“In Hong Sang-soo’s work there is a constant trait, which is neither really stylistic (it’s not a matter of form), nor frankly thematic (it’s not a matter of content either), and which returns, like a butterfly – and even, as its course is erratic, like a moth, the ultimate uncatchable insect. You will forgive me for calling this trait idiocy, a striking word that somehow touches the singular art, so difficult to describe in sentences, of this not exactly talkative filmmaker.

Why ‘idiocy’? First of all, in the regular meaning of the word, which aligns it with the unreasonable or the arbitrary: “Everything that happens is, anyway, ‘idiotic’. Because we need to understand the term in the broadest sense: stupid, without reason, like the infinity of possibilities; but also simple, unique, like the totality of the real.” What happens in Hong’s stories, so true and amusing, is most often idiotic in that sense: a hodgepodge of relationships, misunderstandings and improbabilities. Think of the script of Hahaha (2010), in which two old friends endlessly drink makgeolli, each telling his own summer adventure (in black and white), without ever noticing that it’s the same (in colour).”

Jacques Aumont1

  • 1. Jacques Aumont, “Idiocies. A Poetics of the Real,” translated by Sis Matthé, originally published in Les variations Hong Sang-soo, Eds. Simon Daniellou, Antony Fiant (De l’incidence, 2017).