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Past Lives (2023) | Transcript

Two childhood friends, Na Young (Nora) and Hae Sung, navigate the complexities of friendship, love, and loss across two lifetimes. Their souls are seemingly destined to be intertwined, but their paths keep diverging and converging in unexpected ways
Past Lives (2023)

Past Lives (2023)
Director:
Celine Song
Release Date: January 21, 2023 (Sundance), June 2, 2023 (United States)
Runtime: 1 hour 45 minutes
Language: Korean (with English subtitles)
Country of Origin: South Korea
Filmed primarily in Seoul, South Korea and Toronto, Canada.

* * *

In the vibrant heart of Korea, two schoolmates, Na Young, a spirited girl, and Hae Sung, a thoughtful boy, forge a deep friendship. Their routine of walking home together after school becomes a cherished ritual, a symbol of their bond. Life, however, has other plans, and Na Young’s journey takes her across the globe to Canada and eventually to the bustling streets of New York, where she transforms with her new surroundings. Accompanied by her parents, she embarks on this new chapter with a heart full of dreams and memories of home.

Back in Korea, Hae Sung’s path unfolds differently. He immerses himself in an engineering course, navigates a brief but formative period of military service, and eventually steps into the professional world with a job that anchors him to his homeland. Despite the physical distance, the two maintain a thread of connection through periodic video chats. These digital reunions become a window to their past and a bridge to their present, filled with shared memories and updates on their evolving lives.

As Na Young, now Nora, carves out her niche in New York as an acclaimed playwright, her life intertwines with Arthur, an American with whom she finds love and partnership. Nora’s world is a tapestry of new experiences, successes, and the love that binds her to her new home. Meanwhile, Hae Sung, rooted in Korea yet drawn by the pull of the past and the promise of reconnection, decides to journey to New York. His visit opens a new chapter in their friendship, as he spends time with Nora and Arthur, exploring the city that has become her world.

The reunion stirs a mixture of emotions and unanswered questions. What does the future hold for Nora and Hae? As they navigate the complexities of their relationship, their story becomes a poignant exploration of friendship, love, and the bittersweet dance of holding on and letting go. As their paths converge and diverge, Nora and Hae face the enigmatic future, pondering the impact of their past and the shape of things to come.

* * *

(CUTLERY CLATTERING)

(INDISTINCT MURMURING)

WOMAN: Who do you think they are to each other?

MAN: Hm…

I don’t know.

WOMAN: Yeah, this is a hard one.

MAN: I think the white guy and the Asian girl are a couple, and the Asian guy is her brother.

WOMAN: Or the Asian girl and the Asian guy are a couple, and the white guy is their American friend.

MAN: They’re not even talking to the white guy.

WOMAN: Maybe they are tourists, and the white guy is their tour guide.

MAN: Drinking at 4:00 a.m.?

WOMAN: Yeah, you’re right, that makes no sense.

MAN: Hm. Maybe they’re all just colleagues?

WOMAN: I have no idea.

(CARS HORNS HONKING)

(NA YOUNG SNIFFLES)

BOY: (IN KOREAN) Na Young.

Why are you crying?

(NA YOUNG SNIFFLES)

Are you crying because you got second-best marks in the exams?

(NA YOUNG SNIFFLES)

Are you mad at me because I got first place?

Yes.

(SOBS SOFTLY)

Hey! I’m always second place to you, but I never cry.

If I beat you for the first time ever and you cry, how do you think that makes me feel?

You psycho.

(BLUES MUSIC PLAYING)

(BOOKS THUDDING)

(DOOR CLOSES)

NA YOUNG’S MOM: Don’t come in!

Talk from over there.

NA YOUNG: We decided.

What did you decide?

NA YOUNG: My name will be Michelle, and Si Young’s will be Mary.

I thought Si Young said that she wants to be Michelle.

Why would you take your sister’s name?

I don’t have an English name I like.

NA YOUNG’S MOM: Na Young, you still shouldn’t take Si Young’s name.

But I hate all the names.

NA YOUNG’S MOM: Let’s think more about it.

How’s Leonore?

For short, Nora.

Nora.

Nora Moon.

Na Young.

NA YOUNG: Hm?

NA YOUNG’S MOM: Who do you like at school nowadays?

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

NA YOUNG: (IN KOREAN) What do you want to draw?

HAE SUNG: (IN KOREAN) Ah, I’m thinking two things.

I want you to draw a tree.

NA YOUNG: Tree? That’s what I’m good at.

(GIGGLING)

A tree doesn’t have feelers.

Hae Sung.

NA YOUNG’S MOM: Why?

He’s manly.

NA YOUNG’S MOM: He’s manly?

Hm. Yeah. I will probably marry him.

NA YOUNG’S MOM: Really?

Does he want to marry you, too?

NA YOUNG: He likes me, so he will if I tell him to.

Do you want to go on a date with him?

(CHILDREN CHATTERING)

(MACHINERY CREAKING)

(RAIN PATTERING)

(NA YOUNG SPEAKING KOREAN)

(CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS)

(NA YOUNG SPEAKING KOREAN)

HAE SUNG’S MOM: They look so good together.

(NA YOUNG GIGGLING)

(NA YOUNG SPEAKING KOREAN)

(CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS)

Hae Sung talks about Na Young a lot.

Na Young told me that she likes him.

(CHUCKLES)

We’re immigrating soon.

(HAE SUNG LAUGHING)

So I wanted to make good memories for her.

(SPEAKING KOREAN)

HAE SUNG’S MOM: You’re immigrating?

(CREAKING)

NA YOUNG’S MOM: Yes.

But why are you immigrating?

(CHILDREN CONTINUE CHATTING)

Na Young’s dad is a film director,

and you’re an artist.

Why would you leave all that behind?

(HAE SUNG SPEAKING KOREAN)

If you leave something behind, you gain something, too.

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(YOUNG HAE SUNG CHATTERING)

(BOTH GIGGLING)

(BOTH LAUGHING)

(YOUNG HAE SUNG EXCLAIMS)

HAE SUNG: It all looks the same to me.

Black barks and white…

NA YOUNG: What is it?

This is called “blue”.

(LAUGHING)

This is called “yellow”.

(SQUEALS PLAYFULLY)

(CAT MEOWING)

You’re really leaving?

Yeah.

You’re never coming back?

No.

Why are you leaving?

Because I want to.

Why do you want to leave?

Because Koreans don’t win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

(CHILDREN CHATTERING INDISTINCTLY)

(STUDENTS SPEAKING KOREAN)

(GIRL SPEAKING KOREAN)

(GIRL GIGGLING)

Bye!

Na Young, take care!

Bye.

(CHILDREN YELLING EXCITEDLY IN DISTANCE)

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING CONTINUES)

(CHEERFUL MUSIC PLAYING OVER RADIO)

Hey.

What?

Bye.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

NA YOUNG: (IN ENGLISH) Hello.

SI YOUNG: Hello.

NA YOUNG: My name is Nora, what’s your name?

SI YOUNG: My name is Michelle.

NA YOUNG: How are you, Michelle?

SI YOUNG: I’m fine, and you?

NA YOUNG: I’m fine, and you?

SI YOUNG: I’m fine, and you?

NA YOUNG: I’m fine, and you?

SI YOUNG: (CHUCKLING) I’m fine, and you?

I’m fine, and you?

I’m fine, and you?

(CHUCKLING)

I’m fine, and you?

I’m fine, and you?

I’m…

(BOTH GIGGLING)

ANNOUNCER: Toronto Pearson International Airport…

(ANNOUNCER REPEATING IN FRENCH)

(CHATTERING INDISTINCTLY)

ANNOUNCER: Toronto Pearson International Airport…

(IN KOREAN) Na Young, Si Young!

Let’s go.

NORA’S DAD: Hurry up!

(IN ENGLISH) This is from Korea.

This is our passport, and…

(CHILDREN CHATTERING AND YELLING)

BOY: Whoa!

(SCHOOL BELL RINGING)

(CROWS CAWING)

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

MAN: I mean, there is so much in it that… that I responded to.

But the one phrase that sticks with me most…

Mm-hmm.

“The long journey of rotting.”

WOMAN: I liked it, too.

We liked how you used the long pauses.

NORA: (IN KOREAN) Woah, Dong Yun…

He’s a lawyer now.

NORA’S MOM: (IN KOREAN) He was a really good kid.

NORA: He helped me cover up when I peed my pants in class.

NORA’S MOM: You’d pee your pants all the time.

NORA: A bedwetter lives in New York City.

NORA’S MOM: Yeah.

This bedwetter is killing it.

(CHUCKLING)

Who else should we look up?

What’s his name?

NORA’S MOM: Hmm?

The boy I had a massive crush on?

I went on a date with him.

Hmm…

NORA’S MOM: Uh… Jung Hae Sung.

Hae Sung.

(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

(SIGHS)

Whoa! Mom, this is crazy.

He posted on Dad’s movie’s Facebook page asking for me.

NORA’S MOM: What are you talking about?

He posted a few months ago.

“I am looking for Na Young… I am her childhood friend. I want to get in touch with her.”

NORA’S MOM: Wow. Really?

Let me call you back in a minute.

NORA’S MOM: Okay.

(CHUCKLES)

(CHUCKLING)

NORA: Um…

(IN ENGLISH) Oh, shit.

From Childhood Sweethearts to Missed Connections: “Past Lives” Explores Love’s Lost Threads

(TYPING UNCERTAINLY)

NORA: (IN KOREAN) Hae Sung! This is Na Young.

Do you remember me?

MAN 1: (IN KOREAN) Listen…

This is a good thing…

MAN 2: (IN KOREAN) It’s a good thing!

MAN 1: Think of it as a blessing that you broke up, and consider this a new beginning.

(MAN 3 GRUMBLING)

MAN 4: (IN KOREAN) There are a lot of women in the world.

Don’t worry!

Shit, I must be an idiot…

(MAN 2 CHUCKLING DRUNKENLY)

(SIGHING)

Why do I miss that bitch?

(MAN 2 CHUCKLES)

Of course you miss her, you moron!

If you don’t miss her after being with her for two years, are you even human?

(MAN 1 MURMURING INDISTINCTLY)

Hey, no problem. Cry hard.

(SOBBING)

MAN 1: Hey.

MAN 1: This is a good thing…

a good thing!

(CELLPHONE RINGING)

MAN 2: She didn’t deserve you. This is a good thing.

MAN 1: Hey!

Do you have a secret girlfriend or something?

MAN 4: What are you talking about?

Who’s messaging you at 3:00 a.m.?

(MAN 3 SNIFFLING)

(MAN 3 CONTINUES SOBBING)

I have no idea.

(SIGHS SLEEPILY)

(GROANS)

(PHONE VIBRATING)

(GRUNTS)

(EXHALES)

HAE SUNG: Huh?

(CHUCKLES)

HAE SUNG’S MOM: (IN KOREAN) Hae Sung, wake up!

(SIGHING)

(GRUNTS)

Thank you for this meal.

(CUTLERY CLANGING)

(SLURPS)

(GRUNTS SOFTLY)

Did you drink a lot last night?

Hmm.

Kind of.

Why are you in such a good mood?

(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING)

(CELL PHONE VIBRATES)

(DISTANT SIREN WAILS)

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

(CAR HORN HONKS)

(KEYS CLATTER)

(BACKPACK THUDS)

(COMPUTER CHIMES)

(LINE RINGING)

(CHIMING)

(DINGS)

(NORA CHUCKLES AND GASPS)

Woah.

(CHUCKLES)

NORA: Woah.

HAE SUNG: Woah.

(LAUGHS)

It’s you.

NORA: Woah.

I recognize you.

NORA: (IN KOREAN) You, too.

I didn’t even know that you remembered me.

I just looked for you as a joke… then I saw that you’d been looking for me.

HAE SUNG: (CHUCKLES) It wasn’t a joke for me.

I tried really hard to find you.

It looks like you changed your name?

NORA: Yeah. It’s Nora now.

That’s why I couldn’t find you.

Can I just call you Na Young?

NORA: Of course.

But nowadays my mom doesn’t even call me Na Young.

Oh.

It looked like you’re in New York.

NORA: Yeah, I’m… a writer here.

A playwright.

Hmm.

Kinda like your father.

Yeah.

Hey, that’s cool.

(NORA CHUCKLES)

Hmm, oh…

Hello?

Hello?

Can you hear me? I’m here.

Hmm.

Are you home?

Yeah. I have to go to class later.

My mom says your school is a good one.

It’s not bad.

I guess you got good grades.

I was ordinary.

We used to compete a lot in school.

You cried because you lost to me.

(GASPS PLAYFULLY) I lost once.

(CHUCKLES)

Do you still cry a lot?

(LAUGHING)

No.

Really?

You used to cry a lot back in those days.

Almost every day.

You would stay with me whenever I was crying.

HAE SUNG: Hmm.

Why don’t you cry now?

You can’t cry in New York City?

Hmm…

When I first immigrated, I used to cry a lot, but then I realized that nobody cared.

I see.

(NORA SIGHS)

What do you study at school?

Uh… Engineering.

(NORA CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

I know nothing about that.

(CHUCKLES)

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

HAE SUNG: I like this.

NORA: What?

HAE SUNG: Just…

(DISTANT SIRENS WAILING)

…talking to you.

NORA: Yeah?

I’m a really fun person to talk to.

HAE SUNG: (LAUGHING) Oh, yeah?

Yeah.

(HAE SUNG CHUCKLES)

HAE SUNG: Hmm.

I gotta go to class.

Me, too. I have to eat dinner.

You haven’t eaten dinner yet?

Not yet.

Hmm… What time is it there?

Hmm. Midnight.

And you still haven’t eaten?

No.

Go and eat right now.

I will.

(HAE SUNG CHUCKLES)

(BOTH SIGH)

What?

It doesn’t make sense but…

I’m not sure if I can say something like this.

What do you want to say?

(CRACKLING)

(BREATHES DEEPLY)

I missed you.

Me too.

Hmm.

It doesn’t make any sense.

(HAE SUNG CHUCKLES)

Umm, I really have to go now.

Class is starting soon.

Okay. Bye.

Let’s talk again.

We should talk again.

I’ll send you an email.

Hmm.

Bye.

Bye.

(COMPUTER BEEPS)

(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING)

(CHUCKLES)

(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

NORA: Hey.

Hey.

Is it 7:00 in the morning there?

I thought you said you never wake up before 10:00.

You said this is the only time that works for you.

(HAE SUNG CHUCKLES)

Don’t you have class today?

HAE SUNG: Yeah.

So I left home early.

How was rehearsal today?

(HAE SUNG LAUGHING)

Your Korean is rusty.

(NORA CHUCKLES)

Hey!

I only speak Korean with you and my mom.

You said you’re leaving Korea to win the Nobel Prize.

You still want that?

Hmm…

(CHUCKLES) Nowadays, I’m really interested in the Pulitzer.

(HAE SUNG CHUCKLES)

You’re the same as the 12-year-old kid I remember.

Greedy?

Wants to do everything, wants to have everything.

Has a terrible temper.

Exactly.

(GASPS)

(HAE SUNG LAUGHS)

No, no, I’m kidding.

(LAUGHING)

So you’re writing there the whole month?

Yeah.

It’s an artist residency.

Can you see?

That’s cool.

Where’s Montauk?

Hmm… From New York

about four hours east?

(IN ENGLISH) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

(IN KOREAN) Have you seen it?

MAN: (ON LAPTOP) What did I do?

I love you so much.

I’ll do anything to make you happy.

Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.

NORA: (IN KOREAN) Would you ever come to New York?

HAE SUNG: Why would I go to New York?

Why are you going to China?

To learn Mandarin.

You should come to New York to learn English.

I always wanted to learn Mandarin.

(NORA MUNCHING OVER COMPUTER)

It’s also helpful for my work.

(GREETS IN MANDARIN)

(BOTH LAUGHING)

That’s good.

That’s all I know.

NORA: Hello?

Hello?

Hae Sung?

Na Young?

Can you hear me?

Hae Sung?

Can you hear me?

HAE SUNG: We’re here.

You can see all of Seoul from up here.

NORA: It’s beautiful.

Wish I were there.

We should come here together.

(WIND WHOOSHING OVER LAPTOP)

I miss you.

Hello?

(LINE RINGING)

(BEEPS)

HAE SUNG: Would you ever come to Seoul?

NORA: Why would I go to Seoul?

Have you done your homework?

I haven’t.

You have to do it for graduation.

I got under academic probation last semester.

(CELL PHONE CHIMES)

Mm-hmm.

Class captain’s message.

Let me see your homework.

Maybe next time.

I’m going.

HAE SUNG’S FRIEND: Oh. Huh?

Bye.

What’s your plan for the weekend?

Playing games.

(LINE RINGING)

(BEEPS)

Hi.

Hi.

You’re not asleep yet?

Not yet.

You okay?

Of course.

What did you want to talk about?

When is it possible for you to come visit me in New York?

A year and a half or so, because of my language exchange program and…

You don’t have to explain yourself.

It’ll be at least a year before I can come visit you in Seoul.

I want us to stop talking for a while.

Why?

I immigrated twice to be here in New York.

I want to accomplish something here.

I want to commit to my life here, but I’m sitting around looking up flights to Seoul instead.

So you want to stop talking to me?

Just for now.

It took me 12 years to find my friend.

I’ll be back before you know it.

We’re just taking a brief break.

(BREATHES SHAKILY)

I think it’s a good idea.

(SOBBING SOFTLY) Why am I like this?

I’m sorry.

What are you sorry about?

Were we dating or something?

(BREATHES DEEPLY)

Okay.

Bye.

Talk to you later.

Okay.

Talk then.

(BEEPS)

(MELANCHOLIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(EARPHONES CLATTER)

(CLUCKING)

(TAXI DRIVES AWAY)

(WINDCHIMES CHIMING SOFTLY)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(DRAWER OPENS)

(TRAIN RUMBLING)

MAN: Are you okay? We walked around a lot.

WOMAN: My leg’s a bit hurt, but I’m okay.

MAN: This leg hurt?

WOMAN: It’s okay. (CHUCKLING)

Rock, paper, scissor.

No, thanks.

(ANNOUNCER SPEAKING OVER PA SYSTEM)

(DOOR OPENS)

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

(MAN SPEAKING IN KOREAN)

Hae Sung, you’re late.

We’re here because of you.

You all packed?

Almost.

So when are you flying out?

This Sunday.

So you’ll be there all summer?

Hey, tonight we drink ’til we die.

(ALL LAUGHING)

Why is he like this?

Hell yeah!

If Hae Sung says we drink, we drink.

Another soju, please!

(CAR APPROACHING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(INSECTS CHITTERING)

(DOOR OPENS)

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

(CUP CLINKS)

(WINDCHIMES CHIMING SOFTLY)

Hi.

NORA (IN ENGLISH): Hi! I’m Nora.

I’m Arthur. Nice to meet you.

When’d you get in?

This morning.

You got the worst room.

(CHUCKLING) Right?

I know.

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(ANNOUNCER 1 SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY OVER PA SYSTEM)

(PA SYSTEM BEEPS)

(ANNOUNCER 2 SPEAKING KOREAN OVER PA SYSTEM)

(CARS PASSING)

NORA: (IN ENGLISH) There is a word in Korean.

In-Yun.

(IMPERCEPTIBLE)

It means “providence”.

Or… “fate”.

(INAUDIBLE CONVERSATION)

NORA: But it’s specifically about relationships between people.

I think it comes from Buddhism and reincarnation.

It’s an In-Yun if two strangers even walk by each other in the street and their clothes accidentally brush.

Because it means there must have been something between them in their past lives.

If two people get married, they say it’s because there have been 8,000 layers of In-Yun.

Over 8,000 lifetimes.

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

(CRICKETS CHIRPING)

You believe in that?

Believe what?

That… you and I knew each other in another life.

What, because we are sitting here…

(BOTH CHUCKLING)

…at the same table in the same city in the same time?

Mm-hmm.

Yeah, wouldn’t that make this an In-Yun?

NORA: Mm…

Mm-mm.

Mm.

That’s just something Koreans say to seduce someone.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

(AIRPLANE WHOOSHING)

(ANNOUNCER SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY OVER PA SYSTEM)

Hi.

Hi.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Where you going?

New York City.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Why’re you going there?

We live there.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: What’s your occupation?

Writers.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: You’re what?

We’re writers.

How long were you visiting Toronto?

Ten days.

What was the purpose of your visit?

We were visiting her family.

Are you two related?

We’re married.

Thanks!

(DOOR OPENS)

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

(TRUCK HORN BLARING)

Hey.

ACTRESS: “If you bought a ticket to see this show, took the subway or a cab to be here, it cost you something to be here, and spend a couple hours with these old women, that makes you some kind of immigrant. And all this cost me something, too. I crossed the Pacific Ocean to be here. Some crossings cost more than others. Some crossings you pay for with your whole life.”

(ARTHUR SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

ARTHUR: sit most of the day, and in the end I…

And then I started to write about…

After Dinner.

Um, yeah, I mean, it’s my kind of time.

Uh, but you’re studying, right?

(MAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

ARTHUR: (IN KOREAN) I’m hungry.

NORA: (IN ENGLISH) Me, too.

ARTHUR: (IN KOREAN) What do you want to eat?

NORA: (IN ENGLISH) I don’t know.

(ARTHUR SIGHS)

(IN KOREAN) Ah… What can I do?

(CHUCKLES)

(ARTHUR KISSING)

(SIGHING SOFTLY)

(ARTHUR SIGHS)

You know what I want?

(IN ENGLISH) What?

Chicken wings.

Holy shit.

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Oh, genius.

Mm-hmm.

Yes.

Chicken wings!

Mm…

(KISSES)

What’re you thinking about?

Remember I told you about Hae Sung?

Oh, yeah.

Is that this week?

Yeah.

Why is he coming here again?

I think vacation.

(IN KOREAN) Why are you going to New York?

HAE SUNG: Vacation.

Rest, enjoy, have fun.

You’re not going there to see that girl, right?

Who?

FRIEND 1: Why are you pretending not to know who I’m talking about?

Your first love. I thought she lives there.

You gonna see her now that you broke up with your girlfriend?

You think I’m nuts? She’s married.

Really?

Hmm.

I think it’s been about seven years.

She married early.

FRIEND 2: Ah, you poor bastard.

HAE SUNG: What?

It’s going to rain the whole time you’re there.

(FRIENDS LAUGHING)

FRIEND 2: Look. “Severe thunderstorm”.

FRIEND 1: Hey, don’t forget your rain boots and raincoat.

It really does say “severe thunderstorm.”

(THUNDER RUMBLES)

HAE SUNG: (IN ENGLISH) Uh, trunk? Trunk?

(CAB DRIVER REPLIES INDISTINCTLY)

(SIGHS)

(MELANCHOLIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(VEHICLES PASSING)

(EXHALES)

NORA: Hae Sung!

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

(IN KOREAN) Woah. It’s you.

(CHUCKLING)

(NORA SOFTLY LAUGHS AND EXHALES)

(CHUCKLES)

(NORA LAUGHING SOFTLY)

(LAUGHS)

(IN KOREAN) Ah, what can I do?

(NORA CONTINUES LAUGHING)

(HAE SUNG LAUGHS)

(NORA GASPS AND EXCLAIMS PLAYFULLY)

(NORA LAUGHING)

What should I say?

NORA: I don’t know.

Was the last time we talked twelve years ago?

(HAE SUNG LAUGHS)

Glad the weather is nice today.

You’re right.

Should we go?

HAE SUNG: Yes.

(HAE SUNG LAUGHS)

(BOTH EXCLAIMING)

(CONTINUE EXCLAIMING IN KOREAN)

(LAUGHING)

(INDISTINCT ANNOUNCEMENT OVER PA SYSTEM)

NORA: Before I got married, I went to Korea with my husband.

HAE SUNG: I know.

NORA: I emailed you, but you didn’t respond.

I wanted to see you.

I was disappointed.

HAE SUNG: I’m sorry.

NORA: I wanted to meet your girlfriend, too.

How are you two doing?

HAE SUNG: We’re not together right now.

NORA: You broke up?

HAE SUNG: No.

It’s not that.

We just need time to think.

We just started talking about getting married.

NORA: Do you not want to get married?

HAE SUNG: I don’t know.

If you love her, why don’t you know?

It’s a little complicated.

What’s complicated?

The conditions are not met.

What do you mean?

I’m an only child.

If you’re going to marry an only son, he should make more money and be better.

I’m too ordinary.

(CHUCKLES)

You’re ordinary?

My job is ordinary, my income is ordinary.

It’s all ordinary.

She should meet someone more impressive than me.

Is it hard to get married if you don’t make a ton of money?

At first we didn’t think so, but then we started thinking that way.

Want me to take a photo of you?

Okay.

(CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING)

NORA: You look good.

(CHUCKLES)

Would you and your husband come out here often on dates?

NORA: Hmm.

We lived near here before we moved to the East Village.

We did all our dating here.

We would fight here, too.

You two fight?

Oh yeah, we don’t fuck around.

Why do you fight?

Just because.

It’s like planting two trees in one pot.

Our roots need to find their place.

Does your husband get along with your family?

Yeah. He plays Hwa-Too with them all the time.

He plays Hwa-Too?

Of course.

He knows how?

He’s good.

Is his Korean good, too?

No.

But he can say a few things.

Oh, yeah?

His favorite food is Yook-Gae-Jang.

Yook-Gae-Jung? He’s not fucking around.

He’s not fucking around.

Do you and your girlfriend… fight?

No.

(NORA LAUGHS)

She’s not really my girlfriend right now.

You should get married well.

You’re worrying about me?

Getting married is hard for idealistic people like you.

(LAUGHS) Hey, I’m not so old that you should worry.

(CARNIVAL MUSIC PLAYING FAINTLY ON CAROUSEL)

Hae Sung.

HAE SUNG: Hmm?

Why did you look for me?

12 years ago?

NORA: Hmm.

Do you really want to know?

I just wanted to see you one more time.

I don’t know.

Because you just left so suddenly…

I was a little pissed off.

Sorry.

What are you sorry about?

You’re right. There’s nothing to be sorry about.

You disappeared from my life, and I just bam… found you again.

Why would you do that?

I don’t know.

Just because…

You kept entering my mind when I was in the military.

I see.

We were babies then.

Right.

And when we met 12 years ago, we were babies then, too.

We’re not babies anymore.

(IN ENGLISH) Hi.

Hi, my love.

(SIGHS)

How was it?

You were right.

I was?

Yeah.

He came here to see me.

(DOOR CLOSES)

(OBJECT THUDS)

(OBJECT THUDS)

(SIGHS)

It’s so crazy to see him be this grown-up man with a normal job and a normal life.

He’s so Korean.

He still lives with his parents, which is really Korean.

And he has all these really Korean views about everything.

And I feel so not Korean when I’m with him.

But also, in some way, more Korean?

(NORA SCOFFS)

It’s so weird.

I mean, I have Korean friends, but he’s not, like, Korean-American.

He’s Korean-Korean.

Is he attractive?

I think so.

He’s really masculine in this way that I think is so Korean.

Are you attracted to him?

I don’t think so.

I don’t know, I mean…

I don’t think so.

He was just this kid in my head for such a long time, and then he was just this image on my laptop, and now he’s a physical person.

It’s really intense, but I don’t think that that’s attraction.

I think I just missed him a lot.

I think I missed Seoul.

Did he miss you?

I think he missed the 12-year-old crybaby he knew a long time ago.

You were a crybaby?

Yeah.

Most of the time he’d have to just stand there and watch me.

When is he leaving again?

Morning after tomorrow.

Mm-hmm.

Are you mad?

No.

It feels like you are.

(SIGHS) I don’t have a right to be mad.

What do you mean? Of course, you do.

No…

That guy flew 13 hours to be here.

I’m not gonna tell you that you can’t see him or something.

He’s your childhood sweetheart.

And it’s not like you’re gonna run away with him.

Are you?

Definitely. I’m gonna throw away my life here…

(CHUCKLES)

…and run away with him to Seoul.

Do you even know me?

I’m not gonna miss my rehearsals for some dude.

I know.

I know you.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER OVER TV)

(PHONE CLATTERS)

(TV TURNS OFF)

(CHUCKLING SOFTLY)

What?

I was just thinking about what a good story this is.

The story of Hae Sung and me?

Yeah.

I just can’t compete.

What do you mean?

(SIGHS) Childhood sweethearts who reconnect 20 years later only to realize they were meant for each other.

We’re not meant for each other.

I know.

I know. In the story, I would be the evil white American husband standing in the way of destiny.

(LAUGHS)

Shut up.

What do you not like about it? Our story’s just so boring.

We met at an artists’ residency.

Slept together because we both happened to be single.

We realized we both live in New York, so, we moved in together to save money on rent.

We got married so you could get a green card. So…

Oh, you make it sound so romantic.

Right, that’s what I’m saying.

I’m the guy you leave in the story when your ex-lover comes to take you away.

He’s not my ex-lover.

What if you met somebody else at that residency?

What if there was another writer from New York who had also read all the same books you had, and watched all the same movies, who could give you useful notes on your plays, and listen to you complain about your rehearsals?

That’s not how life works.

Oh.

Yeah.

But wouldn’t you be laying here with him?

This is my life, and I’m living it with you.

Are you happy with it?

Is this what you imagined for yourself when you left Seoul?

When I was a 12-year-old?

Yeah. Is this what you pictured for yourself?

Lying in bed in some tiny apartment in the East Village with some Jewish guy who writes books?

Is that what your parents wanted for you?

You’re asking me if you, Arthur Zaturansky, are the answer to my family’s immigrant dream?

Yeah.

Wow.

I know.

(SIGHS)

This is where we ended up.

This is where I’m supposed to be.

Okay.

What?

ARTHUR: It’s just that you make my life so much bigger. And I’m wondering if I do the same thing for you.

You do.

(SOFT PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)

I’m just a girl from Korea, you know?

And you’re forgetting the part where I love you.

I don’t forget that.

I have trouble believing it sometimes.

Do you know you only speak in Korean when you talk in your sleep?

I do?

Yeah.

You never sleep talk in English.

You only dream in Korean.

I didn’t know that.

Yeah.

You never told me that.

Well, sometimes I think it’s cute.

Sometimes, I don’t know, I guess I get scared.

Scared of what?

(SIGHS)

You dream in a language that I can’t understand.

It’s like there’s this whole place inside of you where I can’t go.

I think that’s why I’ve been trying to learn Korean, even though I know it’s annoying for you.

You want to understand me when I’m dreaming?

Yeah.

I’m sure I’m just saying gibberish.

(BOAT HORN BLARING)

(IN KOREAN) Hey.

HAE SUNG: Hey.

Did you get home safe last night?

NORA: Yeah.

Sorry I’m late.

(DISMISSES)

Did you eat something?

No.

Eat this.

Is it for me?

I wanted to ask you yesterday…

What prize do you want to win nowadays?

NORA: Hmm?

When you were little, you wanted to win the Nobel Prize, and 12 years ago you wanted to win the Pulitzer.

What do you want to win now?

NORA: I haven’t thought of things like that recently.

HAE SUNG: Really?

Then think about it for a moment.

There must be an award you want.

A Tony.

(LAUGHING)

You really are exactly the same as I remember you.

Still psycho?

Still psycho.

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

NORA: A little bit to your left.

One, two… three!

One more.

Why are you taking it so close up?

Fine. Go back a little bit.

(LAUGHS)

HAE SUNG: She’s turned against us.

HAE SUNG: Hold on.

You look young.

(CHUCKLES)

Because of my green card, we got married a little earlier than planned.

He knows I’m coming over?

Of course.

He knows who I am?

Of course!

He wants to meet you.

(DOOR OPENS)

(DOOR CLOSES)

NORA: Come in.

(INHALES AND CHUCKLES)

Um…

(IN KOREAN) Hello.

Nice to meet you.

(CHUCKLES)

(IN ENGLISH) Uh, hi. Nice to meet you, also.

(CHUCKLES)

(IN KOREAN) His Korean is good.

(IN KOREAN) No.

(HAE SUNG CHUCKLES)

Uh…

(IN KOREAN) Are you hungry?

(IN ENGLISH) Are you hungry?

Hmm?

Oh…

(IN KOREAN) Hungry?

(IN ENGLISH) Ah, oh. Yes.

(IN KOREAN) What would you like to eat?

Uh…

(IN ENGLISH) Pasta?

(LAUGHS) Pasta? Yeah.

You like pasta?

Yes. (CHUCKLES)

Okay.

Okay.

Let’s get pasta.

Pasta.

What did you two do today?

Uh…

The Statue of Liberty.

You took the ferry.

Yes.

Yeah.

It’s, um, nice.

I’ve never been.

What?

Really?

Yeah, I’ve never actually been there.

(IN KOREAN) Hey, you should take your husband.

(IN ENGLISH) Have we seriously never been there together?

(CHUCKLES) No.

(INDISTINCT CONVERSATION)

HAE SUNG: (IN ENGLISH) When I was 24 years,

I, uh… Um…

Oh. (IN KOREAN) Military service?

(IN ENGLISH) Yes.

(CHUCKLES)

(IN ENGLISH) Oh, military service.

Right.

You know how Korean men have mandatory military service?

Yeah, your dad talks about it. How was it?

You like it?

(IN KOREAN) How was it? Did you like it?

(IN ENGLISH) No.

(LAUGHS)

Uh, but military and work, same.

Same?

(IN KOREAN) Same? How?

(IN ENGLISH) Uh, you have, um…

You have a boss.

NORA: Hmm.

(IN KOREAN) There’s overtime pay, stuff like that here, right?

(NORA REPLIES IN KOREAN)

In Korea, you work overtime all the time, but there’s no overtime pay.

(IN ENGLISH) There’s no overtime pay in Korea.

(IN KOREAN) Really?

Mm.

(IN KOREAN) You have to do all of your boss’s work first, then you do your own work, and then you can go home.

Late at night?

That’s so hard.

(CHUCKLES)

HAE SUNG: (IN ENGLISH) It’s, uh, very hard.

Hmm. Uh, work. Work is hard.

Hard physically or mentally?

(IN KOREAN) Physically, or mentally?

(IN ENGLISH) Uh, yes. Uh, both.

Physical, very hard.

Uh, and, um…

Hmm. Mentally.

Uh, mentally, I’m strong.

Mm!

(CHUCKLES)

(IN KOREAN) You’re strong mentally?

HAE SUNG: (IN KOREAN) Yes, right.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

It was good that you immigrated.

Mm. I agree.

Korea is too small of a country for you.

It’s not enough to satisfy your ambition.

I’m glad to have seen you.

Yeah.

And thank you for introducing me to your husband.

I can tell he really loves you.

Hmm.

I didn’t know that liking your husband would hurt this much.

(CHUCKLES)

NORA: Yeah?

Hmm.

When we stopped talking, I really missed you.

Did you miss me?

Of course.

But you met your husband then.

You got a girlfriend then, too.

(SCOFFS)

Sorry.

(CHUCKLING)

It’s okay.

Seeing you again and being here makes me have a lot of weird thoughts.

What kind of thoughts?

HAE SUNG: What if I’d come to New York 12 years ago?

What if you had never left Seoul?

If you hadn’t just left like that, and we just grew up together, would I still have looked for you?

Would we have dated? Broken up?

Gotten married?

Would we have had kids together?

Thoughts like that.

But the truth I learned here is, you had to leave because you’re you.

And the reason I liked you is because you’re you.

And who you are is someone who leaves.

NORA: The Na Young you remember doesn’t exist here.

(CHUCKLES) I know.

But… that little girl did exist.

She’s not sitting here in front of you, but it doesn’t mean she’s not real.

20 years ago, I left her behind with you.

I know.

And even though I was only 12, I loved her.

You psycho.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

I think there was something in our past lives.

Otherwise, why would we be here together right now?

But in this life, we don’t have the In-Yun to be that kind of person to each other.

Because now, finally, we’re in the same city for the first time in 20 years…

We’re sitting here with your husband.

In this life, you and Arthur are that kind of In-Yun to each other.

You two have the 8,000 layers of In-Yun.

To Arthur, you’re someone who stays.

(IN ENGLISH) He’s talking about you.

HAE SUNG: (IN KOREAN) Who do you think we were to each other in our past lives?

NORA: (IN KOREAN) I don’t know.

Maybe… an impossible affair?

Between the queen and the king’s henchman?

(BOTH CHUCKLE)

Or maybe we were forced to live together in a political marriage, and we were awful to each other.

Cheat on each other a bunch.

Say hurtful things to each other.

Or maybe we were just sitting next to each other on the same train.

Why?

Just because that’s what our tickets said.

(LAUGHS)

Maybe, we were just a bird and the branch it sat on one morning.

(CHUCKLES)

(ALTERNATIVE MUSIC PLAYING SOFTLY OVER SPEAKERS)

(HAE SUNG INHALES AND CHUCKLES)

(IN ENGLISH) I’m sorry we speak alone.

Uh, we will stop.

It’s okay.

You haven’t seen each other in a long time.

(ARTHUR SCOFFS AND SIGHS)

I never thought I’d be a part of something like this.

HAE SUNG: Hmm?

Sitting here with you.

Do you know what In-Yun?

Yeah. Nora told me about it when we first met.

(ARTHUR CHUCKLES WRYLY)

You and me.

(LAUGHS) Yeah. Yeah, you and I are In-Yun too.

(CHUCKLES)

Right?

I’m really glad you came here.

It was the right thing to do.

(DOOR OPENS)

Mm. I’m gonna walk him to his Uber.

Okay.

Uh, nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you, too.

Uh, come visit me in Korea.

Definitely.

(WHISPERS) I’ll be right back.

Okay.

(SIREN BLARING)

(IN KOREAN) Will it be here soon?

Hmm.

(IN KOREAN) Two minutes.

(CAR APPROACHING)

Hey!

Na Young.

Hmm?

HAE SUNG: What if this is a past life as well, and we are already something else to each other in our next life? Who do you think we are then? Who do you think we are then?

I don’t know.

Me neither.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

See you then.

(MELANCHOLIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(IN ENGLISH) I’m sorry!

(SOBBING)

(CONTINUES SOBBING)

(SOFT PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)

Building statues In the park

Mosaic faces Fading in the rain

Recalling memories of love

We’re untouched And unscathed

Is this really A mystery life?

We all learn from Our own mistakes

We stare, fall down stairs

Maybe you’re Too much for me

We cry out

Break my heart, now

You called it out You called it out

To stay here

A long car drive

Music in my head

Come from a place

I don’t know where

Swear that stars Are aligning but

On a faraway stair On a torched midnight

A field of death On those marble steps

We’ll meet again in life

That’s how it’s done

That’s how it’s done

And I would soon burn

That’s how it starts That’s how it starts

And I will soon know

Fall, fall

Falling down In spite of it all

Fall, fall

Will we meet Again and again?

Ooh

Ooh

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