This article contains spoilers for the plot of the film Burning.
The Korean film Burning is based on a short story, ‘Barn Burning’, by internationally acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. It apparently led to an obscure script.
It’s has a basic plot of boy-meets-and-loses-girl. The film deals with themes of modern class issues, love and loss.
1. Jong-su’s imagination
Jong-su is imaging parts of his novel in between his real life. He becomes so jealous of Ben that he wishes to kill him and then burn the body in the Porsche. So the ending is how he imagines what he wants to happen in his writing.
(Note: Haruki Murakami is fond of using ghosts is in writing.)
2. Ben kills Hae-mi
Perhaps the most obvious conclusion is that Ben kills Hae-mi. We know he likes burning down abandoned glasshouses. He seems to treat his girlfriends like trophies and has a drawer in bathroom full of female trinkets (a habit of mass murderers). He is now looking after Hae-mi’s cat.
Did he leave Hae-mi’s body in the lake or burn it in a nearby glasshouse?
3. Hae-mi commits suicide
Hae-mi appears to crave attention and love. She vividly remembers Jong-su calling her ugly as a child and ends up having plastic surgery. Later when Jong-su calls her a whore for dancing topless, I can only imagine she would have been shattered.
We later learn that she likes to make up fictitious stories. I wonder if the drowning story is a metaphor for falling in love with Ben. She wants Lee to save her from her toxic relationship with Ben, but she can’t ask for help?
4. Hae-mi felt threatened and moved out
We know that Hae-mi had debts. She might have been subjected to domestic violence and fled. Perhaps she just cleaned up her flat and moved on. She didn’t want to tell Jong-Su after he was rude to her. Jong-Su has trouble dealing with the loss of his best friend and takes it out on Ben.
Please leave a comment if you agree with any of these explanations. Otherwise, let us know what you think happened?