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Rodion Horns
Rodion Horns

A Bittersweet Life

A cinematic jewel from start to finish, A Bittersweet Life is a fascinating portrait of the lifestyle & ethical codes of Korean mobs and tells the story of a high-ranked mobster named Kim Sun-woo who has been extremely faithful to his boss, Kang, since the beginning. But when Kang asks him to keep an eye on his young mistress while he is out of town on a business trip and eliminate her if she is found dating someone else, Sun-woo ends up finding himself in an unwanted situation and makes a moral choice that turns his life upside down, thus setting in motion a chain of events that culminates with an unforgettable finale.

A Bittersweet Life

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Nowadays, the lifers are much harder to come by. Costa Rica has more than 900 birds on the country list but the small size of the territory and easy access to good habitat eventually results in sightings of most resident species. You still have to put in the time and effort, and some residents are quite rare, but most that lack a check on my country list already made it onto my world list in other places. A few tough ones, like Tawny-faced Quail, White-tailed Nightjar, and Rufous Nightjar have still eluded me, and most of the other potential lifers come in the form of birds that ride the sea winds far from shore. Two weeks ago, one of those oceanic birds became my latest and second lifer of the year.

In a conversation with Life Kit, Cain argues that those of us who love sad music have what she calls the "bittersweet condition." It's a state she describes as the recognition of life's impermanence, a kind of acknowledgement that everyone and everything we hold dear will not be here forever. And with that melancholic recognition comes greater, not less, contentment, says Cain. So, embracing your melancholy could make you happier in the long run.

If you scored between 0 and 3.8, you tend toward the cheerfully optimistic. If you scored between 3.9 and 5.7, you experience both states of optimism and bittersweetness to moderate degrees. If you scored between 5.8 and 10, you're a "true connoisseur of bittersweetness," writes Cain. (I scored an 8.8. No wonder my mom is always reminding me to 'think positive!')

In Buddhism, for example, there is a mindfulness practice called Maranasati, where meditators contemplate their mortality, going so far as imagining their bodies breaking down and decaying. Practitioners say the benefits include less anxiety about our inevitable demise and a much deeper appreciation for life.

He plays it for pathos in his follow-up, The Foul King (2000), in which sad sack bank employee Dae-Ho (Song Kang-ho) turns to pro wrestling to restore his dignity. An enormous hit in Korea with over 2 million ticket sales, it tapped into the angst of white collar salary slaves, where even karaoke becomes a matter of routine business. Song Kang-ho again plays a deadbeat energized by violence, although this time the blows are choreographed, and he is a rumpled white collar rather than a live wire blue. While The Quiet Family is cartoonishly decimated by their violent actions, The Foul King is awakened by his pro wrestling performance, as if it were a male ritual needed to survive office life. Kim takes the inspirational sports movie and pushes it into Fight Club territory, with Dae-Ho feeling most alive only when going off script and bludgeoning his opponent. The cure, as in The Quiet Family, seems worse than the disease.

After a decade of being a rewriter, I became a feature writer at Outlook, the lifestyle section that was later renamed Life. I was very happy writing about art and culture as well as charitable activities and those with kind and brave hearts as presented in the section We Care.

Unfortunately, everything has its end. I made one of the most difficult decisions in my life -- to quit my beloved job after a few sleepless months of worries and fears about the destiny of the newspaper industry in the digital age. With deep regret, I have to leave for that very reason -- to keep all these precious memories amid increasing threats of capitalism and media freedom restrictions.

It's a bittersweet life experience for him. He had to face homesickness, difficult work and living conditions and other concerns. His back was peeling due to sunburn and foot was scratched by wild plants. 041b061a72


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