So, after a long while, I visited a certain site I go to when I want to know what is new in Korean Cinema and guess what I found?
The Korean version of Zero! What’s funny about this is that the setting is Japan. Somewhere in a secluded place near the Army base but definitely Japan. Though, you will be better off winning the lottery than finding a Japanese actor in this movie. There are a lot of similarities too, from the unusual uniforms of years long gone, to the Ojou-sama like characters. Even the story has some similarities too, like how the supernatural might not be so supernatural.
Sadly, we are back to the first days of AGAMD meaning that there are no subs for this. Well, at least not any that I could find. There probably are subs on AsiaTorrents but like I said, I was banned from there (for having two accounts) so I don’t have access to it anymore. If anyone knows if they have subs, do let me know so I can go on the hunt. If they exist, someone somewhere else will have them.
So, no subs and my Korean being limited to titles, confession and swear words means that I understood only from visual input alone. I would probably get the same amount of understanding from this movie if I had watched it without sound. But really, my eyes are enough! If I was to choose between understanding Korean but not seeing and seeing but not understanding Korean and not hearing, well then, I would choose the latter. So this means that this is basically only a summary of sorts and story speculation because I understood nothing.
Park Bo-yeong as Yoo-ran
Park So-dam as Yeon-deok
Our two main girls are Joo-ran – plyed by actress Park Bo-yeong and Yeon-deok – portrayed by Park So-dam. Well I call them main but what I mean is that they are the main ship. Just so you know I do this for all the movies I talk about. So keep in mind that there will be main characters that will be discarded during my talks because they are irrelevant. To me ships are all that matter and thus they get top billing as far as I am concerned.
Park Bo-yeong I am familiar with, having seen her play an Onnie in ‘Don’t Click’. Park So-dam no so familiar. Her face is kind of recognizable but for the life of me I can’t remember where I have seen her before. Then again, her face is one that is very popular in God’s creations. She looks kind of like A-reum and Adachi Rika. I love girls with features like her so you can imagine how happy I was to see that she was our main’s chosen one.
Now then, let’s jump ahead and see what was so intriguing about this one that it couldn’t wait until the English subtitles came out…
The movie opens with the arrival of Joo-ran at this secluded place. You could already tell it was too shady and there was bound to be something going on behind the scenes. Joo-ran as a character is kind of a fresh breath of air in movies like this. She is sickly, coughs up blood at the simplest of effort to the point that I was worried she would be the first heroine to die in the movie for quite a long time.
At her arrival, the students of the school that numbered in 15, were watching her through the windows. One of them did not at first and the way she was being talked to by one of her mates made me think that she was the bullied type. I was of course later proved wrong because this was Yeon-deok and she was the Rep. When the other girls are done, it is then that Yeon-deok decides to sneak a pic outside and of course it just so happens to be the time that Joo-ran decides to glance up and the two meet for the first time, via eye-contact of course.
Not so longer later I started getting bad vibes for the movie. I went in this without reading anything about it, no plot details or nothing. I did not know what the movie was about. If anyone is interested in that kind of stuff, HanCinema should now be one of your favourite websites. It is when the dorm mistress is preparing Joo-ran for the term, taking away things from her that she would not need, that I start getting a bad feeling. Joo-ran tries to hold onto her diary and a few other things but all her spoiled actions get her is one mighty bitch slap! I was like – ah, so this is that kind of movie. Okay!
Speaking of that, I was totally reminded of my primary school days. I went to boarding school the last four years of primary school and first two years of high school (Primary school is 7 years and High school is 6 years) and I remember that in Primary school they used to strip us of all our things like toiletries, pocket money, casual clothes, snacks and all that every first day and I hated it!! Now of course you could go to the dorm mistress and ask for your things once every week but it was all monitored. Things like toothpaste and toilet paper was used by everyone in the dorm, kind like we were providing things that the school should have been providing! I mean like then what were our parents paying for? Private schools man, private school!!
Back to the story, Joo-ran and Yeon-deok’s first talk takes place when Yeon-deok takes her to where she would be sleeping. Joo-ran was still crying from the unexpected hit on her face, which makes me think that she had never been hit before.
Ah nice memories, I remember when I first got hit too and even the sleeping arrangements are the same as they were at my boarding school days with girls sleeping in the same room, though in my case it was double-decker beds and there was like 80 students in the same room.
Joo-ran and Yeon-deok have their second moment here. I am counting the first eye-contact as their first because it was that special. I didn’t think that Yeon-deok would look out the window but she did and Joo-ran had looked up just like a soul mate would because they were on the same wave-length.
What happens here is that Yeon-deok raises her hand and wipes at Joo-ran’s tars with the back of her hand. Joo-ran thought she was going to be hit again but the surprise was not just on her. I too was surprised especially with that Yeon-deok did next – She got out a sweet and fed it to a depressed Joo-ran. That hit me right in the feels! I haven’t seen feeding like that in a while. It was a great dose of sugar.
It was also instant shipping from this moment onwards!
The two have more moments after this through the movie. Yeon-deok was like Joo-ran’s protector and Joo-ran fell for her that much harder as time went on. She would save Joo-ran from being harassed by her mates, or from being killed by them. Yes, there was a lot of snapping going on in this movie but what was more disturbing was the way the Head Mistress and the care-takers handled all this like it wasn’t as serious. A girls tried to choke Joo-ran, broke out into a seizure and all she got was a rest in the infirmary! Poor Joo-ran, who also frequented the infirmary to get drops due to her poor health, almost pissed herself when she found she was alone with a girl that had choked the life out of her mere hours before.
That was a brow-raiser and my mind kept getting distracted when I tried to think of what the hell was going on in that place but since I did not understand a word that was being said, all I got was a headache. But even then I knew something was amiss! The first specular I had, after I saw Joo-ran have ghost like encounter, was the story in Noroi no Kotodama. By that I mean that I thought the girls were actually dead and this was like their purgatory until they realized they were actually dead so they could move on. I mean the fact that a student died and not a bod deal was made out of it kind of iced that cake of thought. I was of course wrong.
Getting back to Joo-ran and Yeon-deok, they have another moment where Yeon-deok takes Joo-ran and the two escape the school grounds to explore the outside world. We know Joo-ran has very bad health. She nearly passed out during the PE session where they did the long jumps (which she did not do BTW) but for some reason, when she was with Yeon-deok out in the forest, where she ran for way longer than she had done for the long jump, she did not cough out blood.
They were at a lake and Yeon-deok had taken a seat in the abandoned boat that was half-way into the water. Joo-ran was so surprised and happy to find that not only was she not coughing out blood but that she was breathing easier than she had ever done before. She all but ran towards a unsuspecting Yeon-deok and hugged her off the boat and into the water below! I was like, what just happened? Was Joo-ran’s sickness connected to her emotions? She did seem very depressed the first time we saw her but why wait until now? She has had some nice moments before but then again, this was kind of special. From that moment that Yeon-deok had grabbed her hand and pulled her along the run into the forest Joo-ran seemed really happy.
Sadly we don’t get to see them have underwater fun. I was totally looking forward to that shot of the two staring at each other in this secret world of theirs, holding hands to stay in position and maybe share a kiss under water but we never got that. Oh well, too much of anything is bad and I was already pleased with what had happened.
Naturally the two grow closer and of course at per history lesson, something does come between the two and that forces Joo-ran back into her blood-coughing fit. There is this girl Yuka (played by Kong Ye-ji) who is like the rival and bully that plays a prank on Joo-ran by killing a bird and putting it in her locker. The shock of it is what makes Joo-ran return back to the fits. This Yuka is also the one that puts a wedge between Yeon-deok and Joo-ran. I did not understand what she said to Yeon-deok but it was bad enough to make her start treating Joo-ran differently. Joo-ran had also heard this conversation between the two which I have an inkling was about Yeon-deok’s past. Joo-ran tires to get Yeon-deok to talk about it but they have a falling out of sorts instead.
With out girls at odds, shit starts to hit the fun! Secrets are revealed, the girls are going bonkers, Joo-ran is getting worse, at one point I thought she was turning into the damned, what with the veins of Willow and all that.
There is this scene during class where Joo-ran runs off and Yeon-deok tries to go after her but she gets interrupted by Yuka who begins to bang her against the shelf. She was acting just like the once friend of Joo-ran that choked her and is by this time dead. As I said Joo-ran too was getting worse. The more Yuka hit her the angrier she got until she blew! She hit the shelf behind her so hard the glass in the windows shattered, cutting her all over. Surprised, Yuka lets go and falls over but Joo-ran is in piss mode! She walks over to Yuka and grabs her by the neck then holds her up in the air with one hand (where have I seen this scene?). She chokes Yuka until she passes out then releases her to fall in a heap at Joo-ran’s feet. Her classmates run to Yuka’s aid and take her to the nurse’s office. Yeon-deok comes back to the classroom and is like…
Sadly instead of getting a hear-warming scene of Yeon-deok taking care of a scared, badly hurt and bloodied Joo-ran – like maybe taking her hands and helping her get the broken glass out of her palms or wiping the blood off of them gently or helping her walk to the nurse’s office (or preferably carry Joo-ran there) we instead get the exact opposite. Yeon-deok totally freaks out when she sees Joo-ran because she had gone through the same exact experience before which led to someone close to her dying (and disappearing). Yeon-deok leaves Joo-ran there.
That totally made me mad!
When we get the flashback to explain that scene, my anger towards Yeon-deok doesn’t wane because the flashback was even worse! Her friend got hurt pretty bad, almost like how Joo-ran had hurt herself. Her friend’s hands were bloody and filled with broken glass. She asks Yeon-deok for assistance but for some reason Yeon-deok is freaked and turns to run. There is probably a reason that I missed and maybe the subs will clear things up but even as her friend reaches out to stop Yeon-deok from leaving her, what she does is lick her back and even use the weighty cupboard to pin the hurt girl against the wall.
I am telling you that was a strange scene! It totally almost succeeded in painting a bad image of Yeon-deok in my mind. And from experience I just knew she would not make it. These kinds of things are like the basic red flags for characters. Whenever you see a nice character forced to have a bad personality somewhere in the middle, you know they are being set up for massacre!
Thankfully our girls don’t waste the rest of the movie on bad terms because Yeon-deok is not the same girl that she was before. After Yuka tries to kiss herself by jumping from a high tree (she only succeeds to break everything but somehow doesn’t die) Joo-ran and Yeon-deok start to believe that something was up. They raid the Head Mistress’s room and there they find out the truth of everything.
The school was like an experimentation ground for the Japanese army. I am not perfectly sure but I would wager that they were developing some kind of super soldier drug or making super soldiers in women. Either way the truth wasn’t pretty and Joo-ran and Yeon-deok were not sticking around to find out the fruits of the experiments. The two run off again but this time they had no plans of returning. They run further than they had gone before but once they reach another from of civilization what they find is not a village, or a town but rather an army base.
Yep, they were pretty screwed!
That was the least of their worries though for right at that moment, a Soldier that was the point of contact between the army and the Head Mistress catches the girls, grabbing Yeon-deok and thrashing her about before Joo-ran, sweet Joo-ran, comes to her rescue just like she was saved by Yeon-deok from being chocked to death that one time. Her efforts get her knocked to the ground and kicked like a puppy. Yeon-deok saves the day once again when she hits the guy hard enough to disorient him but not stop him. As the two run for their lives, the guy pulls out a gun and shoot Joo-ran in the back.
I was got floored there when I thought that Joo-ran was going to die but then I remembered that she was the heroine. I was also afraid that Yeon-deok would pull another bitch move and leave Joo-ran behind. Now sure she might as well have been dead but still. Yeon-deok does leave Joo-ran behind but not before running back to her and whispering something in her hear that we never hear. Speaking of which, I don’t think they got back to those whimpered words. Did I just miss it? I hope so. And with there being no subs they might have mentioned it and I wouldn’t have known that was it.
Back at the school everything is in chaos. The army comes and demand all research to be handed over (well they take it anyway without the Head Mistress’s consent) and I think the test subjects were to be collateral damage. They were probably going to poison them to death in their sleep just like they were doing to Joo-ran in the laboratory or maybe they were just turning them to their ultimate form of crazy,. We shall learn more when the subs come out.
Yeon-deok sneaks into the school and the lab to rescue Joo-ran.
How can you not love her after this fact? I totally forgave her for all the wrong she had done so far just for this scene! She could have run off by herself but she came back just for Joo-ran. She went to the lab and turned off the strange gases that were being forced into Joo-ran. After she un-tied the binds that were on Joo-ran, Yeon-deok does the thing that one should never ever do in a horror movie – Get distracted by noises and worse still, go and investigate! Like, why would anyone do that?! Any sane person would just freak out all the more and wouldn’t wait to get the hell out of dodge but alas!
As she looks around, and seeing a few of her classmate’s bodies frozen in glass tubes, that Dude shows up and hits her in the back of her head. When she wakes, Yeon-deok finds herself tied in one of said glass tubes with water pouring into it. It was almost at her chest level when she woke up. Yep, she was going to be drowned alive! What was worse for her was the fact that she was facing the door way to the lab and thus had a view of the still unconscious Joo-ran. She shouts for Joo-ran but there was a door between them and Joo-ran was still under so she couldn’t hear either way.
Meanwhile Joo-ran is dreaming, or is having a flashback to that time in the forest near the lake where she had jumped Yeon-deok and hugged her into the water below. They show us the continuation of that scene but sadly there is no water-play this time too! Like, would it kill you to give us something? It’s not like they can’t do it. They did give us an under-water shot when Joo-ran went back to that place by herself (during their fight) and a ghost pulled her under the way (where she saw an ominous scene of all the girls drowned). They could do under-water scenes so why not give us one with these two?
What we got instead was the two getting out of the leak at the other side and lying there in the grass where they have another cute moment. What they do they have done before but this time there is something more to it. Yeon-deok pull out a sweet (where does she keep them? Where even does she get them?! The girls are not allowed luxuries!) So anyway Yeon-deok pull out another magical sweet which she again feeds to Joo-ran. I am not even going to ask why Yeon-deok just can’t hand over the sweet to Joo-ran and let her take the wrapping off herself then feed herself. Especially given how happy Joo-ran seemed to be fed by Yeon-deok.
How cuter can these two get, really?
After that Joo-ran finally opened her eyes and got up but the drugs still had a huge effect on her. She looked out of it. Joo-ran takes a look around and she comes upon the frozen students. Yuka was one of them and since Yuka was not dead, it means that those students had been frozen while still alive.
Joo-ran then comes to the tank that had Yeon-deok in it. She had already drowned! Joo-ran cracks and her cries, when I hear them I think of ‘Don’t Click’ and that scene and my heart breaks twice in the same moment because I am seeing this here and knowing that Yeon-deok is dead and also I am thinking of ‘Don’t Click’ and how her character there got to her sister too late, just like this time! Both her cries, then and now, cut right into my soul! I was praying for it to not have been long since Yeon-deok had drowned and that she might just open her eyes right then and there but alas, this is not that kind of movie it seems.
Joo-ran is so mad, understandably so, she goes on a rampage. She finds the Head Mistress and the Army guys fighting over the research. She starts to attack them and kills off the army guys then goes after the Head mistress. The fight returns them to the lab. I call it a fight but it was more like the Head Mistress getting a long due thrashing! Thinking that she is done for, Joo-ran leaves her and returns to Yeon-deok. She just stands there, crying as she looks at her beautiful Yeon-deok behind glass and under water, lifeless. There comes the sound of a gun going off and we see that Joo-ran had once again been shot in the back, this time by the Head Mistress! The bitch just won’t die!
The bullet had gone through Joo-ran and hit the glass holding Yeon-deok. The glass cracks, then shutters and both the water and Yeon-deok come washing down and before Joo-ran’s feet! Joo-ran stares blankly at the Yeon-deok’s abused body laying there in water and glass and she screams! She leaps towards the Head Mistress, beats her good then throws her against the way where she gets impaled on something.
Joo-ran walks over to Yeon-deok’s body and holds her in her lap. She says something to her that I wish I understood before her limbs fall to her side, lifeless.
So yeah, the heroine dies, every major character died except the other students. But they did not go unscathed. They turned into tiny monster, thought that seemed to be for a moment and the seemed to have returned to their senses afterwards but I doubt they will ever be the same again. Most of all what will they do? The army is gone, the people taking care of the place are dead, there is no one but they alone. I wonder what happened to them in the end?
Before the movie ends we are given another moment between Yeon-deok and Joo-ran. They were in that special room to Yeon-deok where her friend dies (or went missing since they never found her body) that time. I am not sure if it was the continuation of that first time that Yeon-deok took Joo-ran there or if it was meant to be like their afterlife but they it was the same dirty place I had been. They found a record player which they managed to make operational again and the two listened to music as they sat there just the two of them in their own little world.
Okay, I don’t care, I am taking this as their after-life. I mean why kill the both of them off together? Joo-ran is the freakin main character! She can’t die! If she is to die it had better be because she was to be with her soul mate! And so with that thought in mind, I will take the afterlife over some flashback memory since the two were already dead anyway! Why would they bother showing memories then? Whose memories would they be? I don’t think dead people have those!
And so there you have it – Another rare ending courtesy of Korean. But it was not just the ending the story was kind of unique as well. I was sure this was going to be a supernatural horror with ghost and stuff but from what we saw it might as well have been all in the girls’ minds since they were being experimented on. I like how Korea and Japan are fighting it out in the yuri department. I am pretty sure if we had Japanese yuri projects on the left and Korean projects on the right we would two pretty even columns. Still, Korea released ‘A Girl at my Door’ last year that took on ‘Zero’, ‘Shishunki Gokko’ and ‘Houkago Lost’ and beat their ass. This movie is this year’s and I have yet to see Japan’s response to it. I am not sure Japan is releasing a yuri movie this year, is there and I am just missing it?
So, I totally recommend this. If you can wait for the subs but if you can’t, watch anyway and then re-watch when you get the subs because believe me, this one you will want to watch again. Where does it stand next to AGAMD? As far as anyone that is not me is concerned, not that far actually. I just have a crazy intense love for that movie that I don’t think will ever be met by another.
Until Japan give us a Mayuki movie that is!
Well then, good day everyone.