Peace Corps 40th Reunion Schedule
(as of September 22, 2006)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Morning Free

But, suggested activities include

-Stroll along the recently renovated Cheonggyecheon (청계천)

-Shopping/sightseeing in Insa-dong (인사동)

All meet for lunch at 12:00 at Insa-dongs Cheon ()

(We will meet at the Crown Bakery at the northern end of Insa-dong.  See map for location.)

1:30 pm/return to hotel

3:00 pm/Meet at entrance to Deoksugung (덕수궁)

Peter Bartholomew (K-5) will conduct his acclaimed

Walking Tour of Joseon Seoul

A walk through Seouls past, examining the cultural and historical background of the Seoul palaces and Joseon landmarks as well as some rare and recently excavated royal treasures.

Contacts:  (011) 252-5853/office: (02) 701-3222/home; (02) 926-9988

**Please allow at least three hours for the tour.

Evening:  TBD

Peace Corps Schedule

Friday, October 13, 2006

10:30am/Departure for Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

Suzanna will take the group to Leeum.

**Digital Guides to the museums collections are available and feature the superb translations about Korean antiquities and the international modern art collection by Gary Rector (K-4).

Enjoy Leeum for as long as you like.  After you finish, you can walk down to Itaewons main street, take a short cab ride to the new National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관) or either Dongdaemun (동대문) or Namdaemun (남대문).

Evening: Peace Corps Korea 40th Anniversary Gala
* Venue: Western DANUBE 2F. Koreana Hotel

4:30-6:30 Screening of Marathon*

* Venue: Gloria Hall 7F. Koreana Hotel
-7:00 Arrival of Guests/Special Exhibitions Open

7:00-10:00 Dinner/Main Event


There was a lot going on in the world of Korean film at the beginning of 2005. The controversy of The President's Last Bang was being played out in the courtrooms and in the entertainment news. The collapse of the PiFan Film Festival was a hot topic and the hype surrounding the impending release of Another Public Enemy was overwhelming. Almost missed among all that was a quiet film directed by a virtual unknown but starring the talented Jo Seung-woo. The media found it interesting as 'a story of human triumph' but most people seemed certain that Kang Woo-suk's feature would dominate the box office. That all changed however, after Marathon had its press screening.

It was reported immediately after in numerous newspapers that the journalists in attendance applauded long and hard following the press screening and that most of them were in tears. The question and answer session with the director and lead actors that was held after the showing went on for much longer than anyone was accustomed to. Most questions had to do with how Jo Seung-woo was able to convincingly take on the role of an autistic young man.

What followed next was a powerful nine-week run in the domestic box office where the film eventually went on to gather more than 5 million viewers. Although it did open in the number two seat slightly behind Another Public Enemy, word of mouth soon launched it into the number one position during its second week. More and more newspapers began to compare its success with that of another sleeper hit, The Way Home, but Marathon soon out-performed that movie as well.

Much of the credit for the success of Marathon falls squarely on the shoulders of Jo Seung-woo. His performance is worthy of the considerable praise that has been heaped on it. Jo convincingly becomes Cho-won, a young man born with autism. In his younger days, Cho-won was prone to tantrums and violence against himself, but the special school his mother enrolled him in and the different athletic activities she taught him eventually helped Cho-won to cope with the world around him. After he takes third place in a 10km marathon, his mother sets her goals for her son to run a full 40-km marathon in under four hours. However, it is uncertain whether or not Cho-won shares her dreams or if he is just doing what he is told because, as his brother puts it, he is incapable of rebelling against his mother.

Kim Mi-sook does an outstanding job as a mother spurred on to never give up on her son, through a mixture of fiercely defensive love and an enormous amount of guilt. She skillfully brings Cho-won's mother, Kyeong-sook, to life as a flawed protector of her son. Her obsession to make up for her past failings with Cho-won lead her to virtually ignore the needs of the rest of her family, which succeeds in driving them away emotionally and physically. When asked by a swimming instructor if she has any wish for herself, she replies that she wishes to die a day after Cho-won. Kyeong-suk believes if that were to happen, she would be able to take care of her son for his entire life, but her motives for saying that are later thrown back in her face, and she is accused of needing Cho-won to stay with her more than her son needs her.

Mentioned at the end of the movie is the fact that the characters of Cho-won and his mother are based on real people. Cho-won was inspired by Bae Hyeong-jin. Just 22-years old at the time of this film's release, Hyeong-jin had already participated in several marathons and a triathlon. He has since gone on to become somewhat of a celebrity, appearing on talk shows and even having a line of TV commercials with SK Telecom. Described as 'having a mind of a five-year old', Mr. Bae is an accomplished athlete and many of the events of his childhood are depicted accurately on screen. His mother involved him in many physical activities which he seemed to enjoy as a form of therapy, and had him keep a journal. It is from here that the misspelled Korean title of the movie originated. ("Mar-a-ton" should be spelled "Ma-ra-ton" -- similarly, the official way to write the film's English title is with a backwards "R")

Director Jeong Yun-cheol spent two years interviewing Bae and documenting the lives of him and his family. While he had directed a couple of short films prior to Marathon, the last being in 1999, Jeong had more recently worked as an editor for the film Three and as an art director for Wonderful Days. After this emotionally-charged runaway hit, it seems likely that we will be seeing more from him in the near future.      (Tom Giammarco)