My Two Cents: Gook & The Battleship Island

In the time after completing a course and preparing for work on the site and my Korean class I saw two films: Gook by Justin Chon and The Battleship Island (군함도) by Ryoo Seung Wan. I figured I’d give my two cents—with little scholarly influence. I’ll save that for my scholarly blog (coming soon!).

Gook (released August 18, 2017) depicts a typical day in the life of two Korean-American brothers who own a struggling women’s shoe store and entertain their 11-year-old Black family friend that is turned upside down by the 1992 LA riots after the Rodney King verdict. Although there is distance from the riots in South Central (where my family resided during the riots) and no mention of tension between Black and Korean Americans due to the death of Latasha Harlins by Du Soon Ja, it tells a beautiful (and hilarious, thanks to David So) story of the camaraderie and tensions between various ethnic groups that juxtaposes the usual LA riots narrative that only deals with Black citizens and White cops. It also adds a perspective that is commonly left out: the Asian American one. What captured my heart the most was the teaching of the real meaning of gook (국), country, and how that related to the connection of two families seemingly distant from one another.

The Battleship Island (군함도, released August 4, 2017), tells the story of an attempted prison break from a forced coal-mining labor camp on Hashima Island during the Japanese occupation-era. Although the film is not all true (based on true accounts, though), it showcases the little known history of Hashima Island and the only recently discussed stories of comfort women in sexual slavery. The film forces all to look at the atrocities of many (not only those of Japanese descent) during this particular wartime, but also displays hope, camaraderie, and love in order to make it out.

What I love about both films

First off, I am a history buff. I enjoy learning and understanding how history influences the present. Another reason is influenced by two quotes:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana, philosopher and novelist

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Dr. Maya Angelou, writer and activist

Both films display why we continue to see war films—especially those set during World War II—films about slavery in the United States, and films that depict little known or publicized histories (sometimes as biopics). I believe that Gook and The Battleship Island are wonderful examples of why films like them should be made.

Secondly, I love how both films dealt with the themes of displacement and home. Gook does this through its depiction of family and legacy from both immigrant and native perspectives in a store that serves as home for both but is being threatened by chaos caused by the riots. There is no protection of these youths’ dreams and futures outside of the little they can salvage with the help of one parental figure (Mr. Kim) and Jesus because of no police protection. The Battleship Island does this through actual displacement (rather, isolation) and the will to go on and fight because of a desire to return home. This desire bands many would-be strangers together for that one common goal: home.

All that said, I definitely recommend both films as I was left speechless at the endings. See them in theatres while you still can!

Stay legit, y’all!

Album Spotlight: The Movement, Vol. 1

Ello peeps! I know it’s been a while, but I thought instead of waiting for the KeativeTherapy revamp to be completely done, I should just come and start posting again. I missed posting and getting feedback so, here I am! But this post is not dedicated to that. I wanted to share some new music with you all with an album spotlight!


Runtime: 12 songs, 46 minutes

Overall Rating: 4/5


Dropping from the label Good Fruit Co., The Movement, Vol. 1 is a blend of not only various artists, but various genres and sounds that will not leave you bored listening. Not only does it feature one of the 15 from Rapzilla’s 15 Freshman of 2015, but it also features an entire list of artist that will make you want to hear more.

From the time it began with “I Know” by Verseatile, I knew I was in for a story and not just a group of songs that may have had the same overall theme but really didn’t flow together. Every song takes you on a journey of hope, questioning, wondering, believing, but all the while, being honest with yourself. Each of them touches on a different aspect or feeling of those walking in the Christian faith and being real with their walk. It truly does show people moving from just the local church’s doors and into the world, experiencing and sharing life with others.

Soon from “I Know” as the introduction, you move into “Hi Time” by Dru Bex and then switch to “Into the Clouds” by Shopé, which pretty much sums up the direction of the album. As you listen, you experience the highs and lows of life as the songs transition to another, until you finish with “Say” by Promise ft. J. Han, realizing that it really doesn’t matter what they say, especially when it comes to your purpose in life.

Overall, the sound and the creativity are best. I love how consistent it is, where every song remained chill and car-ride (or public transportation-ride) worthy and I could listen and enjoy without being stopped by a sudden change in volume or hype level. It’s also an album that one can listen to Every song feels as if there was effort put into it and just as much put into the decision to feature on this album.

Though there were a few that I did not personally enjoy (because of my own emcee and hip-hop style preferences), this is still an album that can be played from beginning to end without skips. I, myself, have listened to the album on repeat over 10 times since purchase and still can’t get enough of it. All in all, people need to not sleep on this album or the other music that comes out of Good Fruit Co. Well done, my brothers. I am looking forward to the next one.

Have you experienced this album? What did you all think?

Recommended Tracks:

“The Battle” – Manifest ft. Lyricks: The honesty and the flow of the emcees are fire; I felt like I was listening to another “Forgive Me For Asking” by Propaganda. The track also features a guitar riff that makes you want to sway with it, while the rhythm makes you want to bob your head.

“Stay” – Sam Ock: I’m going to need him to stop playing with my vocal and musical heart. His voice is so smooth and the track had a certain emotion to it that connects with you upon first listen that won’t let you loose.

“Our Sound” – HeeSun Lee ft. Sam Ock: This song should be KeativeTherapy’s theme because it touches on the aim here when it comes to the discussion of race and ethnicity and coming together. I am also very tired of seeing my Asian brothers and sisters left out of the race discussion (or pushed out). I will raise my glass, Sam. We are the children of these times.

“Fragments” – NAK: My first exposure to NAK, but his sound…I’m so excited for more. And although the lyrics of this song seem to pull in all the listeners, it truly felt like a personal conversation that followers of Christ have and should have with themselves.

“Slow Down” – J. Han (click for MV): Seriously, since my slight obsession with Art of Starch, “Tired” and “Han Solo” from Tower Ivory, my ears were eager for another J. Han feature and they were happy with this. His emcee style and voice over the type of this track makes you want to put it on repeat. (I also kinda geeked when I realized that the MV was filmed in Seoul, Korea. But don’t mind me. –exits the building-)

Get your copy!




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This was not a sponsored review.