MYOHYANGSANGWAN, 2014-2017. HD film installation with sound. 19min. 39sec
This film flows like a dream.
The screen leads us to the outer limits of our ocnsciousness. There, we face each other with pure and primitive before our acquisition of language. In a eral world filled with doubt, how rigid and paarlyzed are our bodies and minds? In this virtual world, we can, at last, have an intuitive perception of freedom.
As a means to gather f oreign currency, the North Korean government is operating around 110 restaurants in 12 countries. At these restaurants, not only can one experience North Korean cuisine but dance and vocal performances by North Korean women as well. For North and South Koreans, such venues serve a purpose beyond being a place to grab a bite as they are the only places where civilians from both countries can openly meet each other without restrictions from their respective governments.
The background of this film is a fictional Notrh Korean restaurant in Beijing – a city where long standing feuds and divisions, ideological differences, indifference and distrust are suspended. A conversation that has risen between two artists one summer night at the table corsses between arts and ideology, reality and ideality as well as the ego and superego.
At this special venue, neither North nor South Korean, the contradictions and discrepancies of human existence and the pretentiousness of the world around us are exposed. Artistic imagination and fiery passion from the deepest recesses of the mind strangely unfold themselves.
For the first time in a long while, alumni of an art college gather together to congratulate ‘Him,’ who is holding a solo art exhibition. After the exhibition opening, the artist, curator, and art jou
rnalist bounce around Beijing drinking from once place to another as though they were back in college.
Eventually, they head for Myohyangsangwan. There, they meet the gorgeous and mysterious North Korean woman, Oh Yeongran, and experience strange dream-like events.
This film depicts the contemporary man of a shatered world as he contemplates life and art at a special venue that possesses the unique characteristics of a divided country.
The restaurant will be realized by a large stage set, with changing interior like a contemporary art installation.
The prologue is carried out as the narrator recalls the past. The characters, their imagination and psychological characterizations will manifest themselves through a combination of narration, acting, interpretive dance and changing sets. The lines of the script wi ll reflect each character’s values and perspective on art, the afflictions of their life, and the principles they convey. The tension and fantasies underlying their conversations will cut through the silence.
Lead entertainer at Myohyangsangwan. On one hand, she wants to escape the surveillance and confinement of her country, but on the other, she is torn between her thoughts and her responsibilities for the other female entertainers of the restaurant.. She has feelings for ‘Him’ but keeps them to herself due to her status. Yeongran is responsible for the beginnings and ends of all the events in the act.
The protagonist of the film, narrated in 3rd person. Far from streetwise, he represents the idealist, an artist who contemplates the era. A political activist in his college years, he has believed that art can change the world, but is disgusted by commercialism and conformity, and tormented by his lack of creativity as an artist. He believes that socialism is the ideal way for human society and falls in love with Oh Yeongran as he visits Myohyangsangwan every time he is in Beijing.
A fellow artist to ‘Him’ and the narrator of the film. As a college classmate of ‘Him,’ Hyunwoo understands ‘Him’ best. The film revolves around what he sees, and Hyunwoo leads a dreamlike mood as he is drunk from the beginning.
An art journalist and college classmate of ‘Him’. He claims that his choice of profession is because he favors writing to drawing, but Yeongho is actually envious of his artist friends. He secretly dwells upon his lack of talent, and suffers from an inferiority complex.
Curator. A cynic who belives that contemporary art is tainted with greed and that real art does not exist. He criticizes ‘Him’ for trying to sell his work by opening an exhibition in Beijing.
Performance artist. Holds fast to his views and is very confident, but this makes him an eyesore to Jingyu. He is someone who does not care what others think of him and acts on his emotions.
Female Entertainer 1, 2, 3
They are waitresses at the restaurant but also actresses who perform North Korean dances and songs. Their agony of being watched is depicted in their performances.
Male Dancer 1, 2, 3
When the female dancers perform dances on freedom and idealism, they perform with female dancers as representations of confinement and pity