South Korea | 2015 | 86 mins | French, Korean | Indian Premiere | Director Attending
A Korean in Paris is a steadily absorbing portrait of a man trawling the ugly depths of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The film concerns newlywed Sang-ho, who visits the French capital on honeymoon. After his wife Yeon-wha mysteriously vanishes, Sang-ho stays on to search for her and two years later we find him visa-less and homeless, living under a bridge. By day, he rides the Paris Metro and wanders along the River Seine in a hung-over daze. By night, obsessed with scenarios in which Yeon-wha was kidnapped or became a prostitute, he drinks cheap liquor and frequents the city’s red-light district, asking sex workers if they recognise his wife from her photo. One night, a Chinese prostitute says she saw Yeon-wha in Marseille, upon which Sang-ho heads south. Packed with acute observations and crystalline images, this one-man drama increasingly blurs the line between tragic reality and surreal fantasy as its stolid hero continues on his bleak quest.
Jeon Soo-il was born in South Korea in 1959 and studied at Kyungsung University, Busan. He later completed his master’s and doctorate degrees in film science at the Université Paris Diderot. Jeon is currently an associate professor at Kyungsung University and president of Dongnyuk Film. His previous features include Wind Echoing in My Being (1997), With a Girl of Black Soil (2007) and El Condor Pasa (2013). Describing A Korean in Paris’ thematic shifts, Jeon says, “Sang-ho’s wandering first began as a tracking down of his wife but it later changes into an internal journey of finding himself. With questions like, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why has my destiny come this way?’ and so on, he has no choice but to think of the meaning of life itself.”