Friday, April 28, 2023


Return to Seoul (2022) - Chou Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 10.33.45 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 8.43.26 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 9.19.29 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 10.35.35 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 9.39.04 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 9.39.49 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 9.44.51 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 9.43.55 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 10.36.29 PMScreen Shot 2023-04-27 at 9.50.02 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 9.53.38 PM Screen Shot 2023-04-27 at 10.37.15 PM Freddie (Park Ji-min) is a young Korean born French woman in Seoul. She is staying at a hostel for couple of weeks. She is outgoing, impulsive and makes mousy Tena (Guka Han), whom she just met at the hostel and has been acting as Freddie's interpreter, very uncomfortable. It is slowly revealed that Freddie lied to her French parents to come to Korea to find her biological parents. Through the adoption agency, she gets a prompt that her father is willing to meet her. But no words from her mother. He lives in Gunsan a port city in the South West Korea, with his new family. And their encounter is pretty typical and cringey - Father and his family are extremely apologetic and eager to reconnect. Father insists that she relocate to Korea permanently and live with him. He will even find her a good Korean man to marry! It's all guilty conscience, over compensation and pure sentimentality. Freddie, irked by the experience and regretting her impulsive decisions, cuts the trip short and comes back to Seoul. But her father won't stop drunk texting her, apologizing and demanding. She has to put a stop to it.

Two years later, and still living in Seoul, Freddie, now 27, is working for a French company while having amorous relationship with an underground tattoo artist and having wild parties. She meets an older French arms dealer too through a dating app. She has picked up some Korean as well. But there is always a sad side to her in quiet moments.

Another five years pass by. Freddie is a smartly dressed arms dealer now, selling missiles to the Korean National Defence Force. More confident now, she can bring her French boyfriend to meet with her father. She can even let her doe eyed father touch her scars on her collarbone who got in a trip to Thailand. Her mother finally contacts her through the agency. And we can guess that this has been the reason why she stayed in Seoul for the last 7 years, away from her French family and friends. The reunion is a tearful one.

Park's performance is a revelation. She makes Freddie a strong willed, fascinating young woman in search of herself. Her magnetic presence makes her always watchable. Seeing from the perspective of an adoptee and a modern woman in a still very patriarchal society, Return to Seoul is a visceral journey toward self-discovery and finding identity. The quiet ending reminds me a lot of Drive My Car. Return to Seoul has that novelistic quality about it that I liked a lot.

No comments:

Post a Comment