The Korean movie “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring”. Interactions between Geographical Location, Natural Surrounding and Storyline
Seminar Paper 2006 13 Pages
1.1 Main Topic
1.2 Purpose of the Paper
II. Main Part
2.1 Scene 1: Spring
2.2 Scene 2 : Summer
2.3 Scene 3 : Fall
2.4 Scene 4 : Winter
2.5 Scene 5 : and Spring
1.1 Main Topic
In Germany it is quite hard to get popular Korean movies. Nonetheless, finally I had the change to get a movie, which fitted excellently to the task of analyzing a Korean movie concerning the geographic aspects involved. The Korean movie chosen the analysis is “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring” directed by Ki-Duk Kim in 2003. Ki-Duk Kim is a highly praised director of movies such as “The Isle” or “Bad Guy”. His special ability is telling story plots about emotions with the use of impressing pictures. “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring” is an interesting and convincing movie, also shown on international film festivals, which tells the story of the life of a Korean Buddhist monk from his early childhood to the late time of his life, as well as from his time as a novice to his own enlightenment as a master.
1.2 Purpose of the Paper
The aim of this final term paper is to analyze the movie regarding geographical aspects, as learnt in this cyber course, and show the relation to the plot of the story. Again it has to be said that it is nearly impossible to get access to books or even articles about Korean geography. As this is a movie, which benefits from the impressing pictures of the nature that play a key role for the story, several aspects of geography can be displayed. As already mentioned in the title of the movie, there are five parts, which play a special role, each of them showing a different stage in the monks life and being an episode of the film. These five scenes will be analyzed individually and then all scenes will be compared in the conclusion of this paper, where also the main findings on the film and its geographic aspects will be indicated. The aspects concerning geography are predominantly the changing seasons, but there will also be some others, which will be introduced later on.
II. Main Part
The film shows the emotions and stages of life in comparison to the passing of the different seasons. The different seasons are the only thing the old monk and his young apprentice see as time passes by. Some smaller scenes even pass without dialogues as the old monk guides the boy to explore the world around him. In general, there is not much spoken in the entire movie. The location where the whole story takes place is a tree-lined lake enclosed by high mountains. Mountains are typical for Korea, they are the distinctive feature of the physical environment because “[…] the peninsula as a whole largely consists of mountains” and altogether mountains “[…] take up 70% of its land.” On the lake a small Buddhist monastery floats on a raft. In the film no more details are given about where all this takes place, thus, the viewer only knows that it must be somewhere in South Korea. Due to that, unfortunately, it is not possible to make more detailed analyzes of some geographic features than a pure description. The film is divided into five episodes with each season representing a special stage in a human's life. Each one begins with opening a wooden gate, similar to a curtain in a theater, which leads the view on the lake with the small temple. The field to be observed is geography in all its facets. Geography is defined as “[t]he study of people, their natural environments and how they interact to form the patterns (spatial arrangements, distribution, and organization) we observe on Earth surface.” As already indicated in the movie’s title the seasons are the geographic aspect of main importance. Like many other countries Korea has the four distinct seasons spring, summer, fall, and winter. The season of spring covers the months from March to May, the summer the months from June to August, the autumn the months from September till November, and December to February are the winter months. The exactly duration of each season differs across Korea. “Spring and autumn are rather short, summer is hot and humid, and winter is cold and dry with abundant snowfall.” Like this the seasons are indicated in the movie. The five episodes will be introduced in the following. At first the storyline will be recapitulated shortly, then the geographical respectively natural surrounding of the scene will be described and connected to the plot.
 Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring (Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom), Korea/Germany 2003, 35 mm, color, 103 min., 1:1.85, Dolby SRD, directed and written by Ki-Duk Kim, produced by Karl Baumgartner and Seung-Jae Lee, starring Oh-Yeong Su, Young-Min Kim, Jae-Kyung Seo and Jong-Ho Kim, German version.
 See Online content Lesson 1: What is Regional Geography, 2. Geography of Korea, 3.2 Physical environment (slide 5) and Lesson 2: Physical Geography of Korea Geometry, Formation of the Korean Peninsula (slides 3 and 6).
 Online content Lesson 1: What is Regional Geography, 2. Geography of Korea, 3.2 Physical environment (slide 6).
 Online content Lesson 2: Physical Geography of Korea Geometry, Formation of the Korean Peninsula, Mountains and Plateaus (slide 4).
 Online content of Lesson 1: What is Geography & Introduction to Korea, 1. What is Geography, 1.1 Geography (slide 1).
 Online content of Lesson 4: Physical Geography of Korea: Climatic Environment, 1.4 Four Seasons in Korea (slide 15) and Anders, C. (1988): Korea, 1st edition, Munich: Prestel, pages 14-15.
 Online content Lesson 1: What is Regional Geography, 2. Geography of Korea, 3.2 Physical environment (slide 9, and 10).