Friday, May 1, 2009

An Open Letter to Seoul Metropolitan Government... UPDATED

UPDATE: See this post for my second letter to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Dear Seoul Metropolitan Government,

I love you more than the Yokohama Municipal Office, more than the District Council of Paris and a hell of a lot more than the Mayor of London. Ever since I entered your realm eight years ago, I've felt safe and happy by your side. We've been through a lot you and I: The World Cup in 2002, the mad cow protests of 2008, countless foreigner friendship fairs, numerous Hi Seoul festivals and the reconstruction of a stream through the centre of the city. Through good times and bad we've stayed together like the twin islets of Dokdo, weathering every storm and basking under every rainbow. I love you so much Seoul Metropolitan Government, but sometimes you really disappoint me.

I was so excited this year with the release of Old Partner and Handphone with English subtitles. I cried at the bovine love triangle and gasped at the twisted plans of a Emart customer service manager. Against my better judgement I even went to see More Than Blue (I don't like melodramas) and I left the cinema weeping like a little baby. The announcement that the Cinus Theaters in Myeong-dong and Gangnam were to serve as the bastions of subtitled cinema warmed the cockles of my heart and I was excited as a little boy in short trousers seeing his first James Bond film, when I was able to experience the thrills of Private Eye. 

Such happy times, it's hard to imagine that our relationship was going so well in April and now in May we're on the rocks again. There were newspaper articles heralding the news that both Thirst and Insadong Scandal would get the subtitle treatment and I believed them. I knew you would come through for me and let me see the glorious work of Park Chan-wook with little roman letters down the bottom of the screen.

But I went into the Gangnam Cinus Theater today and spoke to the nice man behind the counter and he said that neither Thirst or Insadong Scandal would get any subtitle love and that even though screenings had been plannned, you decided not to do them. He told me I was stuck with the dodgy looking romantic spy comedy 7급 공무원 (Secret Couple) and that was it. Someone from The Hub of Sparkle comments page spoke to Lotte Cinema and they said no subtitled vampires for him either! What's going on Seoul Metropolitan Government? 

This is like you promising me Jo Su-mi live at the Olympic Stadium and then on the day of the concert throwing a Wondergirls album into my kimchi chigae and laughing at me. It's like promising a romantic weekend in Jeju and then taking me to Suwon instead (Incidentally I like Suwon, but you can't get decent poo pig and there's no teddy bear museum...). It's like offering me a romantic meal at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurant at the Lotte Hotel and then deciding that Kimbab Nara is the better option.

Don't get me wrong Seoul Metropolitan Government; I'm not angry, just very disappointed.

So no subtitles for one of the films that has been invited to the Cannes Film Festival 2009, no subtitles for possibly one of the big blockbuster hits of this year, no subtitles for one of the finest directors working in Korea.

If you don't release Bong Joon-ho's "Mother" with subtitles then I may have to seriously rethink our relationship. As for this weekend - you can guarantee there'll be no snuggling at all! I'll be watching X-Men Origins by myself... weeping into my popcorn...

I love you Seoul Metropolitan Government, but I'm not ready to forgive you just yet.

Yours in unsubtitled agony,

Paul Ajosshi

7 comments:

Kiko said...

Someone pissed on their popcorn?

Unknown said...

Who knows? It feels like they've widdled on mine...

adhaglin said...

seconded. this makes about as little sense as just about anything i've witnessed in my 4+ years here. why start a highly publicized campaign to open theatrical releases to a broader audience, and then ignore the biggest release of the year thus far? not to mention, it's a film that is made by one of the handful of korean directors who have a good reputation, and, one could even say, a devoted following outside of korea. i have to think there's some bigger reasoning here other than 'they just decided not to'. korea sparkling fail.

Unknown said...

A very odd decision indeed. I finally managed to speak to someone from Cinus on the phone today and they once again confirmed that there will be no subtitled screenings of Thirst or Insadong Scandal. They were also surprised when I mentioned that there was no way for non-korean speaking foreigners to access screening times on their website... An enlightening conversation...

adhaglin said...

we should start a petition insisting that a foreigner be included in all decisions that are supposedly made for our benefit. well, movies, at least.

Ben Cowburn said...

Drat - I was excited by this initiative, and especially the prospect of seeing a subtitled Thirst on the Big Screen. Is there a council email address you'd suggest people send their comments about this to? In more positive news, the Mirospace screenings this weekend (8 - 10 May) sound promising. Thanks for keeping us updated.

Unknown said...

I'll try to speak to the Itaewon Global centre at the start of next week and see if I can establish some contact with whoever is responsible.

The biggest problem I have is not that there are no subtitles for Thirst, but that no-one told us there wouldn't be after they decided against it. Where is the communication? You can't say one thing to the press and then do the opposite without people getting confused or upset....

Plus the Korea Times article this week makes my blood boil. It's not that difficult to check your facts... John Redmond really got my hopes up again...

As for a petition or someone to write to, I'll try and establish contact and then let you know how things go. I really want this subtitle program to work.