The Belfry Waiting for a New Dawn Adapted from the story ‘Bell Maker’
by Gang Ro-hyang published in ‘Baekmin’ Director of photography : Yu Jang-san Music : Kim Dae-hyeon Editing : Kim Hee-su Moon Jeong-sook
Heo Jang-gang Jang Min-ho
Maeng Man-sik Production : Cheong nam Director : Yang Ju-nam In the bell-making yard of Goryeong Temple, the kiln has not seen fire
for a long time. But there lives an old,
bedridden bell maker by the name of Seokseung. People call me Yeong-sil. I don’t know who gave
me this name. I’m at the belfry of Goryeong
Temple again. My scarred and lonely soul feels
at peace standing here at the belfry. I want to ask about my father
who I have never met. Some people say that he
was a bell maker here. I love the sound of this bell more than anything. I happen to be staying
in the next room to Seokseung, the bell maker. And he told me about the sad
but enchanting story of how he came to make this bell. Someone must be offering
a prayer. Listen… What a beautiful sound! Whenever I hear it, it soothes
my heart. So invigorating! It’s like a big rock is being split
and clear water is gushing out of it. Sir! They say that a long time ago,
there was a temple bell that could speak. Well… There is such a legend. Let me tell you, sir. I think that bell you made
can speak too. That bell speaks? Hmm… What does it say? To me it’s like the bell is saying,
vanquish over fate, vanquish over fate. Vanquish over your fate. It must have been hard
work making that bell. It was more than that.
I gave my soul to make that bell. I would like to hear about it. The story of how you made that bell. Before I tell you that story,
I should tell you about how I came to be a bell maker. It was a long time ago.
I was 22 years old. I worked as a servant
at some man’s house. I was in love with a girl who was
working as a kitchen maid in the same village. Her name was Ok-bun and
she must’ve been about 19. It’s hot, huh? Have you been waiting long? A little. It was time for you to
fetch the water so I waited for you. I had to wash the rice for
the ancestral rites tomorrow. I left the buckets at the well and
got here as fast as I could. Thanks. I wish we could be together
without having to hide. It bothers me that we have to
run around looking for shady spots. Well, that wouldn’t be a problem
if we got married. You can stop being a servant then. I hope that time comes soon. Of course it will! We’ll enjoy
the sun out in the open then. No more shady spots! Yes, and all this land will be ours! And I will wear gold and
jade pins in my hair! Don’t you just love the
sound of that bell? Well… Do you really like it that much? I really do.
I love the sound of all bells. I should become a bell maker then. Actually my grandfather was
a famous bell maker. All the bell makers knew about him.
Gyeong-san, the bell maker. His name was Gyeong-san? Yes. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but they say he killed himself
while he was making a bell at Hongryeon Temple
about 25 miles from here. He is supposed to be buried on
the hill behind the temple with a bell. But I have never been to the grave. That’s it! I should be a bell maker. The best bell maker in the world. Yes. I’ll let you hear the sound
of the best bell in the world. The faraway heavens… I want to hear the sound
of heavenly bells. You will! I will make
such a bell for you. Oh! Let’s meet again tomorrow at the
same time by the Twin Rocks. I’ll bring some rice cake
from the ancestral rites. Great. H… Honey! I… I… I’m here. Ah! I didn’t know what to do.
It happened so suddenly. I found out later that it was what the new doctors
call acute appendicitis. She only wished the best for me. She was the only good thing
in my lonely life. That’s so sad. So she died? Yes, I was with her
when she passed away. A month later, I became
an old bell maker’s apprentice so that I can keep
my promise to Ok-bun. I wanted to make that special bell…
A heavenly bell… He was a widower and we went
everywhere to make bells. Like a couple of rolling stones. Hey! You must work the bellows
so that the fire spreads evenly. Your hands are not steady enough. You’ll never become a great
bell maker like that! Yes. The bells all have souls
like just like we do. You have to pour your
soul into the bell despite the unbearable heat. Otherwise you’ll only
make lifeless bells. Yes. – Cheon is for Sky.
– Cheon is for Sky. – Ji is for Land.
– Ji is for Land. – Hyeon is for Black.
– Hyeon is for Black. – Hwang is for Yellow.
– Hwang is for Yellow. Now on your own. Um… Sky… Sky… Cheon! Cheon is for Sky! Yes. Cheon is for Sky. – Ji is for Land.
– Ji is for Land. – Hyeon is for Black.
– Hyeon is for Black. Ah… I feel like
some cool rice wine. – Just a cup…
– Rice wine, sir? Yes. I’ll go down to the wine
house and get some. Master! Master! What’s wrong?
I brought the rice wine. Argh. Master! Please hang on.
We’re almost at the doctor’s. Master! Master! The death of another
dear person in my lonely life. I had been with him for 10 years. After that, I went around
to all the famous temples to become the best
bell maker in the world. To keep the promise
I made to Ok-bun. Oh, no!
What am I going to do? Oh, my goodness. What am I going to do? My goodness. Oh! I believe this is yours. I don’t know how to thank you… I’ll get something from my house.
Please wait here. Well… Um… I don’t think those are dry yet. Please change into these clothes. It’s nothing much but I’ve prepared
some wine for you at my house. Please help yourself to the food. Thank you. I’m the only person
living in this house. So please feel free to… You live alone? Yes, my husband died
3 years ago. Shall I get some pears
from the garden? The moon is so bright. They look so much alike…
Her face. Please have some of this. Ah, you brought wedding food.
After you. No. You go ahead. That’s how we met. We were poor but happy
as a pair of lovebirds. I had been a bell maker for 20 years.
It was late spring. I took on the job of making
a bell for Hongryeon Temple. It was the same temple where my
grandfather supposedly killed himself while making a bell. How is it? Do you think
it’s going to be a good one? If you are going to make a bell, then make a great one like that bell. You may know this already,
but that bell was donated by Officer Lee’s grandfather who saw Buddha in his dream. He commissioned the work to two bell makers,
Wun-bo and Gyeong-san and had them compete
against each other. But unfortunately Gyeong-san’s
bell came out chipped. So Wun-bo’s bell was chosen.
That’s it over there. Is it true that the sound of the bell
makes floods and droughts go away, and even chase away epidemics and evil spirits? They say something like that
happened a long time ago. It could be true. I bet it could even put out fires,
cure madness, make cripples walk again
and all the rest. Why, of course! What happened to the bell
maker named Gyeong-san? Apparently he was quite a
famous and skilled bell maker. According to rumors, he got
so mad over what happened that he killed himself out of anger. They say people buried
the bell with his body. Some people felt sorry for him
and held memorial services every year in his honor. But there’s nobody around
to do that anymore. That’s so sad. Sir! Where is that grave now? I too am a bell maker. I want to pour a cup of wine
at the grave and comfort his spirit. It’s by the Spring Rock up that hill.
My pupil knows it. – He’ll show you the way.
– Yes. I’ll get my pupil. San-wang-dae-shin. San-wang-dae-shin.
San-wang-dae-shin. Dong-seo-nam-buk. San-wang-dae-shin.
Sang-bang-ha-bang. Dong-seo-nam-buk. San-wang-dae-shin.
San-wang-dae-shin. Follow my pupil. Grandfather! Buddha, I’m offering this for the bell.
I’m taking it with me. I’m taking the bell that
killed my grandfather. Catch the thief! Catch the thief! Catch the thief! A thief? Where?
Which way did he go? The bell maker stole the bell! The bell maker? Get him! Go and catch him! He ran away to the mountain! – Go after him!
– Yes! How can you let him get away?
Search the mountain! Now! What are we going to do?
Officer Lee will have a fit if he finds out. You fool! I can’t believe this! – The bell got stolen?
– Yes. Do you know how
valuable that bell is? What a fool! I don’t care if you have to
search the whole country! – Find him!
– Yes. Catch that thief! – You fool!
– Yes. This is unbelievable. We was going home to
run away with his wife. But we got him. You shameless thief! How dare you steal the bell
that we dedicated to Buddha? Beat him! Beat him hard! Where did you hide the bell? Where did you hide it? Come on! Out with it!
Beat him some more! Honey! It’s me! What’s going on? I’ll untie you. Let’s run away. Let’s go now. Thief, Thief! Thief, Thief! Thief, Thief! I buried the Hongryeon Temple
bell alongside my grandfather’s. In my heart, I felt like a hero. I felt like I had finally settled
the score for my grandfather. Honey, it’s all right now. Please lie down. I’m sorry to put you through this. All that beating! I was worried
that I might never see you again. No, a man’s life is much
stronger than that. Honey, our life will
get better than this. I’m so cold! I feel really cold. – I think I’m pregnant.
– What? Oh, honey… I’m so cold. Eventually I forgot about
the fear of being on the run. I felt like I was starting
a new life. There were times
when I had regrets about what I had done. But at the same time, I wanted to
make an extraordinary bell, one that cannot be
emulated by others. After all, so much had happened
because of those two bells. I got injured from the beating and my sweet wife, who deserved
better, became a fugitive. I mean, my grandfather’s suicide,
me becoming a thief, it all had to mean something. I wanted to dig up
my grandfather’s bell and the Hongryeon Temple bell. I would then melt the two bells and combine the
molten steel as one and finally make the
best bell in the world. Yes, yes. That day will come.
I will make sure that it does. My mind was made up
and my heart felt good. I wanted to shout and
roar to the heavens. It’s so cold. We didn’t even have a roof
over our heads. But we had each other and
we kept on walking forward. Six months later, we found
an old shack in a valley of Mt. Jiri, and made it our home. Hey, Seok-seung!
Your wife has given birth. She gave birth to a baby girl! What? My wife gave birth? You had to walk 30 miles.
Thanks. It’s nothing. Why don’t you go and wash
your feet in the stream? All right. I’m a father now. A father… Here. Tastes great!
Let’s have another one. Hey, Miss. Have you ever had a baby? How embarrassing! Why, you… Embarrassing! – Hurry up!
– Yes. Come on! Honey! Honey! But I found out there
had been complications. Two days before I got there,
she passed away under the care of some
Christian neighbors. Although I was a bell maker
for Buddhist temples, I couldn’t refuse the kindness
of the Christians and their offer to hold a
Christian funeral for my wife. Was it because I was poor?
Or maybe my Buddhist faith was shallow. Maybe it was a longing for
some kindness and warmth. What happened to your
daughter after that? I left her with some relatives
who lived near the Seomjin River. I had to travel around to make bells. Three years later, I went to see
her but the village was in ruins. A huge flood had swept the village
away the summer before. I couldn’t find my daughter
or the relatives. I don’t even know
if she’s alive to this day. She was just a baby. You wouldn’t
even know what she looked like. No. But a child always looks
like its father or its mother. If she was alive,
she’d be about 21 or 22. 22 years old? Don’t you miss her? Of course I do. But I doubt she is… Sir! Tell me more.
I want to hear everything. After my wife’s death,
the only thing I cared about was making bells. Now it wasn’t just
about making a great bell. But I started thinking
about how I would do it. I wanted to do something
extraordinary and creative. It was like I had reached
a new level of bell making. I had been looking for
the right time to dig up my grandfather’s bell
and the Hongryeon Temple bell. 10 years had passed since
I had stolen that bell and buried it. My plan was to melt
the two bells together and make a new one out of them. I dug them up carefully
so nobody could see me doing it. I brought them up here to
make one for this temple. Then one morning, I was finally
ready to make the bell that I had always dreamed of. A bell with a sound as bright
and powerful as the sun, free, peaceful and clear as the water. A sacred bell that
can touch and soothe the hearts of people when it tolls. That’s what I wanted to make. The bell of my dreams. Only if Ok-bun and my beloved
wife could hear its sound. I’m a bit tired. Miss, do you mind if I lie down? It’s been like this for a while, but my heart condition is
worsening these days. I’ve been boring you with my story. Not at all. I’ve never owned much in my life.
I have nothing to hold on to. But I have that bell. I hear it every morning and evening.
What more could I ask for! It’s the only place where my
weary soul can find rest. So about a month ago,
I decided to spend the remaining days of my life here at this temple. And here we are, staying in the same
temple at the same time. This must mean something. People say that all sorts of
amazing things happen when the bell tolls. The deaf
can hear, the mute can talk… And oh, husband and
wife stop quarreling! Is it all true? That’s what people are saying. Sir, let me massage
your legs for you. My life has been
as lonely as yours. Perhaps lonely is not the
right word. A damaged life? A life filled with scars
and dark shadows? I’m an orphan. I have no idea how
I came into this world. But someone did tell me once that my father was
a bell maker like you. My childhood was a rough one. I envied people who were happy. I was always hungry
but the only thing that I could have to my fill,
was the water from the stream. Seoul! I moved to the city
with big dreams. But my life didn’t
change much. I was roaming the
streets of Seoul like a beggar. Then one day, an agent
approached me with work. But I was tricked and sold to
a mine about 30 miles from Seoul. It was late winter and very cold. Oh, my legs! Look! That mountain over there
is where we are going. We have to get there before sunset. Let’s go! Come on, let’s go! When we get there, there
will be food and money. Let’s get going! I had to spend my nights
in the arms of the miners. Three years went by. I fell in love with a young man
who had been drafted as a laborer. If we wanted to see each other,
it would have to be in secret. It was the only joy in my dreary life. We cursed the mountains
that held us prisoners and dreamed of running
away together. – Gyeong-jun!
– Yes. Since I’ve met you,
living here in the mountains is becoming more and
more unbearable. Yeong-sil, we have to
hold on for just a little longer. Like the winter flower
that blooms in the snow, we must endure all the difficulties for better times ahead. If we had wings, we could
fly out of here right now and be free. My cough’s getting worse. I hope my chest is all right. When do you think
you’ll be released? I don’t know.
They just keep extending my time. Oh! I heard something bad yesterday.
Some people were saying they are going to sell you
off as a comfort woman – to the Japanese soldiers in China.
– What? To China? What will I do there? It’s going to be a lot worse
than it is here. You’ll be servicing Japanese
soldiers instead of miners. What? Are you sure? Well… That’s the story going
around among the miners. One thing’s for sure, that
place will be worse than hell. The war is getting bigger
and the way things are going, Japan will soon be at
war with even the USA. – Gyeong-jun, let’s run away!
– Huh? Here our lives have no tomorrow. Let’s go out and look for
a new life together. Fine! Things couldn’t get
much worse than it is here. Let’s run away even
if it means death! But there is less chance
of being seen on your own… Yeong-sil! Make a run for it while the
miners are having dinner tomorrow. The pimp has gone to Seoul
so the timing’s good. And here! I have been saving my wages. If you are frugal, you could
live on it for a year. 9:00, the night after tomorrow,
I’ll meet you at Pagoda Park. 9:00, the night after tomorrow,
Pagoda Park? – Yes.
– Be there no matter what! Yeong-sil. I have to go back now. Follow the trail over the hill
for two and a half miles. It will take you to the main
road which leads to Seoul. Take the bus from there. – Yes.
– Now go. 9:00, tomorrow night! I don’t ever have to see
these mountains again. Oh, no! Where do you think you
are going, you tramp? Look at you! – Did you talk her into this?
– What? Yeong-sil, run!
Run away! Go, Yeong-sil! Otherwise
we’ll both be in trouble! Don’t worry about me!
I can handle him! Go! Go! Now! It’s 9:00. Yeong-sil… Yeong-sil… Gyeong-jun? I went to Pagoda Park the next
day and every day after that. But Gyeong-jun never came. I even went again a few days ago.
I couldn’t forget about him. I tried to find out what
had happened to him. Some say that he just
vanished and others say that he was arrested by
the police. Who knows? Oh, and the pimp
disappeared too. It’s hard to know
what really happened. It’s already been six months
since I last saw him. Three years working as
a prostitute has worn me down. I’m staying at this temple
to get myself together again. But sir, I can’t get over him. Also, I always feel like
someone is coming after me. Maybe it’s because I’m a fugitive
but I really miss my parents. My father who was a
bell maker just like you! When I hear the temple bell ring,
it’s like my father is talking to me. But I’ve never heard
my father’s voice. Maybe you are my father… Didn’t you say your daughter
would be 21 or 22 if she was alive? The same age as me. How old are you? I’m 22 years old. 22 years old? Where were you born? I don’t know. Why are you taking
the balustrade? The government is
collecting all the metal they can get their hands on. I wonder if they’ll
take that bell too. How come you are out here, sir? I got an order for a bell. I didn’t think I’d get the
chance to make another bell. But now that I can,
I want to make a really good one. I see. But you should take it slowly. I hope you make another
wonderful bell. Sir! I’m going to read
my future from the bell. If the bell turns out well, my future
will be happy. If not, it’ll be doomed. Don’t worry!
I’ll give it my everything. It looks like rain. Sir! I’ve got bad news! – This is it! No more bells!
– Huh? The government issued
a noise control policy. From tomorrow we can’t
even ring the temple bell! They also said they are
taking this bell in 5 days. It’s that metal collection
thing by the government. What’s wrong? Sir! There’s nothing I can do. Maybe my life was always
meant to be unfortunate. What if that bell maker
really is my father? My bell… I will never be able
to hear it again. My bell… I can’t believe my bell will
become bullets and bombs! Maybe I should become a Buddhist. Oh, the poor man! Yeong-sil! Sir, don’t be so disheartened. – Where are you going?
– Oh, to see the bell. They are going to
take it away today. I want to see it one last time. I wish I could just take
this bell and run away with it. Sir! Please say something! Miss.. Please be strong… You look so much like her. Like who, sir? Like who? Sir… Sir… I’m at the belfry again. The bell and the bell
maker are no longer here. But I stand here at the belfry. I have nobody and
nothing in my life. It’s a resting place
for my lonely soul. It keeps me away
from the callous world. Here at the belfry,
I wait for the dawn of a new life. The dawn of a life
different from today. I will keep waiting. The end. Korean Film Archive presents
Korean captions and English subtitles are sponsored by Google
Translations and subtitles by Free Film Communications