09
Nov
09

Pusan International Film Festival – a retrospective series 1

Diary blogging or writing down old diaries via the medium of blog is not new. Although I have heard on the grapevine that it is becoming more popular. Always keen to be toward the front of the curve, I have decided to join the trend. I recently found an old notebook purchased at the 2001 Pusan International Film Festival (before we all changed to Busan spelling), which had a short diary of my visit to that event. So, I have decided to serialise the diary here on the blog. There are three entries which will appear over the next three days.

PIFF, Friday 9 November, 2001

I saw a promo weeks in advance, PIFF 2001. Conveniently it started the day I did an exam, a Friday. Escape after the exam, a weekend in Pusan, visit Mi-youn and watch movies. A great idea!! I e-mailed Mi-youn, picked out some movies, got my rail ticket and waited with growing excitement for the time to come.

Finally Friday 9 November 2001 rolled round. My bag packed the work day over I walked with my friend to the subway station chatting happily about my upcoming weekend. Upon getting off the subway train I proceed to the exit but for some unknown reason my card decides to go loopy and not allow me through the turnstile. A nice lady struggles in English to point out there is something wrong with my card. She needn’t have bothered. Pointing out the obvious , in any language, is still obvious. In the end I furtively glanced around then ducked under the turnstile with my bags and continued on my way.

Then I came out the exit furtherest from the Seoul Station as possible! Not the best start but time is plenty, the weather’s fine so I walk to the station with a bounce in my step (as much as my heavy luggage would allow) and a smile on my face.

On the way a seemingly American lady asks for direction and I help her on her way. My good deed done for the day. I enter the station, check my gate number and proceed to fuel up on an all fat, bad-for-your-health dinner. Bulgogi burger set at Lotteria. Good stuff!

Now its just a short wait to board the train. I take a seat and whip out my Film2.0 mag with its PIFF special section. I’m (attempting to) read it when the kindly looking ajooma seated beside me interrupts to chat with me. She figures my Korean must be good as I’m ‘reading’ a Korean mag. No problem, its good practice for me. We chat about jobs, family and, of course, marriage. She is taking the same train as me but only to Taejon so we walk along the platform and board together but her seat is further down. Nice to meet you ajooma!

I have so many things to entertain myself on the train. I have CDs, I have my Film2.0 mag with PIFF 2001 special inside plus I have Bleak House by Charles Dickens with not a page yet read. I start with the mag and Skunkhour CD. This takes about an hour and a half just to “briefly” flick through and read a few paragraphs here and there. And now my head is hurting a little from so much concentration so I switch CDs to enjoy the soothing, soulful tunes of Tracey Chapman, shut my eyes and take a kip.

Feeling slightly, though not much, more relaxed I finish my nap and pull out Bleak House, ceremoniously turn back the cover and begin to read….what!? I didn’t understand what was going on in the first chapter. I read it again…ahh now I get it. I have to concentrate harder. I can’t read the whole book twice!

I get through the second chapter and understand it too. First time. But this is hard work, like reading Korean. I close the book. Only thirty minutes left. I choose to stare blankly into space for the remaining time.

The train reaches Pusan. It is 12:37 Saturday morning. I get off the train and enter the station. No need to worry about Mi-youn, she is there waiting and loudly calls my name even before I see her. We greet, no hugs and immediately she bursts into endless chatter. Its great to see her again; its good to be in Pusan.

We leave the station and jump into a taxi. Its only a short ride to her area. Once there we decide to have a midnight snack at the noodle house which is not only open but apparently in a kinda rush hour. Its packed and pumping. I have noodles. Mi-youn opts for some very tasty kimchi mandoo.

After this we made our way up to her house but we continued to talk late into the night. I don’t even know what time we went to bed. We slept in the same room because the old spare room is now a study/store room. I had a strange dream about [name withheld] of [my hometown] – of all people!!

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