Two South Korean Movies I watched this Week

I watched two South Korean movies this week: Train to Busan (2016) and Silenced (2011). Both of them coincidentally starred Gong Yoo and Yu-mi Jung as the leads. I had heard of Train to Busan as one of the best horror movies showing zombie apocalypse, but it felt like a drama for the most part. Silenced, on the other hand is categorized as drama but it shows the horror of being under-privileged in the society. In this blog, I am presenting short reviews of both the movies.

1. Train to Busan (2016)

In this movie, Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) is taking his daughter, Soo-an (Su-an Kim) to her mother from Seoul to Busan during a zombie apocalypse. The zombie virus originates through a leak in a biochemical factory. The virus is spreading on the scales of a pandemic. People are getting crazy and cannibalistic. But the apocalypse is only a set-up to show the horrors of society.

Seok-Woo is a workaholic, who thinks only about himself. Soo-an, the daughter, is polite and selfless. She is the heart and soul of the movie. Her interactions with the other passengers show to her father that one should never be selfish, even in worse of times. However, the world has mean people, too. The acts of one selfish person can jeopardize the lives of other people. The movie also shows that good people can follow bad people out of fear and can make irrational decisions. Thus, this movie is an excellent commentary on the society.

The zombies in this did not scare me but thought that I might act selfishly in times of apocalypse or pandemic scared me. We saw how some selfish people created the global pandemic of COVID-19. Those memories made Train to Busan even more scarier. Is a selfish society more dangerous than a pandemic or apocalypse? Yes, I think it is.

2. Silenced (2011)

Silenced is based on real events that happened at a school for the hearing-impaired in 2005. I had watched a review (before watching the movie) on the YouTube channel Accented Cinema and had not been able to stop my tears. It took me a couple of weeks to gain courage to watch this movie.

Kang In-ho is a new art teacher at a school for disabled in Mujin. He loves art but cannot pursue his passion his wife died, his daughter is sick. To end his financial problems, he steps into the school thinking it might help his career. But the teachers, including the principal, are repeatedly sexually assaulting students. Despite all odds against him, In-ho decides to fight for justice with the help of an activist Seo Yoo-jin.

The school administration, however, has been bribing the police, education office, and “doing charities”. In-ho and Yoo-jin are helpless against the priviledged criminals. I was expecting them to succeed but the movie shows their failure. For the under-priviledged, the lack of justice is not only a tragedy, it is also a horror.

Nations were built in the past so that everyone could get security and justice. But over time, the fight for justice has been huge struggle for common people, even in prosperous nations. Silenced exposed the flaws in judiciary system of South Korea. The movie became such a strong voice that the existing laws were amended and the culprits were given harsher punishment.

This movie shows how powerful a cinema can be. A movie was able to change the laws of the nation. This is what movies or any art form should strive to do–change the society for good.


I have lost hundreds of photos and documents due to hard drive crashes and memory card failures. Crashes are inevitable. Electronic devices can fail anytime without any symptom. I backup some of my important data online but I don’t backup everything. Over years, hard drives turn into parts of my own memories, and they even represent my personality. I feel I lose myself every time a crash occurs. Sudden crashes have hurt me at least five times now, the recent one occurring on February 14, and I have not been able to recover everything yet.

Our brain captures our sensory perceptions and makes memories. The brain also erases the ones that are less significant. It is so spontaneous that we don’t care how the construction and deconstruction of memories occur. I have come to realize that when we actively interact with the environment, we make sharper memories compared to times when we are passive. Undivided attention helps produces better memories than when my mind is divided. My memory becomes the weakest during the times I have to multi-task. As I am writing this, my mind is trying to run quickly, but it is also interrupted by the talks of my sister and mother, and the loud TV. I am trying to understand what they are talking about but my mind processes only bits and pieces. I am sure when I wake up tomorrow, I won’t be able to remember anything of this evening except that I was typing something on my laptop.

This lack of proper memory construction a frightening situation for me. It was not always this way. I used to do home-works while watching TV in the past. My brain might not be as effective as it was 10-12 years ago; I don’t know. I might not have been able to grasp information from different senses at the same time. I can’t say for sure. Did my brain change the way it worked as I grew into an adult? I can’t say for sure. What I know for sure is that the volume of information my brain has to process is huge, and it has tired. All the things from trivial to complex calculations have affected it for a few years. The fatigue has lingered for a long time as I have not been able to give it a proper rest.

Unrested mind is unstable. It fears more, lacks confidence, and kills enthusiasm. It has so much to do but does not want to do anything. Moments of laughter decrease as worry grips every thought. Such a mind does not make good memories. It takes one deeper into abyss. Images of Riley from the movie “Inside Out” run in my mind as I write these lines. Sometimes, I see myself in her place, trying to keep myself happy against all conditions and making myself sadder as time passes.

The TV is making me listen to Yog Gurus who are focusing on happiness and Pranayam (breathing techniques) that help in the removal of all thoughts. After that, they say, we can enforce happy thoughts. I have not tried them yet, but as I look the paragraph above I become doubtful. Are we composed only of happy thought? We definitely are not. We are made up of several different kinds of emotions—happy, sad, angry, and so on that have roles in defining our personalities. And as the movie “Inside Out” showed, these feelings are ingrained in our memories.

Do memories make us human? Do they drive humanity? As long as I know, we learn a lot of things from the individual experiences of our parents, teachers, friends, and our own. We also have collective memories in the forms of communities, societies, rituals, libraries of books, and archives of different forms of media. Humanity relies on these things so that we don’t have to start from the beginning of the civilization. Humans are in a sort of relay race where the older generation passes the baton of memories to the younger generation can continue from what they have. A new generation always more privileged. Look at the progress in technology, for example.

Progress in technology means that we are relying more and more on it to keep our memories. Will a time come when the machines understand the meanings of our memories? That they will empathise with us? We are already astonished by the answers given by Siri and Sofia, aren’t we? Will they be more human than we ever are? “Blade Runner 2049”, the sequel to the classic “Blade Runner” movie triggered the question within me. Both the movies focus on memories implanted in factory-made humans; the sequel on the memories of automated programs as well. I don’t have the answers to the questions but the possibility of the machines becoming more intelligent or more human could be possible. For now, I am happy with the machines helping me put a part of me into them. It’s a risk as they may crash any time and I might lose those bits of my memories again. It’s okay because, “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”[1]

[1] Quote from Rutger Hauer’s character Roy in Blade Runner (1982)

Monthly Feature 15: Zootopia

Zootopia–a play on the word utopia. Utopia–that can also be pronounced as Zootopia (in Sanskrit and in Nepali). Zootopia–a movie I watched twice in about twenty hours. One of the movies I cannot forget.

“Anyone can be anything in Zootopia,” Judy Hopps, the first rabbit police officer claims. But Nick Wilde, a fox and con says, “Everyone comes to Zootopia, thinking they could be anything they want. But you can’t. You can only be what you are. Sly fox. Dumb bunny.” Between these two quotes exists the story of Zootopia–the major city of world in which “preys” and “predators” are history. They have learned to live in harmony.

But fear still exists. Animals that were traditionally “preys” fear that the “predators” may go savage again. Someone targets the fear, turns some predators into savages and disrupts the harmony. Maybe Mr. Big (a tiny shrew(?)–I think he is a shrew, I don’t know😜) is correct in saying, “We may be evolved, but deep down we are still animals.”

Zootopia shows fear and prejudices can disrupt the peaceful coexistence. “Predators” are ostracized. Zootopia was, “a unique place. It’s a crazy, beautiful, diverse city, where we celebrate our differences,” Gazelle, the popstar says. She adds, “This is not the Zootopia I know. The Zootopia I know is better than this. We don’t just blindly assign blame. We don’t know why these attacks keep happening. But it is irresponsible to label all predators as savages. We cannot let fear divide us. Please, give me back the Zootopia I love.”

Fear rules the modern world and it is fear that divides us. A world free of fear can only unite us all.

More info on IMDb

Monthly Feature 12: Let’s take a “Breathless” Revision

When I began writing posts under the category of “Monthly Feature” at the beginning of this year, the only thing I aimed was consistency. The other aim was to review music, movies and art. As I look back, I realize that there have been movie reviews have become more numerous than the others. On the twelfth monthly feature–the last for the year 2016, let’s take a revision.

On January, I featured a Nepali folk music band: Night. Despite being named Night, I discussed how the band is taking Nepali music on to the light. The second post was the review of a wonderful Nepali movie Jhola. On the third monthly feature that came on March, I could not find a specific topic, I guess. So I discussed how our very existence could be an art and how we can indulge ourselves in art as well.

I went to a wood-art exhibition in March. Later, it turned into April’s monthly feature. I was really mesmerized by the way, artists from various parts of the world to create the best they could. May’s featured post offered condolences to Thinle, the hero of Dolpa whose movie Himalaya (aka Caravan) was nominated in the Academy Awards. In June, I analyzed Maleficent (2014) and discussed if it is fair to call her a villain.

In mid-June, I watched Kalo Pothi, a movie based on lives of Karnali. I reviewed its pros and cons in July. For August, I seem to have lost a specific topic again. So, I shared some songs and music I was listening that month. They were only a little part of the music I listened to, however.

The last three monthly features have been movie reviews. In September, Inside Out was reviewed, and Interstellar in October. The last post was on Pashupati Prasad, one of the finest movies that have been made in Nepal.

 Just before I wrap up, I would like to share a song–Breathless by Shankar Mahadevan. Most people are amazed by the way he sings; but to me what he sings strikes a chord deep within me.


Monthly Feature 11: Pashupati Prasad

I wanted to watch this movie when it was released last year but I could not watch it then because I think I was busy in my chores. Thankfully, the movie came up on YouTube during Dashain.

After the earthquake of Baishakh 12, 2072, Pashupati Prasad Khakurel comes to Kathmandu from Sindhupalchowk in search of his Meet Baa. (Meet is best friend; Baa is father. Meet Baa is father’s best friend–almost like father.) Only his Meet Baa can help him earn money in order to clear his dead parents’ debt.

The movie revolves around this simple common theme. However, as Pashupati Prasad works around Pashupatinath area, he makes a connection with Hanumanji–a masked man dressed like Hanuman, an old woman who loves him more than her own son, an M.A. graduate who runs a food booth, and Bunu–a deaf-mute girl who he loves. He also makes a rivalry with Bhasme Don, while searching for gold in the Bagmati River. Through these characters, several aspects of society come alive.

The ending of the movie is unexpected but highly emotional. Without much dialogues, these scenes break the audiences’ heart. Though many have argued that the ending should have been different, I think that’s exactly the makers had wanted people to think of.


Khagendra Lamichhane as Pashupati Prasad

Rabindra Singh Baniya as Hanuman Ji

Bipin Karki as Bhasme Don

Barsha Siwakoti as Bunu

Director: Deependra K. Khanal

IMDb rating: 9.4/10

Monthly Feature 10: A Movie that Took me Back to Astronomy

For the monthly feature this October, I can’t avoid writing about this science fiction movie that involves a worm hole, a black hole, and a crew of scientists trying to save the human species: Interstellar.

I watched the movie twice during the second week this September. The first time I watched it, I did not understand some of the things shown towards the end. The search took me to different answers. It also took me back to astrophysics.

I have always been attracted by astronomy. I enjoyed reading about stars, planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets. I was introduced to complex objects like black hole through a picture book (published by National Geographic Society, I think) my friend had brought to school. About three years ago, I had read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. It had given me a picture of the universe but I was still not satisfied.

I had heard about Interstellar from my friends in college. I did not know what the movie showed until I watched it for the first time. To keep the suspense (which I don’t usually do in case of movies) I had not even googled its name. After I watched it the first time, I was confused. Because:

I was touched by its drama.

I did not understand anything shown in the end.

I had to know where Cooper went after trying to enter the black hole. I had to know how all things shown in the movie were related.

As soon as I watched the movie, I googled and saw a term “tesseract”. Cooper had gone into the tesseract. How? “They” had sent him. Who’s they?

Who’s they?

Cooper asks the question twice in the movie. If you have watched the movie and listened carefully the conversation between Cooper and TARS in the Tesseract scene you can get the hint. But who built the Tesseract? Only one answer in Quora satisfied me. And to verify it again, I had to watch the movie.

However, I wanted more information on the scientific accuracy of the movie. While sci-fi movies are related to science, they use their artistic freedom to show things which can be misleading. According to the materials I found on the internet, the movie had shown almost accurately the black hole and the worm hole. I thought, ‘There is some science in the movie.’ I found an ebook The Science of Interstellar, written by astrophysicist Kip Thorne. This book helped me know many aspects of the movie and the science used in it. Combined with my undergraduate physics book I could understand relativity and concepts of space-time better than I had before.

Interstellar helped me widen my knowledge on universe. However, it would have been difficult if I had not known some of the concepts previously. I really appreciate the movies which tease my brain and my knowledge. This is one such movie.


(Source: Wikipedia)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Good Bye, Hero of Dolpa!

On the fifth installment of the Monthly Feature, I have the story of an extraordinary gentleman whose life was a caravan, just like the movie he had acted on in the 1990s.

Photo Source:

The life of the people living in the Himalayas is difficult. These people do not have proper educational, administrative and medical facilities, because they lack motorable roads. The hardship faced by the caravans in Dolpa was realistically transformed into a movie, Himalaya Caravan (aka Caravan). The movie starts with the death of the son of Thinle, the chief of the village, by falling off a cliff. Who would have thought Thinle would die two decades later, in a similar manner on the banks of Shey-Phoksundo.

Almost every Nepali who is interested in movies and music, know Thinle (Full Name: Thinle Lhendup Lama) as the powerful actor of the movie Himalaya Caravan. The lives of the Himalayan people had been pictured by it’s director. When the movie was nominated under the category of Best Movie in Foreign Language for the 72nd Academy Awards, Thinle became a superstar. The unsung hero of Sallang, Dolpa had stepped on to the spotlight.

Early Life

Thinle was born in the year 2001 B.S. in the Upper Dolpa region in the village of Sallang. His family was traditionally yak-herds. It was a lifestyle for the people in his village.

But he was a star that could not be hidden by the clouds. He insisted on gaining education and his family agreed. They sent him to study in Tibet. When he returned, his perception of the world had changed. His people would not just be limited to Dolpa but would shine all around. He soon became the chief of the caravan the villagers used to move between Dunai, headquarters of Dolpa, and to Tibet. He carried an aura of charm and intelligence, which was shown to the world by a Frenchman, Eric Valli.

Valli and Thinle

What would have happened if Eric Valli had not come to Kathmandu? What would have happened if he did not have the spirit to visit Dolpa, still remote to Kathmandu? What would have happened if he hadn’t met Thinle? Maybe the movie would not have been made. We might never have a chance to acknowledge Thinle, Nepal’s first Global Superstar.

Eric Valli loves trekking in the Himalayas. It is also his passion to bring up the real lives of people on screen. While he came to Dolpa in 1981, he met Thinle who was leading a caravan that had brought in salt and rations from Tibet. After he returned France, he published a travelogue. The travelogue became famous. When he told this to Thinle later, the man from Dolpa asked, “Why don’t you make a film on us?” Sparked by the idea, the movie Himalaya Caravan was made in 1999. The simple yet realistic lives of people in the movie caught the attention of the world. Valli and Thinle rose to fame as their movie was nominated for the Oscars.

Thinle and Nepathya

The lovers of Nepali music praise Nepathya for their folk-pop songs, which focus on the actual setting on which they are sung. ‘Sa Karnali‘ is one such song about the Karnali zone and the lives of people there. Amrit Gurung, the band’s lead vocalist, who is also an adventurer, and a photographer, was called on by the director Bhusan Dahal and they shot the music video around the Shey-Phoksundo with Thinle. The song and the video left in the minds of many teenagers (including myself) the images of beautiful Dolpa.

Thinle and Gurung in particular were forged into a strong relationship. Gurung called him ‘Kaka’ (uncle) and was among the first to publish an obituary in the name of the Dolpali hero.

Thinle and Politics

During the years of his stardom in the 90s, Thinle was also involved in politics. (I was shocked to know this!) Thinle, who always kept his Dharma above anything else, helped bring some changes in the villages of Upper Dolpa. With his influences, he was able to provide the villages with drinking water and electricity. The Dolpalis revere him for the great man that he was. Even last month, he had come to Kathmandu to seek help from the government in resolving problems of Dolpa.

Thinle, the Caravan

Thinle left the material world last Sunday. He had fought cancer. The will of seeing a good transportation facility had kept him alive. The prayers of his people had kept him surviving in the harsh mountain life. But on that fateful day, death had come to him in the form of a mule. He could not escape.

He was returning Sallang from Dunai on a horse. As he was going up on a cliff above Shey-Phoksundo, a herd of mule came from opposite direction. He gave way to them, himself at the edge of the cliff. All the mules passed but the one which was his death pushed him. The hero of Dolpa fell from the cliff down on the bank of Shey-Phoksundo. Thinle thrived with caravan. He died with it. He himself was a caravan, a traveller who traded his life of hardships with a life of heroism- both on-screen and off-screen.



3.Amrit Gurung’s post on Facebook




7. Himalaya Caravan (IMDb)

बिदाई डोल्पाली नायक !


सानै छँदा मैले सोधेको थिएँ, “बा, मरेको मानिस काँ जान्छ ?”

“ह्याँ आ,” भनेर मलाई काखमा राख्दै आकाशमा मुस्कुराइरहेको चन्द्रमा देखाउनुभएको थियो , “उ: माथि हेर् ।”
मैले चन्द्रमातिर हेरेको थिएँ ।
… बाले भन्नुभएको थियो- मरेको मान्छे, माथिमाथि अझ माथि जान्छ । चन्द्रमाभन्दा माथि जान्छ । तँ मेरो काखमा बसेझैँ, भगवानको काखमा बस्छ । तँ बेलाबेला रून्छस् नि, त्यसरी कहिल्यै रूँदैन । कहिल्यै दुख्ख पाउन्न । सध्धैँ सुखी हुन्छ ।
      – बुद्धिसागर, कर्नाली ब्लुज

हिजो पाँच बजेतिर कर्नाली ब्लुज सकेँ । त्यसको ह्याङओभर नमेटिँदै फाेनमा फेसबुक खाेलेँ । नेपथ्यका अमृत गुरूङले ब्ल्याक एण्ड ह्वाइट फोटो हालेका थिए, साथमा डाेल्पाली नायक थिन्ले । क्याप्सन पनि पढेको थिएँ- सम्झनामा आइरहने छाै, यस्तै केही । तर भनेँ नि, म पुस्तककै धङधङीमा थिएँ, त्यसैले हाेशै भएन । ट्विटरमा त्यस सम्बन्धित कुनै गसिप थिएन । यसै पनि मेराे उदेश्य बुद्धिसागरकाे जीवनी खाेज्नु थियाे, भेटिहालेँ सेताेपाटीमा । आफ्नो लक्ष्य पूरा भएपछि म अरू नै काममा लागेँ ।
आज बिहान अमृत गुरूङको फोटो देखेपछि पो झसङ्ग भएँ । अनि कर्नाली ब्लुजको वाक्यांश याद आयो- मान्छे मरेपछि सधैं सुखी हुन्छ । हिजोदेखि कर्नालीका एउटा छोराले पनि सधैंका लागि सुख पाएका थिए ।

एरिक भ्याली १९७२ मा नेपाल नआएका भए, नेपालको सुन्दरता बुझ्न १९८१मा उनी डाेल्पो क्षेत्र नपुगेका भए, अनि थिन्लेको आग्रहमा क्याराभान नबनाएका भए सायद ती डोल्पाली नायकलाई कसैले चिन्ने थिएन । भ्यालीको त्यस चलचित्र प्रतिष्ठित एकेडेमी अवार्ड (ओस्कार)मा मनोनयन नभएको भए, थिन्ले दुर्गमका अनेकौं नेपालीझैं अपरिचित रहने थिए । एक चलचित्रले उनलाई प्रशिद्ध बनाइदियो ।

तर सायद हामीले उनलाई सम्मान दिनै सकेनौँ/जानेनौँ । उनले डोल्पामा मात्रै नभएर कर्णाली क्षेत्रमा नै विकासको माग गरेका थिए । केही हप्ता अघि मात्रै काठमाडौँ आएर डोल्पाका दु:ख निवारण होस् भनेका थिए । आफू क्यान्सरको बिरामी हुँदा पनि आफ्नो गाउँ/ठाउँको बारेमा सोचिरहेका थिए । असली जीवनका यी नायक सबैको उन्नतिको कामना गरिरहेका थिए ।

हिजो दिउँसो उनी यो दु:खी संसार छोडेर गए । उनी क्यान्सरको बिरामी भए पनि मृत्यु भयो घोडाबाट लडेर । सामान ओसारपसारका लागि घोडा-खच्चर प्रयोग हुने त्यस भेगको बाध्यतामा परेर उनी गए । क्याराभान तान्दै, घोडा दौडाउँदै परिचित भएका उनी क्याराभानको यात्रामा नै वैशाख १२, २०७३ मा दिवङ्गत भए । डोल्पाली नायकलाई श्रद्धाञ्जली !

सन्दर्भ सामग्री