Honestly, I was skeptical at first when this project was announced. The government was asking people to send in their videos to be assembled into a movie promoting Seoul. I had witnessed so many cheesy heavyhanded endeavors by the government promotional teams over the years. I was expecting sterilized videos highlighting the same old chest-beating culturally masturbatory pabulum that we have seen before.
This was done by powerhouse directors Park Chan-wook (Old Boy) and Park Chan-kyong (Anyangae). This was not as much an exercise in directing as much as it was an exercise in editing and narrative. It’s a warts-and-all love letter to Seoul. It’s also the ballsiest city promotional video I think any city in the world has ever produced. Is this the same Seoul city that only a few years ago wanted to censor Lonely Planet from mentioning the dish budae jjigae because it was “embarrassing?”
This is a gorgeous bleak sad uplifting 60 minutes. So many emotions! I think I’m emotionally biased having lived and worked here for ten years. It’s my city. There were definite moments when I had to get a tissue. And I pumped my fist in the air when Makkolli Man made a surprise cameo. I realized I’ve really gotten to know this city intimately when I identified so many places, even individual subway platforms.
Take a watch. Don’t worry about the length. It’s a video that you can take in chopped up doses. The music holds it together. It has that feeling that Lost In Translation conveyed a bit in modern Tokyo. If Seoul is really serious about promoting itself with this movie, I’m fucking impressed.