Address Unknown (Suchwiin bulmyeong) (2001) • South Korea • Ki-duk Kim

Address Unknown is about the occupants of a small town situated next to an American military base in the Korean countryside. Writer/Director Kim goes beyond mere indictment of American presence. He displays brother against brother (North vs. South) and calls into question the responses to it.

This one is probably for Kim Ki-Duk completists only. It is a remarkable film in its relentless presentation of pain. Every single scene in this 2 hour film involves pain.

An American soldier pays for the surgery so a young Korean girl can regain the sight in her impotent, freaky-looking right eye and then wants her to be his sweetheart in return, wink-wink. When she shows a little interest in the Korean boy who liked her just the way she was before the surgery, the American becomes incredulous and tries to hurt her, but before he can she pokes her own eye out to erase her debt to him. Meanwhile, the Korean boy who liked her just the way she was schemes to kill two Korean boys who have been stealing his money and beating him up. When the girl looks freaky again and goes to express her love to the Korean boy, she finds him in jail for shooting the American soldier in the genitals with a bow and arrow.

That's only one of the subplots. This film actually has subtlety in its whirlwind of metaphors. I've seen a lot of films about pain and despair but none that have been so oppressively constant in their execution. This is a great film by one of the great contemporary directors but you need to be ready for it or you may be repulsed. It's not slasher film gross at all. The really dirty stuff, like hanging dogs from a tree and beating them to death with a baseball bat, is done off camera.


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