MILITARY SERVICE: Kelvin Kyung Only Parks Army offers an insight into South Korea's first-ever service, where the individual is given a collective identity.

Published: 2020-03-11

Kelvin Kyung Kun Park (South Korea)

Kelvin Kyung Kun Parks Army opens with a powerful scene in which military exercises are presented to a feathered audience and opera-like hymns plummet the drone from the artillery - a re-creation to pay tribute to South Korean heroism during the war that tore the Korean peninsula in half. The scene suggests the central theme of the film: show.

The mandatory military service is a transitional rite in South Korea, the director / narrator voice explains in the film's first sequences while reflecting on when he himself performed his patriotic duty. He goes on to say how his views have changed when he returns with a camera ten years later to follow fresh recruiter Woochul's military service.

Millions of people sacrificing their homeland produce a strong sense of community.

Through elegantly composed images and an exquisite soundtrack, Park dramatizes daily military exercises while commenting (and supplementing with his own memories) what is happening in front of the camera, the differences between the present and the present.


Today's military exercises look almost comfortable, Park observes. (Could the lack of punishment of the soldiers be due to his presence with the camera?)

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He recalls that he once saw a UFO, and thinks that UFOs are really "subconscious projections from many people" - the individual's subconscious in combination with mysterious values ​​project light into the sky, he explains. This mysterious phenomenon is further amplified when he later in the film discovers that similar UFO sightings have been made by several soldiers, often just before leaving the military.

Mandatory military service is a transitional rite in South Korea

A trio of cheerful youngsters perform with a Christian rock song for the male troops. From his bird's eye view, Park captures a sea of ​​identically dressed men with waving arms as if they were at a concert or in a sports arena. The narrator voice worryingly admits that when he finally took charge of a military unit, he himself became "the same type of man he hated". Is it so fast to be corrupted by power, or is it a slower and more imperceptible process? After all, i military "Training happens through the body, like when practicing an instrument," Park notes. The training is experienced as if you are "practicing for a performance" - a…

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