27 November 2014
The resulting documentary--My Love, Don't Cross That River--depicts this couple engaging in daily activities such as shopping, cooking, eating, doing laundry, doing light yard work and in other ways still meeting their needs.
The first half of the film depicts their playful interaction with each other, their love for their dogs, and their ability to manage fairly well in their late life.
By the midpoint, the documentary starts introducing a number of challenges that the couple face.
It's clear that Jo Byeong-man's cough is an indication of growing health challenges. Kang Kye-yeol also talks about the loss of half of their twelve children when she purchases clothing for them to have in the afterlife.
One of the most tense scenes in the documentary takes place at a birthday party for the matriarch. One of the surviving sisters decides this is the time to confront her oldest brother about his dereliction of duty. Needless to say, that ruins the festive mood.
Towards the end of the film, Kang Kye-yeol recognizes that her husband is in his final decline. She works to prepare for that inevitability by gathering up clothing to burn, part of a Korean tradition. A part of my heart breaks for her after spending over an hour watching them dress in matching clothing, bantering with each other, stroking each others' hair, and in other ways living a life that is tightly woven together.
I can't image the magnitude of loss that a spouse feels after decades of companionship.