And So Again Today

And So Again Today: Four short films from the Underground Salon

And So Again Today: Four short films from the Underground Salon first published by the Korean Cultural Centre UK

And So Again Today is the collective title for a compilation of four Korean short films, all directed by actors, and all posted on the YouTube channel Salon De 0.5 F (Underground Salon) in 2020. In a sense those are the only formal connections between the films but, perhaps in reflection of the filmmakers’ own ages, they are also linked thematically by a preoccupation with the surrender to (or retreat from) adulthood. 

My Wife Got Fat

In Ryu Deok-hwan’s My Wife Got Fat, when a husband (Kim Tae Hoon) carefully observes his wife (Jang Young Nam) after she expresses anxiety over how much weight she has been putting on, he diagnoses her ‘problem’ as being mostly the effects of maternal devotion and finds a way to share the burden of both her dutiful eating and her new exercise regime. It is a tender portrait of a couple attentive to their family’s needs, and together accepting, even embracing, the changes that come with parenthood and middle age. 

My Eggs

Kim So Yeon (aka Kim Soy)’s My Eggs begins with its filmmaking protagonist Sujin (played by the director herself) being reminded how close her screenplays are to her life, and then follows her reluctant journey, at the insistence of her mother (Ahn Min Young), to get her ova frozen, even though she does not want children of her own. It is a playful tale of an eccentric woman made aware that her biological clock is ticking, and struggling to live her own life despite the expectations of others. Sujin’s confidante is her own egg (voiced by Lee Min Ji), which talks to her from within her ovary – but Sujin’s real children are indie films just like My Eggs, even as it is strongly implied that this script too is autobiographical.

Kim So Yeon in My Eggs

The Season of the Next Step

There ought to be little in common between Ryoo Seung-wan’s ultraviolent action film The City of Violence (2006) and Heo Jun Seok’s gentle short The Season of the Next Step, but in fact both begin with a premise lifted straight out of Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill (1983): old friends reunite in adulthood after one of them has died. In Heo’s film, disgruntled office worker Kook Hee (Kim Gook Hee) returns from the city to her former country town for a funeral. There she learns that, unlike herself, her old bandmates Sa Bong (Yoon Sa Bong) and Je Yoon (Yoon Je Yoon) have clung to their rebellious countercultural ways, and that perhaps she too could do with rediscovering the spirit of her lost childhood.

I Love Camping

My favourite of the four is Kim Kkot Bi’s I Love Camping (aka Aimez-vous camping), in which a motorcyclist (played by Kim), camping by the windy sea, spurns a hipsterish male fellow camper’s attentions while herself fixating on a female camper (Yojo) who is more her speed. As everyone vies to have – and to be seen having – an authentic camping experience, posturing pretensions are exposed to the elements. Wryly observed, and never quite going where expected, this is an off-season, off-kilter delight, subverting everything including its own gestures towards romance.

Anton Bitel