Korean movie – A melody to remember, revisited

Twice last year I saw the Korean movie 오빠 생각 (o-ppa saeng-gak, Thoughts of my older brother or Thinking of my older brother, titled in English A melody to remember) once in a cinema in Korea (without English subtitles) and once on the aeroplane returning to Australia (with English subtitles), and blogged about it here and here.

I occasionally browse through a language bookshop in the Sydney CBD. Some months ago, sometime after I returned to Australia I saw a book called something like Korean Songs and Stories. One of the songs is Thinking of Older Brother, which provides the title, but not the story, of the movie. (The song dates from the Japanese occupation; the movie is set during the Korean war.) The background to the song is:

During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), eleven-year-old Choi Sun Ae’s brother went to Seoul to buy shoes and never returned, inspiring her to write these lyrics. The cheerful music – written by Park Tae Jun – may seem like a strange contrast to the sad words, but during the occupation the Japanese prohibited songs that were negative or depressing in nature. Having a relatively “happy” melody was a way of masking mournful sentiments.

I didn’t want to buy the book for one song (though I might have been able to make use of the other ones), so I surreptitiously took a photo of this song. Unfortunately I can’t credit the editor and publisher. I am posting this now, some months after finding that book, because I’ve just been sorting through old photos.


The muggers are very dangerous

One topic in the textbook this week is crime, and one grammar point is the passive voice, which allows us to say things like ‘The man was heard having an argument with the victim, seen leaving the scene of the crime, reported to the police, investigated, questioned, arrested, charged, tried, found guilty, condemned to death, hanged, drawn and quartered, and buried in unconsecrated ground’. Who by? By witnesses, the police, the crown prosecutor, the jury, the judge, the Lord High Executioner and four horses, and someone. Crime is an ideal context in which to practice the passive voice as it typically has an active participant (a do-er), a transitive verb and a passive participant (a done-to).

Much nonsense has been written about the passive voice (among other things, many people who write negatively about it a) can’t actually identify it, and b) use it quite naturally in the course of writing negatively about it), but it is a full part of English (and many other languages), is often used and often very useful. (It is, of course, sometimes (?often) badly used.) (Without consciously trying, I used four actives (underlined) and three passives (bolded). This way more passive than the overall average of about 15%.)

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Illumination Entertainment

[I’m posting this despite my general resolution not to give free publicity to corporate entities.]

Yesterday I saw the movie Sing, which was rather cliched but a lot of fun. It was made by Illumination Entertainment, the makers of Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets. At the very beginning of the movie, the studio’s logo appears in illuminated letters. Four minions sing ‘Illumination’, building up a four-note C major chord. The fourth minion is a very bad singer, and when it sings, some of the lights flicker off, leaving ILLU___AT___. I wondered about the significance of those letters, but the movie continued and I had to stop wondering. Later, I looked at the movie’s entry on the Internet Movie Database, and it mentions that it’s not the illuminated letters which are important, but the ones which flicker out.

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“I have good news and bad news …”

Sunday’s gospel reading was Matthew 1:18-25 (Saint Joseph’s dream), and two of the hymns, and the preacher, referred to Luke 1:26-38 (the Announcement). The unnamed angel in the first and Gabriel in the second certainly put the best news first (indeed only): ‘he will save his people from their sins’ and ‘He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High …’. Well, which prospective parents wouldn’t accept that kind of fore-telling? But the angels leave out the bad news: oh, by the way, your son will suffer misunderstanding, opposition, rejection, betrayal and a cruciating death. Which prospective parents would accept that?

(spoiler alert for the movie Arrival)
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In-flight movies

The plane offered the full range of entertainment. I first watched Zootopia, then fell asleep, but didn’t sleep long or well. At about 2 am I decided that I wasn’t going to get back to sleep any time soon, so started watching the Korean movie 오빠 생각 (o-ppa saeng-gak)/A melody to remember, which I’d seen entirely in Korean in January and reported about here. This version had English subtitles, so I was able to fill in a few blanks.

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Flying Pan restaurant

Chinese, Japanese and Korean speakers of English stereotypically struggle with the English /l/ and /r/ sounds, either transposing them or producing a sound half-way between.

The priest at the church I attend invited me to meet him for dinner, then texted the restaurant’s name :‘Flying Pan’. I wondered whether he had made an understandable mistake. I checked online and found that the name is actually ‘Flying Pan’. The question then is, did the owners of the restaurant make a happy mistake or did they produce a deliberate play on words? A quick search online shows that there are ‘Flying Pan‘ restaurants in my city, Seoul, Hong Kong and New York, as well as a ‘Frying Pan’ restaurant in New York (and no doubt others elsewhere). ‘Flying Pan’ might connote fast food, but it was a mid-elegant restaurant.

Sometimes the boot is on the other foot. I mentioned the movie 오빠 생각 (o-ppa saen-gak) which I saw earlier this year. The choir of war orphans travels to 철원, which can be transliterated as cheor-won or cheorl-won. It took me several attempts for him to understand me, only after I added ‘near the DMZ’. (And I said ‘dee-em-zee’ rather than ‘dee-em-zed’.)