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Seoul in the Movies

Posted September. 10, 2004 22:05,   


“The new year is just around the corner. I thought I would finish one of my life projects before I turn 30 by either making a success of my career or settling down in marriage. However, I am still single and without success in my career.”

This is the last scene of the movie “Singles,” which scored high points by many female audiences by truthfully depicting love and friendships of 29-year old working women. On a cold winter night right before they turn 30, Dong-mi (Uhm Jung-wha) becomes angry at Na-nan (Jang Jin-young) for her tardiness, saying that she waited a long time outside while bearing the cold weather.

With a few days left before turning 30, both of them face an unsatisfying reality as they find their dreams of work and love getting away from them. Na-nan, who dreamt about becoming a fashion designer, works at a restaurant. After blowing the whistle at her sexist boss, Dong-mi quits her job and starts her own business at home. Na-nan leaves her boyfriend, who insisted she marry him and leave for New York City together, and Dong-mi is determined to voluntarily have a baby out-of-wedlock.

With these gloomy situations, the two characters still manage to be independent. Na-man starts to be playful in consoling the grumbling Dong-mi, and both begin dancing and running in the streets. A clip of a Na-nan narration has her saying, “Whatever. I’ll achieve something when I become 40. Being 30, this is a new start. Na-nan, go for it!”

The streets in the movie appear to give warmth, welcoming these “singles that didn’t reach high status in their careers.” A plethora of miniature electric bulbs hung on the trees glitter, and the sidewalk for them is spacious.

The sidewalk that Dong-mi and Na-nan are running on is located on the way from Lotte Department Store and Lotte World towards Lotte Mart in Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul. The sidewalk has a width greater than 15 meters, which is fairly spacious compared to other sidewalks in Seoul.

On the sidewalk there are topiary animals here and there, and you can see traditional human wooden figures and water mills. As the restaurants located on the first floor of Lotte Department Store and Lotte Mart serve food outside in open-air cafes, it adds more pleasure for those walking on the sidewalk.

Setting up the miniature bulbs on the trees around the Lotte World area begins in early November. The total number of bulbs usually reaches 2.5 million. Some people argue the electric decorations harm the health of trees, but the decoration definitely upgrades the aesthetic level of the sight. The filming of the movie “Singles” occurred around the end of December 2002, a few days before the launch of 2003. It took seven hours to shoot this last scene.

Jamsil-dong had many mulberry trees from raising silkworms in the Joseon Dynasty. Technically, “Jamsil” is not a specific name for an area, but a general term for a place of “raising silkworms.” In the Joseon Dynasty, there were three government-designated places for rearing silkworms; East Jamsil was located at the present Jamsil-dong area. It hasn’t changed much with the fact that a lot of beautiful, young, working women still walk the streets in these areas known for “raising silkworms,” just like it was during the Joseon Dynasty. In addition to Jamsil-dong, there used to be the “new silkworm raising places” in Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu, and a “west silkworm raising place” in Yeonhee-dong, Seodaemun-gu.

If you come out through Exit 4 at the Jamsil Station where subway line numbers 2 and 8 stop, you can enjoy walking the same streets that actresses Jang Jin-young and Uhm Jung-wha ran around for the movie. A good dating spot, Seokchon Lake, is a five-minute distance by foot.

(Reference: Seoul Film Commission www.seoulfc.or.kr)

Kang-Myoung Chang tesomiom@donga.com