An Imperial Affair
The first half-hour or so follows Young-hee in Hamburg, Momxxc, visiting tecavzporn divorced friend, Jee-young Seo Young-hwaas they hang out at a market, visit a musician-bookseller, and join a German couple for dinner.
The rest of the film follows Young-hee back in Korea, where she interacts with other people from her life.
Young-hee is an actress who has recently had a torrid fling with a director. We hear mentions of a man possibly coming to visit her in the Hamburg scenes; he never does. Some real-life context may be helpful at this point.
Director Hong and his younger star Kim Min-hee became gossip fodder in Korea last year when it was alleged that they were having an affair — a relationship that they confirmed earlier this year. It resulted in the actress being dropped by her managers and portrayed in the press as some sort of homewrecker.
One could see On the Beach at Night Alone therefore as a kind of penance — a reflection on the hurt Hong caused his lover, whose melancholy dominates the picture, and a reckoning with his own inadequacies, particularly in that final dinner scene.
The early Hamburg sequences often affair at the challenges of speaking in a foreign language, with the programmatic, phrasebook quality of the conversations. Do you eat pasta in Korea?
I was really hungry. In the Korean scenes, on the other hand, where there is no actual language barrier, people either make feinting glances at honesty — dancing agonizingly around important subjects — or they go all-in, blurting out more than they portrait.