Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated Cho EK
Love stories have become very rare recently. Romance is constantly seeking viewers on small screens, but the latest Korean films are mostly based on other genres. Indeed, some are in the production stage: Jeon Jong Seo and Son Seok Gu’s Romance Without Love (working title), Lee Dong Wook and Lim Su Jeong’s Single in Seoul, and Han Ji Min, Yoona, Kang Ha Neul’s Happy New Year. However, there are not many of them. Actors who have elicited various emotions in romance films in the past nowadays play characters with no love lines. Hoping to see the romantic side of the actors on the screen again, let’s relieve the disappointment with the movies introduced below.
Il Mare (2000)
Il Mare is a movie starring Lee Jung Jae and Jeon Ji Hyun, who rarely star in romance films nowadays. It depicts the story of a man and a woman living in a picturesque house called ‘Il Mare’ with a time difference of a year. They get to know each other’s existence by exchanging letters and slowly fall in love. Directed by Lee Hyun Seung, who received great attention for sophisticated color images with an urban sensibility in The Blue in You (1992) and Sunset into the Neon Lights (1995), it became the first Korean film to be remade in Hollywood (The Lake House, 2006). Unfortunately, it was relatively underrated at the time of its release compared to Ditto, which has a similar subject matter. Still, the affectionate love that unfolds in the beautiful footage and Kim Hyun Cheol’s “Must say goodbye” leave a long-lasting impression.
The Classic (2003)
The movie is based on Hwang Soon Won’s novel, Showers. My Sassy Girl director Kwak Jae Yong introduced the lead actors Son Ye Jin and Cho Seung Woo to the public. In it, Son Ye Jin played two roles in this movie and emerged as a star with clean and pure beauty. The story begins when a daughter accidentally finds her mother’s love letters from when she was young. Although it is somewhat sentimental, the meticulous setting that stimulates nostalgic feelings and the familiar melody of the music harmonize all together. Also, it is a rare work where you can see the heartbreaking performance of Cho Seung Woo, who has become a great actor.
Maundy Thursday (2006)
It is an adaptation of Gong Ji Young’s novel of the same title. The combination of Kang Dong Won and Lee Na Young attracted great attention. Director Song Hae Seong said, “If you look closely at the two actors, there is a subtle sadness. Just as Yoo Jung and Yun Su share similar wounds, the lead actors also resemble each other.” The movie tells the story of a man who faces the death penalty for a murder charge but desperately wants to live and a woman who has no attachment to life enough to attempt to commit suicide three times. Together, they miraculously share each other’s feelings. Despite having such different backgrounds and perspectives, the movie depicts the moment they bring out their painful wounds, loneliness, and despair to each other. Soon, they truly begin to connect, give comfort, and thus, love and understand each other. Although its subject is rather heavy, the harmony of plainspoken directing and the actors’ soul-stirring performances were impressive.
A Season of Good Rain (2009)
Many would consider A Moment to Remember (2004) as Jung Woo Sung’s best romance film in which he starred with Son Ye Jin. But I think his hidden masterpiece is A Season of Good Rain. Made by Christmas in August (1998) and One Fine Spring Day (2001) director Hur Jin Ho, A Season of Good Rain is a movie that brings excitement out of its beauty of simplicity. It follows a man and a woman who were attracted to each other while studying abroad in the US but could not open their hearts. After a long time, they run into each other in China and fall in love again. The chemistry between Jung Woo Sung and Gao Yuanyuan is good, and the whole movie is full of pleasantly refreshing feelings. The film has the lightest mood among director Hur Jin Ho’s other romance films.
Finding Mr. Destiny (2010)
Based on the musical of the same title, Finding Mr. Destiny is a film that focuses more on the actors, especially Gong Yoo, rather than the plot. It depicts the twists and turns of romance between Ji Woo, a girl who goes out to find her first love pushed by her father, and Ki Joon, who opened a search agency for his first love after being laid off because of his savvy personality. Although there were generic discrepancies caused by adapting a musical into a movie, Gong Yoo’s hot features made us overcome boredom, cringes, and cliches. He even looked dashing with the horrendous 2 to 8 side hair part. His collaboration with Lim Soo Jung is also lovely. At the end of the movie, you can listen to the song Gong Yoo sang himself. It is with a light melody that starts with the lyrics, “The moment we first met, I was quite scared of you.”
Late Autumn (2010)
This movie drew a lot of attention as Hyun Bin, who gained huge popularity with Secret Garden, and Tang Wei of Lust and Caution co-starred. It is a remake of Lee Man Hee’s 1966 film of the same title. It depicts an unforgettable love between a female prisoner who takes a three-day vacation and a man who is on a run. Their love story in strange places lacks big dramatic events, but the sad and lonely emotions left by a short encounter followed by a long separation leave a lingering impression. The foggy and inclement weather in Seattle also doubles the loneliness of the film.
Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.