Film Depicts a Monumental Journey with Humanism

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From Thursday, November 5 through Saturday, November 7, CJ E&M threw a fun event to celebrate 20 wonderful years of Korean cinema. Avid movie enthusiasts were able to enjoy some of the most popular films to ever come out of South Korea, including the hugely successful “The Admiral: Roaring Currents”, the thriller “Haeundae,” and the critically acclaimed “Mother.”

The opening film was the emotional and heartwarming “Ode to My Father,” directed by JK Youn.

The film follows the journey of one seemingly ordinary man, Deok-su (played by Hwang Jung-Min), who holds within himself an extraordinary will to provide for his family. It paints an in-depth picture of what it was like in South Korea between 1950 and today, highlighting major historical events including the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Audiences feel for Deok-su as he struggles to find work outside of his homeland, sacrificing his own comfort and well-being on many occasions to truly become the head of the household in his father’s stead.

It seems that no amount of pain or danger will deter him from his goal. Some of the most heart-wrenching scenes are re-enactments of television programs from the 1980s that sought to reunite family members, who were separated during the Korean War, on live TV. These highly publicized and emotional reunions captivated the entire nation, and Deok-su’s unbelievable reunion in the film is seemingly designed to bring the entire theater to tears. As the credits role on the epic journey of this typical man, it is clear that his film has been the perfect blend of history, tragedy, comedy and hope.

Photo credit by Nutty Nomads
Photo credit by Nutty Nomads

After the screening, attendees sat in on a Q&A session with the director himself. Youn, who also directed the popular “Haeundae,” was happy to answer questions about his very personal and popular work “Ode to My Father.” The moderator began by asking whether or not the film was a perfectly accurate representation of the trials that Youn’s own father had either experienced personally or witnessed.

Youn responded, “It’s not 100% my dad’s story. What is 100% accurate about it is the character of Deok-su himself, which represents how my dad was.”

Youn went on to explain that his film was not just a biography based on his father’s hardships, but rather an ode to the trials and tribulations of the entire generation of Koreans who lived through the depicted eras.

“We are here today — Korea is where it is now because of what [the previous generation has] done,” he said. “I wanted to show [this generation] it was them who made us who we are now.”

The rigorous filming schedule goes to show how far Youn was willing to go to accurately depict key situations in the film. When the question of how long it took to film one of the opening scenes, depicting the evacuation from Hungnam, Youn answered that the scene took 20 days to complete because it was filmed in four different locations.

He was also asked to discuss a particular film that inspired him to become a director, and he chose “ET.”

“‘ET’ has influenced me more than anything in my life,” Youn said. “‘ET’ inspired me to be a director, which is why my next project is going to be a sci-fi movie.”

We can’t wait to see what JK Youn will come up with next! A special thanks to CJ E&M for holding this special film festival. We are sure that we will continue to see another 20 years of wonderfully crafted Korean film in the future.

By Nutty Nomads