The Man Standing Next (남산의 부장들)

Sometimes, we have to pull the trigger on something even if we are not sure about the consequences. Before we make a decision and carry it out, a mixture of feelings kicks in: fear, hesitation, expectation or even excitement. In “The Man Standing Next,” after going through many feelings just like everyone does, Kim Gyu-pyeong finally decides to kill President Park with a ray of hope that the action will liberate him and his country. Based on a novel of the same name, “The Man Standing Next (남산의 부장들; roughly translated as “Directors at Nam Mountain”)” centers on 40 days in the run-up to the day Kim Gyu-pyeong (a character based on a real person Kim Jae-gyu), the head of Korean Central Intelligence Agency, assassinates President Park (based on Park Chung-hee), who has ruled South Korea for 16 years. Unlike many other South Korean films that are based on the Park Chung-hee era, this movie focuses on portraying the emotions of each individual, especially of Kim’s, which change by the hour during those 40 days. The audience can immerse into Kim’s many different feelings; fear when he loses influence in the clique; relief when he regains Park's trust; anger when he is absolutely abandoned; mixed feelings when he kills Park at last. Even after 40 years have passed since the assassination, South Koreans still debate whether Kim Jae-gyu, Park Chung-hee’s right hand and old friend, shot the dictatorial ex-president because he feared getting purged by the rivals or because he truly yearned for the nation’s democracy. Even though we can never know the answer, this movie clearly sheds light on the emotional sides of historical figures that we might have overlooked. If you are interested in modern South Korean history, this movie will surely entertain you. @officialtheasians theasians.org

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