Landing : Athabascau University

"beauty of sorrow"

  • Public
By Colan Mitchell October 20, 2020 - 1:09am

By Colan Mitchell

I am a huge fan of Korean film, and that is putting it mildly.   I have been trying to think of a way to describe a common thread I've sensed throughout Korean works. There is a level of shared sadness, loss, and yet melancholic acceptance that I can only describe as something expressed through a slight sighing of their eyes. But it can be profoundly subtle. You can miss it if distracted by something else. It's not something you can isolate and say "there it is". This is a country that has constantly been attacked and dominated by other nations who have torn families apart. But there is no way to really describe it though you know it when you see it in a fleeting gesture. Even in the supposed light hearted romantic comedies which are produced in the dozens every year, it is there. Two lovers go through many ups and downs and at the end where a western movie would have them either come together in relief or be clearly separated, repeatedly in Korean films and television dramas they will finally realize how much they need each other and race to embrace but at the last minute they walk right past each other in the train station not realizing that they were right there and how close they were to satisfaction. One is left with a feeling of incompleteness that we in the west can't tolerate. One film critic nailed it perfectly by commenting that often you watch a romantic comedy and it starts out light, humorous, and upbeat but in the end you feel like you have just come back from a funeral.

Then I came across Yanagi Sōetsu:
"His theory of the "beauty of sorrow" (悲哀の美) in Korean art influenced the development of the Korean idea of han. It took a Japanese craftsman to sense it clearly.

And finally last year it was a Korean film that won the academy award.



Colan Mitchell

Colan Mitchell

About me

York University (Glendon College)
Boston University
Union Institute and University
Ryerson University
Athabasca University
Seneca College
Centennial College
George Brown...