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This film, made a year before Berlin Report, exposes the beginning of Park Kwang-su’s primary theme until his film A Single Spark in 1995: the relationship between the intellectuals and the people. Clearly demarcated in the Korean title, ‘they’ and ‘we’ designate people and the intelligentsia. During his long career, Park has always searched for reconciliation between the two. Park includes himself as an ‘auteur’ in his films by presenting an educated male protagonist as his own alter ego, like Seong-min (played by Ahn Sung-ki) in Berlin Report and Ki-young (played by Moon Sung-keun), a fugitive and former-student from political movement in Black Republic. Park’s topic is explored through the journey taken by a male intellectual searching for his subject-identity in his relationship with “regular people.” On the other hand, women in Park’s films (mostly played by Shim Hye-jin) are from the working-class like a coffee shop waitress or a blue-collar laborer (Kim Sun-jae’s character in A Single Spark), or mentally retarded (Shim Hye-jin’s character in To the Starry Island), or even physically damaged like Young-hee, an aphasic in Berlin Report.
In Black Republic, like the male characters Ki-young and Seong-chul, the female protagonist Young-sook also lives during the dark ages of 1980s Korea, in a state of psychological panic. However, unlike Ki-young who has a role in representing and explaining the era (clearly heard in his narration at the end of the film), Young-sook does not have any voice of her own. Representing the ‘people/subaltern’, she is an unknown place that the male intellectual can never reach. (Kim Sun-ah)
Park Kwang-suPark Kwang-su
Born in 1955 in Sokcho, Park Kwang-su graduated from the College of Fine Arts of Seoul National University, where he was actively involved in the film circle, Ayallshung. After his film studies at the ESEC Film School in Paris, Park made his debut feature Chilsu and Mansu in 1988. His subsequent features Black Republic (1990), Berlin Report (1991), To the Starry Island (1994), A Single Spark (1996) and The Uprising (1999) have won numerous prizes at home and abroad. He is also a professor at Film and Multimedia Department of Korean National University of Arts.