I’m probably going to be doing many of these scene analysis mini-essays for My Name is Kim Sam Soon. It’s just a fantastic series. And I’m too lazy (at least now) to screencap, so here’s a link to the first episode so that you can follow along. This first analysis is of the first scene, which lasts about four minutes.
Analysis of MNIKSS Episode 1 Scene 1
From the very beginning, the cinematography seeks unique shots. We watch a couple walk down the hallway in a hotel, and the camera pans over to reveal a woman following the couple a few steps behind. One can imagine that if the camera had started off showing the hallway with all three people walking there would be less of an intrigue factor.
There is no sign or subtitle that directly mentions the time period, but the soundtrack of a Christmas carol keys us in to the season.
After the couple walks into their hotel room, we get a better look at the following woman, who is dressed in what we assume is a disguise– sunglasses and a scarf wrapped around her hair and neck. It’s these meticulous details that really win over my heart, carefully employing the show-don’t-tell rule. We can infer that really, the woman is probably an amateur at spying, since her outfit only attracts more attention to herself. As she takes off her sunglasses, a clever metaphor for her removing the facade she’s been putting on so far, she mutters “Without hesitation… you cheat on me?”
This is the first line of dialogue. And already we don’t need context; we can already follow the story. As Sam Soon wields her “weapon” (an umbrella) in preparation of a fight, she rings the doorbell and her boyfriend opens the door. Overly dramatic music and the umbrella prop signal to viewers that this interrogation scene is actually quite hilarious. Their dialogue reveals how rocky their relationship was without actually directly spelling it out for us. Despite this overtone of almost pathetic hilarity, there’s also a hint of sadness behind Sam Soon’s anger that we can feel from looking at her eyes, which briefly fill with tears.
Room service arrives to the room, but Sam Soon is still standing outside the door – we realize that the earlier interrogation scene was all imagined in her head and did not actually occur. We didn’t get one of those typical eyes looking up towards the sky to cue us in that it was actually a daydream, or one of those thought bubbles either. Instead we got a brilliant transition that told us the story without outright doing so.