Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Taegukgi : Warning, may contain spoilers

Taegukgi (Brotherhood) is a Korean movie set in the 1950s, smack in the middle of the Korean War. It is about 2 brothers that unwittingly fought in the Korean War. The movie examines the impact of the war on the psyche of the Koreans and social conditions in Korea. And this is seen through the eyes of the younger brother, mostly. I'm not gonna write about the actors, the story or the script or the cinematography.

I'm also not going to touch on how in war, there is no good or bad or the history of the 2 Koreas or the current situation with the belligerent Kim Jong Il. Or the nuclear tension. Or the hatred and pain war brings.

When I watched the movie, I was reminded of something I used to tell my team mates or those who were interested to listen :P I remembered how I said that politics, policies and war can be far removed from the realities of life for the man on the street.

Now before you start lambasting me on the importance of political awareness, social awareness and participation in the political process, listen me out. I believe everyone of us have a duty to help steer the direction our governance and policies are heading. The lack of participation, for example low voters' turnout rate, shakes the integrity of the process and subsequent decision making of the governing institutions.

What I can find is, how helpless the individual can be in the political process. And how most people aren't concerned about about ideologies, but rather, they are more concerned about their well-being, their families, and putting food on the dinner table. In the movie, one of the main characters attended rallies because she gets food for her family of 5. She had to do it because food was scarce. She attended not because she believed in the ideology propagated in the rallies. She did it for survival, innocently enough. Yet, she was accused of being a subversive element when another ideology took control of the city.

Why would the children of Sarajevo care about their religious/racial differences before the 'civil war' started in old Yugoslavia? Why would the poor farmer care about who the 'Western imperialist running dog' is? What do they know about the different ideologies? You can fight about ideologies till the cows come home, but it won't matter who wins if you hurt people, cause hardship to non-participants and destroy lives/things along the way.

Survival and kinship and friendship. Very basic strands of humanity. And these elements were flexed for viewers to ponder over throughout the movie. When these bonds are broken, it threatens our very existence.

At the end of the day, what matters to the man/woman on the street is the well being of his/her family or loved ones. Humanity shines when we see such devotion. And it warms your heart, and tells you that there is still hope.


At September 15, 2004 2:12 pm, Blogger maverix said...

Very, very true.

"At the end of the day, what matters to the man/woman on the street is the well being of his/her family or loved ones."

Ideologies and political strategies are merely the toys & tools of the powerful (those who are shielded from the actual atrocity of war).

A man can live in a country devoid of fundamental democratic liberties as long as the well-being of his family is secured.

It's a question of priorities... and for the man-on-the-street, his family is always paramount.


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