Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Cho EK
Two Korean films are coming out side by side around the Chuseok holidays. Miracle: Letters to the President and On the Line are set for release on September 15th. Both films are smaller in scale compared to Escape from Mogadishu and Sinkhole, which were released during the peak summer season. However, they deal with exciting subjects with some strong groundwork on the storyline. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of both films.
Miracle: Letters to the President
Miracle: Letters to the President is a movie like a holiday gift that has it all: fresh first love, family bond, and growth story. Inspired by the real-life story behind the establishment of Yangwon Station — the first privately owned train station in Korea made by local residents in 1988 — it tells the miraculous story of a boy and with a warm sensibility.
Jun Kyung, a high school student, wishes to build a train station in his village. Due to the poor road pavement, the only way out of the town is the railroad, where trains run through without stopping. Jun Kyung and the villagers have to make dangerous trips to get out of the town and, given the unpredictable train schedule, such trips sometimes end in tragedy. The movie tells Jun Kyung and the townspeople’s dedication to build a train stop in their town by sending more than 50 letters to the Blue House.
Director Lee Jang Hoon, who made the audience laugh and cry with the heartfelt romance and family drama in Be With You in 2018, once again showed off his unique talents in this film. The small town harmonized with nature, and the whole setting that brings nostalgia back to the 1980s are delightful to watch. And it is easy to dive into the story because there’s no villain figure that causes atrocious conflicts. Its flow, its clean narrative, and the sense of humor sprinkled throughout the movie make a good film to watch.
Moreover, the cast did a wonderful job. Although it was a little awkward to see Park Jung Min as a high schooler, he gradually sank into the character as the movie progressed. He did an excellent job portraying Jun Kyung’s complex emotions, such as guilt and sadness, behind his innocent looks and won the audience’s hearts. Moreover, Yoona smoothly pulled off Ra Hee’s bubbly quirkiness. Her chemistry with Jung Min was good as well. Lee Seong Min, who reveals his presence at the latter half of the film, displayed a blunt yet tenderhearted father figure from Gyeongsang-do. Last but not least, Lee Soo Kyung took on the most challenging role and made the audience shed tears with her pure heart.
However, the narrative could have been better if it didn’t give too much focus to Jun Kyung. The cast’s performance animates the characters, but the supporting characters only play an ancillary role for the main character, Jun Kyung. In addition, the family drama that gradually reveals itself after the mid-point ends up being overboard when it comes down to the relationship between Joon Kyung and his father. In other words, the tangled backstory seems to paint over the clean tone of the movie. Plus, the final scene was a little unnecessary and redundant.
On the Line
On the Line is a crime-action movie based on voice phishing (a.k.a phone scam) that is becoming more and more atrocious these days, causing more financial damages on people. It arouses keen curiosity in that the movie deals with the vicious crime everyone has heard of, but many can’t describe.
Seo Joon, a construction manager, faces a horrible tragedy overnight. His wife Mi Yeon gets scammed by a voice phishing organization and loses the fund they saved to buy their house. Moreover, she accidentally gets hit by a car and gets seriously injured due to the shock and horror. Furthermore, his colleagues lose their money over the same scam. Being a former detective, Seo Joon is dissatisfied with the police investigation and begins tracking down the organization to recover the 3 billion won he and his colleagues lost.
On the Line unfolds like any typical crime movie. The protagonist, who has lost everything due to a sudden crime, sets out on a chase to track down his stolen money. Despite the overused storyline, the movie instantly makes use of the unique subject in its story from the beginning. The meticulously re-enacted voice phishing crime in the movie that we’ve only seen in the news makes viewers sink into the story with its incredible details. Because the movie deals with everything so realistically, the prejudges on the voice phishing crimes woosh out the door.
However, the movie falls a little short of expectations. It is undeniable that the meticulously planned out crime captivates our eyes when they gain and use sensitive personal information on scams. However, the process of Seo Joon breaking into the gang and uncover their secret identity seems too easy and too good to be true. Despite him being a former detective, it is unrealistic that he is far ahead of the police investigation with the help of a single hacker. It makes little sense that just one person shakes such a huge organization that strictly monitors its members. The movie fills in the gaps with action scenes, but that’s also something we’ve seen in other crime movies and kills the tension. In particular, the latter half, which should have satisfied its viewers, could have been a lot better if the movie was shifted in a different direction.
Miracle: Letters to the President – Wish it had a less tear-jerking family drama. (6/10)
On the Line – Not a fan of its simple narrative, but it definitely raises awareness of voice phishing scams. (6/10)
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