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Bitter, Sweet, Seoul

“Bitter, Sweet, Seoul” is the end result of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s, first ever, global, crowdsourced film project, “Seoul, Our Movie.”

Devised as a tourism marketing campaign, the project asked individuals from all over the world to upload their videos and impressions of the city. These videos would eventually be edited into a single film by renowned Korean directors, Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy,” “Stoker”) and Park Chan-kyong (“Way of Power,” “I Want to be Born Again in Anyang”), known collectively as PARKing CHANce.

A still from "Bitter, Sweet, Seoul"

A still from “Bitter, Sweet, Seoul”

Almost 12,000 clips were submitted to the project, 44% from Non-Koreans, with 141 ultimately selected for inclusion in the film.

Weaving a pastiche of alluring images, archival footage, time-lapse photography, and amateurish tourist videos, “Bitter, Sweet, Seoul,” shows a Seoul that is complicated, at times dark, but also beguiling, strange and yes, bittersweet.

There were moments in the film where my heart ached – images of the Korean war exodus, the collapse of historic Sungnyemun to fire, poverty-stricken elderly woman scavenging for recyclables – parts where I laughed out loud, and instances where I was simply in awe of all that is happening in this city, at any given moment in time.

As a former video editor, I was flabbergasted by the raw talent required to fuse such a melting pot of (mostly) amateur clips into a sometimes fascinating, sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes foreboding movie.

It could only be the work of true masters in the art of film.

What do you think of the film? Is it a worthy portrait of a city? How effective do you think the film will be for tourism marketing?

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. An extremely ambitious project!!! I took a quick look and I liked what I saw, but I wonder how arresting an hour’s worth of random clips can really be if you don’t already have a deeply established connection to the city? But I can certainly see projects like this becoming more common in the future.

    February 14, 2014
    • Yeah, I am biased, since I live here, but the interesting part for me, was how they were able to create a narrative from a bunch of random clips…and amateur clips at that! As an editor, I know how difficult it can be, so the fact that it flowed as much as it did, completely impressed me!

      February 18, 2014
  2. Ima have to get back to video. I’ll definitely have a look. Very nice concept for a video though. Every country should have one. 😉

    March 7, 2014
    • If you’ve got an hour, I definitely recommend giving it a look. They did a great job, and I like that they didn’t sugar-coat the city with tourism slogans like “Seoul Sparkling,” which is the terrible and totally meaningless thing they used to have!

      March 8, 2014

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