Tag Archive | personhood

Thank you, Mr. Garfitt.

Jesus came to banish fear.

jesus of wigan  Though I haven’t gone through the entire book yet, the few parts that I have read so far are making good sense to me. For one, I can see that it’s obviously made out of love, that it’s a true labor of love, and it deserves much respect and consideration. Thank you, Francis Garfitt, for writing this fascinating and refreshing book about a living man and a living story that was calcified within just a few pages two thousand years ago.

I have always gone by the thought that if truth is in God, that if ‘truth’ is an embodiment of God, then there’s no way of disproving Him nor that our insistence on “defending” Him will add to that truthfulness. In pursuing my personal studies on that distant world of two thousand years ago when Jesus of Nazareth shook his world, I would like to listen to this particular voice that projects Jesus’ story’s context through a personal conviction using the platform of the contemporary world. ‘Evangelism’, after all, is not limited to the mainstream’s definition of it, if the reader sees it as that. A storyteller is by all means entitled to any artful way of delivering an old story with full relevance. We, those of us who want to keep on telling a story that has been stamped ‘unchangeable’, may just have to take the courage to step out of the silenced crowd and speak in a way that will make the story enabling again even to those who have been rendered numb by the challenges of everyday survival — the way that Jesus of Nazareth did. That’s love.  Jesus of Wigan

What I especially find refreshing among the narratives is the inclusion of the scientific perspective in order to bring about a multi-perspective handling of whatever scene is featured. In this book science is integrated as a tool for looking at what is. The outcome resonates with the Hebrew worldview where things are dealt with integrally, like for example that a human being is not allocated into body-&-soul parts. So far I can see it doesn’t pretend to know everything yet it’s a humbling book. It will make one look at things differently, make one recall the time when one realized that things are not what they are as seen on the surface. It will encourage you to love. It will confirm your simplest reasons for wishing for happiness.

(Note: Today is May 19, 2016. This was written 2 years ago. I need to update it soon. I just got to find the time. Get the book if you can. Jesus of Wigan by Francis Garfitt. You will like it even if you’re not interested in the religious side of it. ❤

Update: May 20, 2016. I edited the original script and added a few words. Still, that is not the ‘update’ that I meant. It will then look like a review of the book.)

Thanks for dropping by. Have a great day, everyone! 🙂

🙂

  • 🙂 I have your book today, in paper. I don’t know when I can finish it considering that I’m not supposed to do anything else besides looking for certain things in books for a year at least, but actually I’m now on John’s first baptism. I’m liking John and I can easily connect him with that John in the desert, both with passions of that intensity. But how I wish I knew more of European economy/history so that I could get more laughs out of your quirky statements — I mean, I had my first big laugh at page (though unnumbered) 3 of Introduction and I anticipate that there are lots like it in this your thickish book. Though I think I just go open some more of your book for reasons other than greed for knowledge, otherwise things will just not get right with me. One has to be ready for the things that you say in here 🙂 . What made me confident enough to get a copy was that a few days ago I finally had a gut feeling of what evil is. The subject of evil isn’t an attractive material for me and so I haven’t read up on the academic discussions on it, nor am I interested in the macabre in popular media. But recently, in a flash, I realized that I understood that evil is the attempt to choke/snuff out/strangle life, to negate life. Something happened to me and I felt like I was going to be annihilated, something is trying to deny my essence, and if I let it be I would end up a living dead, a nothing — and so it dawned on me that this, then, is what evil is. I decided to find a way to stay alive despite the presence of this thing that would callously wipe me off from existence if I let it. So I thought that a retelling of Jesus’ story like the way you’re doing is worth looking into, with the horrors of modern metropolitan living, and they shouldn’t disturb me as much anymore due to my newly found knowledge (haha looks like this leads me further into my “knowledge-of-good-and-evil” musings…). I’m wary like this because I’m not familiar with big city living, and the little that I’ve experienced of it I didn’t really like… but I do like the way you explain the will to power … I agree with what you say in there … and I can’t help wanting to catch your words at each right-hand page because they look like they might fall off any time — this was the first big laugh, actually 🙂 THANK YOU for your great effort in this book. May many people come to read it.

     

  • Dear Sacadalang,

    thank you so much for the comment and for buying a copy of my book. I’m glad you are liking John. He is based on a guy that I met whilst doing some voluntary work. He was working as an ‘enlightened witness’ with other ex-prisoners and this idea of a ‘witness of the light’ kept bringing me back to him whenever I tried to visualise John the Baptist. I was genuinely humbled to meet him. I only met him once, but maybe that is how life is.

    I think that your gut feeling of what evil is, is important. George Macdonald wrote of the shadow inside us all in his book Phantastes, a fairy story for adults. In it he wrote that the affirmation of evil is the negation of all else. So take care of yourself, negation is anti-hope, the anti-social anti-value that builds on feelings of isolation, then anger, then destruction… either of self or others. In the same way that the key to madness is personal to each of us, so is the path to oneness. I love your blogs, their enthusiasm and infectious joy. I don’t know all the films and TV shows you mention, but what I enjoy is learning why you enjoy them. So keep it up, we are all part of the pattern.

    It took me 7 years to write the book, and I always felt that if it touched one person then that was worth it, that whatever I was doing meant something more than just another writer with another book. Sometimes I felt like giving it up as a bad job, and even now I’m not happy with it, I can see the flaws, particularly in grammar. So thank you once again for taking the time to read it.

    kind regards

    Fran

     

  • Dear Fran,
    thank you for replying, for the reply, for Phantastes, for John, and for the encouragement — yep, I have a good idea now about the self-destruction and the wanting-to-quit parts, thanks to my experiences — ach, the grammar, well, grammar does not rule so to say … all I know is that I’m reading a genuine specimen of contemporary British English and for me that’s good enough 🙂
    -wishing-you-a-nice-week-
    ang sacada lang

     

    ❤ ——————- ❤

    ( 4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy with a difference 8 Aug 2013  /  By Viv M)
    I found this book shocking at times and unlike any other “religious” book I’ve ever read. It is an imaginative modern interpretation of the gospel story. I enjoyed the references to Wigan, and there is plenty of humour. It’s a retelling of history with complex twists.
    ❤ ——————- ❤
    4.0 out of 5 stars Are you on the path? 4 Aug 2013  /  By Mark S If you are trying to find a path to faith this book will help. The authors take on the New Testament and the disciples of Jesus provide some great reflective moments for the reader, which disciple are you? The author’s link to modern day diseases, such as the craving for power and certainty, provide an interesting view of the New Testament story and highlight how shallow our modern day lives have become. Our constant desire for instant gratification and oneupmanship are clearly exposed in this insightful work.

    A great read and it really challenged my thoughts. This book has really helped me to think more clearly about what Jesus was really trying to achieve. I don’t agree with all of the authors views but the thought provoking nature helped me to further understand the Bible itself. Well done a great first book.

     

 

A Letter To Michael Berg, From An Ignorant Blabbermouth

Then what am I supposed to do with your story, Michael Berg?

You don’t blame Hanna for loving you. You do not blame yourself for loving Hanna. What, then, am I to make of your sad love story? Okay, so it wasn’t wrong for her to love you, 21 years her junior. But of course only a very few will agree with you. Look at that survivor who described her as having been brutal to you. But you said so yourself that the only love we are not responsible for is the one we have for our parents. I’m glad that it came from your own mouth.

The Reader _front cover

click to enlarge

I hurt for you as I listen to you talk to me in your telling of your story. A fifty-year-old professional coming to grips with an emotion he first experienced for a woman 35 years ago sure speaks something for the love a man has for a woman. Dreaming of her, associating her with the feeling of coming home, describes an attachment stronger than a mere adolescent crush, or even passion.

Michael, for all your words, I really would have loved to hear something from Hanna Schmitz. I wish you were older when you met her then perhaps you would have seen more, have understood more. I feel like if only you didn’t keep your age a secret from her then she would have driven you off, out of her life for good, even if you’ve already been lovers for a week. But even then many people would still want to say that a full grown woman seducing a seventeen-year-old is just as immoral.

Again, what do I really know of Hanna to even suggest that she was immoral in her relationship with you? In what way did she benefit if indeed it’s true that she used you? For all you know the fact that you have become happy lovers has brought her an equal amount of sadness, too.

However, what does her relationship with you have to do with her being on that court trial, and you meddling with her life afterwards? You were not supposed to know anything about her in the first place. Michael, she would have continued on with her silent life had she not heard from you again. Why the hell did you have to send her those tapes? And then not even telling her of how happy you were to receive a note from her when it was obvious that you, of all people, were the one whom she wanted most to be happy with and for her? Would you be excused when it would be said that you had no idea anymore whatsoever if she still loved you in the way you knew she did? But my goodness, Michael Berg, you were microscopic in deciphering the amount of effort she put into that note she sent to you. Didn’t that give an indication of her reaching out to you?

Numbness. Numbness. You always give numbness as the excuse. If a Corrie ten Boom is possible then why couldn’t it work out with you for the sake of the great love you had for her?

Ach, but it’s all over now. I’m ranting needlessly. Like the prison governor I can only feel anger towards the both of you — to you for being a hypocrite about your love for her, to her for not having the strength to deny you, not then, not while she was in prison, and not even when she was about to have a new life. That woman who spoke so callously about Hanna did not realize that you, Michael Berg, have also been brutal to Hanna.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

You say that the generation before you failed in confronting evil. You are the same as them. You just kept on protecting yourself. Even when you discovered what made Hanna the way she is, still you didn’t clear it up with her. Compare your level of literacy with hers. Compare her access to “enlightened” discussions with yours. Why couldn’t you have found the way to come up to her and inform her of her accountability for leaving you brokenhearted? I’m sure you’ve heard of something like with-greater-knowledge-comes-greater-responsibility from somewhere.

Just like the way she asked the judge, what else could she have done when she already knew that the boy she fell in love with was growing up without her, and fast? She knew she didn’t belong to your world. Why would she hamper your growth? That, then, would have been brutal. She actually did you a great service, by disappearing from your life.

Haven’t you heard from somewhere, too, that once you start something you have to take responsibility for it? You led Hanna on by giving her false hope. You made it seem like you have forgiven her for leaving you. You made it seem like you understood her for having ended up in that court. In your having reached adulthood didn’t it occur to you that it was your innocence that attracted her to you? That with you she found a picture of what she would have liked to be had fate been different for her? We do not even have an idea why she became like that in the first place, or why she didn’t take the effort to remedy it for all the earth time she was in existence before she met you.

If you said that coming to visit her was like coming home, then couldn’t you visit her again? Cutting your ties with her is denying your existence, too. If you don’t blame anyone for all that’s happened then perhaps a celebration of your love for each other could awaken from your frozen heart.

Viktor Frankl, too, came from Auschwitz. He saw among his companions the same phenomenon that happened to Hanna, i.e., that the feeling that nobody out there is eager for one’s well-being hastens one’s non-existence.

The Reader _read allI do not know what to say of your story, Michael Berg. Since Hanna did not talk to you, since she didn’t compose narratives, and since she doesn’t even have a collection of songs you’d have an idea she likes then how can we speak of a person’s choices to whom a world of letters cannot speak to? Did you even wonder what made it an imperative for her to guard over her dignity? Can you even begin to imagine the depravities she had to survive and rise from just so that one day she’d be able to make little dance steps in front of the man she loves? You know what, Michael, with your renewed readings to her you pried open her armor and then you left her exposed to the elements.

Maybe we can just say that it’s the price she had to pay for not knowing what to do then. But what can one do when one doesn’t even know that one is supposed to know? How can one guard oneself from the ignorance of ignorance? When you pried open her armor she was beginning to forgive herself. She was learning to face the condemnations. She was having her spring.

What saddens me, Michael, is that it’s possible for X to stand in judgment over Y whom X knows loves X, while all the while denying that a judgment had been passed.

I rest my case, or whatever it’s called.


This narrative is a reaction to Bernhard Schlink’s 1997 novel The Reader.

Han Suk-Kyu + Song Joong-Ki = King Lee Do = King Sejong the Great

This post provides a little background-context for Tree With Deep Roots, which is a novel by Lee Jung Myung adapted into a sageuk (S. Korean historical drama) of 24 episodes. The name comes from a poem… and the roots pertain to the ministers… ——–>>> (This post is yet unfinished. But since I have already done much on it then I’ve decided to let it out. I do not know when I can have the chance to finish it. I ask for your kindness and understanding. Thank you.)

The things I say here do not do justice to the story, specifically the drama. I do not have much analysis here because it has already been a year since I saw it. I have forgotten the details. But what will always remain with me is the way the King Lee Do here fought off self-aggrandizement. He is ever wary of power but he knows how to make good with the privilege he has as the nation’s ruler. Perhaps when I pick up this post again, to edit, then I would be able to speak with more substance. For now, please excuse the mess 😛 . But please enjoy the photo galleries I have made. I am especially happy that it is for the sageuk Tree With Deep Roots King Sejong the Great, or informally King Lee Do, that I have first made them. Also, I am delighted to find out that South Korea names a new “city” after him.

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King Sejong the Great (May 15, 1397 – April 8, 1450, reigned 1418–1450, fourth king of Joseon), of the personal name Lee Do, or Yi Do, is the subject of the story. This drama revolves around his efforts to create the first official native Korean script, called Han-gul or Han-geul. The most characteristic trait of King Lee Do portrayed here is that he refuses to succumb to the use of might.  The drama depicts the academic and logistic struggles of the king and his companions to eventually bring out into the common people the easily memorized Korean alphabet (compared to the official Chinese script that only those of the so-called upper class know how to read and write).

As his title states, King Sejong the Great is a highly honored person even today. Here was how his birth anniversary was celebrated in 2012:

modern day celebration of king sejong's birthday _2012

A celebration of the 615th anniversary of the birth of King Sejong took place on May 12 and 13 in Gyeongbokgung Palace (photo courtesy of the National Gugak Center). http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=100378

This year 2014 marks the inauguration of  an autonomous city named after him:

Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City _map's caption

The map’s caption. This enlarges when clicked on.

From the article where the map above is found it reads:

“The Government Complex Sejong is the new home for 4,888 civil servants from ten central government organizations: the ministries of culture, sports and tourism; trade, industry and energy; health and welfare; employment and labor; and, patriots and veterans affairs. The 17-day move takes place from December 13 to 29. With this phase of moving, the total number of civil servants in the new government complex has reached about 10,000 and covers 31 organizations. So far, ten out of the total 17 central government organizations have moved to the Government Complex-Sejong, with state-funded research institutes having started the move in 2011. The shift to the new administrative city now being almost complete, the government’s new era at the Government Complex-Sejong is in full effect. “

There also is a Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, http://www.sejongpac.or.kr/eng/main/main.asp . It holds Asia’s largest pipe organ.

There is a movement for promoting the Korean language, undertaken by the King Sejong Institute.

An image-search on King Sejong the Great yields results that include a monument to him, a royal portrait done in the authentic style, and a poster of another drama based on his life. The king is usually shown wearing his robe, called the dragon robe, of a specific red hue. Even his official portrait has to have this specificity, a fact I learned from Painter of the Wind, which is another historical drama based on the lives of two of the best painters in the kingdom during Yi San’s reign (Yisan = Lee San) 🙂

King Sejong the Great _representations

Tree With Deep Roots, both the novel and the drama, incorporate much fiction. They are not factual authorities. This post deals with the drama and is from a perspective after almost a year of having watched it. This perspective is of a particular Asian who has not read the novel, does not know the languages and scripts of China and Korea, has not studied Confucianism, Buddhism, and Korea itself, and who has not been there, yet. Please excuse the deficiencies and the obvious delight over this particular film production.

Part I.   The king’s personal struggle against the ugliness of violence starts when as a child he accidentally discovers that his father is a ruthless ruler. He did so after having read an essay in a scholars’ exam. The examinee is the young son, not much older than him, of the person representing the main opposition to his father’s rule. He then meets this young scholar and does a verbal sparring with him. The naive Lee Do seemed to have been defeated in this encounter, leading him to be in the company of this boy, actually the future Bonwon (Main Root), as they witness one of the ways that Lee Do’s father employ in order to maintain his power. In this instance the violence is against the future Bonwon’s person and family itself.

The picture galleries zoom in when clicked on.

Part II.  Lee Do ascends to the throne as a young man, at an age when he does not yet have the adult men’s facial hair, the one that easily marks eunuchs, who do not have such. His father the former king, King Lee Bang-won (King Taejong), still holds power in every sense of the word. As such, Lee Do is king only in garb and name. His days are spent by himself, thinking and studying, away from the company that his father keeps. His encounters with his father is always tense because his father disapproves of his naivete.

Ministers stand before the king’s throne. But the kingdom is run by his father the former king, the one seated to the side of him in dark royal robes.

His favorite activity whenever he experiences fear due to his father is sudoku. In his massive personal/private study hall he has a giant 33 x 33 board on the floor, one that he has been trying to solve for some time now. As Muhyul enters the hall we see him passing by solved sudoku in increasing sizes, the biggest one visible is at the further right of the king who has his back turned to everyone as he figures out the puzzle on paper. All his attendants are palace maids. They are the movers of the blocks and the calculators, using the abacus. Later is father comes in and mocks the puzzle on hand, calling it the Devil Defensive Formation due to how it can engage the one who tries to solve it as if possessed by a demon. His father destroyed a 3 x 3 formation to show him his own solution to that pattern. It is to put only the value 1 at the center. Somehow this idea, along with another one that comes in later, enabled him to solve the 33 x 33.

His father constantly hopes and entices him through subtle psychological wars to engage in the wielding of power the way he does it. Lee Do refuses him until his death bed, even when his father keeps on insisting that his reigning of this power, keeping it in check with his will, will eventually “rot” inside him and “poison” him. This struggle against the wielding of power, against the wanton use of might, stays with Lee Do until his adult years.

A major psychological war between them took place on the night of the slaughter of prisoners, who are mostly household slaves of the young king Lee Do’s father-in-law (i.e., they are of the queen’s household), due to political machinations. This is in episode 2. Lee Do for the first time unknowingly shows his father that he is wise enough to figure out where to tap power from. This was a very engaging scene involving extreme emotions: disdain, fear, resignation, anger, pain, panic, and overall tension that could draw blood any moment. Lee Do’s winning move was found in his personal bodyguard, Muhyul (Moohyul). Lee Do thought that he had lost in this battle but in fact because of his lightning decision to engage Muhyul his father is now beginning to see him with new eyes. The direct point of contention, the root of the argument, was that Lee Bang-won wanted to kill an escaped slave’s son, a young boy, whom Lee Do has protected by hiding him in a shed nearby. Lee Do simply refuses to give up this boy (who will grow up to be the adult Kang Chae-yoon, portrayed by Mr. Jang Hyuk), and at that time a seemingly petty exercise on his part as the protector of the common people but nevertheless he’s determined to see it through against his father’s all-might.

Here next is an evolution in pictures of how Lee Do changed from a nervous adolescent into one who now carries a veiled threat to his father’s power, but in a dissimilar manner. As Lee Do steps into the soldiers’ target training area the powerful part of the longish soundtrack My Way plays. His father himself gives the order to shoot. The soldiers obey their commander despite their nervousness. The activity is an extreme insult to the young king, one which in ordinary circumstances would call for instant death. Lee Do knows, despite his understandable fear, that due to political reasons his father would not have the arrows be aimed at him, as well as he knows of the dexterity of the soldiers to not have any accidentally hit him. The greater fear that he has to face is therefore the one of him finally stepping out of the shadows and have it spelled out to his father that finally he knows what to do, and that he intends to do it. He offset his father in this encounter when he answered resolutely that from now on he would do things his own way. This final encounter between them came about when his father presented him with a no-win puzzle, with his life at stake. He was able to solve it by radically thinking outside of the box, literally and figuratively (there’s another picture gallery on this, after the one below). He interpreted Lee Bang-won’s puzzle in an unexpected manner, one that Lee Bang-won himself gave the clue to. Thus, his latent insightfulness was unveiled before his father’s eyes. He and his father downplay this potential, that is him, until the former king dies. Although Lee Bang-won never won in any of their ideas-parrying sessions, still Lee Do fulfills his promise of “humility”. He went on to build his Jip-hyun-jun, a hall for studying among fellow scholars, since he has resolved to wait it out and prepare the field for the time when his father is no more, when he at last becomes his own person as the people’s king.

That crucial encounter with his father was the result of him finally having solved the 33 x 33 sudoku puzzle. He has figured out a way to enable him to solve any sudoku game, of any size. Instead of just concentrating on the enclosed square space he expanded the area, making a bigger square that encloses the original one. With all the figures in place now, corresponding blocks are then inserted into appropriate places, back into the original square-area. Voila. All columns, rows, and diagonals add up to the same figure.

Part III.  King Lee Do’s reign is a triumph against the seduction of power. He is shown as a superb scholar with radical perspectives. As such he has to work things out away from the acidity of the kingdom’s conservative mainstream scholars. He is introspective, careful, systematic, patient, persevering. These few faces of the young and the adult King Lee Do speak of this personality. Adulthood has brought him self-confidence and openness in his interpersonal relationships. But his pensiveness and naivete remained with him. As time goes by the passion with which he pursues things for his people is of similar, if not slightly less, intensity to the one he subjects his own self to, in self-criticism, throughout the years that he, stage after stage, works out his plans. This group of pictures may be redundant for this post but still I include them because I admire this character, Lee Do, in this drama. He’s the reason why I gave up things today just to be able to do put this all up. It is also because of him that I was able to try making a picture gallery, here in this post for the first time. If not for him I wouldn’t have found out about the two great actors featured here, Mr. Han Suk-kyu as the adult king and Mr. Song Joong-ki as the young king, plus the others who also made the story adaptation great. [This particular picture gallery does not zoom in when clicked on, but a slideshow of them follows beneath.]

Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (1) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (1) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (2) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (3) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (4) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (5) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (6) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (7) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (8) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (9) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (10) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (11) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (12) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (13) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (14) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (15) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (16) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (17) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (18) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (19) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (20) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (21) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (22)

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[12 April 2014 addition]

It is timely that I am now in Episode 18 of re-watching the drama. Without taking note of the specifics, the points being made clear now are of the promulgation of the king’s letters. The antagonists think of it as a life-and-death situation. They oppose the enabling of the commoners’ literacy because this would take power away from the aristocrats. This, they say, will cause the kingdom to collapse. King Lee Do thinks otherwise. He mobilizes his allies, both overt and covert, against an enemy the capability of which matches his.

I anticipate that by the time I get through this episode, and most likely the next as well, I would have arrived at the heart of all the arguments. Most likely I would recall why I got attached to Lee Do’s story this strong, why I thought that he’s radical as well as credible, not just a revered icon but a real human, and why I fell for him 🙂 I have a feeling that these two episodes need a separate longish post as well 😛

Here now are those whom I call as composing King Lee Do’s Machinery, and a tiny glimpse of the “antis”. The whole story works with intersections among the characters. What I have here, for now, is the simplest of delineations. The other characters who are as crucial to the entire movement I will have to leave off until the next part:

This part is about the king, Ddolbok and Soyi, plus the king’s self-deliberation scenes with his younger self. ___________ : [I pressed enter here before uploading the pictures]

This part shows the relationships between the main protagonists and antagonists. ———- ?

This part shows the cast _________ :

 

This part shows related discoveries ____________ :

The main trigger as to why I was encouraged to make this longish post was a modelling picture of Song Joong Ki that I saw. When I noticed that he, too, had make-up on I was reminded of how make-up is basic to show business/entertainment, both then and now. Not even Song Joong Ki is spared of it despite his clear skin. I was just at first looking at that picture of his, marveling at the make-up he has on, and suddenly had to recall to myself when and how did I notice that he is not just a face but a talented artist, too. So I thought that instead of just commenting at his looks why not talk about the drama where I first admired the way he projected a character, that of young King Lee Do side by side with a respected veteran, Mr. Han Suk-kyu. So here are just a few other faces of Mr. Song Joong-ki, including that one where I noticed the make-up on him. My top favorites here are, of course, the ones where he just poses as himself, the common citizen who is known by the name Song Joong-ki in the glamour world. [The original owners have the credit to these pictures).

By the way, it’s not only the male celebrities who patronize make-up in South Korea, and in other countries as well. In South Korea the qualification for employment, which involves fierce competition, is assumed to be taking into consideration the way a person fixes his face (i.e., equally with men & women). Somehow it’s a manifestation of the drive to excellence. But you know how the business world is… push push push … treating assets, living and inanimate, all alike …

..

find your rhythm

 

resume your dance

Isadora Duncan was a famous American dancer.    please click on to enlarge. thank you.

wake up.

resume your dance.

let every cell in your body remember their rhythm.

find your feet, grapple,

find your ground, dig,

touch the earth, reach out, strain yourself,

come back to your voice.

you are beloved.

wake up

This excerpt is part of Estes’ discussion, in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves, using the tale of The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen, that one of the girl who froze while trying to sell matches on the street but instead lit them one after the other in attempts to keep warm/safe/comfortable.

captured from Women Who Run With the Wolves page, slightly edited

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Women-Who-Run-With-the-Wolves-by-Clarissa-Pinkola-Estes/180239888679436

Unexpectedly Meeting Kiyoha & Seiji, in Sakuran

Updated April 3, 2014 🙂 All these captures from the film enlarge when clicked on ❤

PART ONE.

 0.  Seiji & Kiyoha happiness  Sakuran (2006) is the most riotously color-full film I have ever seen. The kaleidoscopic backdrops are enough for me to like this movie. Its soundtracks are as engaging (Ringo Shiina’s album Heisei Fuuzoku = Japanese Manners). Most of them sound celebratory, some are as defiant as courageous splashes of adolescent rebelliousness, and at the correct times so mournful that they transport me back to reality all the way to the tears.

1.  Kiyoha-Higurashi & her sisters entertain a guestIt is based on a manga, one which I have not read and so I have no points of reference other than the little that I know of Japan like its woodwork, clothing, paper walls, woodblock prints, communal bath, ground drenched by rain-pour, a field of cherry trees in bloom, a stiff sense of honor and shame. It was a very enlightening tour into a past life yet also instructive of norms that prevail. Sakuran will not pale against any comics-rendition of the life of an independent-willed girl sold and reared in a pleasure district of feudal Japan, in a courtesan house.

2.  Kiyoha & an admirer _infatuation & camaraderieThis is not a film for those who see all women entertainers, past and present, who dress up and perform roles like that of the geishas of today as nothing but just dispensable prostitutes. If it is approached with this mindset then the film will be reduced into just another commercial project, having profit as the worshiped purpose. The foundational but covered-up elements of soul-captivity and abandonment of alternative life choices will get trampled under the power of the intent to titillate. The heroine in this film represents those who constantly rage against their caged fate — it is her refusal to be dampened that always gets her in trouble with the others and it is around this characteristic of hers that the story revolves.

6.  Seiji is behind Kiyoha _parade of Higurashi the Oiran

The Oiran Parade, which is still done until today.

For a fact, there are distinctions between Japanese women entertainers of the past and geishas of today, and other classifications I am not familiar with. This can most likely be easily surfed in the net (see the added note * below). There are those that were termed as courtesans, which connote sexual involvement, whereas geishas are professional entertainers, very expensive, very strictly trained in the well-defined structure of the traditional Japanese arts. Entertainers such as the geisha are living icons of entrenched Japanese ideals, expressions of a unique worldview set in studied harmony. They are breathing windows into a world where many would like to be but couldn’t. They are 3-D picture frames, animated paintings, enfleshed music. Though this film may not lead us down into the depths of a courtesan’s introspections it does form a bridge with which we are allowed to see a glimpse of the richness of souls inhabiting a so-called “floating world”. 5.  Sakuran_2007 _a little bragging does not hurt(added 1March14:  There’s the film Yoshiwara Enjo, which is also called Tokyo Bordello, set in the 20th century that treats issues related to the floating world with more depth than Sakuran does. There’s also a legend going by the term Oiran Abyss or Oiran Edge that tells of several courtesans’ tragic fate, but I still haven’t looked this up.)

If there is one fault in the film it is that the main character has too pretty a face, a potential distraction from the seriousness of the running themes. But when seen against the fact that this is a real-life rendering of a manga heroine, Kiyoha, then the choice is perfect. Anna Tsuchiya does give Kiyoha a distinctive persona, one that is a bit different from the rest. Moreover, she does not hesitate to move the appropriate facial muscles, and admirably too, to generate the range of emotions felt by either Kiyoha the tigress, or Kiyoha the kitten and several more.7 .  Seiji & Kiyoha mourn a friend

In this film is where I first saw Masanobu Ando, as Seiji, who is among my favorite heroes. Seiji is not a man of expressive passions. His role is that of a dedicated and upright businessman and overseer of the establishment. He has to have eyes at the back of his head for Kiyoha though, because he has learned early on that she is not the meek conformist. Nevertheless Kiyoha has a higher regard for him than for the house’s owners, who in turn trust him in his ability to peacefully handle her. Kiyoha’s personal little girl apprentice addresses him in honorifics, as Seiji-dono (whereas its equivalent would be Seiji-sama nowadays).

7.  Sakuran_2007  the Yoshiwara main street at dawn

Unlit Yoshiwara main street at dawn. This aquarium, in the foreground, is hoisted on top of the entrance gate.

For the fans of Oguri Shun, I assure you that you’ll see his face here within a span of 10 seconds only, but it’s a face that will surprise and delight you. He made the most of the 10 seconds to make a very unforgettable appearance.

Kiyoha’s last glimpse of her hometown was with the cherry blossoms, sakura, lining the road as a madam hurries her to her new house. She enters the gates of the red district at night, when all the lanterns along the main street are lit and she, the little girl, is just as appreciative of the sights as she was with the sakura. But not for long she gets fed up with the all-women company within the enclosure and she develops the perpetual urge to run away, which she does attempt sometimes. Women can be bitches to girls who have complexes — usually girls, or any human, will not run away from where there is warmth. Plus, she misses the sakura. Seiji, who was already a young adult by then, catches up with her at a little shrine in the district during one of these flight urges. 8 .  Higurashi & her samurai suitor In this shrine stands a forlorn cherry tree that has never bloomed even once. He placates her and promises to take her out of the enclosure once this tree shows a flower. In fact, no sakura has ever bloomed within this entire pleasure district.

Kiyoha grows up retaining her independent spirit. She scratches and growls whenever she is wronged. She does not guard her speech or her actions as rigidly as the other girls do. She has become a streamlined rebel, conforming yet apart. Then her heart gets broken by a puppy of a man. Seiji supports her as she adds more rigidity to her back. She goes on with living, generously giving affection to whomever she likes — to little trainee entertainers, to elderly or penniless clients — she does not discriminate, and being nasty to those who violate the common codes of courtesy.

9.  Seiji confers with his benefactorsShe gets pregnant by an anonymous father, then loses the baby. Seiji nurses her like a mother throughout her pain, staying up beside her bed. As she mourns for her baby Seiji’s surrender to their separate fates is palpable. Seiji was born of a “whore”, of an unknown father, and his conversation with her was analogous to a declaration of a non-obsessive love. When she woke up in the middle of the night, still physically weak, she covers the now sleeping Seiji with her blanket and then goes out to seek peace at the shrine. There only the bright moon could see and hear her, in her midnight blue kimono with a print like that of distant galaxies. Seiji tracks her down.  He feels her pain and he stays put like the nearby cherry tree as he catches her sobbed surrender to a loss so great she felt like her breath was being drawn from out of her. Seiji comforts her like a father or a brother or a sister would.

10 .  Seiji is mother father brother sister to KiyohaThey have a strong but well-guarded bond. Kiyoha is the head courtesan, Higurashi the Oiran, the main reason why their business flourishes. Seiji is the house’s chosen heir and is soon to be married to the owners’ niece. In his heart he would rather have Kiyoha, but, shikataganai, he cannot. It cannot be helped. Convention, duty, and gratitude to the couple who reared him and supported his mother prevent this. A samurai falls in love with Higurashi, puts a forest of blooming cherry trees all over the district, formally and publicly announces his intention to marry her, being rich enough to give the house the amount to offset their loss of her to him. But in her heart she’d rather have Seiji. Similarly, shikataganai, it cannot be helped. She is but a bought woman bound to the rules of the house, and a powerful samurai must not be embarrassed.

10. Seiji & Kiyoha farewellKiyoha and Seiji, on the last of the evenings she’ll be at the house, speak their goodbyes and well wishes to each other by subdued glances and short words. No drama. No fanfare. No lingering exchanges. Their faces, softly lit in this late night, spoke loudly enough in the stillness and in the helplessness of it all.

The following morning while the fog has not yet lifted Kiyoha arrives almost breathless at the little shrine. Her face lifts a smile. There Seiji stands, staring up at the tree. A desperate storm is raging in their separate lives but they greet each other as if each day in the world will always turn out bathed in golden sunrise. Then surprise. A gift.

11. Seiji & Kiyoha last hopeDomo arigato gozaimashita, Sakuran. An adolescent who is attentive of life will easily understand the plot. But most likely it will take one who has truly lived and loved to sense the delicate layers of this fairytale-like story. A non-Japanese will, of course, perceive many of the themes differently, like possibly being confused that the oiran (an artist as well as a courtesan) is more highly regarded than the geisha (strictly an artist only)*.

In the end one of its general messages could be that it takes a tremendous amount of courage to get hold of a happiness that is outside the bounds of convention. And faith, too. As Kiyoha’s first lover told her before he died, “There can’t be a cherry tree that doesn’t flower.” However, there are different sorts of conventions to be basing happiness on. Seiji’s & Kiyoha’s family in the house think they have chosen the foolish way but for me, one from the audience, I concur with them. Seiji has forever been witnessing Kiyoha raging against the world that is full of suffering, as she herself described it in one of their dialogues.

“World” meaning where she finds herself now and from which there seems to be no escape. Seiji & Kiyoha are like these two fishes trapped in a small worldSeiji, too, may have silently raged against the way his entire life has been, and will henceforth be, tied to the house where his mother once worked. They are like the two goldfishes living in just a few handfuls of water. Happily for them they dared that there is life outside the gilded cage (though none for the poor fishes outside the bowl). Sometimes, too, happiness is just a matter of timing, or that only those who look out for it will catch it as it passes by.

*added 1March14:   Thanks to the page http://www.kawaiistudyjapan.com/?p=197  I now know that sakuran means confusion. Indeed, almost each frame is a riot to the eyes. It’s right on the film’s theme: Kiyoha’s life is surrounded by a confusion of flamboyance and artifices; she herself constantly fights to stave off confusion in her thoughts and feelings; there’s an aquarium stuck on top of the Yoshiwara’s gate defying/mocking the fishes’ inability to be suspended in air, although its primary message would have to be “captivity”.

PART TWO.  …half of the story retold in pictures…

1.  Kiyoha leaves home

Kiyoha leaves home.

2.  Kiyoha enters the gate of Yoshiwara

It was night time and there was a feast when she first entered the Yoshiwara gate.

3  a.  Kiyoha, fascinated at first sight of Yoshiwara at night

The sight was fascinating to her.

3 a.  Kiyoha attempts to run away

She keeps attempting to run away.

3 b.  Seiji catches up with her, at the Inari Shrine, still inside the red district

Seiji catches up with her at the Inari Shrine.

3a.  Seiji tells Kiyoha to stop trying to run away

He tells her to stop trying to run away.

3b.  Seiji shows Kiyoha the cherry tree and says he'll take her out of Yoshiwara once it flowers.

He shows her the cherry tree, and says he’ll take her out of the Yoshiwara once it blooms.

3 c.  Kiyoha is punished for attempting to run away

She is punished for her misbehavior.

4.  Kiyoha is betrayed by Soujiro

Kiyoha is betrayed by her lover, Soujiro.

5.  Kiyoha is punished for misbehaving

She is punished for her misbehavior.

6.  Seiji knows Kiyoha's going out to look for Soujiro

Seiji asks her if she’s ready to face anything as she stealthily goes out to search for Soujiro.

7.  Seiji tells her not to waste her tears on Soujiro

Seiji tells her not to waste her tears on Soujiro.

8.  Seiji rushes

Seiji rushes in at the commotion.

9.  Seiji holds back Kiyoha

He holds Kiyoha back.

10.  Seiji drags Kiyoha away from the fight

He drags her away from the fight.

11.  Seiji says... Cry and you lose.

He tells her three things… Cry and you lose.

12.  Love and you lose.

… Love and you lose.

13.  Win and you lose.

… Win and you lose.

14.  Oiran Parade of Higurashi from Tamagikuya, Yoshiwara _Sakuran 2006

Kiyoha succumbs and becomes the Tamagikuya Oiran, Higurashi. This is her parade.

15.  Seiji is always behind Kiyoha

It is Seiji who is behind her…

16.  Kiyoha surrenders and becomes Higurashi Oiran

The Oiran, the highest ranking courtesan of the floating world, is a highly regarded person.

17.  Seiji & Kiyoha, performing their roles bravely

Higurashi and Seiji, at the center of the frame, dutifully perform their roles in life.

18.  goldfish hoisted atop Yoshiwara's gate

Night view of the goldfish atop Yoshiwara’s gate.

 

On Loving Rightly

Alexandria  & Roy

Alexandria & Roy

Kiyoha-Higurashi & Seiji _looking at the moonKiyoha-Higurashi & Seiji

The prerequisite to love rightly does not lie in the rational plane.

 

The right way to love is not bound by any set of guidelines there is. It can never be fully described by rhetoric. It does not depend on emotions. It cannot be defined by sociology. Religion or theology are not adequate tools for categorizing it. Love is a living phenomenon, and therefore it is always in motion, dynamic, many-faceted, and more than the sum of any of its parts that will ever be identified. It is a creative phenomenon just as it is being continually created. It is a ‘being’ that cannot become better or worse than what it already is.

 

‘Love’ as a concept is perceived and communicated differently depending on the context — cultures, worldviews, influences — yet it is also something that can cut across these barriers. Those who know what love is are also the ones who are able to give and receive it even without being aware that it has already been done. It may not even be something emotional, hence dramatic. Loving and receiving love is more natural than breathing. Like the wind’s movement that cannot be defined it is there all the same, and is very real.

Many thanks to The Fall, Chuno, Crime Squad, and Sakuran for the shots.

Dear Actor/Actress, I Respect You

tree with deep roots posterDear South Korean Actress/Actor,

A very warm hello from an admirer. Please stay a while and read what I have to say from my heart.

I have been watching your projects, dramas mostly, for quite a while now and you have never failed to solicit my admiration. Painter of the Wind posterI have always found you amazingly competent in your portrayals of the many faces of humanity. You have provided windows for me from where I could see glimpses of that part of living that I may have a blind spot on, or that I am barred from seeing by reason of points of perception.

Yes, I have not been drawn to your projects for the purpose of entertainment alone. You might say you don’t understand my point since, after all, entertainment is your business. But please understand that audiences do vary greatly. Not all of us are up for the sole purpose of being “entertained”.An official poster of the drama. From left to right: Bidam Sangdaedung, Mishil Seju, Deokman Paeha, Kim Yushin Chamgun, Princess Cheonmyong Besides, there are many other media for ‘entertainment’. Well, okay, your colorful clothes and your music accompaniments have entertained me, and many a time the funny portrayals, too, but they’re not really the meat of what I’m after. I’m really after the story of humanity.

Please take my present post with a bright perspective — chuno posterthe reason why I had the urgency to write this NOW is that I have just Googled “dark side of Korean film industry” and the first three entries that came up confirmed my suspicion. Of course these things do not happen in your country alone. I suspect that it’s worse with another actor/actress in another country. However, it’s you that appears on my screen most of the time nowadays that I feel compelled to do something about it.

dae jang geum posterYou see, for quite a while now I have marveled at the quantity and quality of dramas produced in your country. They are very good and there simply are so many of them. Then I noticed that you, dear actress/actor, appear in so many projects so that if your role was evil in a ‘previous’ project I had to re-program my perception of your face (not you as a person) as someone who is very likable in this ‘newer’ project that you are in.damo poster I am forced to adjust to your new persona fast, and it’s not really nice for my psyche. I have this feeling, therefore, that the projects you appear in are devalued as works of art —- instead of being rendered the proper respect as expressions of human creativity, like paintings and classical music/theater, your dramas/movies are being treated like mass-produced commodity, cheapened.

jumong poster  Actually it’s the historical stories that I’m more fond of. I do appreciate how difficult it is to make these. The costumes are heavy, or sometimes too thin for winter. In some there has to be rough horse action. In the fights you have to risk your bones and skin. Even the speech is not familiar to you. And even if you’re just a face in the background, without a speaking part, I really could see that you give a very convincing performance. crime squad posterAlthough I would forget your name I would still be able to remember you because I see you again and again as I watch another and yet another drama. And when I see you in a modern-day setting I will suddenly give a yelp of delight because your face will look different now that you don’t have a gat or a hanbok or a slave’s clothes on.

Honestly I value the stories that you appear in, that you act on, and I do spend time in digesting them. I analyze them. I think about the events. I reflect on them. dongyi posterI do so because they make me think about my life, about the life of my friends and acquaintances, about the lives of those who live similarly to the situations in the story that you appeared in, on screen. Your stories make me reflect on the human situation. As I said earlier, I do not value them for entertainment’s sake. I value them for what they can teach me about life.

Mandate of Heaven PosterSo, okay, what do I really want to say to you, dear actress/actor? I want to say to you that I really wish for you to take care of your well-being. I don’t want you to be pressured into ‘entertaining’ me so much so that you don’t get enough sleep anymore. It could happen that I would really start crying for you, as a person, even before your face is shown on screen on your next project because my suspicions were confirmed that you are being constrained by the business side of entertainment. Please, if it happens that you already have enough money to live a healthy lifestyle then don’t push yourself to overwork for my sake. Freeze posterI will not be happy if you do so. Just seeing that you are working hard to be a good performer is already inspiring for me. I would already appreciate it that you are someone who is serious about your job and your responsibilities. I respect you as you are, even if I saw you in one project only, and my respect and admiration for you will not lessen just because you did not have a good project this year, or because other fans did not like the way you looked in your last appearance.

Please understand that however your face is structured you are handsome/beautiful to me. phoenix posterYour original face is beautiful. I’m your fan, and I know that you are also a human being like me. I am your fan because I admire the way you could get into a character’s shoes after just reading about him/her merely days or hours before filming. I bet many of the roles you were able to excellently portray you did them without consulting encyclopedias or psychiatry journals or historical accounts.

kingdom of the winds posterPlease take care of yourself. Next time I see the eye bags heavy under your eyes I would know that it was not because you stayed out late drinking with friends, but it was because most likely you pushed yourself to work too hard, for me. Sometimes your paleness is obvious despite the make-up and lighting. I would really hate it if you got sick because you overworked for my sake. Instead of making me happy to see your face again, it would make me sad, even if your role is funny.

Thank you very much for all your hard work. taewangsasingi 4 guardiansYou have already given me so much. You have shown to me how beautiful Korea and its people is. Your drama stories have encouraged me. The goodness of heart that I could see in the characters you play have inspired me, in my living. I owe you so much, so I thought it’s my turn to extend my support for you. I wish for you to find real happiness in life. I wish for you to love yourself, too, much more than I love the characters that you bring to life on screen.

gye baek posterthe great seer posterIt’s gotten into a long message now, and it’s already midnight so I have to say goodnight. 🙂 Goodnight, dear beautiful person. Have a lovely new day tomorrow. May God bless you.

——————

added on 9March2014:

I felt that I needed to say more about this matter.

Running Man _coreThere are video clips readily available online about almost anything in the known universe. Among these I came across one that gave me a glimpse of a world that I did not suspect existed. It’s an in-house training establishment for entertainer wannabe’s. This particular one I found was of Eric Mun’s, which made me feel awed at the intensity of dedication he gives to these training periods. That’s the first time I became aware that behind Kpop’s glamour is also a world of sweat and tears.

Joong Ki + Ji Hyo + Kwang Soo _ep21

Joongki, Jihyo, Kwangsoo _ep21

Lately, which makes me quite late into the game, I discovered that aside from Song Ji Hyo there’s also Lee Kwang Soo (and Song Joong Ki in the past) in the South Korean variety show Running Man. I never bothered with variety shows because they always made me feel like I waste my enthusiasms in paying attention to them.  But since it’s these three, whom I belatedly discovered to be close friends, and who are favorites to me individually, that are in this show then I watched one episode. That was Episode 2. That was memorable because I had not been able to laugh that loud and long about anything for many years now. For a Filipino this phenomenon is unusual — not having laughed hard for a long time — since we always have opportunities to laugh our guts out with family and friends.

Running Man _by 2011In watching a bit more of that show I gradually found it irksome that the true personalities of the members are suppressed during the show. For instance I hate it that Lee Kwang Soo is being projected as inept and stupid, because he clearly isn’t. I hate it that Song Ji Hyo is being made the “female” to the “male” of whoever that will guarantee continuous high ratings to the show. I somehow feel that it’s a disrespect to Song Ji Hyo as a person because if she were not a female then she wouldn’t be paired off like this, just an object, to one guy or another. I am frustrated that she and the guys are not free to express themselves during the show. Somehow I feel cheated by the fact that though I’m anticipating to witness true camaraderie among personalities that, I’d like to believe, by now have become real friends in the real sense, (yet) what I see are faked interactions.

A show has to be scripted, obviously. But the question of to script or not to script, or how to script, is not what I’m touching on here.

Running Man ep3 (1)    I’ve become this affected (!hahaha) because I have come to like each of the members of Running Man. I do not see Kim Jong Kook as frightening. I can sense his finesse and gentleness. I do not see Haha as inept. He has a solid sense of responsibility and self confidence. Song Joong Ki comes across as an intellectual to me, a sort of an academician, someone who loves learning but just happens to have a beautiful face. Though Kang Gary is constantly teased of his looks he actually oozes of sexuality, and he is totally far from being ugly. Same with Lee Kwang Soo.

Ji Hyo + Kwang Soo _ep21

Jihyo & Kwangsoo

This guy is smart but he suppresses it. I saw him only once, in Dongyi, and I thought of how he amazingly could pull off that character. He’s just good at making silly faces but actually he’s handsome. (Whew… I am a bit disappointed with myself in having to use the handsome-ugly categorization here because I feel strongly against this mass media gauge that is used in the distortion of humanity’s sense of beauty, and hence all values that are related to this sense, like self-acceptance.)

Running Man ep3 (2)But the fact is that the entertainment industry is a reflection of humanity’s greed for sensual gratification. That is, involving the senses. The term is already mentioned: for entertainment. Since the market potential is huge then the greed for unprecedented profits is also boundless. That’s what humanity is like.

The reason why I felt the urgency to add to this post is because I found additional information relevant to the topic. If you’re interested at what is going on, at the real situation, the one that is hidden from those who are not willing to dig deep, then I would like to share these three links with you:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13760064

http://xypherfarrell.hubpages.com/hub/KPop-JPop-Why-are-People-Hating-it

http://xypherfarrell.hubpages.com/hub/REAL-Bad-Boys-of-Korean-Entertainment

Running Man ep3 (3)(I’ve bookmarked the bad-boys page because I’m now ready to get acquainted with them, to see for myself these ones who are admirable for their courage. Also, Kang Gary is there.)

I’m sorry that it’s only these that I can share with you for now. I know that it’s as bad in other countries (e.g., USA, India), but I don’t have time yet to look for the specifics. I don’t exactly know how it goes in the Philippines but it’s safe to assume that it’s also messy and bloody. It’s a lucrative livelihood, after all. Where greed is great, corruption in corresponding levels is also present. Myself being a Filipino, I could easily imagine how it is plus allowing that fact could be stranger than fiction here.

Running Man ep3 (4)Though I will remain enthusiastic for film productions I will not stay blind on the struggles of the small people who are involved in it. They are the ones whose faces are peddled on screen. They are the ones who touch my life, even bring me needed courage at times. I will not be like a pimp for them, raving about their work and selling it to the world by my praises, without being aware that I as a fan am also responsible for the pressure that constantly hounds them. Only a few of them are lucky enough to be born or be granted with the privilege of choice, like Kaneshiro Takeshi and Lee Seo Jin. Most of them are just struggling artists. Most of them are just bread winners who are stuck in a job that is actually a prison to them.

Running Man ep3 (5)I’ve decided to just choose first the Running Man episodes where only the core members are interacting amongst themselves. I now see them as close friends.  — The Filipino equivalent is the barkada. One’s barkada are the people that one hangs out with, each one being an important part of the others’ lives, to share laughs and other emotions with, a venue for self-expression, to grow up with, to explore reality with, a quasi-family. — Of course, I will watch all episodes that has Song Joong Ki in it and I will especially cherish those where he, Song Ji Hyo, and Lee Kwang Soo are on the same team.When I’m done with all those episodes I’d choose again from the episodes where artists that I admire have come as guests, like Jackie Chan, Cha In Pyo, Eric Mun, and Ji Jin Hee.

Running Man ep21 (1) Running Man ep21 (2) Running Man ep21 (3)Each time I watch them I will especially be alert for spontaneous interactions, the ones that bring out their unguarded emotions. In this way I’d feel like I’m having fun with them, too. Because this is how it is among barkada — just being with each other’s company is a guarantee for an opportunity to celebrate life, a partaking of well-being.

Thus, I will not watch Running Man merely for my entertainment and doses of laughter. I will watch it because I want to celebrate life through friendship, though vicariously for now.

♥♥

many thanks to the sites that made these pictures here available for everyone; all enlarge, some much, some a bit, when clicked on

♥♥

[added April 3, 2014] Kwangsoo enthusiastically greets Jihyo upon seeing her as she joins the gang late in the games in episode 189, tired as she is after more than 10 hours’ travel to Melbourne. Much younger Kim Woobin, Kwangsoo’s teammate, respectfully looks on and laughs at his elders as they end up squabbling.

Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (1) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (2) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (3) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (4) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (5) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (6) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (7) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (8) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (9)

Painter of the Wind: an impression

a.  Painter of the Wind _official poster b.  Dan Won - Hye Won meet c.  Dan Won - Hye Won meet e.  Painter of the Wind _ siblings, best friends, loves _Yun and Young f.  the Artist and (her) his muse _Painter of the Wind g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (1) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (2) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (3) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (4) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (5) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (6) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (7) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (8) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (9) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (10) g.  Dan Won helps Yun Bok heal by painting _Painter of the Wind (11) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (1) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (2) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (3) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (4) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (5) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (6) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (7) h.  Dan Won and Yun Bok _trials and triumphs _Painter of the Wind (8) i.  Painter of the Wind _capturing frames together (1) i.  Painter of the Wind _capturing frames together (2) i.  Painter of the Wind _capturing frames together (3) j.  Danwon _Ssireum_ Wrestling j.  Hyewon - Ssanggeomdaemu _Double Sword Dance k.  Dan Won and Hye Won _loversHalfway through this sageuk I underwent stress. I was hard put foreseeing what the writers/producers intended for the package to be. Is this to be a statement on ‘free love’? Would this work be labelled as an expression of ‘carnal lust’? Are the people involved in making it aware that they are treading delicate ground? Sageuks are, after all, ‘safe’ genre, intended for everyone. If the ratings have to be high (which is understandably a major aim) then the drama cannot afford to be ‘scandalous’. I was not willing to have such a lovely work ‘ruined’ by harsh reviews.

I was anxious because I could not easily put myself into the shoes of the characters. I am not an ‘artist’, I do not have their eyes, I do not have their ears, I do not have their perception. This drama is about the two best artists of the Joseon era, in this fictional setting set on the first year of King Jeongjo’s reign (Yi San). The drama cannot be comprehended unless the ‘artist’s’ perspective is taken. And, as we already know, artists are ‘out of this world’. They have worlds of their own. Like mathematicians and physics theorists.

Ah, I had taken so many snapshots that I was hard pressed into forcibly leaving off most of them. In the end I chose the ones that show the relationship between Dan Won, the teacher, and Yun Bok (aka Hye Won), the disciple. Through most of the story it’s a bit of a problematic relationship. There were all these staring in the eyes and body contact that Korean society, then and now, would not deem proper between a teacher and his pupil, more so between two people of similar gender. Painter of the Wind is so full of this between Dan Won and Yun Bok that at times I could feel the hairs at the back of my neck stand. I believe it can be attributed to the excellent acting, plus the theme song. There’s constantly this hand-grabbing and piggy-back-carrying between Dan Won and Yun Bok. They could even do it in front of so many people. And the people around them, seeing how eccentric these two weirdos are, just take it for granted that it’s fine. But for the two it’s not fine. Their feelings for each other slowly unfold, like a blank canvass at first, and as the artist’s instinct guides, takes hold little by little, the empty space is filled with entities that take a life of their own. An unknown form is slowly revealed. The unknown is unveiled.

What’s more problematic is that Dan Won is already a mature individual, a veteran of the world,  not intimidated by conventions, and yet here comes one whom he calls ‘little bean’ who manages to upset his equilibrium — he’s trying to figure out how to deal with the attraction he feels to this little bean. Does what Dan Won feel for Yun Bok similar to what Yun Bok feels for the gisaeng (female entertainer)? Yun Bok has told her that she is special to him (her). The gisaeng has already fallen in love with Yun Bok. On that bridge scene I was bracing myself against the pain that I will see on the beautiful face when Yun Bok breaks her heart. Her question is similar to what I would have asked myself had that happened to me also: What do I do now?

By their eventually unfolding dialogues I was able to understand the depth of the attraction that Yun Bok/Hye Won felt for the gisaeng. Hye Won is an artist of the highest calibre. S/He worships beauty. S/He has never been a girl ever since her parents died. She even shares the same bedroom with her older brother, Young Bok (almost similar names). She is virtually a he. She had stepped onto the shoes of the male of his era. He walks and talks and projects masculinity. She and her foster family cannot afford to get caught of this lie. Had they been not brothers Young Bok and Yun Bok could probably already have thought of running away and getting married. Dan Won himself saw this intimacy between them.

The gisaeng is blameless. Her love for the Artist is in its proper place, and it is beautiful. There’s that scene, the night before Yun Bok was to be punished, where both were performing their arts simultaneously, painting and music. A special episode of the drama explained how that take left a profound effect on the participants: the professional musician, the professional painter, and the working staff present. On screen the scene is utterly moving, a frenzy of passion on the throes of … impending oblivion …

Are Yun Bok and Dan Won just artists ‘attracted’ to each other, the way Yun Bok and the gisaeng are, primarily because ..they could ‘understand’ each other?..they could feel each other’s passion for beauty? Do they, each respectively, value the other because of the ‘treasure’ that the other is? Ah, if only I were an artist I wouldn’t have so many of these questions. Like Dan Won and Hye Won and the gisaeng I would have taken everything in stride, have accepted whatever is there without much ado.

What’s poignant is the way Yun Bok is slowly revealed. Her self-portrait in the end is the revelation. But why oh why oh why couldn’t she just be selfish and accepted her teacher’s desire to run away with her? The reason why she had to break the gisaeng’s heart is that she couldn’t respond to the love that the gisaeng had for him/her. She knew it was wrong for her to have kept at it. Simultaneously her attractions to both the gisaeng and her teacher became revealed to her, and she decides to finally tell them her secret.

Many times as I watched on (I did it in one go, taking a break only to sleep) I felt envious of the relationship between Dan Won and Hye Won. He is her guardian angel. He never fails her. Maybe that’s the main reason why she eventually falls in love with him. He’s so positive and so profound that not even his confusion with his emotions could drive him away. He finds a treasure and he stakes his life on it. Only Young Bok could be equally capable of this self-sacrifice…and he had to be killed!?!? … tsk tsk tsk … why did Young Bok have to die?—he’s among the sweetest sageuk characters I have come across and I really didn’t want him to die. However, it was primarily to provide angst for Hye Won so that the wheel can keep on turning. It’s his death that brings the main characters together. What a pity. Is it really justifiable this way? … ah, dying is really too easy in dramaland … in moments like this it’s, well, ah, I don’t have the words to say …

Yun Bok said that when she looks at the gisaeng it’s as if she’s looking at her own self. She has lost her femininity and she is all of a sudden confronted by it when she sees the beautiful gisaeng. Yes, the gisaeng is very beautiful, so beautiful that the richest merchant simply had to have her. And when he acquires her he treats her with utmost care, like how a priceless porcelain is guarded from scratch and breakage. Yun Bok lost her femininity along with her childhood, along with many of her memories. As her attachment to Dan Won grows she slowly retrieves these memories, this life as being her father’s, and mother’s, doted little girl.

I felt that 20 episodes was too short. Only the relationship between Yun Bok and the gisaeng (ah, Jeong Yang her name I think is) have developed fully. The teacher-disciple and person-person relationships between Dan Won and Hye Won have ended prematurely. Hye Won is too young to be parted from her Sonsaengnim (teacher). Was that competition supposed to indicate that Hye Won has already matured as an artist and hence has come to her teacher’s level? It was too abrupt for me. Couldn’t have they been given a longer time together spent learning, together, and learning from each other, and producing art together? Their partnership as teacher-pupil is so dynamic and I felt that what they had should have been shown to have spilled over to the other artists surrounding them. There were hardly any scenes where fellow artists are checking out their work. The other artists were left out in the painting-analysis scenes. I had wanted to see how Dan Won’s and Hye Won’s style could have impacted the common people, since it’s about them in the first place.

Also, Hye Won has just newly hatched from her shell of masculinity. Surely the evolution of her relationship with her teacher, and the king, would accord the three of them new perspectives in life. But she had to be sent away so abruptly she might as well not have gone out of her shell after all. So, see, look at the consequence, she had to leave her teacher. That was the best choice. She couldn’t sacrifice her teacher’s happiness. If he leaves with her his great talent will come to oblivion. She cannot face that, especially now that he has become precious to her. Earlier she had asked him that crucial question, that what if ‘he’ were a ‘she’, then, what, Teacher? I was so scared of that suicidal question that my relief was so great when he kissed ‘his’ forehead.  The teacher so loved this disciple that regardless of what, ‘he’ or ‘she’, he couldn’t hurt his/her feelings and so he just goes and expresses what’s real for him. That scene is so unbelievably selfless that I couldn’t help but, along with Hye Won, fall intensely in love with this great teacher.

I don’t know how the novel on which this drama is based reads. As of the 6th episode the novel’s author has expressed satisfaction with the portrayals. I have been rewarded in having decided to see this one. My guide in finding this were the names of the writers and directors that did Tree with Deep Roots. Like that one, this is also a beauty. However, this is the first time that I am so affected by an ending. It felt like something precious has been blown away by the wind from my hand and I can’t get it back anymore. I’m sure both Dan Won and Hye Won, however they led their lives after that, would always long for that which they lost, each other, and this longing will have to be expressed in their paintings else they would simply stop.. ..breathing.

Dan Won:         “What is a painting?…”

Yun Bok/Hye Won:   “It is a longing…”

 

Adam’s Song (Awit ng Mortal)

“Awit ng Mortal” is a Pilipino song, by Joey Ayala. Awit means song, and so the title can be translated as Song of the Mortal One, or Song of the Mortals. I render it as Adam’s Song because the story of Adam in Genesis is profoundly of one who came from dust and who is returning to dust. “Adam” is strictly not a proper name but is actually a generic term for “one [who is] from dust/ground/earth [= adamah]”. I thought of Adam since I felt that the title emphasizes mortality being a prominent description of humanity.

I especially like the song, both the melody and the lyrics. I want to try translate it into English so that I can share its thought to those who can’t understand our national language. Doing it word for word, or line for line, is rather difficult, awkward, so I kind of tried to get hold of my gut understanding of the statements. (Mr. Joey Ayala, sir, in case you come across this, I hope I did okay. Peace.) Here goes:

Ano ang sukat ng halaga ng isang buhay?
Kayamanan ba o di kaya ang pangalan?
Ano ang titimbang sa husto o kulang
Ng katuparan ng adhikain at paninindigan?
May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan
Upang kumilos nang tama’t makatuwiran?

What dictates a person’s worth? Is it possessions? Is it reputation?

Against what should an endeavor be weighed? Against which should conviction be gauged? Must there be expected rewards for all good deeds?

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,
Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.
Ang bukas na nais mong makita
Ngayumpama’y simulan mo na.

Our lives are just ticks in time, flicks in that great flame; commence today the tomorrow that is your dream.

Ang bawa’t tibok ng iyong puso
Minsan lamang madarama.
Ito ang kumpas ng ating awit
Na sadyang may hangganan.

Each heartbeat happens only once. This beat is the rhythm of the song that is us; that which has an end to it.

May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan
Upang kumilos nang tama’t makatuwiran?

Must there be expected rewards for all good deeds?

Kat’wan at isipa’y kukupas,
Sa lupa’y yayakap din.
Subali’t ang bunga ng iyong pamana’y
Higit pa sa pinagmulan.

We age, we falter, we’ll succumb to the earth; however, your legacy, in its fruition, will wax beyond you and where you have come from.

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,
Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.
Ang bukas na nais mong makita
Ngayumpama’y simulan mo na.

Our lives are just ticks in time, flicks in that great flame; commence today the tomorrow that is your dream.

hello there 🙂 Today is April 22, 2014 and I’m putting a link to this song’s melody that was uploaded by somebody on YouTube. The vocals is by Ms. Bayang Barrios, herself an accomplished music artist. Joey Ayala’s group that performed the song is called Joey Ayala at ang Bagong Lumad [“Joey Ayala and the new native”, for my lack of a better translation … or could also be “alter native”, which is a variant of “alter-native” and which speaks of the band’s genre, alternative music, and which also speaks of the band’s music’s message(s) to its audience. Moreover, I found a site of Ms. Bayang Barrios where you can read some interesting stuff about her:  http://www.bayangbarrios.com/bayang/bayang4.htm .

Here now is the meditative song of above …  Awit Ng Mortal.  Both links lead to the same page.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=mpOSZI-1ePI

or similarly:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpOSZI-1ePI

thanks again! ciao 🙂

 

Tree With Deep Roots: An Overview

a rabbit hops by as Chae Yoon digs for prince's medicine

a rabbit hops by as Chae Yoon digs honeysuckle, for the prince’s medicine

Confucian scholars dialogue with the king at the palace gate _ep16

Confucian scholars debate with the king at the palace gate, a skirmish with words _ep16

king + highest palace maid + 3 girls + chief scholar search clues to find missing Soyi, Moohyul has urgent news _ep12

king + chief palace maid + the 3 assistants + chief scholar look for clues to missing Soyi; Moohyul hurries in with news _ep12

King Lee Do slips on the stairs seeing Prince Gwangpyung is safe

King Lee Do slips on the stairs, overwhelmed with joy, when he sees that Prince Gwangpyung & Soyi are safe

King Lee Do, Prince Gwangpyung, Soyi, & Ddol Bok on the day he becomes the King's friend _ep15

Lee Do, Gwangpyung, Soyi, & Ddol Bok (on the day he becomes the King’s friend) _ep15

Moohyul defeats Yeon Pyung and meets Kareupeyi

Moohyul defeats Yeon Pyung (kneeling) and meets Kareupeyi (center, in monster mask)

Moohyul, the king, and chief scholar in one of their confidential meetings

in the king’s main hang-out his study hall, he + Moohyul + chief scholar in one of their casual confidential meetings

Scholar Han teaching the king's alphabet to sweet Yeondoo and mysterious Kareupeyi _ep16

Scholar Han teaching the king’s alphabet to sweet Yeondoo and mysterious Kareupeyi _ep16

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Bursting with the triumph of the goodness in man. It’s the answer to a particular monarch’s gamble at sharing responsibilities with the common everyday folk.

It’s a 24-episode South Korean historical drama (sageuk) based on King Sejong the Great’s “invention” of the Korean writing symbols, han-gul. In one of the scenes it is explained that the ministers are like the roots. Hence the title symbolizes the balance of and struggle for power among the participants in the kingdom’s governance as guided by Confucianism.

The king depicted here is a lovely person. He is so sincere I’ve easily fallen in love with him. How I wish all of us in the world have purposes as pure as his, of whatever ‘kind’ or size or leaning or ‘significance’, so that only the hopeful, hence life, comes out through all the faults that a human may have. King Lee Do (his personal name) faces his fears, he wrestles with the foes in his head and in his heart, he comes out very bruised but stays on his feet and goes on with living. How I admire him.

The king has to do these battles alone but it’s very fortunate that he has friends around him. First there was the queen in his younger days. Then now there’s his son the handsome prince who has no problems with his father, his bodyguard Moohyul, the baby-faced soft-spoken very-steady chief scholar who is as much a support to the king as Moohyul is, the head of the palace maids together with the four younger ones who are like extensions of the king’s brain, the two young scholars who are the smartest in the Hall of Worthies, then finally Ddol Bok a.k.a Kang Chae Yoon. I should also mention Garion, although he doesn’t belong to the group because he has other motives.

Instead of the peacock feathers on the military men’s hats there are strips of cloth or yarn. The king does not wear dragon-design shoes but one that is similar to the ministers’. His main hang-out is his high-ceilinged wooden study hall. His four girl attendants have jewels on their hair ribbons. There are no evil queens, palace maids, and concubines here. The king is amused of the effect it has on his attendants whenever he speaks swear words. He is an expert on sudoku, having solved a 33 x 33 game when he was yet an insecure young king overpowered by his father — his attendants and computers then were all palace maids (yes!!). And these are the best: the king casually quasi-sunbathes (because he still has clothes on), and himself applies watered fecal matter as fertilizer to experimental plants, and he gladly pours a drink to the butcher (the lowest ranking person in his society).

There are 7 martial arts masters in here: Moohyul (very handsome and proper), Chae Yoon, Lee Bang Ji (the best for me), the half-masked pale face (Yeon Pyung, who has a blue ribbon on his hair, respectable as a warrior but is scared of Moohyul), a high-rank Confucian scholar in the court who went to the dark side of the force, a legendary Chinese mercenary (Kareupeyi/Kareulpae, who’s a little girl’s best friend), and a female Chinese agent who’s understandably terrified of the latter.

The subplots emerge, interweave and synchronize like a Jabbawockeez dance. There is humor interspersed all-throughout. The contrast between sleekness and bulkiness, the suave and the coarse, weakness and strength, simplicity and complexity blend in harmony so that it has the same effect as the OST’s subtle playing — they are well integrated and do not get in the way of where the focus is.

The focus is on the story itself — on how the king could go on with his plans. It is a story not of personalities but of a big dream, a wonderful dream that solicits horror from the opposing ‘brains’. Even the charm of the Ddol Bok–Dahmi sub-story pales beside this dream. This dream is bigger than the king — aside that it is not his will alone that feeds it, he knows that its fruition is precarious. It’s like a seedling that must be protected from the elements until it waxes and its roots have taken depth. Each speaking scene is essential, no dialogues are superfluous, at times the words themselves serve as swords. Some dialogues are picked up from where they were left off as if the participants are engaged in a continuing board game. The next time I watch it I intend to take note of the dialogues the king is in. He’s very good at saying things indirectly that he manages to confuse the Confucian scholars.

The viewer will find himself steadily hoping for goodness to win out, that Ddol Bok and Dahm meet without a mishap, that the king comes out of his lone battles sane, that Bonwon must have blind spots, that Lee Bang Ji dies with honor and happy, that somebody can defeat the Chinese mercenary, that the four girls and Chae Yoon’s buddies stay unharmed, that the prince keeps faith with his father, that the half-masked man doesn’t harm So Yi, that Chae Yoon doesn’t kill the king, that Bonwon doesn’t kill the king, that Moohyul doesn’t get ahead of the king, that the king doesn’t kill himself with overwork, that the han-gul characters finally gets known to the common people.

The fights makes the drama unfit for children to watch. Aside from that this work of art is solid food for the heart and the brain. It does not sugar-coat the reality of human struggles, though I am thankful that grime isn’t graphically depicted — I carry with me the consciousness of this condition of the majority in the world that it’s quite easy for me to disbelieve the ‘clean-ness’ of drama sets. I appreciate that the palace decorations are toned down and they do not steal attention. Even the grand study hall’s impact is neutralized by the gravity of the dark wood interior. It looks so lived in that I can almost smell the fine dust that could have collected through the years within its tiny crevices.

Deep_Rooted_Tree poster

an official poster: great king, palace guard, prince’s maid — each is essential to each other

This drama doesn’t glorify the king, in fact a bit of going on the other extreme of making King Sejong a ‘human’ whom everybody could love. There are no doll-like females — yes they’re as pretty as dolls alright but they don’t invest on dreamy-gazes intended for frames, and hence even the crybaby visual artist didn’t jar my nerves. Soyi and her 3 friends look delicate but they are made of stuff such that they are the king’s strength: his database, processor, and memory bank.

Jang Hyuk as Dae Gil in Chuno I’d think as theatrics, whereas here Chae Yoon is just brimming with contained potential, a dynamo held in check. Chae Yoon’s life parallels that of the king’s. He is a reflection of the king and So Yi is the mirror with which they see themselves.

Lee Bang Ji and Ddol Bok/Chae Yoon are the perfect teacher and disciple, warm and open to each other — what I wished for Munno and Bidam had Munno been not too wrapped up in his ideals. There is a host of interesting characters here but Lee Bang Ji fascinates me the most: he is ephemeral, lowly (by his own description), fatal, and also utterly tragic had it not been for Chae Yoon’s need of him. Chae Yoon is very fortunate to have had two very loving fathers. The place where Lee Bang Ji went to die helped the story obtain a full circle.

What’s saddest for me is that the king had to pay so much in exchange for his people’s sake. What’s happiest for me is how the king finally emerges with the conviction of the depth of his love for the common people. The scenes of common folks’ singing at their work lifts the spirit. Ddol Bok’s vision of his and Dahm’s father is like a glimpse of heaven. A beautiful facet of the story is in the showing of how the relationship between parents and children is a foundation for a person’s major decisions.

The drama Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree depicts the yin and yang of life on earth: interacting, fluid, flowing, hardly ‘happily-ever-after’ nor one-directional. Yet it insists on goodness, it insists on the worth of persons both individual and collective, and it denigrates the greed for power in its varied forms. It is a jewel of an expression of the humbled human soul.

Lee Bang-ji Sonsaengnim and Ddolbok

Lee Bang-ji, musa (warrior), sabunim (respected elder) and sonsaengnim (teacher) to Ddolbok