No hugging, no kissing

My opportunities to watch movies online are limited by time, interest and what I can find for free. I have recently watched and blogged about 신부수업 Love so divine (Wikipedia, my blog), 아이엔지 …ing (review, my blog) and 순정만화 Hello schoolgirl (Wikipedia, my blog), and I have just finished watching 엽기적인 그녀 My sassy girl (which I have mentioned but had not watched). The video wasn’t subtitled, so I missed a lot, instead relying on synopses, reviews and commentaries online. Linguistically, the point of interest is that her name is never given; he, her parents and his aunt don’t ever address her by name, despite opportunities to do so.

The other thing I noticed in all four movies was the lack of romantic physical contact – no (or very little) hugging, no (or very little) kissing. I don’t know if this is a general thing in Korean movies. Four is hardly a representative sample. There are reasons in-story – the man in Love so divine is a trainee priest and the women in …ing and Hello schoolgirl and are (final year) high school students (and the men are older) (the two in the former get as far as holding hands but the two in latter don’t even do that, and older beta couple get half a kiss), but the two in My sassy girl are by any definition adults. The question isn’t will they or won’t they, it’s how much and when will they?

But it’s not just those four movies. Others I have seen are 사랑 A love (physically close but kept apart by circumstances), 괴물 The host (a family fighting a mutated monster) and 기생충 Parasite (some, but age and questionable consent).

I don’t know if this is a general trend in Korean movies. I obviously need need more examples one way or the other.

(See TV Tropes’ page on No hugging, no kissing which doesn’t mention Korean movies, and, conversely, The big damn kiss.)

PS I also recently watched 소녀X소녀 Girl x girl, in which their was no romantic contact, just people riding motorscooters together and a lot of low- to medium-level violence. I imagined a very different ending, because further down the search results was ‘Top 10 Korean lesbian movies’ (I’m surprised that there’s that many). I also many years ago watched 웰컴 투 동막골 Welcome to Dongmakgol (note that the Korean title is simply a transliteration of the English), which features two opposing groups of soldiers in a small village, with the only main female character a somewhat simple-minded mid-teen) and 왕의 남자 The king and the clown, in which there’s some contact (but I can’t remember quite how much) between the Joseon-period men.

PPS I have thought of two more movies. The one I’ll mention is 버닝 Burning in which two of the lead characters have rather perfunctory sex together.



TV Tropes’s page on the Shrinking Violet character type gives the real-life example of the Norwegian playwright and theatre director Henrik Ibsen.

It is said that pr 1899, he and his colleague Bjørnson was invited by the king to a diner.

A diner? A small, informal, inexpensive American restaurant? I comfortably assume that’s a typo (see also the unexplained ‘pr’ earlier in the sentence), but it got me thinking about the word diner. Because of American popular culture, I’m familiar with the kind of eatery, but I haven’t encountered either the establishment or the word much in Australia. Either it’s a café or it’s a restaurant, but there used to be fish and chip shops and milk bars, many of which had quick-cooked food and booth-style seating. (Now, if anything, we have kebab shops, which are usually takeaway.)

In fact, searching Google images, one page is ‘The Ten Best American Diners in Sydney’, so the establishments and word exist here. Note that diners is (?has to be) qualified by American. Right next to it is ‘The Best Diners in America’. ‘The Best American Diners in America’ would be redundant. (Though I did go to a ‘Japanese garden’ in Japan (viz, a traditional one, not just any old (or new) one).)

Although TV Tropes explains the Shrinking Violet as “usually but not always female”, all but two of the real-life examples are male.

the short and long of it

Before I went to Korea for the first time, I bought, among other things, the then-current edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Korea. In the Culture section, it says:

Traditional saying provide an uncensored insight into a nation’s psyche.

An unblemished character is a Korean’s most treasured possession. To avoid any suspicion of being a thief, ‘Do not tie your shoelaces in a melon patch or touch your hat under a pear tree.’

Yesterday evening I was browsing through TV Tropes and found its page for Translation: “Yes”, which it explains:

While we commonly expect short phrases in one language to be equally short in another, sometimes short phrases are translated into surprisingly long ones: however, many shows parody this completely by having a single word become a long phrase in English, or a ridiculously long phrase to a single English word, often the word ‘Yes’.

I noticed this many years ago when proofreading transcripts of court proceedings against the audio recording. There would be exchanges like:

Barrister (in English): Did you see the accused do something on the night in question?
Interpreter (in other language): [Approximately that long sentence.]
Witness (in other language): [Very long sentence.]
Interpreter (in English): Yes. 

The judge and barristers never seemed to notice or question this.

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Brethren and sistren

Last weekend I got a card for our new local library and borrowed a book about language and the DVDs for the tv science-fiction series Firefly, which I have read small amounts about over the years but never seen. The series mixes futuristic science fiction with wild west settings, as the outer planets and moons of a complex solar system (or an inter-related group of solar systems; it isn’t fully explained) were terraformed to a basic level but the settlers are otherwise expected to fend for themselves.

In one episode the lead character unexpectedly finds himself married by local custom to a young woman who may or may not be what she seems (semi-spoiler: she isn’t). At one point she refers to “my sistren” in “the maiden house”. 

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