Top 5 scenes from A Taxi Driver

MiJin Cho, Business Manager

Premiered on August 11th, A Taxi Driver is a South Korean film that focuses on the role of a widowed taxi driver, Kim Man-seob, in 1980’s Gwangju Uprising. The movie portrays the event in the eyes of a city driver, encountering the contradictions between media’s information and the reality he sees in Gwangju. The setting, the actors, and the unlikely hero bring the gruesome yet thrilling protests for democracy in Gwangju to light.

(Spoilers ahead)

#5: Encounter with Military at the Entrance to Gwangju

Man-seob enters the city of Gwangju as part of a deal to bring a German reporter, Peter, back and forth to the Seoul International Airport. While he expects a clear road straight to the city and back, he is surprised with the military men stationed at its entrance and exit. The astonishment of the unaware Mr. Kim in confronting the military sets the scene and action for the horror he will find in the streets of Gwangju.

#4: White Flag

The violence which the protesters and university students faced can not be better described or felt than the the scene in which a student waved a white flag of surrender to the military, only to be shot down within seconds. The ruthlessness and merciless situation of the government’s role is clearly represented within this scene.

#3: Taxi Drivers Alliance Fight Back

The university students are not the only ones fighting back. Man-seob and the Gwangju taxi drivers form an unofficial alliance in order to bring the injured back from the main street, where the military has stationed gun vessels. The scene truly brought out the heroes in every taxi driver as they faced tanks and gun shots in an attempt to rescue the injured.

#2: Jae-sik at the Hospital

Man-seob’s direct face to the reality of the Gwangju Uprising, contrary to the false reports of the censored media, comes when he finds the cold body of his new friend Jae-sik. The slow entrance to the hospital and the close up of Jae-sik’s horrible condition built up to the tears falling from Man-seob’s eyes. The feeling of hopelessness filled the air.

#1: Late Phone Call to Daughter

The climax begins and ends with the beeping of a phone as Man-seob deals with an internal fight between going home alone or going back to Gwangju to bring Peter to the airport. Man-seob intended to go home to his daughter, but after hearing her voice, he could not help but feel ashamed that he did not fulfill his promise of taking Peter back to Seoul. He quickly ends the call with teary eyes, saying “I left a customer.”