This scenic bridge has been featured in a few Korean dramas (link: Korean Drama Land). Because Park Dong Hoon’s character is portrayed with subdued subtlety and does not betray his true thoughts and feelings to others easily, clues to his inner life are conveyed indirectly through external associations. The Hangang Bridge is the exact location that portrays the state of Dong Hoon’s mind the day after discovering his wife’s infidelity.
Park Dong Hoon has been wandering through the streets of Seoul for half a day, after leaving the morning football team in a huff. It is already late afternoon, and the sun is setting as he plants himself in the middle of this bridge. There are comforting words written on the bridge railing to his left, but the panel where he is standing is blank. There is no fanfare, no extreme show of emotion, and any sound he makes gets drowned by passing traffic. His sight then pans to the river below.
But when the scene shifts to Lee Jian, we better sense the urgency of the situation at hand. All is not well. This is the Hangang Bridge. Underneath the external calm, Park Dong Hoon’s breathing is ragged and laboured. There is no doubt as to his thoughts during that exact moment.
Her bus stops abruptly by a random roadside and she runs to him, and does not stop running until she gets him in her line-of-sight, seeing him being found by his brothers. To drive the point home, Dong Hoon’s brothers ask him repeatedly, “Where have you been?” He does not answer: they must not know.
Portraying suicide in films and dramas is controversial, especially when using a certain location associated with this topic. However there is a need to lift the taboo surrounding suicide, an understated problem among middle-aged and elderly men. I believe the production team does not use the location just for dramatic effect, but also as a potent anti-suicide message: when driven to the brink, we can choose to bravely walk away from the temptation to end our lives, even if the only barrier between us and the false comfort that we seek is a bridge railing. Following the rest of Park Dong Hoon’s life, we find that he has continued to live a full life, and he demonstrates that it is worthwhile to persevere through the indignity we suffer. However, at this moment, the Hangang Bridge scene conveys the full extent of Dong Hoon’s heartbreak – muted, barely noticeable, but very lethal.
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