Along With the Gods: the Last 48 Days

If you only speak one language, you miss out in this world.  There is so much going on in the world that is fun and interesting, but if you can’t understand, you have to either find a translator or just don’t get to understand or know.  This morning really underscored this to me.  When a movie is made in Hollywood, they send it out to the rest of the world.  In whatever country it goes to, they either dub it or make subtitles. However, if a movie is made somewhere else, it usually stays in that country.  If it is a really good movie, Americans, British, Australians, people from countries like that, have no opportunity to see it or even know about it.  This morning, I saw one of those movies here in Korea that is worth seeing on Net Flix, but it is only sent to Korean Net Flix because it is a Korean movie. I can only hope that Net Flix decides to do something with it so that English speakers can watch it.  The name of the movie is “Along with the Gods: the Last 49 Days.”

(I wanted to take pictures of characters and show you how cool they look, but I am afraid of copywriter infringement, so you can’t even see the cool pictures. However, Korea has different copy-write laws, so I found some pictures of old Korea I could use legally. The pictures are in cartoon form, but in the movie, actual people were acting out the parts, and they were cool.)

a picture of Korean gods

When I logged in, I actually thought it might be an end of the world film since the title said, “the Last 49 Days,” but that wasn’t what it was at all.  As I began watching the movie, I thought, “Okay, it is about the death of the old man,” but that wasn’t really what it was about at all even though there was discussion about the possible death of an old man that the head god of the underworld thought should have died a long time ago.

The movie was actually about the guardians of the world, the group that was serving the god of the underworld.  It was their job to make sure the old man died. It was also their job to make sure that people were reincarnated.  However, the story line was not about their job. It was more about how they got the position of guardians of the world.

The story began unfolding when two of the guardians of the world met the household god that was guarding the old man.  The household god was the reason the old man didn’t die.  He was guarding the old man so that the old man wouldn’t die because the old man was a grandfather.  His daughter was dead. His son in law had run off to the Philippines to get out of gambling debts, and the old man was raising his grandson. The household god took the form of a human and was helping him.  The little boy called the household god “samcheon.”  “Samcheon” can be an uncle, but it can also be a man who you are close to that is older that helps.  The relationships in Korea are much different than they are in the rest of the world.

This is a picture of a Korean warrior in times past.  I can promise you the guys in this movie made much cooler pictures than this guy.

As the story unfolds, you learn that these guardians of the world were once human beings.  They lived during the Goryo period of Korean history, (936-1392).  All of their memories had been whipped except one of them, the leader of the group of the guardians of the world.  The household god knew who they were and began telling the two guardians of the world that came after the old man.  The household god was still trying to bargain for the old man’s life.

The Jajang nim was on a boat fighting a sea monster taking the Korean soldier to be judged.

The leader of the guardians of the world, Jajang nim (the Korean term for boss), was on another mission.  He was trying to reincarnate a Korean soldier. They were headed for a trial that would tell whether or not the Korean soldier got to go on to be one with the universe or had to go back to the world and be born as someone else or some animal or bug.  This added Buddhist ideas of reincarnation into the movie.  Come to find out, the Korean soldier had also lived during the Goryo period with the rest of them.  They were fighting sea monsters and dinosaurs on the way.  There were no guns.  These guys carried swords and the Jajang nim had some sort of fire power, and when the dinosaurs got too close, he made a ring of fire around them that kept the velosiraptors (a small meat eating dinosaur) away from them until a tyrannosaurus rex came and ate the velosiraptors.

Think of this kind of adventure done with human beings, and you would have had the kind of adventures the Jajang nim was having.

The whole movie was a big adventure.  They showed the guardians of the world when they were alive dressed in the old clothes of the Goryo period, and you realize that they all knew one another, and the Jajang nim and the guardian of the world sent help the old man die were brothers.  The girl guardian of the world sent to help the old man die and the Jajang nim’s brother were heroes who had died unjust deaths.  That is why their memories had been whipped when they became guardians of the world.

Needless to say, the old man does not die in the movie.  the Jajang nim thought the trial was for the young soldier, but when they get there, it is actually him who is on trial.  However, the young soldier is part of it all because in the end, he is a murderer, and the Jajang nim thought it was him who had done the murder out of neglect when he was alive.

I found a picture of a Korean king, but the king or god of the underworld was much cooler than this.

There is a huge surprise at the end of the movie.  It seems that the Jajang nim and the other guardian of the earth were not only brothers, but it was their dad who had been murdered.  There is a lot of talk about forgiveness and repentance drawing on the Christian ideas in Korea.  However, the fact that their dad was the one murdered is not the biggest surprise. The biggest surprise is that their father had been offered the position of the god of the underworld, and he took it on the condition that his appearance would be changed, so these two guardians of the world were actually his sons, but he hadn’t told them until the end of the movie. That was why it was the last 49 days.  These men had been guardians of the world for 1,000 years and didn’t know that the god of the underworld was their father until the trial. The story was about the last 49 days before these guys found out the truth of everything.  The god of the underworld forgave the man who killed him.  Instead of sending him back to the earth, reincarnating him, he decided to offer him a job as a guardian of the world.  That made the soldier very happy because he really didn’t want to be reincarnated.

Can you see why I feel that I have so many chances that others don’t have because I can watch movies like this?  There are many other reasons why it is extremely helpful to speak other languages, but in my everyday life, I get a lot of benefits too.  I walked into the living room, and my daughter was watching “Friends” on Net Flix.  We have already seen all the episodes, and as funny as Friends is and as much fun as it is to watch, it is like other American shows.  It is not about death, life, forgiveness, adventure, etc. Between the jokes, they like to emphasize sex, and sometimes the the jokes are based on sex.  I am glad they never actually show that naked guy they are always looking out the window at.  As time goes on, too many shows from American are becoming more and more about sex. At least “Friends” is not about gay affairs.  They keep messing up the shows from American by making a good show, and then insisting on adding people sleeping together or a gay element. I was disappointed when they made the sister of Super girl a lesbian. I was also disappointed when they took “Once Upon a Time” and made Captain Hook’s daughter a lesbian. It is like they are cramming it down our throats. You don’t have that problem with everyday shows in Korea. We can tell so many good stories without basing it on sex, so what is wrong with Hollywood?  I enjoy the movies from other countries besides Korea too, but not everyone has that advantage.  Hollywood needs to grow up. The series “Merlin” coming from England was great, but I heard that when the actor who played Prince Arthur came to America, the put him in a show where he had to take his clothes off. What is wrong with Hollywood?  (I can get subtitles in English, so I used them, but as far as I know, this movie was only sent to Korea. I wish the rest of the world could benefit from movies like this.)

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