Hong's latest wry dissection of the gap between head and heart is divided into seven chapters, but the plot falls neatly into two halves. In the first, out-of-work actor Kyung-Soo (Kim Sang-Kyung) visits a country town famous for its lakes and has a fling with a dance instructor (Yea); she's crazy for him, but her affection turns him off and he bolts. In the second, he takes a train and chats to Sun-Young (Chu), who recognises him from his stage work; he gets off at Kyungju to follow her home and next day knocks on her door. They have sex in a hotel and he begs her to abandon husband and family to run away with him. She declines - and reminds him that anyway they met in similar circumstances twenty years earlier... As in The Power of Kangwon Province, the two halves are riddled with parallels, echoes and contrasts; the plotting is as intricate and detailed as anything you'd find in 19th century fiction (a form explicitly evoked by the descriptive chapter-titles), but the overall aesthetic strategy is as modernist as an ace scratch-mix. Often ruefully funny, too.
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