Russian Poetry, algebra and personal experience are just some of the sources of inspiration behind Korean director Gina Kim’s feature diptych Geu Jip Ap(Invisible Light) about how two women connected by one man.
Early on in Geu Jip Ap, one of the characters reads out the following line from Russian poetess Marina Tsvetayeva, “I didn’t want this, not this (but listen, quietly, to want is what bodies do and now we are ghosts only.)”
“That really sums up the whole theme,” says Kim. “It’s all about desire where there’s desire there’s also repression. When people stop desiring they stop being social beings.”
Consisting of two parts, the film revolves around Gah-in and Doo-hee--two women struggling to come to terms with themselves and the cards fate has dealt them.
Gah-in is a 26-year-old Korean student living in the United States. She is dealing with the emotional fall-out from an affair with a married man. In a bit to master her emotions she cuts off the phone and assiduously monitors her food intake.
On the other side of the globe, the married man’s wife Doo-hee is dealing with a crisis of her own. She too was having an affair and has fallen pregnant by the other man. She has returned home to Korea after eight years’ absence to figure whether to keep the child.
“I love maths,” says Kim. “The script is based on functions which revolve around the same axis but never intersect… In the story the characters never meet but revolve around one man. They are from the same origin but the way they intersect with people is different.” says Kim.
Geu Jip Ap is Kim’s first feature length film after a series of mainly autobiographical works exploring her own relationship with her body and her desires.
Her penultimate work Gina Kim’s Video Diary charts her coming to terms with her mother’s bulimia and own anorexia, moving symbolically into adulthood as she accepts both her mother’s miserable fate and her own conditions.
“Although it was a documentary in some ways I was still acting a Gina character,” says Kim. “I had to objectify myself in order to make the documentary. There is a consistent theme that I had to draw from the video diaries.”
It seems the director is now attempting to close the door on that chapter in her life. She is currently developing a provisionally entitled feature called Blissabout an American soldier stationed in Korea who falls for a neglected 13-year-old girl.
“This is a departure in many ways. Not least because it focuses on a central male character,” says Kim. “All of my work is a portrait of people desperate for intimacy but unable to get it."
—MG (August 2003)