[Review] An Ethics Lesson/Ethics of Anger – 분노의 윤리학


When a beautiful young woman is murdered, the men in her life become aware of each other’s existence.  A wire-tapping neighbor, a loan shark, her righteous ex-boyfriend and her married lover reveal their true natures but in doing so, they are all dragged into a debate about morality.

Clearly I have no qualms about doing a double feature when it comes to Lee Je Hoon.  But this was one of those many projects that Lee Je Hoon worked on before heading to the army.

I have been trying to think about who the protagonists are in the movie.  The movie is written in such an interesting way that all four men are both equally the protagonists and each other’s antagonists.  Kim Jung Hoon (Lee Je Hoon) may have secretly spied on her through his wiretaps but he didn’t commit the act of murder.  Instead he secretly watched on as the murder is happening and he does nothing about it.  Oh and did I mention he’s a policeman?

The girl’s married professor, Kim Soo Taek (Kwak Do Won), is accused of her murder but his main concern is that his wife (Moon So Ri) doesn’t find out about the affair because of her family money. Park Myung Rok (Jo Jin Woong) just wants the money he’s owed but he had no reservations about pimping her out to prospective “clients”.  After her death, he is only concerned about getting the money she was secretly hoarding.  Finally, her ex Han Hyun Soo (Kim Tae Hoon) admits that they were to be married except his parents refused to give their blessing.  He claims that he’s still in love with her and that she crushed his heart.  He just wanted to teach her a “lesson”.

While they are all aware that their actions aren’t on the moral side of being on the up and up, it’s amazing how they all don’t want to take at least some responsibility for her death.  Perhaps there is no protagonist in this story or maybe we, the viewers, are the protagonist.  We want the murderer to get caught.  We want the cheating professor’s wife to know he’s been stepping out on her.  We want wiretapper to become exposed.  And we want the loan shark to be punished for pimping her out.  However, it’s all about when and how that happens.

We don’t want Jung Hoon to get caught (and killed) by Myung Rok too soon since he’s got the video and audio evidence of the murder.  We don’t want Soo Taek going to jail for a murder he didn’t commit.  And yet, we want Myung Rok to go around terrorizing the men in order for the truth to be revealed.  It’s a fine line but the men’s punishments have got to fit the crime and how that plot unfolds is a very delicate process.

Helmed by Director/Writer Park Myung Rang in his debut film, he provides a steady sequence of plot progressions which stimulates commentary on the subject of morality without letting those discussions weigh down the story where it’s not thrilling.  It’s a very dark movie with great twists that also provides an intellectual conversation.  So who gets the last laugh?  You don’t really get the answer to that question until very late in the movie but the reveal is worth the wait.



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