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3-Iron — General Comments

Film setting

  • Mostly urbane settings. Neighborhoods of various socio-economic levels are visited to emphasize the universality of the urbane problem being considered. The visit to a more traditional, smaller towhship functions as the illustrative contrast point.
  • A student writes (thanks Sumin!):

I will explain about the place in "3-Iron" The place is called "Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을)" located in Seoul. "Bukchon" means the place where royal family and nobleman used to live in Joseon Dynasty period and "Hanok" means traditional houses in that place. Therefore, the place is called "Bukchon Hanok Village".

A website:

After searching on various websites, I write my thoughts why the director put "Bukchon Hanok Village" in the film.

The life of people in the houses in Seoul where Sun-hwa and Tae-suk went around did not look happy. But Hanok Village was something different and a married couple in there warmly welcomed Sun-hwa. Like this, I think the director wants to say that we need to get back to the past when people were warmhearted represented by Hanok Village.

One more thing, "Bukchon Hanok Village" is one of famous places for foreign tourists and the city of Seoul makes a lot of money through this place. So, the city are planning to destroy old and dirty Hanok, and build accommodations and restaurants to attract more tourists at the place. So, many civic groups with Mr. Kiburn are in conflict with the Seoul government. But the big problem is that many Koreans do not actually know this issue. The director Kim Ki-duk recognized the seriousness of the problem, so he put the place in the film to open Koreans' eyes to this place and to say redevelopment must be stopped. Kim Ki-duk used "Bukchon Hanok Village" as the background in his another film "Dream (2008)"

A website by Mr. Kiburn to opposed the redevelopment of Bukchon Hanok Village:

A note on the theme song (thanks Hussein!)

Translation of 3-Iron Arabic Theme Song "Gafsa"

The winds of love suddenly began blowing in my head
Showing me the peace of my beloved
You say "return my precious, rise above the separation while you are a stranger."
The impatience of my imagination wandered
And my highest aspiration is to be happy
You emerged from the highest tower
And said a strange word
Return my love
I don't have any destiny for me in this world
You are my love but you cannot be suitable for me
Oh night
Oh my eye

Taken from

Notes on the song:

While the translation is not exact on a word for word basis, it does a decent job at conveying the general meaning.

Why I [Hussein] think the director choose the song:

While at first, it may seem extremely odd for Kim Ki-Duk to choose an Arabic song as the main theme song for a Korean movie; his choice becomes more understandable if one analyzes the lyrics.

The lyrics of the song parallel the main themes conveyed in 3-Iron to an incredible degree. The song calls for the return of love (or a lover) but remains to be very ambiguous on whether this love is real or imagined as well as the possibility of its existence in this reality ("I don't have any destiny for me in this world"). In a way, it is thus very similar to how in 3-Iron, the audience is left wondering whether the lover truly exists at the end, and if he did, why a better solution could not be found.


Director: KIM Ki-duk (Korean, Seoul)
Year released: 2004
Running time: 1:25
Setting: Mostly urban Korea
IMDb: 3-Iron
Release data (Box Office Mojo): 3-Iron

Tae-suk: the motorcycle-riding, house fixer-upper male protagonist

Sun-hwa: his romantic interest who is in an abusive marriage

Min-gyu: Sun-hwa's abusive husband

Topics of focus for this film:

Relationship between "society" and this couple.

Reconstructing "worlds".

Role of Buddhism in this film.

Dream and dreaminess in this film compared to the others screened.

Place of women in this film and the others screend.

Is this film misogynistic?

Module 01: Scenes 00-07 (31 min.)
Module 02
: Scenes 11-20 (35 min.)
Module 03
: Scenes 21-28 (20 min.)

Availability on campus:

East Asian library—EAST PN1997.2.P592 2004 Media Room