Choi (n.p.) believes that globalization has significantly transformed the film industry in South Korea. However, both North and South Korea have constituted the major cultural impediments to its development. Despite numerous obstacles, the directors have been trying to demonstrate actual relations between the countries and their citizens. The films vary in their depiction of North Korea vis-a-vis South Korea. In fact, the most well-known examples of South Korean cinematography attract a broad audience by showing local themes which correspond to ordinary human interactions with others (Shin and Stringer, n.p.). Thus, Welcome to Dongmakgol by Kwang-Huyn depicts life during the Korean War which provokes misunderstandings among different groups of people and creates certain expectations regarding its participants, particularly North Korea and North Koreans.
Bevan's (n.p.) states that Welcome to Dongmakgol discusses the past to create a history that belongs to the whole Korean nation. The statement focuses mainly on the reunification than the legitimate ruler of the Korean people. It means that the movie reveals the challenges faced during a symbolic reunion between two Koreas resulting in the protracted separation and distrust. It also reflects the continued discord in South Korean views of North Korea. Having analyzed Bevan's remarks, it is evident that the movie proves how friendly relations and shared responsibilities can unite different nations. However, while establishing informal interactions, the heroes cannot escape the Korean War which keeps ruining human lives.
The Korean War
The film offers a Disney-like fantasy of the Korean War. The story is set in an isolated mountainous village where the inhabitants are oblivious to the war. Additionally, it is clear that people do not respect the nature of war considering an instance when the villagers of Dongmakgol disobey the soldiers from both sides. They seem to be cheerful and happy. In fact, they have not encountered the devastating power of war yet. Thus, they might be slightly ignorant to violence. They regard the Korean War to be politically motivated so that they should remain peaceful. The importance to save healthy relations within the community is portrayed in the scene when a North Korean soldier saves the villagers from a boar putting his own life at risk. Ironically, it is a South Korean soldier who comes to his aid (Welcome to Dongmakgol, n.p.).
The scenes in Welcome to Dongmakgol represent still life of people captured in the war. The director might overlook the historic facts and omit the severity of the war. However, he creates the dramatic image of Koreans desire and hopes to end the war. The soldiers sacrifice their lives for the sake of the village. The deadly ending that results after the most cheerful representation of the intimacy between two Koreas highlights the complex reality of closer, yet still divided North and South Koreas. The Korean War destroyed the landscape and shattered any previous sense of a Korean national identity (Bevan, n.p.). Additionally, the film reveals an increasing aggression of the United States which boosts the antagonism between two nations. According to the movie, the United States destroys already forgotten reunification between two Koreas and an American pilot by bombing the village and killing the soldiers (Welcome to Dongmakgol, n.p.).
Welcome to Dongmakgol reveals another approach regarding North Korea. Before, South Korean movies reacted to the conflict between two countries in complete silence or in active support of the official anti-communist strategy (Choi, n.p.). In the film, North Korea is portrayed as a land where the North Korean soldiers die alongside their southern counterparts when defending Dongmakgol village. Moreover, not all North Korea is in the war. Obviously, the remote village of Dongmakgol is outside of the tensions and distrust (Welcome to Dongmakgol, n.p.). As a result, the villagers continue doing their daily chores.
Compared to the South Koreans films from the past, Welcome to Dongmakgol shows sympathy and intimacy towards North Koreans. In this movie, they appear much more humane. In fact, the previous films depict them as malicious soldiers who follow only communist ideology. However, they receive positive traits in the movie (Bevan, n.p.). Similarly to the villagers, they are portrayed as peaceful individuals who do not want to fight. Though, the villagers remain more detached as they undertake their daily operations disregarding the orders of the soldiers. The accident with a fire in storehouse symbolizes the chance of reunion which is based on the mutual responsibility of every side (Welcome to Dongmakgol, n.p.). Thus, two warring factions unite pursuing one goal to help the villagers survive in winter.
South Korean cinematography has been representing the continuous rivalry between ever-changing discourses of identity (Bevan, n.p.). In South Korea, local cinema has developed immensely over the preceding decades allowing the partisan opinion to exist. According to the reduced restriction and the shifting policy toward North Korea, contemporary South Korean movies display improved awareness of national identity. Korean films dealing with national division exhibit complex and contradictory ideas. On the one hand, they demonstrate rising closure between two Koreas. As a result, Welcome to Dongmakgol suggests a prospect of growing harmony between two nations. On the other hand, a growing nationalism that is strengthened by the resentment toward the U.S. is worrying because people do not know how to respond effectively to the intrusion. The parallels of South Korean identity are also present in the desires to construct a robust and self-sustaining local movie industry and to match the Hollywood blockbuster production machine. Thus, Welcome to Dongmakgol symbolizes the possible changes in the relations between people.
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