THE strength of the human spirit amid life’s challenges is what this year’s Korean Film Festival aimed to put emphasis on.
Korean Cultural Center Philippines Director Oh Choong-suk said the movies in the recently concluded film festival, with the theme “Strong Hearts,” show characters who have endured and triumphed over tragedies and sad turns in life.
Choong-suk said the movies chosen also show the happy nature present among Koreans and Filipinos.
“There maybe difficulties in life but we want to try and overcome that kind of difficulties. Strong hearts mean that the human life can overcome the difficulties. It is the character of both Korean and Filipinos as you can see there are so may difficulties in the world so we want to show how human beings overcome those difficulties,” Choong-suk said.
The film festival, which had stopovers in Clark, Davao, Iloilo, Cebu, Cavite and Metro Manila was on its fifth installment and featured five films of different genres.
For his part, South Korean Ambassador Kim Jae-shin commended the quality of Filipino films and hopes that more of them would be showcased in their country.
The film shown selected to open the Metro Manila leg was the 2014 drama film Ode to My Father. The film stars Hwang Jung-min and Yunjin Kim and is set from the 1950s to the present, depicting historical events like the Hungnam Evacuation and the Korean and Vietnam War.
At the height of the Korean War in 1950, a young boy named and his family were fleeing Hungnam Port, of what as known today is North Korea, with other refugees.
Deok-soo lost his younger sister, Mak-soon, while trying to board a United States navy boats, and his father stayed behind to look for his sister. Deok-soo’s father made him promise to be the head of the family while he is gone.
Deok-soo and his family came to live with their aunt in the south and started being the breadwinner at an early age, taking different kinds of jobs. It is there where he meets his best friend, Dal-goo.
Deok-soo travels to Germany to work in a coal mine to support his younger brother who was already attending a university, and his other younger sister and mother who stayed back at home. Deok-soo meets Young-ja, a nurse deployed in Germany, and they fall in love. They come back to South Korea and start their life there.
After a few years, Deok-soo’s aunt dies and he decides to leave for Vietnam to earn enough money for his sister’s wedding and to buy off his aunt’s store from his uncle. He comes back to South Korea with an injured leg as a result of being shot during his stay in the war-stricken Vietnam.
In 1983 Deok-soo goes to a TV program in South Korea, which helps reunite relatives separated during the Korean War, in hopes of finding his father and sister. Deok-soo meets a Korean woman adopted by an American family who turns out to be Mak-soon.
At present day, Deok-soo, now an elderly man, contemplates on whether to finally sell his aunt’s store. It is revealed that Deok-soo’s father promised to reunite with them at the store. Deok-soo decides to let the store go and tells Young-ja that his father might be too old already to join them there.
Ode to My Father is the second-highest-grossing film in South Korean cinema with over 14 million tickets sold.