Sunday, April 29, 2007


April Snow happens to be the very first work of HRH ever since I became a bae fan, so that I was able to follow his AS activities from day one through the completion of this project. Then it was his Asia tour, then the offering of the ASDC - the April Snow Director’s Cut. I’ve purchased his pre-production “Makings” DVD, his original April Snow DVD, recently (yes, in 2007 April, the day after the April snow actually fell in our town, is it a nice coincident?), I have been fortunate to receive one of the gifts from Jaime - ASDC. Honestly April Snow is not my favorite HRH work, but since I am his serious fan and supporter, I have actually watched the original AS for about 3 times. When I heard about the offering of ASDC, I did not pay much attention thinking what more can it offer. Now that I got it and watched it, I found it interesting to compare the two versions and express my feelings.

People usually tell us to look at things on two sides. It seems things always have two sides. In an absolute sense, there is good or bad, right or wrong, in the relative sense, there is positive or negative, depends on who is looking at it and how one looks at it. To me, this movie is a true embodiment of “the two sides of a story”.

First things first, let’s just look at its titles. It has two names, its original Korean and Chinese name Oechul which means Going Out, and later on in time there came a Japanese and English name April Snow, which implies an unexpected belated beautiful experience. The initial name Oechul suggested a painful story of the extra-marital affairs. The title inclines on the hurtful side of a love affair, in a legal term, we call it adultery. While the final name that Director Hsu preferred is April Sonw. It is almost like this baby was given a First name at birth - Oechul, and then given a middle name which according to certain Western tradition, a name that brings blessings – April Snow. I think this middle name is indeed a good choice. It brings out the sad and attractive aspect of the story, attempting to remind the viewers the beautiful side of a love affair. From the way Director Hsu laid out the titles of this movie, I sensed the unsettling, exploring thoughts in his mind.

And the exploring thoughts continued - the director presented us with two versions of the same story. The official version of the movie is the original AS shown in theaters all over the world. Even as of now Camille reported it is still shown in France. Isn’t this amazing? Then about a year later after the showing of the original AS, Director Hsu offered us his complete version ASDC. After watching the two versions, once more I believed the offerings of this movie is a true embodiment of “the two sides of a sotry” and it conveyed a feeling of unsettled confusions and explorations. I somehow sensed the unsettlement was introduced by BYJ’s strong involvement. I think the ASDC represented more of the original plan of Hsu, however, I am convinced that BYJ had a few strong opposing opinions about the underline moral of this movie, that he contributed a huge influence on the outcome of the original AS.

BYJ knew clearly that when audiences watch Insoo, they are inevitably thinking about BYJ, no one can practically completely separate the thoughts of watching BYJ even though they know the main character is actually Insoo. It IS BYJ that we are watching after all. To be honest, if it were not because of BYJ in it, I would never want to watch AS ever. (Sounds very strong isn’t it?)

So BYJ was in a dilemma, he has committed to the role with Director Hsu, but he was disappointed with the simple hackneyed storyline; he was struggling with the role that he would never imagine he’ll be in the real life; he was questioning the conflicting moral the story carried, with his value system he knew that one could never win by playing an adulterous husband no matter how charming and handsome one can be, no matter for whatever seemingly valid reasons. But fear NOT! who is BYJ? BYJ is not an ordinary man like In-soo, BYJ is a man who is exceptionally capable of making good out of any situation. So we heard that he had intense discussions and arguments with the director, so we heard that he was deeply involved in suggesting changes of the storytelling. So we got the official version of the AS which I think from the moral stand point is an ultimate clever remedy for the situation.

The key point is, this version of AS gave audience H (so this is my personaly view, K?) an impression that Insoo was
mostly in a passive position throughout the forming and developing of this extra-marital relationship with Seou-ying. By omitting the kissing scene in the theater, the kissing scene in the museum, omitting the scenes in the hotel during the first bed scence, from Seouying coming out of the bathroom, to all the couch scenes when Insoo holding a somewhat hesitating Seou-yong (Great removal!), instead it directly showed her taking the glasses off BYJ’s face, a strong suggestion that Seou-ying was in the lead. Then showing the seashore picture taking scene after the first bed scene(in ASDC, this picture-taking scene was before the first bed scene), when Seou-ying was again leading the action, it suggested that the first intimacy was mainly inflicted from the thought of vengeance, instead of real love. And only from and after the seashore picture taking scene, did In-soo showed certain affection toward Seouying. This emotion was further developed by a tad feeling of jealousy from both sides when they saw each other went back to tend their spouses at their bed side. The second hot bed scence was again Seou-ying on top of it at the beginning and lasted for a certain length before In-soo turned around. Even the last part of the movie when they met again during the April snowing, by removing the scene of In-soo meeting Seou-ying in the park, but only showed In-soo received a phone call, then both were in the vehicle, BYJ’s voice asking “What do you want to do?” This closed the movie with a hopeful ending but a hint of BYJ being called out by Seou-ying rather than he initiated the call as shown in ASDC. The only scene that they could not cut or alter is after the second bed scene, In-soo called the hospital first so that he could spend a night with Seou-ying in the hotel, and Seou-ying waited until he called and made the same phone call. Well I can understand it as the second time they were together, it was more out of the attraction of each other, it’s fine that In-soo was taking the lead at this point.

It was only after I watched the ASDC, did I realized the underlining purpose of the cuttings of these scenes. Even though we saw less of BYJ in the movie, even though we are left with a more unconnected story, we went away with a tad relief that the poor In-soo fell into such an unexpected tragic situation and then was pulled into this conflicting relationship passively. It is not the poor guy’s fault ok? And we are happy that he can enjoy a little happiness with Seou-ying after all. Ah we fans are very forgiving and understanding, being in love with HRH, we have no other choices. Thank goodness HRH is so smart he knows how to protect his image and he knows how to make our bae-fans' lives easier to enjoy the movie. So why don’t I call this version ASBC – April Snow BYJ Cut.

I have only watched ASDC once, but I got a very strong feeling that In-soo’s position is totally opposite to what was shown in the original AS. The effect of those extra scenes in ASDC turned all the views around, showing that Insoo was mostly in the active position throughout the development of their relationship. He initiated the kissing in the theater, he initiated kissing in the museum, in the first bed scene, he suggested Seou-ying to come over to sit beside him in the couch after she came out of the bathroom, wasn’t Seou-ying hesitating, is it only me who sees the hesitation? And then he initiated the hugging and obviously Seou-ying was not ready and did not hug back. And oh, it was he who went to the bus station to pick Seou-ying up, and the surprised Seou-ying had a thankful expression on her face, (mind you I am satisfied with SYJ’s performance, except this part, good thing Hsu cut it out in the ASBC). So the whole process gave me an impression that In-soo was actively arranging their first “date”. While in ASBC, BYJ got a phone call in the stadium and boom the scene jumped to show In-soo and Seou-ying walking along the riverbank. Didn’t that suggest that Seou-ying was in town and called up In-soo to meet?

Oh don't forget about those two hugging scenes after each bed-scence. In the hugging scene next morning after the first bed-scene, we got to see BYJ's muscular back, how precious! I mean it. In the other hugging scene next morning after the second bed-scene, In-soo held Seo-hyeong from the back on the balcony facing the peaceful sea, such a beautiful scene, perfect for a loving couple. I wish I could be held like that forever. These huggings make me feel that the man is in love and is in the active position.

Cut cut cut, all these supposedly beautiful scenes were cut. At this moment I am almost thinking BYJ wished his ASBC cut as much as In-soo’s appearance on the scene, eliminating any of his actions with Seou-ying, better yet, how about only show a shadow when they were together? Nah, it’s just that sarcastic me again.

But on a serious note, all of these scenes have our HRH in it and all of these scenes presented us with his loving and sexy features. But they were all removed from the ASBC. I do think all of these mesmerizing scenes were cut with good reasons. All of these enchanting kissing and hugging scenes are suitable for a sweet couple falling in love, they are beautiful when their love is pure. But BYJ does not think these sweet scenes are beautiful in an affair. He does not want to show the relationship between In-soo and Seo-hyong is love, instead, in his own words, this relationship was formed with certain peculiar emotion gave rise under certain particular situation. 100% I agree with his clear analysis, assessments and understanding in this confusing matter. He proves to me again he is my hero. So there you have it, a beautiful ASBC with a gloomy quiet passive In-soo. But I have to admit, this In-soo is the brightest shiniest gloomy guy ever existed. You have to see who played it, our HRH. He is the best!

Some of the extra scenes in ASDC helped me to understand more on In-soo and Seou-ying’s agony, I think they are better to be included in the ASBC. For example after watching the recording in the camera of her husband’s affair with In-soo’s wife, Seou-ying went out and vomited, then she was standing in a public restroom. In ASBC, I could never understand why and for what purpose it showed Seou-ying standing beside a wall in the restroom. Another scene in ASDC showing Seou-ying sitting tired on a stairway when In-soo saw it and turned back quietly, I think it is helpful to show how much pain Seou-ying went through in this tragedy and how In-soo would grow the sympathy and protective feelings toward her. Some other scenes showing In-soo making a few anxious effort to try to figure out the password and the content in his wife’s cell phone, that would help to explain why he had that bleeding-nose scene. It helped me to see the agony and anxiety that caused a strong man like In-soo to suffer to the point that the nose was bleeding (I learned from Korean drama that nose bleeding usually is a sign of fatigue and tragedy.)

One thing I would like to mention is the first hospital scene when In-soo ran into the ER hallway, panting and sit down on the bench where Seou-ying was sitting. Before I watched ASDC, each time I watched this section in ASBC, I did not like it, I think this is my only unsatisfatory scene of BYJ's performing in this movie. It is part of director's fault. The panting with hands on his knees after running was a little bit overdone, then In-soo looked around, and then looked back at the ER door, then went to sit on the bench and then stood up, opened the cell phone and then closed it, and then sit down again on the bench and looked at the woman on the other end, it was a bit too verbose with not much meaning and purpose. I like the handling of the ASDC, the first time I watched it, this section made me feel comfortable which allerted me, it reminded me of the uncomfortable feeling each time I watched this moment in ASBC, so I went back to compare with the ASBC, and I see the differences, in ASDC, it was simply In-soo ran through the hallway, looked at the ER sign on the door, turn around a little bit and then go directly sit at the other end of the bench, stretching his left leg a little on the left, oh that famous royal sitting scene, I love. I guess Director Hsu realized the flaw of this scene in ASBC and showed the alternative of it in his ASDC version. Bravo!

The last few scenes in In-soo and his wife’s home are very interesting. Three things stick to my mind. 1. In-soo was not happy with the marriage but he is fulfilling his responsibility to perform the day to day chore. 2. In-soo did not forgive wife’s betrayal. When wife showed him their video recording of their early young happy times, the forced smile on In-soo’s face was so sad and helpless. I feel sorry for his pain but I personally do not admire an unforgiving man. 3. The bed scene with wife, oh, even I consider myself clear-minded, I could not resist that scene. BYJ was soooo handsome in that purple shirt. This is the best scene in the entire ASBC and ASDC combined. I would rather forget he is In-soo, and forget about the whole story, forget about right or wrong, I just like like like BYJ in this scene, did I realize this is the only scene that he wore colored clothe instead of grey or blue or black? If I am coming to see BYJ in this movie, I just want to rewind this section again and again, he is truly HRH. So the value of ASDC worths 100 times more than ASBC just because of this scene. His performance in this section is superb superb superb. In fact HRH’s acting in the entire AS is superb, but I have to do that analysis in a separate posting.

( Good thing I found this from bb's blog. I know I can find anything I need of our HRH from her blog.)

Thank you again Jaime for bringing me this gift. It is more interesting now to be able to watch both ASBC and ASDC and spin my head on comparing them. And that third bed scene, gal, that is a killer!

Recalling I mentioned earlier that this movie has a first name Oechul, middle name AprilSnow, guess what is its last name, the sirname? You bet, it is BYJ. It's BYJ's movie after all. No matter what, I love HRH for whatever he does. I have decided to support him years ago and my position will not change.


gosijo said...

Wow, dear H!

You did it! Gave us more food for thought with AS(BC) and ASDC!

I particularly like that you bring up something I hadn't considered, that ASBC shows In-soo much less as the initiator of the affair than ASDC.

I'm of two minds about the addition of the story with Su-jin, his wife, when she is recovering at home. Sometimes, I think it's unnecessary but, other times, I think I like to have it there. For one thing, it seems such a waste that all these scenes were filmed and then removed. I also like that third bed scene a great deal, for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because of how bittersweet it is.

I think the only fundamental difference between both our views is that I truly see In-soo, not HRH, when I watch either versions. It was only after I had seen AS a few times that I found out that fans were actually there when the location shoots took place, maybe not when the camera was rolling but before and after. For our YJ to go in and out of his role so seamlessly seems an incredible feat to me.

It helps, though, to understand that others see it differently so thank you so very much for sharing.

HeippieH said...

Dear gosijo,

I am glad you read it. I am concerned it is a boring read but you have to spare my verbose style. I have to get my thoughts out or else they will bother me in my stuffy head. I just added another paragraph in this posting and made some editions, hope you can see them. I really appreciate your comments and opinions. It makes me feel like we are doing some research project together. Hahaha ... I like it.

The third "bed scene" is intriguing , isn't it? I can't get it off my head, I love the facial expression when he heard his wife is going to leave (don't know exactly what they were conversing, but somehow I guessed she asked In-soo whether he still like that woman Seo-hyong, and when she heard his mesmerizing emm (mesmerizing to me but might not be to her), then she said she was recovered, she could start working the next day and good-bye farewell In-soo, things on that line, am I right? Oh how much I wish I knew Japanese or Korean now!), and I love the way he felt sorry and held her in his arms, so moving. That hugging style is very very dear to me. Very very hard to resist, don't you think? Oh I think HRH is so cruel, he is made to kill us.

About his acting, I appreciate your comments. I never thought on that line, but now thinking about what you said, I am even more amazed by his acting talent and the capability of control the tough situations. He is my hero!

vegasbyj said...

Dear H,

I read with interest your analysis of AS and ASDC. WOW! Since becoming a Bae fan and a K-drama fan, I've never had the pleasure of having a movie broken down as you have done.

Thank you also gosijo for your analysis of the movie as well.

I haven't viewed ASDC, but will do so soon and then I will have a better understanding of what both of you are talking about.

Question: It's my understanding that after filming AS, HRH had a hard time dealing with this character and thus it bothered him for some time?? Could you shed some light on this or am I wrong?
Also, is there anything written about the director's thoughts on what he wanted to express/portray through this film?

All I can say is that this movie has struck a nerve within me. I give both actors credit for portraying the characters they way they did. I want to view ASDC and then I can comment more.

Thanks much!!

gosijo said...

Dear H,

I have read your additions. So true about the hugging scenes! Now you bring it up, I think I have to go back on something I was saying earlier: for the hugging scenes, it's hard not to see BYJ himself, rather than In-soo. I wonder if this is just being a fan, though.

I can relate so well to what you write about having to get your thoughts out!!

About the 3rd bed scene, one of the first things Su-jin asks is something like "Do you want to make love?" Poignant, don't you think?

Yes, it's impossible not to imagine how wonderful it would feel to be on the receiving end of that hug if not for the reasons behind it (he's in love with another woman and he's leaving)!

Hello vegas,

I've 'seen' you many times elsewhere but this may be our first time 'conversing'. I tried to find links to interviews with Hur Jin-ho, AS's Director. I though I'd seen some in Camille's blog but it must be that she sent me links of articles in French that she didn't translate.

I recall that the Director had said he wanted to show a beautiful love story under a situation that many viewers would not find beautiful (he expressed it much better than that). He wanted to leave it up to the viewer to make up their own mind about what they thought; that he didn't want to bias our judgement either way.

I'll write to Camille and ask her if she did, indeed translate any such interview and let you know in these comments.

gosijo said...

Me again,

I thought I would check further into Camille's blog before writing to her and voilà!

See and scroll to October 28th (2nd post from top).

gosijo said...

Pps: I recall reading another Hur Jin-ho interview in French but I think Camille gave me the link either in a comment in Quilt or in her blog. That may explain why what I wrote above doesn't quite mesh with what's in the link I provided later.

vegasbyj said...

Hi gosijo! Hi H!!

Much thanks for the link. I've seen you many times and really appreciate your input on all things. I'll check out Camille's blog for further info.

Also, thanks for the info on Director Hur's thoughts. This helps me to understand and appreciate what he wanted to express with AS.

Take care!

Professor Howdy said...

Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!!

HeippieH said...

Dear gosijo,

Thanks for the hint to their conversation. I never thought it could be that, really really surprised. See that's the problem of not knowing a language. So much pain for not being able to understand the conversation. And also so much pain after I know what they are conversing. I'd rather not know now. So much pain to both of them.

Thanks for feeding us so many good links and information. Camille has been well-known for bringing us good AS reviews and diligently translating them. I hope my personal thoughts here won't be viewed as negative to AS or HRH. I hope people can appreciate and enjoy HRH's work as always.

HeippieH said...

Dear vegas, I hope I did not sound too harsh to AS and made you feel uncomfortable. You see I am a black and white person, I do not fancy gray area and ambiguity. So please I hope you take my views lightly and keep enjoying what you enjoy. All I am saying is I love HRH but not In-soo. I may feel sorry for him. I think HRH played him extremely well considering he is a totally opposite person, a much stronger man comparing to In-soo. I really felt sorry for HRH who had to go through the agony during and after the shooting time of AS. I may be able to find out some old postings about HRH's view on AS.

HeippieH said...

Professor Howdy, whoever you are, thanks!

vegasbyj said...

Hi H!

Please, no worries! You presented your thoughts and opinions on AS and ASDC and I think it's wonderful. I'm sure all those who read your words will know that you are being sincere from the heart. I hope to find time this weekend to view ASDC so that I can see for myself what was left out from the AS version I have.

thanks much for all!

HeippieH said...

Hi vegasbyj, looking forward to hearing your views of ASDC.

Toujours_BYJ said...

Hi H

Wow, what a great analysis of ASDC, I have never think that way.
Reading your posting makes me wanting to watch them again.

Hi Gosijo, I think you're referring to this dir Hur's interview ?
I don't think I've translated it yet.

HeippieH said...

Dear Camille,

Glad you liked it. You are our AS queen, brought us so many reviews from France. The bae family benefited so much from your talent and hard work. This is just my very personal speculations, never thought I would share publically but somehow it came out, just take it as my personal journal.

Your Korean trip report is so informational and emotional, I love it.