Travelog : South Korea

(All photos and videos were taken using Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Nikon J1) (Kindly excuse my mediocre photo-taking and video-recording skills)

This year, I get to join our company incentive trip to South Korea, specifically Seoul and Nami Island. The trip spanned from the 6th to 11th of December. We flew by Cathay Pacific from Kuala Lumpur, meaning our flights transited at Hong Kong. We stayed at Ramada Encore Magok Hotel in Seoul.

7th December 2019, Nami Island-Namsan Tower-Korea House

We reached Incheon International Airport at 6.00am. After retrieving our luggages and preparing our winter clothings, our bus departed for Nami Island at around 8.00am. As usual, since we arrived very early in the morning, most of us were sound asleep in the bus and were occasionally woken up to the bus’s emergency brakes. I could not really sleep comfortably as the way the bus driver maneuvered the bus along the snowy (and presumably slippery) road seemed pretty worrisome to me. Anyways, our local tour guide, a woman named Yoona, assured us that the bus was equipped with special brake systems that caters for the road condition during winter.

Nami Island was unexpectedly snowing when we were there. We reached in the middle of quite a heavy snowfall, I’d say. And it was freezing, which caused most of us our runny noses. Despite the snow, we had fun taking pictures till we barely felt our hands. Fret not, for there were a number of ‘campfires’ (I’m not really sure what it’s called) around the walking areas of Nami, so that visitors could stop and warm themselves by the campfires whenever it gets too unbearably cold.

The most memorable moment was they were playing Disney’s Frozen soundtrack all the while we were there. A video on the snowfall with Frozen’s Let It Go on the background :

I did not really pose for photos with the Winter Sonata statue. It felt weird to do so when I was there without a partner. #lonerforlyfe

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The Winter Sonata statue (excuse my gloves lol)

After ‘showering’ under the snowfall for an hour or so, we had a delicious lunch at a Halal Dakgalbi restaurant.

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4-people sharing and we finished em all

 

We then resumed our journey to the next destination, the Namsan Tower in Seoul. It was not snowing but it was cold regardless. We also had to do a little ‘hike’ up the hill to reach the top. I never knew that walking up a steep hill in the cold could be that tiring.

We had insufficient time to tour all to the top of Namsan Tower so we just hung out around the Love Locks area. Thankfully, we get to watch a traditional music show before walking back down the hill.

A video on the traditional music performance :

For kimchi-making experience, we were brought to Korea House (Seaweed Museum). Each of us were given a plate of cabbage with some Kimchi sauce together with a pair of plastic gloves. Basically, it was an easy process of mixing everything two things together using the gloves. I can totally make Kimchi now. #confidence

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My kimchi looks messy

After Kimchi, there was a tasting session of some seaweed products. Most of us bought at least 2 packs of Seaweed.

Then we had a go at the traditional Korean dress, Hanbok. After choosing Hanbok that matched with our hijabs and everything, we had a photo-taking session at an outdoor area of the same building. #nofeel

Our dinner was a buffet in Hibiscus Asian restaurant. Most of the food were Middle-Eastern-like, which was just okay for me, not exactly to my liking.

8th December 2019, Everland-Gyeongbokgung-Dongdaemun

We were among the first visitors to enter Everland. It was super cold in the morning but soon enough the Sun started to reveal itself. We only had 4 hours to spend in Everland, so all of us had to decide and plan our time carefully. The first ever attraction we covered was the Safari World. Queuing up for that took like almost 45 minutes. The ride on the Safari bus itself was not even that long.

After the Safari World, we all went our separate ways. Some of us opted for the famous roller-coaster ride, T-Express. The queue for that was very long. Hence, I decided to skip that because I was not confident to ride such a thrilling ride in the cold (plus the wait). Instead, I went to the 4D theatre for a different experience.

A video of people shouting on the T-Express ride :

Besides 4D, one of my colleagues convinced me to join her for another roller-coaster ride, the shorter and less scary version, the Rolling X-Train. Honestly, it has been a long while since my last roller-coaster ride that I could barely open my eyes and my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. I remembered my colleague asking the person in charge at the X-Train station, ‘How’s the ride?’ and the guy responded with ‘It’s like flying away’ #LOL

Anyways, we only had like a couple of minutes left after that. So we tried the Hurricane ride. I enjoyed this as well, especially since the person in charge was super exciting with all her off-tune singing and loud cheering. Word of advice, you might not want to ride this with a full stomach.

We went for a stroll around Everland before boarding our bus to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Initially, most of us wanted to wear the Hanbok here. Unfortunately, we were only given like 1 hour to tour the whole place. And we were among the last visitors to exit the palace that the guards had to usher us all away.

A video of the announcement of Palace’s closing :

We went for a little souvenir shopping at Dongdaemun, the Good Morning City mall. Across this particular mall was the well-known architectural landmark, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Disappointingly, we did not get to visit DDP even though it was just right in front of our eyes due to time constraint.

I bought some Honey Butter and Hot & Spicy nuts for my parents. I also chose some fridge magnets, key-chains and bookmarks which in my opinion, could be bought at a cheaper price elsewhere. #ohwell

Our dinner was one of my favorite, Samgyetang or ginseng chicken soup.

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The best

9th December 2019, Ginseng Store-Art Korea-Running Man Experience Hall-Insadong-Hongdae

We started our day by visiting a Korean Ginseng Centre. Apparently, Korean Ginsengs are the best among all the other Ginseng in the world as they are of a balance ‘cold-hot proportions’. The ripest Ginseng to be consumed is those that are at least 6 years old. The cheapest ginseng product they sold was around 200++ USD which was on the costly side for my budget.

Next, we were brought to Art Korea. It is basically a store selling skincare and beauty products. We were introduced to a Korean skincare product called YihanCarino. In all honesty, I did some research on the Internet about this brand but found little to no information. It’s not exactly a well-known product especially to outsiders, unlike Innisfree, Klairs or Nature Republic. The price was on the high side. And since I did not find any testimony or reviews regarding this ‘high-end’ product, I ended up buying nothing.

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Art Korea

We had Mackerel stew for lunch. I enjoyed the radish most.

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Lunch

We had some fun at the Running Man Experience Hall. Basically, we were each given a tag and collected points with each completed games. The games were supposed to resemble those played in the Running Man show. I did not really completed all games (around 10 games) as some of them were too hard. So yeah, after completing as much as we can and upon exiting the game area, we were given a record of our collected points and a Running Man badge.

Since the Running Man Experience Hall was located near Insadong street, we walked for around 5 minutes to reach the street selling souvenirs and crafts. We were given around 45 minutes to shop. Hence, I ditched my colleagues and walked alone till the end of the street to find something worth buying for myself. Fortunately towards the end, I found a small roadside ‘stall’ selling cloth-covered notebooks with some really pretty designs. The stall owner told me that he designed and stitched the pages himself. So, I bought one for 10,000 Won. 

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Insadong street
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Manhole by MBC
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Another street view

After Insadong, we went to Hongdae shopping street. It’s a street with shops targeted at youths for the Hongik University was located nearby. There were numerous shops selling streetwear, skincare products, game centres, karaoke centres etc.

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View from the main road
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Hongdae street

For dinner, we had Bibimbap with seafood pancakes and octopus soup. I was worried about the Bibimbap since I’m not used to eating raw vegetables but the dish was surprisingly delicious. Basically, our Bibimbap was a mixture of rice with seaweed, bean sprouts and purple cabbages together with red pepper sauce.

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Before
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After

10th December 2019, Cheongha Plus Healthy Liver-Namsangol Hanok Village-The Shilla Duty Free-Myeongdong

We started our tour with Cheongha Plus Healthy Liver. It’s a store selling ‘health-supplement’ for the liver. So, there was an attendant explaining about the symptoms of a bad liver as well as the ingredients to detoxify the liver. They were promoting their product, saying that we can consume the tablets for 4 months and that’s it. There will be no need for further consumption. 2 tablets per day for 4 months and our liver will be healthy! Honestly, it all sounded a little too good to be true to me. #wow

Anyways, the 2 months consumption package costs like almost RM 2,000.00. So nope, did not buy any.

We were shown the Korean traditional houses in Namsangol Hanok Village. There was not much to see here, just traditional Korean houses and their architecture. We could also see the Namsan Tower from here.

Our lunch was Bulgogi beef with rice. Annddddd I did not enjoy it as the Bulgogi was a little too sweet and soupy for my taste.

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Not to my fancy

 

We were brought for some duty-free shopping at The Shilla. It’s the place to go for high-end branded goods like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel and the likes. They also sell skincare and beauty products. However, you can get the same skincare with much cheaper price in Myeongdong. The only upside of the place for me (who did not really shop for branded goods) was a rooftop cafe with an outdoor seating area.

And we’re finally at the location we’ve all been waiting for : Myeongdong! Myeongdong is basically one of the many shopping streets in Seoul. We were all aiming for the skincare products, which were sold literally everywhere along the streets of Myeongdong. Innisfree, The Face Shop, Olive Young, Laneige, Nature Republic, you name it and they’re all here.

We had dinner at Todai Seafood restaurant, which is an ‘All You Can Eat’ seafood buffet. After dinner, we were supposed to head back to our hotel and called it a night. But some of us (including me) decided to stay and shop for more. So the tour bus left us in Myeondong and we were to find our way back to the hotel safely by ourselves.

I bought the Jeju Volcanic Pore Mask from Innisfree, 2 packs of sheet mask from Nature Republic (it was a ‘buy 1 free 1’ deal), a bottle of Son&Park Beauty Water, a piece of sheet mask from Mediheal and Dr.Jart each (for the sake of trying), Klairs mosturizer (for my big brother) and SomeByMi 30-days Trial Pack (for my little brother). My sister on the other hand, out of all the things that are famous in Korea, asked for some cute stickers and washi tapes so I bought a few for her too.

Finally, after getting all the things we needed, it was time to head back to the hotel. Due to exhaustion from the load of all the stuff we bought, I decided to share a taxi ride with 3 other colleagues, knowing that the cheapest option would be to ride the subway. We were charged with 32,000 Won for the trip with the metered taxi. #hargasebuahkemalasandankepenatan

11th December 2019, Incheon Chinese Fairy Tale Walking Trail-Super Market (cant remember it’s name)-Home

We went for a short photo-stop at the Chinese Fairy Tale walking trail. The area was full of wall-art for photo-taking purposes. It was quite a hilly area and we were there quite early in the morning so it was pretty quiet.

We were brought to a supermarket for last minute shopping. There were some Korean snacks, food & drinks, home appliances, skincare products as well as souvenirs. I bought a Maxim coffee box containing 100 sachets, sharing it with 4 other colleagues (because 100 seemed too much). We had 20 sachets each.

By noon, we reached Incheon International Airport for our flight back home. Our departure was at 3.00pm and our plane safely landed in Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00.30am on the 12th.

 

In conclusion, I figured that Seoul might be better and thoroughly experienced on my own, without tour packages from tour guides. This may depends on individual interest and preferences, however I personally feel that the shopping stops, especially those that costed way above my budget, were unnecessary and took too much time that could have been spent elsewhere. Considering that we were there in a group, it is understandable that everybody’s interest needed to be taken into account.

That being said, I’ve decided to travel to Seoul again in the future and visit Gangnam, Namdaemun, Itaewon and others. I’ve also yet to visit Jeju and Busan. So yeah, hoping for a more ‘Seoul-ful’ experience the next time around.

Here’s a short compilation video I made for this trip, edited on YouCut (thanks to my colleague for being the candid subject in this video) :

Come As You Are

If I were to write every word that could come true, I’d start with you.

You’d be 5 years or maybe 5 months older than me. Our first meeting would be in a bookstore somewhere in this World, where you’d buy me a book and a glass of milk tea while you sipped black coffee. We’d dedicate our Fridays watching a movie, and you’d listen to how I loved the ending or hate the lines that were annoyingly cheesy. You’d know a lot more about life than me yet you’d speak humbly. We’d have our own little adventures to strange places and we’d be happy.

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One of my favourite Indie films is Ruby Sparks. It tells the story of a writer called Calvin Weir-Fields who manifested a woman in his mind, a woman called Ruby Sparks. Each and every word he wrote about her turned into reality as one day out of nowhere, she appeared in his home claiming to be his girlfriend.

Whenever Ruby’s sad and depressed, Calvin would write, changing her mood into happiness. Whenever Ruby wanted freedom, Calvin would turn Ruby all clingy. Ruby ended up all confused and their relationship turned ugly.

Ruby Sparks showcases an ideal love in ones’ perspective. While Calvin enjoyed having the ‘power’ to change Ruby’s character according to his fancy, Ruby was his victim. She had no freedom to feel and to be. Thing is, we all want to change people to cater to our preferences which more often than not ended up ruining our relationship with them. People change when they want to, we certainly have no say in that.

The film also speaks about acceptance. That to love is to accept all flaws and imperfections. True love is loving despite each others’ differences. Ultimately, to love selflessly is to let others be happy being who they are, not who we dictate them to be.

If you’ve enjoyed watching 500 Days of Summer, I guess you’d find Ruby Sparks just as entertaining. Both of this film started off with a perfect love story between two souls but the ending will hit you straight in the face, proving that love is not necessarily a ‘happily ever after’ kind of affair. In reality, love can be one-sided, selfish, controlling and full of toxicity. It’s up to us how we want love to be.

So let’s re-phrase the first sentence and make it more realistic shall we?

If I could write every word that could come true, I’d start with you.

You’ll come as you are, wholly you. Everything else will work out like they’ll eventually do.

A Story Sadder Than Sadness

This post may contain spoilers.

I’ve just watched a Taiwanese film entitled ‘A Story Sadder Than Sadness’, also known as More Than Blue. Well, from the title itself, one can expect this to be a sad story. And by sad I mean, extremely heart-wrenching that you have to have tissues at ready, for your tears. I’m certain everyone who watches this will cry. If you dont, you probably have a heart of stone.

This film is a remake of the Korean film version. The story revolves around K and Cream who are orphans. They met in high school and started becoming best buddies. They even live together at K’s place till they’re both working adults who work at the same recording studio. K ended up having Leukemia with little time left to live. Concealing his disease from Cream, K finds a good guy for Cream to marry despite having feelings for her.

I don’t really watch romance. To me, they’re either too cheesy or too predictable and most of the time they’re disappointingly both. I like plots that contain surprises, which is why I prefer watching thrillers more than any other genre.

However, I have a soft spot for films included in the romance genre that :

  1. I can somehow relate to, and/or
  2. Moves me to tears.

Among my favorite romance films are Love Rosie, Our Times and You’re The Apple Of My Eye. I can relate to Love, Rosie for I’ve once fallen for my best friend. I cried for the other two films.

This sad story of K and Cream is definitely not a story I can relate to despite having a best friend who also happens to be a guy, whom I met in high school. For neither do my best friend suffering from a fatal disease nor me falling for a guy that is. But being a story that is sadder than sadness, I cried. And I cried hard.

I guess one of the reasons that make this story so heart-wrenching is due to the fact that both main characters, K and Cream have nobody but each other. Being orphans they dont have any family members so they’re basically each other’s parents, siblings, friends and lovers.

“K is like a mum at meal times, like a dad in the society, like a brother when I’m sad, sometimes like a lover, although he behaves like a fool at critical moments.” – Cream

Hence, K being killed off with Leukemia will deeply affect Cream, who in this case will be left all alone. Imagine being an orphan and when you finally met a companion who’s like a family member but he/she died too. Tragic. 

Anyways, I like this film for it showcases Love in all it’s strength and weaknesses. Viewers can attest to the essence of strength of being in love; the strength of letting go. This can be seen when K willingly gave Cream’s hand to another man, just to see her happy when he’s obviously suffering within. The selfishness of one who’s so deeply in love can be seen through Cream’s actions towards the man she marries. This is where weakness starts to reveal itself for Cream is not one to let go and it consumed her.

This film is definitely a tragic love story. It’s not a story you can relate to, but a story that will rip your heart out and make you sob like a baby regardless.

Is this film worth it?

Yes, for every teardrop and heartache I’ve felt for both K and Cream. And the soundtrack ‘A Kind Of Sorrow’ by A-Lin is amazing, you should go check it out.

The trailer to this film can be watched here.

 

Before I Go To Sleep

*This is not exactly a review. It’s more to sharing my thoughts after reading.

My first read for 2019 is a thriller novel.

Come to think of it, I haven’t read any thriller for quite some time. My read list last year did not really include any. Let’s just say that beginning 2019 with a thriller, a good one at that too, is so refreshing to my reading palate.

Before I begin, I bought the book for RM 6.00 during the Big Bad Wolf book sale last year. The movie adaptation is still in my hard disk, untouched and I didn’t know that it’s actually an adaptation from a book. So, when I saw the novel among probably a hundred of other novels in the Bargain section, I instinctively grabbed it. No regrets.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson tells the story of a woman suffering from memory loss due to head trauma, where she wakes up everyday with no recall of the past. Basically, her memory will only retain for a day and once she goes to sleep she’ll forget everything when she wakes up the next day. She wakes up with zero idea about her identity EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. With no recall of the past and of her own life history, she had to trust the people around her. Question is, can they be trusted? *cues suspenseful music*

Scary stuff.

I have mixed feelings about this whole story and the notion of memories.

The greatest heart disease is a strong memory. – Nizar Qabbani

Our brains and our hearts are somehow connected. Sometimes, the heart reigns supreme over the brain and vice versa. Those with strong memory may remember moments that has long passed. The beautiful memories are what we hold dear in our hearts; we let them flutter like colorful butterflies in a Summers day. As for the bad and ugly ones, the ones we try so hard to vanquish, more often than not occupy our hearts uninvited, like parasites feeding of the wound and filling in the cracks.

How do one let go of a dark past when it’s hardly forgotten? How hard it must be to heal a heart with a mind that remembers everything.

Reading Before I Go To Sleep awakened a new thought to me. It’s frightening to not remember. Because our memory is our identity. We are who we remember being. We exist because we have our memories regardless of our past. Without memories, who are we? Nobody. 

I mean, having a dark past is definitely not favorable but it’s better than not being able to remember the past at all. Our hearts suffer with bad memories but our whole being suffer without an identity.

Our memories made up who we are. We might wish to forget the bad memories and be left with great ones, but I believe that all the good, bad and ugly moments are the flavors of life and they make life worth living.

The Hunchback of Notre-dame.

Spoiler alert. 

The very first time I was introduced to this tale was when I was still a young and naive kid, through the 1996 animated film of the same title by Disney. And like every other Disney films, The Hunchback of Notre-dame was a great ‘musical’, with a happy ending. The good surpassed the evil, always, without fail.

Flash forward years later, reading the novel by Victor Hugo made me realize that the tale is not as ‘happy’ as the film had depicted it to be. In fact, it is actually a tale of tragic romance, way more twisted than a kid could ever fathom.

The original tale from the book got readers latched on the characters and the story revolving around them, each in a different way. Of course, with the nature of books being more detailed even to the most intricate descriptions, reading is definitely more satisfying than watching the film adaptation. And yes, it’s definitely a great decision of mine to pick up the novel and reading it until the very last page, foreword and all.

Basically the whole tale was set in 1482, in medieval Paris under the reign of King Louis XI. The Hunchback of Notre-dame refers to, none other than the wretched and deaf bell-ringer named Quasimodo. The tale revolves around all the unique characters, from Quasimodo, Claude Frollo, Esmeralda, Phoebus, Pierre Gringoire, Jehan de Moulin, Clopin Troulilefou to King Louis XI. The original story line differs with that shown in the animated film, in terms of the character of Claude Frollo, the untold history of both Quasimodo and Esmeralda, the romance between Esmeralda and Phoebus and the most disturbing distinction of it all, the ending.

The 1996 animated film by Disney was considered to be the most ‘matured’ of all Disney films that have ever been made, and in reference to the book, I could not agree more.

Let’s delve deeper to some of the most direct themes of this classic French tale.

  1. Love

Love is most definitely the biggest theme and message behind The Hunchback of Notre-dame. Through the film, we can clearly see a romantic relationship between Esmeralda and Phoebus, not to mention an unrequited love on Quasimodo’s part.

However, the original tale offers a more complicated love story than that. It’s basically a tale of unrequited love between all of the characters. To put it simply, Claude Frollo loved Esmeralda but she despised him for his lecherous deeds. Quasimodo loved Esmeralda but she’s only emphatically nice to him to get to Phoebus. Esmeralda loved Phoebus but Phoebus was this good-looking asshole who just wanted to have what our modern society would call ‘one night stands’ with girls. So basically, everybody in this tragic tale was in love with Esmeralda, but she only had her eyes on the most undeserving and the only man who did not love her, Phoebus.

This actually proves the saying ‘We love the people we cant have’ and ‘Love is blind’ to be somewhat true.

Besides that, the novel exposed if not much, an adequate amount of humane characteristics to that of Claude Frollo, something that we cannot visibly see as it was altered on screen, which is love. Claude Frollo was initially introduced as a passionately loving man, who brought up his little brother, Jehan Frollo de Moulin all by himself, as they were sadly orphaned at a very young age. When Quasimodo was left at the doorsteps of Notre-dame, Claude Frollo was the only person who was emphatic enough to volunteer to ‘adopt’ and look after the poor wretched baby while everybody else shunned him.

“He threw himself, therefore, into the love for his little Jehan with the passion of a character already profound, ardent, concentrated; that poor frail creature, pretty, fair- haired, rosy, and curly,–that orphan with another orphan for his only support, touched him to the bottom of his heart; and grave thinker as he was, he set to meditating upon Jehan with an infinite compassion. He kept watch and ward over him as over something very fragile, and very worthy of care. He was more than a brother to the child; he became a mother to him.”

Unfortunately, as warmth and innocently beautiful love is, it could get menacingly lustful and ugly just as fast and just as much. It burns to the center of your heart and your whole being, and you get to choose to let it be a bright flame of respect, affection and tenderness or let the dark flame of lust, jealousy and desire burn it all to ashes. As for the archdeacon of Notre-dame, the love he had for Esmeralda, a mad and forbidden love he could not contain within his heart was, I believe, the main reason why the whole tale becomes a tragic one. Claude Frollo was the root cause of it all.

Besides the brotherly love between Claude Frollo and Jehan, readers can also spot a motherly love between Paquette la Chantefleurie and Esmeralda. Apparently, Esmeralda was not of Gypsy origin but a French one. She was however, brought up by some unknown Gypsy women, who had ‘kidnapped’ her from her French mother, Paquette, when she was only a baby, leaving Paquette in a devastated and near mad state, which eventually leads her to be a Gudule and lives inside the ‘rat hole’ accompanied by a symbol of both her consolation and despair, the only half of a pair of shoe, while the other half stored in the hands of her lost daughter, Esmeralda.

“But when the child is lost, these thousand images of joy, of charms, of tenderness, which throng around the little shoe, become so many horrible things. The pretty broidered shoe is no longer anything but an instrument of torture which eternally crushes the heart of the mother. It is always the same fibre which vibrates, the tenderest and most sensitive; but instead of an angel caressing it, it is a demon who is wrenching at it.”

2. Architecture

Victor Hugo did a spectacular job in describing the heavily influenced Gothic architecture of medieval Paris. The novel contains a whole chapter with intricate and challenging descriptions of the architecture, from block to block, which we can somewhat view through the animated film.

However, besides the beautiful descriptions of the buildings, chapel, churches and all, readers are also offered a notion through the chapter ‘This Will Kill That’.

Our lady readers will pardon us if we pause for a moment to seek what could have been the thought concealed beneath those enigmatic words of the archdeacon: “This will kill that. The book will kill the edifice.”

In this particular chapter, Claude Frollo notioned the words ‘this will kill that’ by referring to a book and a church. Through this chapter, readers are exposed to two school of thoughts. The first one being pondered upon in a religious way while the second being much more artistic.

When pondered in a priestly thought, it can be easily put that while the archdeacon was motioning from the book towards the church, he was highlighting that the press will somehow kill the church. The printing press may bring upon the power of revolution and of science and alchemy, which during the middle ages, was considered a taboo towards the miracle work of God.

“The invention of printing is the greatest event in history. It is the mother of revolution. It is the mode of expression of humanity which is totally renewed; it is human thought stripping off one form and donning another; it is the complete and definitive change of skin of that symbolical serpent which since the days of Adam has represented intelligence.”

The second school of thought is very much artistic. In the Christian era, the architecture was a book itself, a book of stone. Before the press existed, buildings was considered to be the  work of art, a defining symbol of things, of religion and of history. Hence, the words ‘this will kill that’ can also be defined as ‘the printing press will kill architecture.’

In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air. In the days of architecture it made a mountain of itself, and took powerful possession of a century and a place. Now it converts itself into a flock of birds, scatters itself to the four winds, and occupies all points of air and space at once.

This chapter somehow proves the power of the printing press towards the late Middle Ages and is still applicable in the modern times as we watch written words reign supreme over everything else.

The book is seen as scattering birds while architecture, like a mountain. When the flood came, the mountain will be drowned as the birds will soar high and easily occupy the skies.

That is how powerful a book is.

3. Power.

Besides the power of love and books, the power of authority can be seen from the film as well as from the novel. Through the film, Claude Frollo was made to be the Minister of Justice in Paris, as opposed to being the archdeacon of Notre-dame in the novel. Despite being the Minister of Justice who should be withstanding justice, Claude Frollo was seen to be betraying his power to bring Esmeralda to the pillory to hang, while obliterating everyone in his way, including the innocents.

Another misuse of power of authority can be seen in the novel, through the character of King Louis XI. King Louis XI was portrayed to be an old and bitter monarch who desires gold and riches and spent them extravagantly for himself while ignoring the needs of others. He was also surrounded by ministers who are cunningly exploit his greediness for power and wealth.

“In truth! ‘Tis a paltry king in his ways with men of letters, and one who commits very barbarous cruelties. He is a sponge, to soak money raised from the people. His saving is like the spleen which swelleth with the leanness of all the other members. Hence complaints against the hardness of the times become murmurs against the prince. Under this gentle and pious sire, the gallows crack with the hung, the blocks rot with blood, the prisons burst like over full bellies. This king hath one hand which grasps, and one which hangs.”

From both the novel and the film, we are shown the power of sanctuaries. Basically, every city in France during the middle ages, up to the reign of Louis XII, had its place of asylum. These places can be in the form of palaces of kings, hotels of princes and churches. The criminals who seek refuge in these places are safe from punishments. However, once they step out of these sanctuaries, they will be immediately caught as the authority kept guard at the doors and watch intently for their preys to step out. Hence, as much as it is an asylum, sanctuaries were also considered a cage, a prison with no way out.

“His foot once within the asylum, the criminal was sacred; but he must beware of leaving it; one step outside the sanctuary, and he fell back into the flood. The wheel, the gibbet, the strappado, kept good guard around the place of refuge, and lay in watch incessantly for their prey, like sharks around a vessel. Hence, condemned men were to be seen whose hair had grown white in a cloister, on the steps of a palace, in the enclosure of an abbey, beneath the porch of a church; in this manner the asylum was a prison as much as any other.”

Notre-dame was one of the places of asylum, the place where Quasimodo brought Esmeralda to while yelling ‘Sanctuary!’, saving her from being hanged at the pillory.

4. Beauty.

Esmeralda was portrayed to be the beauty in this tale, whereas Quasimodo was the opposite. When Quasimodo decided to participate in the Feast of Fools, he was successfully crowned the Pope of Fools, fooling him into believing that the crowd actually liked him despite his ugliness and hunch-backed built.

“Or rather, his whole person was a grimace. A huge head, bristling with red hair; between his shoulders an enormous hump, a counterpart perceptible in front; a system of thighs and legs so strangely astray that they could touch each other only at the knees, and, viewed from the front, resembled the crescents of two scythes joined by the handles; large feet, monstrous hands; and, with all this deformity, an indescribable and redoubtable air of vigor, agility, and courage,–strange exception to the eternal rule which wills that force as well as beauty shall be the result of harmony. Such was the pope whom the fools had just chosen for themselves.”

However, being called a monster while watching things thrown at him by the same crowd who celebrated him betray his happiness and relief. Fortunately for him, Esmeralda came to his rescue by offering him some water and for that he fell in love with her and returned the favor when he saved her from the rope.

This tale highlights that beauty is nothing when you look at it appearance-wise. Beauty and ugliness radiates from within and the contains of one’s heart should be the basis of it all. Hence, being beautiful and good-looking does not render anyone a Saint, nor does being ugly render anyone a monster/Devil.

All in all, The Hunchback of Notre-dame spoke volumes about love and destiny, the power of written words and above all, the inevitability of fate. The tragic ending of the original tale may not be suitable to be adapted into an animated film by Disney but it was ‘real’ enough to be fathomed by grown-ups. In reality, honestly, life almost always never resembles a fairy-tale with a happy ending. Like The Hunchback of Notre-dame, life is somewhat similarly tragic and sad, where the powerful reigns supreme over the weak, beauty over ugliness, innocent love turns to jealousy and lust, unrequited love stories and yet somehow, fate surpasses them all and determines the ending.