Cyberpunk Review » 2009: Lost Memories

March 8, 2006

2009: Lost Memories

Year: 2002

Directed by: Si-myung Lee

Written by: Sang-hak Lee & Si-myung Lee

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

Key Cast Members:

  • Sakamoto Masayuki: Dong-Kun Jang
  • Saigo Shojiro: Tôru Nakamura
  • Hye-Rin Oh: Jin-ho Seo
  • Rating: 8 out of 10



    Overview: In yet another very well made Korean Sci-Fi movie, we have a terrific story, great acting, and a wonderfully unfolding secret that really adds to the suspense. 2009: Lost Memories is one of the best Time Travel movies out, and takes place almost completely within an alternate timeline. In this alternate reality timeline, Korea is a Japanese territory called Choson. The primary language of Choson is Japanese, and although the natives still speak Korean in private, they speak Japanese in the course of normal operations. Japan won WWII, and the atomic bombs were dropped on Germany. The Furei-Senjin (Choson Libration Army) are the last ones alive who know that the timeline has been tampered with, and will do whatever is necessary to set things right.




    The Story: Sakamoto Masayuki and his partner and best friend, Saigo Shojirou are police officers living in Choson (a province owned by Japan that we know as Korea) who are investigating and confronting the terrorist organization called the Furei-Senjin. Sakamoto discovers that the Furei-Senjin have been after a crescent shaped stone called the Lunar Soul - an ancient artifact purported to have the soul of the moon in it. In pursuing the story, a number of different strands in Sakamoto’s life start to fall into place.




    For most of his adult life, Sakamoto has a recurring dream about a beautiful woman he has never met - she has a crescent necklace, and in the dream, they shoot someone. Sakamoto knows he is in love with this woman, and, for some reason, thinks they are destined to be together. During the second confrontation with the Furei-Senjin, he meets this woman - it turns out that Oh Hae-rin (the woman from his dreams, played by Seo Jin-ho) is in fact a leader of the Furei-Senjin. She too feels the connection, and stops her followers from killing Sakamoto when they get the chance.




    Through his investigation, Sakamoto discovers that back in 1909, in the area surrounding Harbin, there was an attempted assassination of Ito Hirobumi (, a prominent Japanese politician back than, and Japan’s first Resident General of Korea following the Russo-Japanese War (which Japan used to occupy Korea). This assassination was prevented by Inoue, an unknown soldier, who was later rewarded for his feat by becoming the second Governor. The Inoue Foundation has spent the last century collecting all artifacts from the 1909 time period.




    In following the trail, Sakamoto learns too much, and is framed for the murder of a fellow police officer. Sakamoto eventually discovers that history was altered at that moment, and that Hirobumi was supposed to die that day, and that there never should have been an Inoue back in Harbin on that day. This leads him to the astonishing revelation that the Furei-Senjin are actually the last group alive aware of this tragedy, and that they are trying to restore the proper world timeline. As the movie develops, Sakamoto and his partner become enmeshed on opposite sides of this timeline struggle.




    Cost of Entry For Understanding: There is a cost of entry to understanding 2009: Lost Memories. It helps if you recognize the difference between Japanese and Korean Characters. Japanese characters are pictoral in nature, whereas Korean characters look like boxes, half-boxes (L-shaped characters) and circles. This is significant especially at the beginning. The other important element is to know which language they are speaking. Sakamoto is Korean, whereas his partner, Saigo Shojirou is Japanese. The importance and meaning of the scenes is often given away when they switch over to speaking Korean (most of the movie’s “public” scenes are in Japanese). For instance, when Sakamoto is with his uncle, he ALWAYS speaks Korean. Also important to know is the latent hatred that still exists in Korea towards Japan for the time they were occupied (up until WWII). To Koreans, this movie will come off as far more emotional than for foreigners.




    The Bottom Line: 2009: Lost Memories is a very intelligent Korean sci-fi film. I include it as cyberpunk primarily for the wonderfully done time-travel theme done in the very near-future. Te intense confrontation between the best friends that occurs as this movie develops is just terrific. The visuals are all high-tech current visuals though - they are not futuristic in most of the cyberpunk sense. But the world they create is cyberpunk in the sense that it depicts a reality changed by a future traveler to a past time. Also interesting is the notion, that even during a “time-shift” souls might potentially “know” something is amiss.

    ~See movies similar to this one~

    This post has been filed under Time Travel, 8 Star Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 - 2009 by SFAM.


    March 17, 2006

    Case said:

    If this make it in as cyberpunk, would you also consider Mamoru Oshii’s films, THE RED SPECTACLES and its side-quel, STRAY DOG? Or are they more just straight sci-fi?

    March 18, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Hi Case, Red Spectables is one of the few Oshii movies I haven’t seen. I wouldn’t consider Jin Roh cyberpunk though. Should I be checking these out?

    Case said:

    Well, I’d definitely say that Oshii’s RED SPECTACLES and the companion piece are on the low end of the cyberpunk scale (about in the same place as 2009 here), but, as with just about anything Oshii does, always consistently interesting. I’d definitely recommend them (although I prefer SPECTACLES over DOG).

    SFAM said:

    I’ve thought about including Beautiful Dreamer (Urusei Yatsura 2) moreso because of the linkage to the end of Dark City. It’s always different with the movies on the fence so to speak. In Oshii’s case though, he’s got quite a few right in the cyberpunk roundhouse.

    Case said:

    Like you’ve said elsewhere on the site, cyberpunk just has a certain “feel” to it which can often be hard to describe or really decipher.

    January 29, 2007

    Nek said:

    When in doubt, look out for the EDGE!

    […] Thumbnail images from: here […]

    July 13, 2008

    David said:

    I´m sorry to say this, but in my opinion this movie sucks big time.

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