro-Japanese') films before being kidnapped off to North Korea during the Korean War, including 'Hurrah for Freedom' (1946), the first DVD put out by the Korean Film Archive. It includes a scene in which the main character, an independence fighter, has rescued his friend from a Japanese police officer (I guess we're assuming he wasn't Korean) by stabbing the officer, and flees over (and then under) a bridge crossing Cheonggyecheon. I'm quite certain this is the same bridge (Gwanggyo) seen in the post at the Marmot's Hole, which is now the second bridge to be seen along the restored stream when walking from its source. Thanks to panorama software and a screenshots of a pan across the bridge, we can see almost the full length of the bridge.

Here's a shot of what it looked like underneath:

What really prompted me to post these was a comment by Sperwer at the Marmot's Hole mentioning the fact that Obaltan, (The Aimless Bullet), a 1961 film by Yu Hyeon-mok considered a classic today, features a scene in which one of the main characters flees the police after a robbery by running through Cheonggyecheon - under the then ongoing construction which was covering the stream:

(Due to it being a panorama made from screenshots taken from a pan, both people seen above are the same person)

Very cool. I watched the film when the dvd came out back in 2002, but did not know anything about Cheonggyecheon at the time (it was later that year that it became mentioned more often in the English language press), so it was fascinating to watch it again, knowing where this scene took place.


Sperwer said...

There was a very brief but truly shocking moment during the chase scene where the fleeing robber nearly runs into the swinging corpse of someone who has just hanged himself from one of the construction beams and a child who is clinging to the body's legs.

It was one of many small vignettes that make the film very compelling

matt said...

I forgot to mention that - though I believe it was a woman with her baby still being carried on her back - that was the shocking part for me.

Sperwer said...

you may be right; it was so fleeting - and shocking - that I was too gumsmacked to look carefully before the action moved on.

midknight said...

Hey Matt,

Another off-topic question -- but any idea if the Magok Park will have a cinema as part of its facilities?

I'm actually kind of looking forward to this part of the city and river getting more developed in the near future.

matt said...

I don't know of any cinemas planned. Seeing as there is a CGV just down the street at Gimpo Airport, I doubt there's a huge need for one. Only some of Magok is to become residential - much of of it is to become an 'R & D' city, which I doubt will add a huge amount to the local population.

Olivia said...

I love everything about Obaltan.

midknight said...

I biked towards Yeouido today and noticed a big CGV coming in as part of the "International Finance Center" development. Yeouido is so sterile though -- big fail from my eyes but I guess they're trying to promote it.

Also saw a sign for "Yeouido Marina and Yacht Club" -- to open August of 2010.