Director : Bae Chang-ho
Starring : Ahn Seong-ki, Lee Mi-suk, Kim Su-cheol
Location Sites : Namae Harbor, Yangyang, Gangwon Province
Director Bae Changho's 1984 production <Whale Hunting>(Goraesanyang) made best box-office records among the year's Korean movies drawing 0.42 million audience. The movie title, <Whale Hunting>, connotes the same meaning as the title song 'Whale Hunting' of <The March of Fools>(Babodeul-ui haengjin) (1975, Ha Giljong). The movie is also an adaptation of an original novel by 1970s' youth culture leader Choi Inho. This '80s young adult movie is an extension of the sensibilities of youth culture in the '70s.
The structure of <Whale Hunting>(Goraesanyang) is based on Youngcheol, the main character of <The March of Fools>, who sets off to catch a whale living in the East Sea. The successors of Yeongcheol in <Whale Hunting> are scrawny college student Byeongtae, mute prostitute Chunja and beggar Minwoo. Contrary to Youngcheol, who drowns in the East Sea in search of a whale, Byeongtae and Minwoo rescue Chunja from prostitution and succeed in taking her home. The '80s was a time of political oppression and struggle of ideologies. Young viewers may have found themselves in the shoes of scrawny, timid and dull college student, Byeongtae.
Redeeming oneself through rescuing a poor prostitute is a pattern found deep within the history of Korean movies. It can be said to be the main narrative pattern in the 1970s, a time when youth suffered from lethargy and despair. In <Heavenly Homecoming to Stars>(Byeoldeul-ui gohyang), the artist Muno was unable to rescue Gyeonga, deepening the tragic atmosphere of the movie. On the other hand, <Whale Hunting>(Goraesanyang) shows a much brighter side compared to its 1970s' predecessors. This seems to be a result of the director's rather optimistic humanism.
Timid Byeongtae fails in winning the love of Miran, his longtime, unrequited love interest. Discouraged by his failure, Byeongtae runs away to hunt for a whale. He meets beggar Minwoo while wandering the streets and the two hang out. Roaming about the city, they meet a mute prostitute, Chunja. With the help of Minwoo, Byeongtae decides to return Chunja to her lost home and lost language. They rescue her and take off in search of her hometown. At the end of a long, bitter journey, Chunja regains her family and her voice. Byeongtae realizes that whales live not in the deep ocean, but exist in the form of loving one's neighbors.
Location of Shooting
Thinking of the fact that <Whale Hunting> takes the form of a road movie, Namae Harbor is an ideal place where the characters meet at the end of their journey rather than serving as merely the background.
The adventures of Byeongtae and Minwoo, trying to send the mute prostitute Chunja back home, unfold throughout the journey. For them, sending Chunja back home is the same as finding a beautiful whale in the East Sea in the movie <The March of Fools>. Towards the end of their journey, the search for Chunja's hometown leads them to Namae Harbor.
The three steal bicycles and ride their hearts out, relishing the feeling of freedom. To them, Namae Harbor is the place where the dreams of youth are symbolized as a 'whale.' To the younger generation of the 1970s and '80s, the East Sea was an unpolluted place which held beautiful dreams. Contrary to Youngcheol, in <The March of Fools>(Babodeului haengjin), who went to the East Sea only to meet his death, the youth of the '80s rediscover hope at the same location.
Namae Harbor is a port located in Yangyang, Gangwon Province. It is well known for its beautiful sunrise in harmony with the coastal landscape. Right next to the harbor is Namae Beach. Together with Susan Harbor, Namae Harbor is designated as Yangyang's primary fishing port. It is also the largest port in Yangyang. Namae-ri used to rely on agriculture and fishing, but since the May 16 military coup in 1961, the village shifted mainly to fishing.
From Gangneung, take the No. 7 National Highway towards Sokcho, 15 minutes pass Jumunjin take a right at the sign for Namaeri.
For public transportation, take a bus for Sokcho via Yangyang or a bus for Yangyang from the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal or the Sangbon Bus Terminal.
From Yangyang, buses leave frequently for Namaeri. Buses are also available from Gangneung.
Scenic masterpieces of the East Coast, including Naksansa Temple, Hajodae Beach and Daecheongbong Peak, are located along No. 7 National Highway