We have already seen Tomorrow (2004) and Sinking of Japan (2006), the disaster movies of other countries. Haenudae has two differences from these movies.
The first is the special background of space and time. The background is Haeundae, where many people enjoy their vacation annually, during the season of summer exodus, when tons of people show up. If an accident happened, it would result in a full-scale accident eventually.
The second is the theme leading the movie. The main theme of Tomorrow and Sinking of Japan is environmental change caused by global warming. The events are probable but a long way away from now, so viewers would not feel it is close to their hearts. On the other hand, tsunamis have already killed many people in other countries and have also been covered by many newspapers and international broadcasts. So, we can feel this is more realistic than the former disaster movies.
Meanwhile, what can we feel through Korean authorities? Kim-hui(Park Jung-hun), a geologist in the movie, told officials that a mega-tsunami was coming to Korea. However, they didn’t handle it quickly, not realizing the danger of it. They said with indifference to him, “If nothing happens after we force the evacuation of summer vacationers, will you take the blame from people?” and “None of the geologists insisted on a tsunami except you, right? Why did you create an atmosphere of terror alone?” Finally, their slow reaction worsened the situation. There was a lot of damage to property and loss of life. It resulted from the government’s attitude to save face. Ignorance to natural sciences, I think, may also be the problem.
We can also feel the changed public consciousness in the movie. Nowadays, the position of women has been raised higher both socially and politically, so the career women exercising their abilities and single moms are increasing. ‘Yu-jin’(Uhm Jung-hwa) is one who represents this well. Meanwhile, Koreans put a taboo on female smoking, so there were scenes in which woman smoked secretly in the former movie. This movie changed the prejudice about female smoking.
Yun Je-gyun, director of the movie, said that the movie has ‘not only Tsunami but also Tsunami’. It means the focus of the movie is not the tsunami itself, but the process of achieving people’s unity through the tsunami. The scene with fireworks was a symbol of achieving unity for all characters. Various life styles are in the movie and I think that the fireworks become the light of the characters’ lives.
There’s an old saying that goes, “After a storm comes calm.” It gives us something to think about that catastrophe became the impetus that cemented relationships among neighbors. While unfolding the stories of various characters, simultaneously there is an element to put them together. There are people who struggle for protecting their families and their neighborhoods and rescue workers who help other people at the risk of their lives. All these things impress viewers and give them important messages.
We cannot absorb all the things movie conveyed to us, but remember one thing. How often did you forget the importance of people around you? Why did you regret not saying ‘I love you’ or ‘thank you’ later? We can also say it now. You have to know this. After people disappear, you can’t listen to their answers no matter how much you say love and appreciate continuously.
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