|Peppermint Candy (1999)|
|Starring:||Sol Kyung-gu, Kim Yeo-jin and Moon So-ri|
|The Plot: Our film begins with a man wandering along the banks of a small creek. We discover that he has stumbled upon his home town after many years of being away, and a small group of old friends are currently partying alongside the water. The man is Kim Yongho (Sol Kyung-gu) and he appears to be under some form of serious stress. He screams and hollers while his old friends try to make conversation with him, before he ultimately wanders off onto the nearby train tracks and positions himself in front of an oncoming train. As the train looks to mow him down, Yongho announces “I’m going back!” which is precisely what we as an audience then do. We travel through Yongho’s life via several pivotal years within his time-line. We see him as an unhappily married man, reeling from the loss of a love that he was never able to attain. We see him disillusioned by the corrupt criminal-justice system that he has become a part of. We see how he became disillusioned and finally we see a love affair that brought out the best memories from his entire life.|
Ultimately, my understanding of Peppermint Candy is going to be rather surface-level as someone who has not been tied into the culture over a great number of years. I really only know the basics of their political struggles, and so much of this film deals with those struggles within the past and their individual effect on the populace. With Peppermint Candy, we as an audience are given a glancing look into the South Korean socio-political consciousness over a select number of years. Their fight towards democracy is shown as the film moves along and expands upon the previous scars that have helped develop the character of Yongho, and we ultimately see that while things may be better now, but it is ultimately impossible to forget about the horrible things that the public had to endure in order to reach these years of prosperity and freedom. An aspect of the film which is ultimately helped a great deal by the backwards storytelling is in our understanding of the Yongho character. As a surrogate for the audience to understand the plight of the average Korean citizen, Yongho is a character that is brilliantly crafted, detailed and infuriatingly difficult. As our film begins Yongho is a selfish human being at the end of his rope. His unfulfilled marriage shows not only his general malaise with life, but also his incredibly hypocritical behavior. In one sequence we see him beat his wife as well as her lover when he finds her cheating, but after the incredibly awkward and disturbing sequence, we then see Yongho himself committing adultery in his car. He is a character that is apathetic, impractical and without a moral compass after years of working for a government that nearly robbed him of his soul.