I was awakened by a dream at around six o'clock.
Looking back now, I vaguely remember that there was a dog in this dream. I think it should be related to the movie "The Yellow Sea" that I watched some time ago. The image of the dog in "The Yellow Sea" has deeply impressed me, to the point where the impression of that crazy dog has lingered in my mind for a long time after watching the movie.
In the dream, my father planned to kill a dog, but the dream didn't mention why. The dog was very small and innocent, and certainly didn't know how it ended up in such a predicament.
My father restrained the puppy from behind with his left hand and planned to strangle it with a rope in his right hand. It was a strange posture.
The puppy struggled desperately, dragging its hind legs on the ground, leaving random paw prints everywhere. It opened its mouth and weakly barked, its eyes filled with innocence and despair. I watched it from the opposite side, feeling pity for it, pity for its inexplicable misfortune, pity for its powerlessness to resist. At the same time, I was also filled with worry - my father's actions could easily be bitten if the puppy wanted to. But it didn't, it was just struggling hard.
I felt heavy and complicated, mixed with guilt and fear.
Finally, I spoke up to my father and suggested, "Don't restrain it with your hand, just use a rope to tie up the puppy and hang it somewhere high."
Dad accepted my suggestion, and the puppy died like that. At the same time, I woke up from the dream.
In the movie "The Yellow Sea," Yanbian resident Kim Gu-nam (played by Ha Jung-woo) is like this dog, lonely and helpless.
In Yanbian, a place located between China, South Korea, and North Korea, the Korean people are in an awkward position. They find it difficult to integrate into China, and the feelings of the Koreans towards them are complex - they either pity them or despise them. In the movie "New World," when the gangsters needed to deal with the police, they thought of these "Yanbian old sticks."
In addition to facing the scrutiny of various parties, the local economy is also in a downturn. Many people choose to go to South Korea to work for a living, even at the risk of illegal immigration - compared to the meager income of a few thousand yuan locally, the much higher wages in South Korea are worth the risk.
Among them, women are more likely to find work in South Korea. Families find ways to send women there, while men stay behind and live off the wages sent back by their wives. In this remote place with no industry and a lack of job opportunities, men can only hang out in mahjong parlors. This is the norm for Yanbian people.
In this background, Gu-nam incurs a huge debt in order to send his wife to work in South Korea. Unfortunately, after his wife goes to South Korea, she disappears without a trace. Gu-nam lives every day being chased by debt collectors, like a drowning dog.
Others laugh and say that his wife ran away with a Korean. Such jokes are not uncommon, and the neighbors of those who go out to work have made such jokes about "left-behind children" to a greater or lesser extent. In 1982, when Xie Jin directed "The Herdsman," Xu Lingjun went to Beijing, and Guo Zi made such jokes to Xu Lingjun's son on the carriage.
Faced with debt and his wife's betrayal, the desperate Gu-nam takes on the task of illegally immigrating to South Korea to commit murder. He never expected that this decision would push him into an endless abyss. It is an unknown, lonely, and helpless situation.
In the twists and turns of fate, his strong will to survive is ignited. Although he fights against the gangsters and evades the police, he still cannot escape his inherent fate in the end - drifting without a home, with nowhere to hide, only the Yellow Sea is his final destination - the sea area between China and South Korea.
This is his fate, as if it is also the fate of the people in Yanbian.
This is a more mature work by director Na Hong-jin. Compared to his breakthrough film "The Chaser," it is more refined in terms of plot and storytelling. This film features the same cast as "The Chaser," with Ha Jung-woo and Kim Yoon-seok, two great actors, delivering an exciting performance together. I was surprised by Ha Jung-woo's versatility, being able to play both a psychopathic young killer and a down-and-out middle-aged man. Although the films are only two years apart, they seem to be completely different, which is truly admirable.