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Granny Poetry Club: illiterate grannies see the new world

By Go Bu-kyung | 기사입력 2021/10/23 [10:40]

Granny Poetry Club: illiterate grannies see the new world

By Go Bu-kyung | 입력 : 2021/10/23 [10:40]

 

Granny Poetry Club (Chilgok Gasinadeul), a documentary movie directed by Kim Jae-hwan, depicts the lives of a group of elderly Korean women. They learn Hangeul and open their eyes to a new world. They prove to themselves and the world that it’s never too late to learn something new.

 

In the opening part of this movie, three elderly ladies walk around the street and try to read signboards and advertisements. This scene already makes people fall in love with them and the film.

 

The elderly ladies in this movie were born and raised in Chilgok, a town located in Gyeongsangbuk-do in Korea during the Japanese colonial era. They could not learn how to read and write Korean characters because the Japanese government forced them to learn only Japanese. They had to live their entire lives in a world of illiteracy without knowing any writings.

 

Then, one day, a special school opens in Chilgok and these ladies finally have a chance to learn Korean characters Hangeul. As they learn Hangeul, they can read books, signboards on the street, and anything they want and send letters to their sons and daughters, too. The changed world they experience is definitely more than we can see through the movie. Learning Hangeul makes them not only read Korean, but also help them express their hopes and feelings more freely. One lady who wanted to become a singer decides to participate in a singing contest, and others learn dances and make great performances on the stage, too.

 

“When I feel ill, I just wait for the day I’ll die. But when I have fun, I wish I could live longer.” This is part of the poem a lady wrote. Some poems that the ladies have written are shown in the movie. They give people who watch this film lots of thoughts and feelings about the stereotypes that our society has made about the elderly.

 

This movie tries to show our elderly women’s natural lives. It does not make any unnatural assumptions about old ladies “who had a miserable history,” or “who live with their faded old memories.” That is how mass media usually portrays old people’s stories, which is the reason why this film is highly recommendable.

 

Their natural handwritings on the screen also make people feel the warmth of the elderly ladies. Director Kim also wrote a book after this movie was released. In the book, he recounts what he realized while filming the movie and making special relationship with Chilgok gasinadeul or ladies. He says that the old-aged people also have their desires and excitement just as we do. This lovely movie makes people ponder what being old means and how we can live with passion till the end of our lives.

 

68th Edition of The Monday Times (October 18, 2021)  

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