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Whale Hunting (Goraesanyang) (1984)

Director : Bae Chang-Ho
Production Company : Sam Young Films Co., Ltd
Date of Rate : 1984-03-29
Date of Theatrical Release : 1984-03-31
Running Time : 112 min.
Opening Theater : Piccadilly Theater
Genre : Melodrama

Staff :
Writer : Choi In-Ho
Screenplay(Adaptation) : Choi In-Ho
Producer : Kang Dae-Jin
Director of PhotoGraphy : Jeong Kwang-Seok
Gaffer : Sohn Han-Su
Music : Kim Su-Cheol
Art Director : Kim Yu-Jun
Editor : Kim Hyeon

Cast(Actor/Actress) :
Ahn Seong-Ki, Lee Mi-Suk, Kim Su-Cheol, Lee Dae-Keun, Hwang Keon, Nam Po-Dong

Synopsis

A diffident young man named Byung-tae (Kim Su-cheol) runs away from home to go whale hunting after being turned down by Mi-ran, a college student on whom he has a crush. While roaming the streets in despair, he helps out a drunken woman. But instead of being thanked, he is falsely accused of trying to harm her and hauled off to the police station, where he meets a beggar named Min-wu (Ahn Sung-ki). Drawn by Min-wu's seemingly-free lifestyle, Byung-tae accompanies him and the two of them wander around the city. They have a few drinks and go into the red light district. There, they encounter Chun-ja (Lee Mi-suk), a mute woman who is being battered by a group of thugs (Lee Dae-keun, Hwang Keon, Nam Po-dong) for refusing to service customers. Byung-tae resolves to find Chun-ja's lost speech and home. With Min-wu's help, he rescues Chun-ja and they set off for her hometown. But they have no money, and the thugs are on their tail. After a difficult and challenging journey, they finally reach Chun-ja's hometown, but are captured by the gangsters at the last minute. Chun-ja watches in silent frustration as Byung-tae is beaten while protecting her, and the urgency of the situation causes her speech to return. Moved by their deep friendship and love, the leader of the gangsters (Lee Dae-keun) lets Chun-ja go free. She is returned to her mother's embrace, and Byeong-tae and Min-wu promise to come and visit her as they set off again. Byung-tae finally realizes that whales do not live in the distant ocean but in his own heart, in the love it feels and puts to practice.

Notes

"The standard for 1980s popular movies" (Chung Sung-il)
Whale Hunting was a massive box office hit: it drew an audience of over 400,000 in Seoul alone. As noted by critics of the time, the movie's popular appeal lies in the way it "presents the flow and pulse of youth through the exaltation of idiocy," continuing the cinematic lineage originated by Ha Kil-jong's The March of Fools (Babodeul-ui haengjin) and carried on by Declaration of Idiot (Baboseon-eon) and Good Windy Day (Balambul-eo joh-eun nal). Concerned that Korean movies were growing apart from the public, director Bae Chang-ho chose the theme of "putting a little love into practice" for Whale Hunting. Although the movie is satiric and caricatured, its warm, human gaze toward the alienated lower middle class perfectly fitted the demands of its contemporary audience. Even those who were skeptical about Korean movies in general flocked to the theatres and sold out each screening. In particular, the performance of Ahn Sung-ki, whose role as the mysterious mendicant with a free soul fitted him live a glove, enhances the audience's enjoyment of the movie, as does his distinctive good-natured smile. Bae Chang-ho always deals with universal themes in his films; with Whale Hunting, he turned to the genre of the road movie to capture the adventures of his three protagonists using an accessible, poignant approach that successfully avoids sentimentalism.

Director Bio: Bae Chang-ho (1953- )

After graduating from college in 1977, he began acquiringon the set experience working as an assistant director to director Lee Jang-ho. He made his directorial debut with People of kkobang Neighborhood (Kkobangdongne salamdeul) and went on to make Iron Men (Cheolindeul) (1982), The Flower at the Equator (Jeokdo-ui kkoch) (1983), Whale Hunting (Goraesanyang), The Winter That Year Was Warm (Geu hae gyeo-ul-eun ttatteushaessne), Deep Blue Night (Gipgo puleun bam) (1984), Whale Hunting 2 (Goraesanyang 2) (1985), Hwang Jin-I (Hwang Jini) (1986), Our Joyful Young Days (Gippeun wuri jeolmeun-nal), Hello God (An-nyeonghaseyo Hananim) (1987), The Dream (Kkum) (1990), Stairways of Heaven(Cheongug-ui gyedan) (1992), The Young man(Jeolm-eun namja) (1995), and Love Story (Leobeuseutoli) (1996). He has an affinity for long takes and is recognized for the lyrical melodramatic beauty of his films. He is considered to be part of the Korean New Wave of the 1980s.