The Korean sense of aesthetic revolves around melodramatic and immense suffering to achieve success in life as the movie depicts. For those who cannot endure suffering, nature or the world has no place for them. In a modern world, a traditional family of a singer would find it difficult to make a living. Yu-bong, the father who adopted the girl, Oh Jung-Hae and the boy, Kim Kyu-Chul, believes that a true artist seeking success, must suffer.
He subjects the boy and the girl to suffering in order to achieve greatness. This is a traditional belief that only suffering can bring success in the future. The boy cannot take it anymore and runs away from home. The girl endures the suffering subjected to her by Yu-bong, the “pansori” artist and eventually achieves success.
“Seo-Pyon-Jae” also depicts the power the elderly members of the society have over young people. Yu-bong expresses his patriarchal powers over her adopted daughter. Critics argue that this is his attempt to restrict her daughter’s expression of her sexuality. She remains loyal to her father. It is the responsibility of the father to ensure that they bring up their children to learn their old ways. This is the Korean way of upbringing children.
“Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring”
Kim Ki Duk, the director of the movie portrays aspects of life in four seasons. He depicts that the aesthetic sense of life is only possible when one is close to nature. He shows us the pleasure, joy, anger and sorrow of life when one turn against nature.
The old monk instills discipline of Buddhism in the young monk during spring. Spring is the season of spiritual discipline. This is the first contact the young boy has with aspects of Buddhism which are witty and sometimes harsh. They show us the surprising nature of understanding human experience. The old monk punishes the boy harshly when the boy punishes animals. He tries to instill a severe and straightforward sense of responsibility to the boy towards. He warns the boy that nature is unforgiving.
During the summer, the old monk warns the younger monk about lust, the desire to possess which ends with the intent to murder. This is when the young monk experiences life of sexual lust with a lady seeking treatment. The younger monk and the lady eloped. True to the old monk warning against lust, the younger monk eventually kills his wife. The detectives are after the young monk for murder. He returns to the old monk where he was contemplating suicide. The old monk beats him severely. The detectives arrest the young monk for murder.
The master dies later. When the younger monk returns from prison, he found everything just as the old monk had left them. A woman comes to the monastery with a baby boy, which she eventually leaves. She dies in her attempt to escape. The middle-aged Buddha now lives with the boy, which is now his young monk. Just has he had mistreated the animals the boy repeats the same thing. Spring comes again.
This movie shows that life is like seasons of nature. What goes round always comes round. Koreans consider their old men wise and should always be obeyed. Those who disobey their warnings end up suffering.
The two movies are full of melodramatic scenes amidst pleasure, joy, pain and suffering. Some of these teachings may be influenced by Confucius about the relationship between the father and their children. The aspects of Buddhism reflected in these movies may not always be acknowledged by people in the West. Their aesthetic sense may be reflected in personal talent and desire to be one’s own.