After My Death 죄 많은 소녀
Thank the Lord South Korea is still one of the very few countries left that value the art of cinema! May they live long and prosper!
I, like many out there I am sure, have been missing that certain genre of Korean Cinema (hint: horror genre is part of it) that hasn’t released a movie in said category in what feels like forever! I had even given up on seeing such a movie again, what, with the way the current world is going! But the surprise was on me when I came across a movie that, in fact, released last year!
I am not ashamed to admit my failure!
The movie in question is AFTER MY DEATH – a drama about the death of a female high school student named Lee Kyeong-min. Basically the movie is an investigation about her death. But while that might be an eye-roller, because let’s be honest here, there are countless movies about death investigations, but this is not as simple as that.
First off, while movies like this usually focus on the people doing the detective work, usually the lead is the investigator, this movie focuses on who, in any other movie, might be considered the culprit of said person’s death! This person is Kyeong-min’s classmate and once upon a time close friend, Lee Yeong-hee.
The movie does a good job of making the viewer question if Yeong-hee is indeed innocent. Indeed, most evidence and presentation make it seem like she is the killer, or the reason why Kyeong-min killed herself. Only Yeong-hee is her own defence and it is only her world against everyone’s. Heck, even her best friend Han-sol paints her out to be responsible!
What’s worse is that the day the detectives come over to their school to do some questioning, Yeong-hee was having the worst day of the month! Her period was at peak level and she was sickly on top of all that. Not only was the evidence against her but she was not in the best of moods to defend herself, let alone give concise answers.
She was saying that she was innocent but not only was her friend saying things that painted her out to be guilty, but the police also had footage showing her being the last person to be with Kyeong-min. And speaking of that footage, I guess it did help her out a bit because in that footage, we see her and Kyeong-min kissing, hence showing that at the very least their feelings towards each other were not of animosity or those that would lead to the death of Yeong-hee.
And thus, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what made me notice this movie. I don’t remember where I saw that capture of the two kissing in the tunnel, but it made me want to find out what the source was, which lead me to this movie. Good thing that I did because while there are a few movies where that would have been just a throw away kiss, a forgotten love, here it is the driving force for Yeong-hee’s story.
But the reason why I enjoyed this movie goes beyond the yuri! I love movies that are unapologetic. I love movies that show something as it is! When I see a scene in a movie I want it to make me feel like I would feel were I to see that same thing in the real world! That is what art is all about. Sugar-coating things skews the way a person views a point that the movie is trying to make and especially movies like this which deals with issues like suicide, bullying, PA and DV!
When I see a person being bullied in a movie, I expect to feel disturbed or angered or something! You would not be so unconcerned were you to see a person being beat up in real life! Well, personally I feel really disgusted, angered and anxious. And that is just bullying! Now think about suicide! That’s death! That’s seeing someone killing themselves right there in front of your eyes! That scene would give anyone nightmares so when I see movies sugar-coating things like this, I really get angry! What is the point exactly if a viewer is not going to get the message? These issues are major and should leave the viewer with a sour taste in the mouth! They should leave with a message that these are bad, inhumane things!
This movie makes you feel that! It shows the disgust of suicide and how cruel bullying is! It sends the message that these are real world issues and they are not pretty! This is a South Korean movie and that country is among the top five countries riddled with the highest suicide rates as per this year! 1 in 4000! That is the suicide rate! This is a major issue and the people need someone to speak up on these issues, at the very least let those contemplating it know that it is not the answer!
Tackling reasons for these suicides, letting the victims know what they can do were they to find themselves in those predicaments, these things are what some look for in movies! Some people, like myself look for solutions to real life problems through these movies! This is the other side of escapism! Not all of us just want to run away into a fantasy! Some of us need help to escape in the real world and movies that show the rawness of these things and give actual solutions, and even without solutions but to show us what would happen were we to decide to do something, like kill ourselves, this is the value that I search for in movies! The value I expect in movies!
Seeing the way Kyeong-min’s family got affected after her death and the people she was close to makes one reconsider. Seeing the state in which Yeong-hee was in when she tried to kill herself by chugging down some chemical (bleach?) and seeing her bleeding from every pore of her body as her insides got melted to nothingness, that horrific scene makes one contemplating suicide reconsider! And the aftereffects of said attempt were another point to take to heart.
Then there was this scene where some girls (lead by none other than her best friend Han-sol) went over to Yeong-hee’s home and proceeded to beat her up, not only that but there was a knife involved, that scene made me sick to my stomach! I will never understand how anyone who think of, let alone go through with hitting another person! To me, I don’t know of anything I hate worse than a person physically hurting another person!
But anyway, back to the movie, there was something that I found funny about Yeong-hee. When she was called to go to the police from the infirmary, the Class Rep asked her if it was true what they said about her – If she made other people go crazy. Interestingly the three people she was close with, Kyeong-min, Han-sol and Kyeong-min’s mother, all got crazy because of Yeong-hee. Kyeong-min killed herself, because when she confessed her love to Yeong-hee, she did not think it was true seeing as the two hadn’t been that close in the time before then. Yeong-hee wondered if Kyeong-min could prove her love to her by killing herself. It was of course a joke and Kyeong-min did not kill herself because of that, well, not really.
What made her kill herself was Han-sol, who out of jealousy, as she too was in love with Yeong-hee, confronted Kyeong-min when Yeong-hee was not around and called her out on her being a pansy and that she was not in love with Yeong-hee, that, there was no way she would do it – kill herself. Poor choice of words! Yeong-hee having already planted all the necessary seeds in Kyeong-min about the way she could kill herself when Yeong-hee told her of her plan to die before she would turn 20, by jumping off the bridge, Kyeong-min was just one push away and Han-sol gave it.
But why did Kyeong-min feel such negative emotions to even consider killing herself in the first place? This goes deeper all the way to her parents, and thus her mother! She too goes off the deep end in a restaurant and tries to off herself with a dinner knife after Yeong-hee spills the beans of knowing the truth of her relationship with Kyeong-min. Once again we are shown that these problems usually start from home and even if they did not, home sometimes makes things worse and we see that Kyeong-min’s was not such a nice home and there is a story there even though we never get deep into it other than the scene where the mother and father break out in a fight when they start accusing each other of bad parenting.
So, there are three people close to Yeong-hee that she drove mad. I guess the rumours were true!
What is interestingly too is how Yeong-hee changed after recovering from her attempted suicide! First of all, I expected her to do something real bad to Han-sol after she had confessed that she was actually the real reason that Kyeong-min killed herself! But not only did Yeong-hee not retaliate and let her have it, but she not only kissed Han-sol (or more like let Han-sol kiss her) but they remained close even after the fact. It was still just the two of them as if nothing had happened. Now though there was something more between them. They were there for each other. Han-sol would help Yeong-hee ingest food (through a tube directly to her stomach as her throat was badly damaged) and Yeong-hee would stay by Han-sol’s side, do her nails and all that cute stuff.
Meanwhile, the bully who was mean at Kyeong-min and started spreading rumours about her which did not help things any, while Yeong-hee slapped her a few times (only because it was for Kyeong-min), she forgave her and even hugged her as she cried after she profusely apologised. Speaking of that scene, after the girl confessed, I paused the video and had some delusions, like I usually have, where I think of how I wish the scene would go. I pictured Yeong-hee forgiving the girl and actually hugging her after she had slapped her and was there bawling her eyes out!
That’s exactly what happened!
You should have seen my face! You should have felt my emotions! Even the other bullies who beat Yeong-hee up before and cut her up that were gathered around were surprised at her actions! Afterwards they even came to her home showing that they became friends! She literally turned her life around and for the better!
I have to confess too that when she came back to school and gave her message in sign language (since she can’t speak anymore), and she was talking about coming back to finish her death and give everyone what they wanted, I expected her to burn down the whole school and take everyone with her or off herself in front of everyone! That was sure to give them an awakening!
But I guess she just sucked at sign language! She did change the students, she turned enemies into friends, she turned bad girls into good girls and not by doing something drastic but rather, something so simple…Forgiving an being good!
Yeah, sure, Kyeong-min’s mother did not end up too well, but she was a lost cause! Heck, she was trying to bribe their family names into good fortune by pretending to care for Yeong-hee in the stead of Kyeong-min, but things backfired and all Yeong-hee did was tell the truth! The mother wanted to know why her daughter killed herself. Yeong-hee was the only person that knew why, and she told her. The mother couldn’t handle the truth. It wasn’t Yeong-hee’s fault!
Anyway, this movie is joining the others of its kind on the shelf!
Thank you, South Korea, please never lose your spirit and keep giving us artistic cinema!