Youngwu and Jiyoung have been married for ten years and have long since grown apart. He, a publisher, is having an affair with a writer and she, a housewife, feels drawn to a gentle young Muslim she meets named Kerim. When he is obliged to leave the country she decides to follow him to Varanasi. Leaving her husband a note saying that she is away visiting relatives, she spends her time wandering along the banks of the Ganges and down the busy streets of this Hindu city in search of Kerim. When he turns on the television her husband is astonished to see his wife covered in ashes, emerging from a restaurant that has been bombed by terrorists. Youngwo decides to head for India to find his wife and obtain an explanation for her behaviour.
Director Jeon Kyu-hwan is no ordinary storyteller; his approach is more akin to a cinematic exploration. Abrupt changes of location, loosely connected scenes and shifting time zones are interwoven to form a very different kind of psychological thriller. As with his ‘town’ trilogy, the third episode of which screened in the Panorama in 2011, Jeon once again leads us into the worlds of his protagonists, adopting their fragmented, searching gaze and their perceptions of themselves and their lives.