Hwaseong Serial Rape Murder
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Hwaseong Serial Rape Murder
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2003.06.04 00:00
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If you first hear the titles, "emories of Murder" and "Come To See Me," it is hard to see anything in common between them. However, they are the titles of a movie and a play, which are based on the same story and similar characters. Both are based on a series of real-life murders that took place in Hwaseong-gun, Kyunggi-do from September 1986 until April 1991. The six years of mysterious and horrible murder cases resulted in the deaths of ten women, aged through 13 to 71, all raped, killed, and found in bizarre conditions. The dead bodies were found naked, or wearing underwear on their heads, and a seed and pieces of a peach were found in one victim"s vagina.

The play and the movie
The movie "Memories of Murder" and the play "Come To See Me" are the first movie and play based on the same true story to be released at the same time. (The movie from April 24, and the play from May 8 to June 12.) Come To See Me was first staged back in 1996 by Kim Kwang-lim, the president of the Korean National University Of Arts, and was put on stage for 316 performances, an unusually long run for that time. "Memories of Murder" as released on April 25, 2003 and four million people have already seen the movie. Now, the popularity of the movie is gaining audiences to the play also.
An interesting fact is that the director of "Memories of Murder", Bong Jun-ho was determined to make the story into a film after seeing the play. Director Bong, wanting the viewers to feel the same anger he felt towards the murderer, dedicated the movie to the detectives, to the innocent victims, and to the real criminal.
Though the movie and play is based on the same facts, they differ in their characters, theme, and atmosphere.

Characters
Four detectives appear in both the movie and the play: the chief of the police department, two local officers, and a newcomer from Seoul. The local officers are ignorant and tend to rely on their intuition while the officer from Seoul is picky and precise. In the play, all four detectives have an equal role and they are characterized as idiosyncratic and hilarious. For example, the detective from Seoul, acted by the well-known actor Kwon Hae-hyo, is a poet, writing poems while listening to Mozart all day. In the movie, in contrast the two officers, played by the famous actors Song Gang-ho and Kim Sang-kyung are spotlighted.
The criminal suspects also play important roles in the play. Three suspects are accused both in the play and the movie, but in the play the actor Ryu Tae-ho playes all three parts, and he also appears as one of the offenders in the movie. The play also has other characters that do not appear in the movie, such as a reporter named Park, who seems to freely enter the police department whenever she wants, and a Miss Kim who works in a nearby coffee shop and falls in love with the officer from Seoul.

Theme and Focus
Even though "Memories of Murder" and "Come to See Me" are based on the same crime cases and have the same dramatic structure, differences in the main theme and focus of the two can be found throughout the running time. For instance, the movie describes the friction between local officers and the officer from Seoul. As the movie goes on, external struggles change into internal struggles inside the officers, who are both obsessed with the idea that they must find the murderer.
The play, however, seems to concentrate on satirizing the evils and abuses in the police and the media. Unlike the movie, the play highlights the reporter, Park, who appears to be too aggressive and passionate about seizing the criminal, and who often writes false articles and overstates the facts. The abuses of the police are shown when the detectives torture a confession from each suspect because of a lack of dedication to finding the real murderer. Instead, anyone will do if only they can put an end to the case. Since the play deals with wider range of topics, the main point is not very clear, and the audience must guess what the actors lines mean.

Atmosphere
The atmosphere in both the play and the movie are gloomy and dreadful. However, in both, some humorous lines and funny characters prevent the audience from falling into emotional crisis. The endings of the play and the movie each show different characteristics. In the play, high screams are used as background music and a phantasmal image of the murder suspect appears lit by a dim red streak of light. The scene creates the feeling that the criminal is a devilish murderer who can never be forgiven for what he has done. However, on the other hand, the movie encourages the audience to find the murderer, and tries to inspire new hope and the will to do it. Indeed, it seems to have succeeded, as many online communities have been formed among people who watched Memories of Murder to investigate the case and find the real criminal.

Attitudes Towards the Criminal
The catchphrase from the movie "I madly want to catch you, where are you now?" shows its approach to the case, and the rage towards the criminal. The splendid acting of the players and the glitter of their eyes convince the viewers that the murderer will be revealed. But as the only witness dies in an accident, and the last and only evidence of the highly probable offender becomes of no use, viewers are driven to despair, as the detectives in the movie are. The feeling of knowing the murderer is nearby, but the sense that he is slipping out of the fingers of his pursuers gives viewers a sense of frustration about the reality then and compassion towards the exhausted detectives.
The character of the murderer also leads the tone of the whole play, striking the audience with fear. The officer from Seoul yells at the suspects about their cruelty, and swears them guilty, but his cries are mere hopeless screams. Unlike the movie, where the criminal never appears, the play shows the image of the criminal standing outside the window once. But this appearance makes the murderer even more of a horror, who looks at us even when we cannot sense it, portraying him as a devilish force for evil than a human being who can actually be caught. The audience is moved to helpless terror.

"Memories of Murder" and "Come to See Me" are alike, but each leads the audience into different sorts of catharses. If you would like to have a chance to think about a question, “Is it possible to figure out the truth?” both the movie and the play will be perfect choices for you.

happydream83@ewha.ac.kr
winstraight@ewha.ac.kr


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