Burning (2018)
November 20, 2018 3:11 PM - Subscribe

An extended adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s short story Barn Burning, based on William Faulkner’s story of the same name, Burning follows a quiet young man named Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in), who reconnects with his old classmate Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo) and starts to fall for her. But when a well-traveled, charismatic rich guy named Ben (Steven Yeun) comes into the picture and swallows all of Hae-mi’s attention, Jong-su starts to chip away at Ben’s flawless veneer.

(Above quote also from this article) The Ringer: Steven Yeun’s Smile Will Fool You
Yeun wonders whether his Korean is so unnaturally advanced that Korean Americans who aren’t fluent in Korean will think he’s butchering the language. Native speakers would be impressed, though. “I’ve heard people say Ben’s Korean is better than Jong-su and Hae-mi’s Korean,” he says. “But that’s because theirs is more natural whereas Ben is more exacting with his words. Those are all specific directions and decisions we both made. Director Lee wanted to juxtapose this person being unequivocally Korean but also show that there’s something weird about him that you can’t explain. And he knew that people knowing my face might create that dissonance. He’s a genius.”

Slate: Steven Yeun on Why He Had to Go to South Korea to Feel at Home as an Actor
I wasn’t supposed to be in this role. If you’re packaging this in Korea, they’re not thinking about me. They already had someone lined up, and suddenly there was an open space, and [Lee] was like, “Here’s an American Korean person, and if I can help him get to a full Korean embodiment of his character, his inherent American-ness will create that dissonance that makes you feel like he’s ‘other’ [in Korean society].” He’s so Korean, but he’s not at all, you know what I mean?

Vulture: Can Burning Get South Korea Its First Oscar Nomination?

Vulture: Steven Yeun Makes His Leading-Man Korean Film Debut in Burning
There is so much fascinating, underplayed tension running through Burning — oddly, I found myself put in mind of Elon Musk stepping out with art-pop singer-songwriter Grimes at the Met Ball last week. I don’t claim to know anything about the inner life of that relationship, but the perception of the rich vampirizing youth — not directly biologically or physically or financially, but emotionally — is incredibly compelling.

The Atlantic: How Burning Captures the Toll of Extreme Inequality in South Korea

Vogue: Burning Is the New Thriller About Toxic Masculinity That You Didn’t Know You Needed
posted by FJT (2 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this post. I just saw the movie on Thanksgiving, and am still blown away by it. It works on so many levels; a psychological thriller and mystery, an exploration of toxic masculinity, the economic hardship of being a young person trying to make a life in South Korea contrasted against a wealthy few ("we have so many Gatsbys in Korea"). Easily could watch this again, to capture nuances missed the first time around.
posted by Atrahasis at 11:39 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Stunning movie. The class inequality is amazing. The girl at the final party is clearly lower class than the other people there, it's enough to really make you wonder about Ben's tastes. The ambiguity of this film is delicious.
posted by Catblack at 8:12 PM on January 30

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