Letters from Namyangju

It's a strange feeling, a strange place to be in.

I'm here in the mountains of Korea, at Namyangju Studios, at one of the most well equipped film complexes this side of Kim Jong Il's nuclear weapons. It's some hours away from Seoul, which means that it's even more hours away from Jeonju.

The winter bites hard here. It has begun snowing, albeit in flakes and flicks rather than hailstorms and apocalyptic proportions that no one predicted. No one but those from tropical countries anyway. We all went out and savoured that moment for a bit. Whooping delights rang through the mountain air, escaping our thoughts faster than the misty breathes inside.

So I am here. We are all here, to edit our respective short films. Much drama, much tragedy, and much sacrifice has been made in order for us to be here, to cut our films into pieces before slowly knitting them together again. The hands move, the fingers tap, the mouses click.

And once in a while, Damon would shout out. Or, perhaps more accurately, he would shriek. "AARGH, ARGHH!!"

In my head, one (crow) flew above the cuckoos nest.

I am here, amongst all of this...and I can't edit. In the parlance of the Mr Writers of the world, the juices run dry, the brain is shut, the inspiration is no more.

In the parlance of this particular thinker...what the fuck am I doing here?

But alas, this post was never intended to rant, or to rave. Not yet, anyway.

This post is meant to recognise, and to respect. To remember.

I no longer read. Not like I used to. I had often used books as a tool in the past to relax. Sometimes to escape, yes. I can't escape that particular accusation, though I wonder of who could. But mainly it is to immerse myself in worlds unimaginable otherwise, to delve into the psyche of characters so twisted, so diverse and colourful that I am no longer myself.

I am Frodo, as he struggled with all his might to reach the volcano bit in 'Lord of the Rings' to destroy it. I am...

...struggling to remember my favourite characters. With the aside from Jacen from Star Wars. No one jumps to mind right now. No one.

The point being, I read a letter from my friend before I came here. She had written it prior to my departure, prior to my new found life as one of the five filmmakers selected for the Asian Young Filmmakers program. A boost to the ego, this, or a sham of magnificent proportions?

She had written of something about beans. About leaving it behind in class in science experiments over the weekend, before coming in the next week and marvelling at their exorbitant growth rates. A strand only, perhaps, but a wonder to marvel at when you are all of ten years young in the world.

She had written of a particular nice discussion we had over her birthday dinner. Relatively quiet Italian restaurant, brilliant (and expensive) food, beautiful girl to look at and to get to know...and I was talking about Star Wars.

Or more specifically, about Jacen. Jacen Solo, the son of Han and Princess Leia. I talked about Anakin. I talked about a lot more, but these were the two mentioned in her letter to me.

For the life of me, I can't remember what the exact wordings were. One wonders whether one would be able to remember it should one remain with one's derriere stuck in this pallid existence (is it pallid or palid?) of a conference hall. To the left, a stage used for presentations that this place was built for. To the right, a small ping pong table set up to aleviate our boredom.

You'd think that being on the final stretch of a journey tempered with difficulty, and with much love...we'd be raring to go. Raring to stitch together the pieces that we had lovingly crafted in our dreams, further refined in our living daylights, and painstakingly mastered in reality. But no. I can't edit.

I've no juices left. And I'm getting off tangent.

"The discussion about Jacen, about his philosophies and yours, was interesting and complex," was probably how the letter went halfway through. "I want to take you home and we can cuddle together and make out until you have an erection and then we can make sweet love" is most definitely how it did not go.

That much I remember.

I had forgotten the delights of escaping, of immersing, of revelling the joys of being another character. I remember that night clearly, carefully breaking down and reconstructing his finer points and flaws. I had known this character inside out, much like I had known others from other books. None had influenced me as much as Jacen.

There were none that I had wanted to become more like than Jacen. Feel free to correct me on that particular sentence structure...but I had forgotten how to become. I had forgotten how to take a step back, and to look at my films, my videos, my life and my friends in a different light, as another character.

As someone who is not me.

I had forgotten to look at the falling snow on the mountain, and not thank my motherfucking lucky stars. They hadn't shone much as of late. They hadn't shone at all, but now, at 6:20am, I don't need them to shine.

I need to shine.

To look at the can of Gatorade next to the monitor and not think, "If I take a sip now, it's going to cost me another 800 won to buy a new can."

To go outside, cold as it bitingly is, and see the flakes once again fall on my nose. My hair, my head, my heart. For it to cool the fires stoked inside.

To read a book, and once again become another...in order I could become me as a whole. More of a whole.

And to plant a bean in a dark room, leave it over the weekend, and then come in...and marvel once more at the magic of life.


joanne liyeng said…
You were right. It is long. :)
Anonymous said…
To go outside, cold as it bitingly is, and see the flakes once again fall on my nose. My hair, my head, my heart. For it to cool the fires stoked inside.


Also, gatorade sucks.
Fikri said…
To Efferstine: Well, you know what they say about guys who write long posts... :>

To the Princess: Gatorade sounds cooler compared to its Korean equivalent, Pocari Sweat.

Yes. There is a drink called Sweat.

Lovely :>
Anonymous said…
Hey Fikri,

How are things in Korea, lucky devil you?
Anonymous said…
How're things in Korea, Fikri? 8)
Fikri said…
Cold. And getting colder all the time :> And being stuck on a mountain for ten days ain't much fun either.

I suppose I should make a movie here and call it Cold Mountain, then :>