Screening Humanity | 인간극장 – Nilu, You are my Destiny, part 5 (2015.10.30)


(Previously…) Geon and Nilu have been preparing for this performance for a month now, Geon as an actor, Nilu, as a violinist. Cute. On and offstage, they’re a match made in heaven. Each day is as romantic as can be for the pair. But Nilu gets a cold on opening night. “You’ll be fine with meds”, vs “Go see a doctor.” If you do as Geon says, you’ll never get better. Their argument gives Nilu a headache. (Nilu, You Are My Destiny / Part 5) What shall Nilu do? She goes to see what Geon’s doing. He’s on the phone about his movie. (Nilufar Mukhiddinova, 21) Nilu returns to Ms. Choi. She doesn’t know what to do. (Choi Mija, 65 / Mother) I don’t want her to be sick, so I have to look after her. I never took good care of my own health, but I felt like the kids would die if they didn’t see a doctor. She should see a doctor soon. Some people avoid going to the doctor’s, They wait it out. It’s okay if I’m sick, but I can’t wait it out if my kids are sick. Nilu’s one of her children, now, too. What, Nilu? She looks anxious again. What do you want to ask? Mother, the chili paste… Oh, we forgot to put it in. You’re better at this than I am. We have to put in chili paste. You’re right. You need chili paste in bibimbap. She’s better than me at this. Isn’t that too much paste? Oh, no. Mother… You don’t know how much to put in? – I seasoned the vegetables, this much. / – Okay. Let’s see if it’s any good. It’s good. Eat up. Nilu’s in love with spicy Korean food, but she’s still getting used to seafood. You’re eating fish on your own? Because it’s fried. Oh, fried. (Hwang Geon, 37) She eats it if it’s fried. You tried clams yesterday, too. Grilled clams. Did you really like them? Yeah. Really? So you eat clams now, huh? Fish is so good for you. You should eat it. Seafood’s good for you. Nilu will have to eat seaweed soup for a month after she gives birth. She doesn’t like seaweed soup, though. But she still has to eat it. Geon’s sister-in-law, Jeongmin, ate seaweed soup for a month after giving birth. They say to eat seaweed soup for the iron, right? A woman must have it after giving birth. But if it’s for the iron, Nilu can supplement the iron in her diet with something else. Seaweed soup clarifies your blood stream and helps lactation. When we have a baby she’ll make seaweed soup for you. Then, you’re going to have to eat it and do it smiling… Only when she cooks seaweed soup. (Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul) That afternoon. Nilu and Ms. Choi go grocery shopping. Read what that says. Read it. Sesame oil, chili flakes mill. What about that? Namgang. What’s written after that? Charcoal ribs. Nilu’s studying Korean on her way to the grocery store. She’s only been in Korea for 10 months now, so she has lots to learn. What’s this, mother? This is “old cucumber.” Old cucumber? Yeah, old. Or was it grand? Old’s right? Old’s right. – Did you get that, Nilu? / – Yes. – What? / – Nothing. – Did you get that? / – Yes. That’s all that matters. The means don’t matter. The ends do. Now, she’ll forever remember “old cucumber.” These are oyster mushrooms. Mushrooms. These are king trumpet mushrooms. They’re of a similar class, but these are oyster and these are king trumpet. You know what these are, right? – Bell peppers. / – Right. And these? Chili peppers. Shishito chili peppers. Right. And these are potatoes. Potatoes and sweet potatoes. Ms. Choi worried about the language barrier between her and Nilu, but after living together, they’ve figured out ways to get around it. Bring me a brass bowl. For this. Brass bowl? The large one. Nilu is very sharp to be able to understand her. Wrapping rice with these pumpkin leaves is good. This is really good for you. She tries her best, though she’s not so good yet. You can stop. They’ll stain your nails. That won’t be a good for you. Your nails will turn green. They’ve already turned green. You can stop. Go wash your hands and play your violin for me. It’s okay. I’ll do the rest. I’m okay… – You’re okay with green nails? / – Yes. A pretty, young girl like you shouldn’t have green nails. Stick to what you’re best at. Playing the violin. Nilu has no choice but to obey Ms. Choi. She shyly brings out her violin. Pungsan, what are you doing? Pungsan. Pungsan must already be moved by her playing. After all, she was the violinist who played when the Uzbek president was invited to the Blue House. (Nilufar Mukhiddinova, 21) Have you ever been in this situation before? No. This is my first time. And I was not ready, but it’s okay. It was fun. Making rice doesn’t stain her fingers at all. But this… And young people these days don’t make this from scratch. Only old people, like me. I asked her to stop so her nails don’t get ruined. But she insisted. That’s why I asked her to play the violin for me instead. A violin performance over pumpkin leaves. It seems outlandish, but somehow fitting. (Sejong Culture Center / Jongno-gu, Seoul) That evening. I just have to follow Nilu. Just follow Nilu. Ms. Choi has come to the cultural center to see Nilu and her son perform with friends. Hello. Hello, Ms. Choi. – Thank you for having me. / – Thanks for coming. Ms. Choi’s not used to such an event. Right this way. – Mom, you’re here. / – Yes, she just got here. Ms. Choi’s never once come to see her son perform. This is the green room. This is the green room? Jangdu, this is my mother. Hello. This is my friend, Jang Duyi. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. I’ve known Geon since he was in high school. He’s a great actor who’s come a long way. – It’s a pleasure to meet you. / – Likewise. You’re staying for the show, right? Of course. That’s why she came. I’ll give you a tour of the stage. It’s so amazing. Careful, mom. It’s dark. I’m okay. I don’t need to see the stage. – Come on, mom. / – I shouldn’t be back here… But Geon couldn’t be more excited. He’s as excited as a schoolboy, showing off the different parts of the production. Go stand on the stage. I couldn’t go up there. I couldn’t dare go up on the stage. – I can’t. / – Alrighty, then. Nilu is excited Ms. Choi’s here, too. I should try my best. I should be good. Hi! Geon is busier than ever now. He brings his mother the program. Geon. – This is Geon? / – Yes. I can tell right away. And here’s my daughter-in-law, Nilu. Nilu. Who knew Nilu would be on stage here? It’s all thanks to Nilu that Ms. Choi decided to come tonight. Nilu asked her mother-in-law to do this as a favor to her. (Hwang Geon, 37) I hope I can make mom proud. I hope she realizes the hard work that I do to make productions such as this. I want her to be proud of me. This is a very special performance for the family. Here, my grandson and great grandsons will live whole new lives! Cue the musicians! Geon was called a genius as a child, and he promised his mother he’d become a lawyer one day. But he could not make himself give up his passion for acting. What are you doing? Play your heart out! The way I want it to be, will you? Geon was once his mother’s pride and joy. And he waited for the day for her to feel he was still her pride and joy. Ms. Choi goes to look for Geon. Mom. Mom, where were you sitting? – Way up front. / – Where? Front row, to the right. Did you enjoy the show? It was a lot of fun. Look how sweaty I am. I’m drenched in sweat. You poor thing. I’m going to go and change. – Are you ready to leave? / – Yeah. Mom, wait for me here for a second. Or sit over here. Her son worked so hard he was drenched in sweat. There are so many things running through her mind. (Choi Mija, 65 / Mother) I shouldn’t nag him. I should treat him well. Why do you say that? He works so hard. The mother and son have grown closer over this event. (Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul) A few days later. The kitchen smells of oil. Are they preparing for a party? Ms. Choi couldn’t be busier. What are you doing so early? I’m making food for Nilu’s birthday. It’s her first birthday with us, but I didn’t prepare much. Geon and Nilu’s birthday are a week apart. She put more effort into hers than Geon’s. Imagine how lonely Nilu must be. She probably misses her mom. How pretty! I bought you a cake. Wow. Today’s birthday girl. It’s Nilu’s 21st birthday. Her family was up busily preparing her birthday so she didn’t have time to feel homesick. Mom, I’ll make the fried cakes. There’s not much to it, really. It’s like frying up an egg. His fried pumpkin cakes are too eggy, but to Nilu, he’s the best chef in the world. Is it hot? Is it seasoned enough? Geon and Ms. Choi finish making the meal. Mom, sit down now. Now, it’s starting to feel like a real birthday. ‘Happy birthday to you!’ ‘Happy birthday, dear Nilu!’ ‘Happy birthday to you!’ – Pungsan. / – He wants to… wish you a happy birthday, too. Nilu, this is for you. Presents aren’t complete without a gift. Wow! I love it. It’s so cute. Thank you. It’s cute. Mom. Let’s eat. Thanks for making all this. It was nothing. Hope you kids enjoy it. Nilu’s as giddy as a schoolgirl. I wish you two happiness. She said to lead a happy married life together. Thank you. A breakfast feast with words of good fortune. Then, it’s the weekend. The family is going on a vacation for 2 days. Geon’s younger brother joins them, as well as Pungsan. (Choi Mija, 65 / Mother) It’s been so long… Actually, it’s the first time we’re going on a road trip like this. I feel like it’s an expedition. This is far from an expedition. We’ll go more often. Nilu, now that you’ve had your wedding, – let’s all go on trips together. / – Okay. She’s 14 years younger than Geon’s brother. (Hwang Daeho, 35 / Geon’s brother) At first, it was strange because of the age difference, but now, I’m comfortable with her being my sister-in-law. They reach their destination, a campsite. They chose to come here, so they could bring Pungsan with them. Hold that part up. They have to pitch the tent first, but… Hold up. They don’t seem to know what they’re doing. It’s taking them so long to put the tent up. They make no progress. Ms. Choi starts getting frustrated and Nilu, seems to be, too. What’s wrong? They’re building it too slowly. Too slowly? You suck at this. What’d you say? Nilu thinks she’ll be better off going for a walk. After much effort, the brothers finally got the tent up. (Hwang Geon, 37) It wasn’t that hard. Making mistakes is what makes it fun. I’m really sweaty. Now that the work’s done, it’s play time. This is a pool for dogs. Pungsan. Wow! He seemed to be swimming, but he tries to hold on to the deck. Oh, Pungsan. He’s big but he’s actually only a year old. This is the first time he’s gone swimming. His heart’s beating so fast because this is his first time swimming. You seem to be enjoying it more. I’ve always wanted to bring Pungsan out to go swimming like this. But Geon seems to be the only one who’s excited. Pungsan! He’s anxious to escape. The scent of meat grilling makes everyone smile. They’re making green onion salad. Mom, I’ll do it. You just eat. I’ll do it. I’ll mix this. My sons say they’ll do everything. (Choi Mija, 65 / Mother) What a wonderful day. It may be the happiest day of my life. To add icing on the cake, Nilu pours her a drink. Drinks are a must for occasions such as this. To your health. To your health, mom. – Cheers. / – Cheers. I hope for eternal glory for our family and Nilu. And to our happiness. Cheers. I hope you have a happy married life. I made this for you. – I’ll eat it myself. / – Alright. This memorable day will forever be engrained within them, replacing memories of hardship. The napa cabbage is pickled enough. Today, Ms. Choi’s making kimchi with Nilu. At some chili pepper flakes. Nilu, are you remembering all this? Yes. (Nilufar Mukhiddinova, 21) She seems to be saying this is a piece of cake. Sand eel extract. Fish extract. Nilu’s least favorite, seafood, has been added. It is famous for its bad smell. Oh, really? They look like anchovies. It’s a small fish in the sea. What? She can just wear a hat. Do you have one? It’ll be too hot for her. Oh, my god. Now, you really look like a real homemaker. Now, she’s ready to play homemaker. Nilu, you take this side and I’ll take this side. I’ll teach you what to do. You take one cabbage leaf like so and put in the chili mixture. – You put a lot in there. / – Okay. Geon goes wherever Nilu goes. He suddenly helps make the kimchi. This kimchi will be the fruit of the whole family’s labor. She’s even good at making kimchi. You’re better than me at it. How is it? It took no time doing it together. The first batch of kimchi for Nilu. She calls her mom to share this monumental occasion. It’s mother. Mother, we made kimchi today. – With our mother. / – You did? – It was yummy. / – You helped, too, Nilu? Yes, Nilu helped, too. I’m sending the pictures of making kimchi to her via your social network messenger. Geon took pictures for his mother-in-law. (Hwang Geon, 37) I’m sure mother wants to know how Nilu is doing in Korea. Before, I used to message her quite often in Russian, but lately, I’ve been too busy to. With modern technology, face-to-face chat is available, but would it actually fill their longing completely? (Choi Mija, 65 / Mother) I’ve been there before. So I know it better than anyone. I left my hometown to move to Seoul when I was 19. Every night, I felt homesick and missed my mother so dearly. I cried a lot in those days. I cried every time it got dark. It’s probably even tougher for Nilu, as this is a foreign country. Nilu… Mother. Ms. Choi came in the room to join in. – Hello. / – How are you? Fine, thank you. I’m sorry I couldn’t attend the wedding. She’s sorry about not attending the wedding. She’s happy to see your mother. My mother-in-law’s happy to see you, mom. Be well till we meet again in Seoul. She said to be well till you meet again in Seoul. Whoa, Nilu’s interpreting now? Nilu’s interpreting Korean. The boisterous call is now over and Nilu seems a bit down. Do you miss your mom? Yes, I miss her. What can I do, though? I’ll go back and see mom in the winter. She’s going to Tashkent over her winter break. She’s already got herself a ticket. She’ll be going back home for a visit and if things aren’t busy, I’ll go with her. Love that knows no bounds. She left her family to be with the one she loves. What kind of future does she dream of now? I just want to do like everyone. I don’t want to be special. Just like… (Nilufar Mukhiddinova, 21) Just like everyone. Go to the university, maybe do my master’s degree. And then, I don’t know. Just work somewhere. And maybe have a baby. Nilu and Geon go out to a park nearby. They frequent this park on their dates. This is a spot Nilu especially loves. (Hwang Geon, 37) I feel like the happiest man on earth when I see Nilu and Pungsan playing. Look at them. What a sight to behold. It is for me, anyway. He wants to keep Nilu happy, always. That’s why he’s even changed his ways. After Nilu’s entered my life, I’ve stopped wasting time, like before. And the extra time has given me time to focus on where my life should be headed. Still, I do feel the pressure of being a good son and a good husband. That does weigh heavily on my mind, but those are roles I’ve chosen to take on. And rather than seeing that as work, it’s making me become a better man. She makes me want to be a better man. Nilu makes him want to be a better man. What more could anyone ask for? Nilu is Geon’s destiny.

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