Winter is a series of frigid days. We are reluctant to take our hands out of our pockets. Frequent news about crimes makes us afraid of other people. On top of it, we hurry home since darkness falls earlier these days. We have many people to meet at the end of the year. In this busy society, there surely are people who are excluded from the society. According to a report in Kukminilbo on Nov. 16, 2012, there were 540,000 elderly people living alone in Korea in 2000, which is 16 percent of the total number of elderly people. However, in 2012, the number of elderly people living alone doubled to about 1,190,000. The percentage of them also increased to 20 percent. This means that one out of five elderly people lives alone. Furthermore, half of all elderly people are under the level of poverty. Experts predict that the problems related to elderly people in need will soon be among the country’s greatest and most complicated problem.
When I first heard about this social problem, I was indifferent to it because my grandmother and grandfather are very well. Also, the mass media gives prominent coverage to the cases of crimes, school violence and suicides rather than the cases of old people dying alone and found later. Therefore, I did not realize the seriousness of it. However, I came across one of these situations, albeit fictional, when I watched the movie titled “I Love You” where, uniquely, old people lead the story as main characters. I had heard the movie’s title several times, but I knew nothing about the story. Many of my friends did not watch this movie, even though they knew that the movie is popular and based on the cartoon published serially on Daum, a Korean portal. Therefore, I would like to introduce this movie to those who have not watched it. In case you have seen it, let us share our thoughts on it.
Synopsis of the Movie
There are two couples in this movie. One is Kim Man-seok and Song I-peon, the other is Jang Gun-bong and his wife whose name does not appear in the movie. Kim lost his wife and lives with his family while Song has lived alone since her husband left her. Kim, who delivers milk, often came across Song collecting wastepaper in the early morning. One day, Kim helped Song when she fell down. After this incident, they became closer. Kim collected empty milk cartons for Song, and made appointments through letters.
Eventually, they fell in love with each other. My favorite scene is when Kim gave a hair pin to Song for a birthday present and shyly confessed his love to her, saying “I love you.” Song was overwhelmed and thanked him while shedding tears. She looked pretty even with wrinkles on her face and gray hair. When it comes to the other couple, Jang was taking care of his wife because she had Alzheimer’s disease. Jang always locked the door when he left the house to go to work so that his wife could not go outside. One morning, Jang forgot to lock the door because he was in a hurry. His wife got out of the house. She wandered around the neighborhood with bare feet. When Jang noticed that she had gotten out, he searched for her running through the alleyways in cold weather. On finding her, he hugged her asking if she was okay and if she was cold. You can personally check the ending of the love story of these two couples.
Why Is This Story Popular?
You might wonder how this story became popular because it is about old people. It might be hard for us young people to sympathize with their emotions. Furthermore, when the story includes separation by death, some people think of it as an emotional tool to draw out tears. As I mentioned above, this movie is based on a webtoon. From April 8, 2007 to Sept. 10, Cartoonist Kangfull published it in a series. After this webtoon gained popularity, a movie with the same title was released on April 16, 2012. Since the movie was favorably reviewed, a drama with the same title was broadcast from April 16, 2012 to June 5. A play based on this story also exists. Why do you think this story is so popular? In my case, I liked the unique setting. It was unconventional.
The age of the main characters was a bit different from that in other romance stories. Thus, we got a chance to think about elderly people whom we hardly pay attention to. I also liked it because the story unfolds in the winter. When it snowed in the movie, ironically, I felt the warmth more deeply. Even though many old people are alienated from our society, they are usually the symbol of warmth and geniality. We usually feel sorry for them and miss them. I think these things make many people of all ages steadily love this story. Talking about awkward and serious problems in our society through beautiful but sorrowful love stories, Kangfull suggests that we pay more attention to elders, rather than forcing us to solve problems related to them without any specific solutions.
How About Your Grandparents?
This movie reminded me of my grandparents. Jang’s case was especially similar to my grandparents in that he had two sons and a daughter, all of whom rarely visited him. He and his wife had a lonely life but did not want to lay burdens on their children. When he made phone calls to their children, they got bothered. I also thought of old people living alone who are suffering from poverty, loneliness and death. Are your grandparents far from these situations?
Nine out of ten elders who live alone have three or four children on average. They are left without their children’s care. What makes this problem more serious is their poverty. Elders under the level of poverty in Korea are at 45 percent, which is over three times the average of OECD countries. Furthermore, the rate of people committing suicide in their late 70s is over double the average of the total rate of suicide. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of elderly people living alone is expected to reach 3,400,000 in 2035, three times bigger than that in 2012.
The solution to this is not that difficult. How about contacting the elderly people whom you recalled while watching this movie? Plus, now that the end of this year is fast approaching, I want you to look around people who you could not take care of during this year. You had better hurry because some of them might have limited time left. I believe that you and the people you love can experience a warm winter together with your courage.
Kim Hyeon-ji Reporter
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