After military service, Makdong returns to Ilsan, a suburb of Seoul that personifies the 'Korean dream': the rapid modernisation of Korea in the last thirty years. That dream means for instance that the rice paddies around Makdong's birthplace have made way for ugly tower blocks. Makdong has trouble not thinking about earlier, better times. His mentally handicapped brother is the only one who is happy with Makdong's return. His other brothers have left the house, looking for a career. Makdong goes to Youndeungpo, a down-at-heel district of Seoul, where industry is hand in hand with the nightlife that is dominated by violence and crime. In search of work, he meets the nightclub singer Miae, the gangster moll of Bae Tae-Gon. Through this man, Makdong gets a chance to prove himself. He is soon drawn into the criminal gang. The only complication is that Makdong and Miae feel like soul mates. When Bae Tae-Gon's former boss gets out of jail and demands his district back, Makdong does something he would have been better off not doing. The coda of the film however puts these events in a different light...Eat and be eaten, that seems to be the credo of this occasionally brutal film about the weaknesses of modern society and the demise of family values. Lee Chang-Dong had already proved his ability to combine poetic reflections with an eye for social realism in screenplays for To the Starry Island and A Single Spark by Park Kwang-Su.

Original title
Chorok mulgoki
Lee Chang-Dong
South Korea
East Film Co. Ltd., Myung KayNam, Yeo Kyun-Dong
East Film Co. Ltd.
Lee Chang-Dong