Screening Humanity | 인간극장 – Nilu, You are my Destiny, part 1 (2015.10.26)


(Nilu, You are my Destiny / Part 1) (Seoul) On a hot day in August, Hwang Geon heads to work in casual attire. Rather than a briefcase, he’s carrying clothes. He is an actor. Hello? I’m almost there. I’m passing the cultural museum right now. He’s not a renowned actor, but he’s been an actor for 10 years now. I’m already soaked in sweat. Hello. Hi. – Hello. / – Long time no see. Recently he got the lead role in a web-sitcom, so he’s been working hard on the set every day. Where’s the restroom? The restroom… The men’s room is on the third floor and the women’s room is on the second floor. – Third floor? / – You can use the ladies’ room. Okay. It’s on the second floor? Why is he looking for the bathroom the minute he arrives on set? It seemed he was in a rush to the bathroom, but it was actually so he could change. This is his costume. He has a manager for all this but he finds it more reassuring if he brings his costume himself. Is this sweat or water? Water. Sweat and water, actually. (Hwang Geon, 37) He plays the role of an off-beat, funny homeless man. What are you doing? I have a scene where I’m ordering food and I have to speak French with a funny accent. The more makeup she puts on him, the more and more he looks like a bum. This hasn’t been washed. And rightly so. I was drenched in sweat wearing this earlier. Upon putting on the sweat-drenched coat, his homeless man look is complete. And action! Give me what I always get… Let me do that again. He hasn’t had enough time to warm up yet. A sitcom that you can tune into via the internet rather than the TV. He takes big roles and small ones, ones for any platform as long is it’s a good production. In his junior year in high school, he watched a play which made him decide that he wanted to be an actor. He’s been chasing the dream ever since. (Musical “Moby Dick” / 2012) He joined the drama club in college, and ever since then, acting has become a part of him. In the theater world, he’s renowned for his acting. (“The Attorney” / 2013) He’s even been in a movie. (KBS Drama Special “Kaneko Fumiko” / 2006) He may not be a famous actor you’d know by name, but he’s been the acting industry for 10 years now. The shoot continues at a different location, and Geon steps away from the set. He is calling someone. Hon, good to hear your voice again. Okay. – We’re having break time. / – Yeah. Right now, I’m just at the lake park. It feels so nice to be able to talk to you today after talking to you last night. To communicate with her, he uses 3 different languages. But he has to, as she’s his wife. Hello? Hello? Nilu, can you hear me? We got cut off. His wife is staying at her parents’ house in Uzbekistan right now. They filed for a marriage license last year, but they haven’t had their wedding yet. They decided to have a wedding in Uzbekistan first, so his wife is there now making arrangements for their wedding. (Hwang Geon, 37) I feel really guilty. I have to be in Korea for the shoot, so I can’t help her prepare for the wedding. Her parents are helping in my stead, so I’m grateful to them but I feel guilty, because I can’t be there to help out. I’ll show her how grateful I am with a big kiss. The shoot ran late and it got dark by the time it was time to go home. Come here, Pungsan! Pungsan! Whoa, there. Don’t pee just because you’re excited. Alright, alright. Pungsan. His wife may not be here, but at least his dog’s here to greet him. Did you miss me? – Mom, I’m taking Pungsan for a walk. / – Okay. Geon’s had Pungsan ever since she was just a puppy. She is the apple of his eye. Did you feed Pungsan dinner? I didn’t give her any dog food yet. He was eating what was left over. He asks if the dog’s been fed as soon as he gets in. All the while, his mother is making him food, even though the kitchen couldn’t be hotter. How do you feel about your son coming home so late so often? It comes with the job, I suppose. (Choi Mija, 65 / Mother) I don’t get to have dinner with my son often, so when he gets off work early, he brings home some rice wine and we eat and talk over some drinks. Geon lived with his mother before marriage. After marriage, his wife moved in, too. However, they don’t seem all too close. They act rather distant toward each other, but they do have one thing in common. Do you like rice wine? I indulge in a glass or two. She doesn’t like rice wine. She loves rice wine. In Korea, fried pancakes are often paired with rice wine. They need a drink or two before they can actually talk. Drinking helps the two talk. Did you get your suit ready? For what? The one you’ll wear at your wedding. I thought we’d need to take it to the dry cleaners, but it’s already been dry cleaned. Really? I must have done it and forgot. Yeah. – Make sure it’s alright. / – I was going to… Take it to the cleaners, but it looked fine. It didn’t get moldy? If it did, you have to get it dry cleaned again. He’s been piecing together his outfit for the wedding ready whenever he got the chance. I thought a regular tie wouldn’t look right, so I got these 2 bow ties. But his mother will not be able to see her son walk down the aisle. 5 of my friends will be coming. They’ll be attending the wedding. 2 of my taekwondo buddies and… That’ll cost an arm and a leg. They’re paying their own way. Why would you ask them to do that? They offered. It’d be like a vacation for them. Come right back after the wedding. For Pungsan’s sake. I won’t take care of him forever. She said she’d stay to care for the dog, but actually, she didn’t want her son to pay for her ticket. It’d be a different story if that was his only wedding, but he’ll be having one in Seoul, too. I’ll go to that one. My youngest said even if none of the other family members can go, that I should go. You can come for a day or two for just the wedding then. – If you go for the week… / – Paying that much for a day or two’s not worth it. It’ll be spring before you know it and you’ll be having your wedding in Seoul. A few days later. Mom. Come look at this. What? This is what I’ve been shooting lately. It’s a web sitcom. It’s really funny. I’m the main character. It was posted today. I play the role of a homeless man who escaped from an insane asylum. Pungsan, look. Look at me. The first episode of the month-long shoot was just released. (Hwang Geon, 37) Geon’s excited as can be, but his mother shows no interest. Ms. Choi. How do you like seeing your son on the show? She hardly ever watches anything I’m in. I hardly ever do. She doesn’t even come to my plays. He’s been in dozens of plays ever since college, but I never went to a single one. I’m not that happy about it. Ms. Choi gets upset whenever this subject is breached. And it’s best to avoid her when she gets this way. I have a cow lick. I’m taking Pungsan out for a walk. I’m going out for a walk. Why was your mother so cold just now? When I first got into acting, she obviously really hated it. When I was in high school, my mother thought I’d study law at a top university and go on to become a lawyer. So naturally, she hated it when I suddenly told her I wanted to go into acting. As a boy, he was called “a genius.” He even attended a foreign language magnet school. Divorce left Ms. Choi with kids to raise all alone, but Geon became her beacon of hope. So when he chose to be an actor, she was deeply devastated. Will his mother ever come to be proud of Geon the way she used to be? It’s finally the Geon is going to go see his wife. He’s all packed up and ready to go, but there’s just one thing left to do. He needs to say goodbye to his beard. The minute I get to Tashkent, I will see my wife and in-laws. My father-in-law might be there, too. I don’t want to look like I’ve just returned from a deserted island somewhere. Punsand and Ms. Choi watch him as if it’s some sort of spectacle. He’s quite handsome after his shave. I don’t know about all that… He looks like a groom-to-be now that he’s cleanly shaven. I look younger, huh? And neat, too. Yeah, that looks much better. I feel like I’m forgetting something… – You’re heading out now? / – Yeah. Bye, mom. Rather than extending a warm farewell, she quietly wipes the dust from his suitcase. Bye. Have a safe trip. Get going now. Hugging and such are for westerners. Asian culture isn’t like that. She’s never been the kind of woman to be physically affectionate. But for the first time ever, she’s walking him out. You should go back home now. Bye. Be well. I’ll call you. Ms. Choi gazes at her son fading in the distance for some time. She did insist on not going, but seeing him leave for his wedding alone feels unsettling. (Incheon International Airport) Luckily, he has his friends. (Yang Yeonghun, 34 / College Friend) His college friend and his wife are 2 of the 5 friends who are joining on this journey. The week-long event is finally underway. The motherland of Geon’s wife, Uzbekistan, is located in central Asia. It’s a 7-hour flight. (Tashkent International Airport) Where could she be? His stomach’s filled with butterflies. Nilu! She shares his sentiment. She runs into his arms the moment she sees him. This is Nilu. She is my wife, Nilu. And this is my mother-in-law, Angela. What’s it like seeing him after a whole year? (Angela Lee, 53 / Mother-in-law) I’m happy to see him of course. I really missed him. (Hwang Geon, 37 / Nilufar Muhidinova, 21) Hwang and Nilu haven’t seen each other in a month. They’re as lovey-dovey as can be as they’re still in their honeymoon phase. They arrive at Nilu’s parents’ house. His baby-faced brother-n-law (Ilhom Muhidinova, 15 / Brother-in-law) Ihom welcomes Geon warmly. He’s grown so tall. Nilu’s mother is ethnic Korean. That is why both Nilu and her brother look so Korean, too. – Welcome. / – Hi! Have you been well? Did you have to wait long after the flight delay? Not that long. Maybe an hour or so? You look younger so cleanly shaven. I am young. This is my friend from my college taekwondo club. Welcome. – Yeonghun. / – Yeonghun. Say hello like this. This is Park Hyomin, Yeonghun’s girlfriend. Ms. Lee has prepared a special meal for her son-in-law. (Angelina Lee, 53 / Mother-in-law) It’s noodles. She peeks into a small notebook from time to time. It’s a recipe that’s been handed down for generations in her family. (Nilufar Muhidinova, 21) My mom knows this recipe of guksu from her aunt. It’s very ancient. That looks delicious. That looks so good. The noodles are garnished with sauteed beef and vegetables. This is Geon’s favorite dish. He enjoys it every time he comes here, so that’s why she’s made this for him. (Alim Muhidinova, 53 / Father-in-law) I’m really happy he’s here. And I’m grateful to his friends for coming all this way, too. Thank you for coming. He must be proud of Geon who has such great friends by his side. In Uzbek, it’s “yoqimli ishtaha.” That means “bon appetit.” – Yoqimli ishtaha. / – Ishtaha. Geon can even speak some Russian. He majored in Russian thinking it might be helpful to his acting career. Who knew it’d be so much more than that? After dinner, Geon brings out the gifts he got for the family from Korea. Ilhom’s gifts come out in successions. It’s a helmet to be worn during taekwondo. Ilhom’s been waiting for it so eagerly. Ilhom’s learning taekwondo, and he asked Nilu to ask me to get him taekwondo equipment. That’s why I got him that. He also got the perfect gift for his mother-in-law. This is so you can bake bread. It’s toaster oven. What? This is so light! It’s a toaster oven. Thank you. Do you like it? Yes, I don’t even have the words to say how much. Thank you. He got gum medicine for his father-in-law. It’s as if Geon has become Santa Claus to them. This is all thanks to Nilu’s tips. The couple’s succeeded in their plan to get Geon to earn some brownie points. Where’s my gift? For me? Kiss? I have something for you later. (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) The next day. They still have a few days before the wedding. The 2 couples head out for sightseeing. Their first destination is Amir Temur Square. This is the statue of Amir Temur, who conquered a vast area of land in the 14th century. As a part of reconstruction following the 1991 independence from the USSR, Temur’s statues were erected everywhere. Raise one arm and face forward. Hyomin, hold your arm up like Temur. We’re ready. This park not only is a historic site for the nation, but for Nilu and Geon as well. When we were dating, I came to Tashkent and she and I would take walks here. Our first date was here, I think. Was it here? On our first date. No, it was another date. I mean on our first date, we were here. No, not here. I got this park and another confused. Do you remember your first date? Yes, of course I remember that. It was so exciting and I felt kind of happy. I don’t know. It was strange at first, but then… I just found out he’s such a nice man. Geon and Nilu met here in Uzbekistan two years ago. Geon was here for a charity orchestra performance. Nilu was a part of that very orchestra as a violinist. (Hwang Geon, 37) Nilu was the band director. She led the orchestra members practices, section by section. It was impressive to see her lead the orchestra. I fell for her immediately watching her her small, delicate frame leading the massive orchestra. (Nilu Muhidinova, 21) I saw him and I thought, “Oh, he’s handsome.” And my mom came to me and said, “Look at this guy. He’s handsome.” I said, “Oh, yeah.” Just handsome? Not anything else? I don’t know. I just saw him at first and thought he was handsome. And that’s it. But then, he was a good actor and he was doing things that were very interesting. (Pushkin Youth Orchestra) (Concert in Uzbekistan / July 23, 2013) The image of Nilu did not leave him even after the concert. Then, 3 days before heading back to Korea, he asked her out on a date. Nothing else came to mind except for the fact that he had to see her. They spent 3 days in bliss and upon his return to Korea, the couple stayed in touch via video chat. They made time flying back and forth to visit. And finally, they overcame the distance and the 16-year age difference and got married. Having met her the most fortunate thing for me. I’m ever so grateful to her. And many may not agree with this, but I don’t think of it as Nilu having done me a favor. We both fell for one another. It’s not about her accepting me despite our age difference. We simply love each other. As for me, I’m just grateful she decided to love me back. I don’t dwell on the age difference or anything else for that matter. I believe we’re together. happy and in love. I don’t feel it at all. I don’t know why, I just feel like he’s my… I don’t know. He’s like any of my friends. I think in his heart, he’s so young. So she’s basically saying that I’m immature. It was as if Geon choosing to become an actor and learning Russian was all to get prepared to meet his destiny, Nilu. The next day, the couple head to a bridal shop. In Korea, the men usually help his bride pick out a gown. But Geo wasn’t able to do that for Nilu. He’s only seen her in a gown in pictures, but today, he’ll get to see her in person. I’m going to try on the gown. Okay. Go away, go. We’ll call for you in a little bit. Geon looks preoccupied in thought. He’s probably nervous and excited, too. We were busy with preparations and now the wedding’s day’s tomorrow. When we were picking out dresses in Seoul, it seemed like it was so far away and it didn’t seem real. Does it feel real now? Yes, it’s happening tomorrow. After one night’s sleep, it’ll be the day of the wedding. – Nilu, are you ready? / – You can come in. I can come in? Now? He gets to finally see his beautiful bride. Oh, my god. (In the next episode…) I feel as excited as I do before a performance. It doesn’t feel like my wedding… They did a horrible job on her makeup so Nilu didn’t look as pretty. They did a bad job on the makeup.

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