The Opening Night film at the San Diego Asian Film Festival was the Korean film, Marathon. This heart-warming drama tells the story of an autistic Young Man, Cho Won whose doting, driven Mother pushes him to succeed at running marathons. Cho Won is 20 years old, but has only a child-like understanding of the world, and loves Zebra's and anything resembling a Zebra, Choco-pies, noodles, and The Wild Kingdom television show. But Cho Won, is unable to express his emotions, and lacks any concept of the workings of the " real world". Enter into the equation a has-been former Marathon Champion, Yun, working off his community service for a DUI at Cho Won's school. Cho Won's Mother attempts to get him to train him. We go through this journey along with Cho Won, and in the end there is of course, a Marathon.
Marathon succeeds in rising above the formula"underdog drama" by utilizing great acting, lot's of humor, not stooping to "cheap" manipulative tricks, and showing the impact of the social realities of being "stigmatized" by being handicapped in South Korean society, not only to Cho Won, but to his Family as well. Though the ending is predictable, it's the journey to that end that makes this film worth watching. I'm thinking of buying this one! A great start to the SDAFF.
A quick note, this movie is a semi-biopic, Director Jeong Yun-Cheol interviewed Bae Hyeong-Jin,on whom the story was based, over the course of two years to develop this film. Amazingly this is Jeong Yun-Cheol's Directorial debut.
Where's the food? In Marathon, food plays a major role. I stopped counting at 12 the number scenes where food plays a role. Choco-pies play a very important role in two pivotal scenes in the movie, and plums in one. And of course Cho Won loves noodles. Most of the noodles shown looked alot like Jajang Myeon, a Chinese based, Korean noodles dish. Here's an example of a sad "instant" Jajang Myeon:
But I didn't have Jajang Myeon, I ended up at Buga and had the Bibim Naengmyun ($9.95):
These somewhat chewy-elastic buckwheat noodles, are served cold, with a spicy sauce. Add to it vinegar and mustard, and you have a wonderful refreshing, spicy dish! Have the Server cut the noodles with a scissors, though, otherwise you'll be "pulling" for quite a long while! With all of the chewing and "reeling in" of the noodles going on, this dish may take a while to eat. It almost seems as if; if I may quote the Missus; "The more you eat, the more there is..."
Notice the panchan in the middle of the picture below, there's a funny story about this:
So I'm having lunch, and a quite distinguished looking Gentleman siting on the table in front of me calls the waitress over, holds up the little plate with the "konnyaku" (I apologize I can't for the life of me remember the Korean name), and tells her "I thought I told you no fish!", She tries in vain to explain to him that it's not "fish", but made from "potato", but he insists that "No potato can ever make anything like this!" So after the Waitress looks at me with a pleading look, I tell the Gentleman that it's made from a specific potato. I get the response, "Humph, don't tell me what this is, I know fish when I see it!" I truly hopes he chokes on his Bulgogi....."humph"
Oh, what did I have for dessert?
Choco-pies of course!