bow heads

The headline on the Korea Herald website read ‘Makers of ‘My New Sassy Girl’ bow heads’. The original ‘My Sassy Girl’ (2001) (Wikipedia, trailer) was a romantic comedy about a mild-mannered young man and a ‘beautiful, unpredictable and slightly disturbed’ young woman. The sequel (Wikipedia, trailer) sees the (off-screen but presumably now slightly older) woman becoming a Buddhist nun and a new woman entering the man’s life. I haven’t seen the first one and I won’t be seeing the second, but my eye was caught by the headline. What does that actually mean? I inferred that it was negative, and the complete story confirms this immediately: the subheading is ‘Sequel to “My Sassy Girl” offers aimless story’. The reviewer then writes about ‘[a] much weaker sequel … The story of their marital life is aimless, frantically featuring everything from skydiving to cosplay.’

So what does the reviewer or sub-editor mean by ‘bow heads’? Possibly it’s an attempt at ‘nod off’ or ‘fall asleep on the job’, but the film does not appear to be boring, just aimless. Possibly it’s an awkward synonym for ‘apologise’. The reviewer writes: ‘[The director of the sequel] confessed he has been heavily criticized for breaking up the iconic couple of [the original] … “I think that those who really loved the first movie could be unhappy with this one. I apologize for that”.’

I assume that the reviewer is Korea, but it’s not a typical Korean name, so it’s hard to be sure. I really don’t know where s/he (or a sub-editor) got that phrase – I’ve never encountered it in this kind of context and can’t find anything like it online. For me, the image is that of the crucifixion of Jesus (John 19.30), which cannot possibly be the intention. Maybe it’s a literal translation of a Korean word or phrase; if so, Google Translate doesn’t offer anything likely. The reviewer’s email address is at the bottom of the review, but I’m hesitant to email. If s/he wrote the headline, she might not be able to explain why s/he chose those words. If a sub-editor wrote it, then the reviewer might not know anything about it at all.

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2 thoughts on “bow heads

  1. I think the concept being offered by “bow heads” is the idea conveyed by the English expression “hang one’s head in shame.” There is a Korean phrase, “고개를 숙이다” which seems to have similar meaning, and which I’ve seen translated as “bow one’s head.”

    From this, I imagine the intended meaning of the headline would be that the makers of the movie should be ashamed of themselves for their shoddy work.

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    • Thanks for your reply. I think you’re right. I hadn’t encountered that phrase. Google Translate translates ‘고개를 숙이다’ as ‘slouch’, even though it translates ‘고개’ by itself as ‘head’ and ‘숙이다’ by itself as ‘bow’.

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