"I always thought I knew what I wanted, but the harder I tried, the greater my misery and suffering."

Act III: Sarang (Love) - Synopsis

Tae abandons all that he owns and all that he is, symbolized by Tae shaving his head to cleanse and start new.  He leaves for Korea to fulfill his brother’s dying wish.  Tae travels deep into the countryside of South Korea in the heart of winter.  The entire countryside is covered with a blanket of pure white snow.  Tae only knows the name of Minji’s hometown and walks the unpaved country road (a symbol of “Tao” or “Do”) as he journeys into a new life path.

Tae finally finds Minji and her daughter, Minjung, living in a small traditional home.  Minji is taking care of her mother, as she is old and unable to tend for herself.  Tae, Minji, and Minjung are enjoying their time together, stress free, living peacefully for the very first time.  It is quite a contrast from the hectic, urban jungle, which they are accustomed to.  As, they cook, clean, ice skate, go fishing on ice, and perform many of their daily chores together, they all experience a slice of heaven on earth.  Many of the traditional Korean way of life is a bit awkward, but they adjust as they are eager to learn and something within them awakes.  It is like a dream come true for Tae and Minji, but Tae always knows where he stands.  Tae senses that Minji wants more from the relationship, but Tae knows that it can never be and constantly battles within himself.

Their life of peace is soon interrupted when almost 200 men show up in this small rural village.  They practically destroy the entire town, searching for Tae and Minji.  Finally, these men arrive at Minji’s home.  Only the Grandmother is there and the men interrogate her, ultimately ending her life.   However, she died with character, defending her honor much like Dennis Hopper in “True Romance.”

Tae, Minji, and Minjung return to find her dead with a note attached to her.  Tae goes to meet them.  Tae discovers that they are Japanese Yakuzas, who were sent to avenge the deaths of the Yakuza Boss and Satoji.  This time they duel with swords.  Tae is matched with their best swordsman.  However, Tae is undefeatable and defeats the Yakuza swordsman, killing him.  The head Yakuza explains that he would love to let Tae go, but he also has no options, as it is his orders to bring Tae’s head back to Japan.  With that, they engage in a ferocious battle of 200 men to one.  Tae retreats and runs back home, retrieving Minji and Minjung.  They escape into the woods in the bitter cold of the harsh Korean winter with the 200 men in hot pursuit. 

They take refuge in a small, worn down, rice hut.  They try to keep warm and rest for the evening.  Minji takes this opportunity to understand why Tae did not pursue her first.  Tae is without words, but Minji builds herself up to an emotional climax.  Tae unable to share with her his true feelings, leaves in search of some food and water.

Tae is frustrated, but he does not want to hurt her more.  He is walking through the woods, when he is surrounded by the Yakuza men.  Over a hundred of them attack with swords and sticks.  Tae fends them off as best he can, but they are too many.  Tae is being beaten, stabbed, and wounded.

Back at the hut, Minjung is to herself in the corner, playing with a small origami crane that she received from Tae while they were still in America.  Minjung starts to cry and Minji goes over to comfort her.  Minji sees that the origami is torn and tries to fix it.  She notices that there are some sort of writing on the inside of the paper and unfolds the origami crane.  It is a love letter from Tae to Minji, which was written many years ago before she married Ed-K.  Finally, understanding Tae’s true feelings for her, she rushes out in search of him.  Suddenly, Minji is surrounded by the Yakuza men and they rape and stab her.  Tae somehow escapes and finds the men attacking Minji.  All of the emotions that Tae had suppressed for so many years come to surface, transforming him into a demon.  Tae fights a bloody battle.

On the old country road, the same road in which Tae had entered the town, a man and a child walks together, leaving footprints on the snow.  It is Tae and Minjung.  Tae is covered in blood, limping with Minji’s dead body in his arms and Minjung is walking beside him, wiping her tears. 

The last scene fades into the Dojang (Korean martial art studio), with a Head Master on the platform in front of the workout floor and a little girl sits on her knees across from him.  They are fully robed in the traditional Hwa Rang Do uniform and they both make a formal bow to each other.  As they raise their heads, you can see that it is Tae and Minjung.  Tae is wearing his father’s medallion and Minjung smiles.

The End