Just thought I'd mention a couple of shots that intrigue me, shots that are seemingly meaningless.
One is Munho going back and asking his wife to let him in at the beginning of the film:
Another is the shot of Seon-hwa arriving to meet Mun-ho and Heon-jun:
When re-examining the film, both of these moments seemed difficult to place. And perhaps, I thought, they are not meant to be. But, the more I thought and read, the more this seemed unlikely. In a film as pared down as this one (even by Hong's standards), it is highly unlikely that they don't serve some purpose. Then, with the mentioning of repetitions, I noted that both shots have their doubles.
The shots of Mun-ho are subtly replayed at the end of the film, when Mun-ho's male student Min-woo approaches Mun-ho and Kyung-hee in the hotel room:
And the shot of Seon-hwa arriving can be seen as a mirror of the early scene in which the woman Mun-ho and Heon-jun gaze at before their flashbacks finally exits the scene in a car:
Now, we can see these as formal repetitions that work as a whole to offset the quotidian realism of the narrative. And/or we can start analyzing these for deeper meanings. Part of me wants to avoid the later, to remain intrigued by the shots instead of forcing an explanation. I remember watching Lynch's Mulholland Dr. and really enjoying it, but then not loving the film nearly as much (to the point of even being bored) once I had a certain framework in which to read and explain what was going on. And the other hand, one cannot and should not shut down these critical impulses. One can only hope that any given film is strong enough to resist their assault.