The Royal Tailor (Korean Movie 2014)

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Movie Rating: 9/10

Dol Seok was a lowborn slave who raised to the ranks of head tailor in the royal palace.

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For 30 years he has worked with his hands until callouses has mangled his fingers, however it was known that he was the best tailor in the entire land. That was until he met Kong Jin, a vulgar man who makes clothes for gisaengs. One of the palace workers named Pan Soo had problems with his uniform and he requested Kong Jin to alter it. At first Kong Jin was hesitant to help him out because he only worked on Gisaeng’s clothing but his creativity and imagination couldn’t help expand his expertise that he was able to alter Pan Soo’s clothing better than what was expected. That’s how word went out about his work that he was recommended to the other palace workers until his name reached the Queen. She wanted to fix the king’s

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garment used for a special occasion and assigned the task to her maids. However, instead of fixing it, the clothing was burned and sought out the help of the head tailor, but he said it was beyond repair. That was how Kong Jin was called into the palace and sees the Queen for the first time that he was mesmerized and promised to repair the King’s garment for her. During this time, Dol Seok and Kong Jin forms an unlikely friendship, one that is mixed with respect and jealousy. As time pass by and Kong Jin’s works becomes more bold and daring, Joseon’s fashion slowly changed as women try to copy the Queen’s fashion trend. All the while rumors circulate in the palace that the Queen and her tailor are having an affair driving the King mad with jealousy, despite his indifference to his wife since the day they were married.

This movie is such a compelling watch even though it’s far from being perfect, I still do not understand why there are a lot of negative reviews about it. I’m not sure if the reviewers even understood the bigger picture of this show. This is the reason why I have put this movie aside for so long that it took me 4 years to check it out. I realized that I’ve read bad reviews about it that it’s a must that I make my own version to make sure people will not miss out on it.

First of all, the actors of this movie are veterans and they were really good. They actually did an awesome portrayal of their roles. I would like to start off with my favorite supporting actor in this film, which was Pan Soo who was acted by Ma Dong Seok.

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Because of him, there were a lot of comic relief despite the seriousness the movie had in store for the viewers. Thanks to him, the first quarter of this movie was a joy to watch. The next ones are Dol Seok and Kong Jin which was acted by Han Seok Kyu and Go Soo, their uncanny friendship which was brought by the love of making clothes was palpable that it was hard to feel bad when things had gone astray for the both of them. I especially liked how their dreams intertwined with each other and yet they both made different

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choices and the path that they took separately lead them to be what they were meant to become. The Queen and King, portrayed by Park Shin Hye and Yoo Yeon Seok suited the role, because the royal clothes certainly looked regal when they wore them. Their characters had their own backstory to tell, since their relationship prior to getting married seemed like a fairytale story but it was simply marred by power struggle and inferiority complex. The Queen and Kong Jin on the other hand, had this peculiar relationship as of a royalty and a subject but then since it was obvious that Kong Jin was smitten by the Queen, there is that very thin line that cannot be crossed between a married woman and a man. I would tell more about my thoughts regarding their

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characters but I will have to put it in a spoiler below, because it would reveal key points and major story plots from the movie. Oh, before I forget – I should mention one antagonist that really caught my attention because I totally wanted to bitch slap her character. Royal Concubine Soo Ui acted by Lee Yoo Bi was the kind of woman I would like to strangle due to her power hungry heart and her viciousness. For a royal concubine as ambitious as hers, I’d definitely want to see her fall from her power.

The cinematography of the movie was beautiful and colorful, though most scenes were

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shot inside the palace, what made it great were the clothes. There were all kinds of clothes ranging from the ones Gisaengs were wearing up to those in the royal court. As for the story line, it didn’t feel draggy or over the top, however some people felt that the film was a bit rushed. In my opinion, the pacing was alright and that everything that has transpired in the movie was as clear as it could be. The only thing I would have changed if it was up to me, was add more on the back story of several characters like the King and Kong Jin. I would have wanted to know them better if not because of the time restriction. It’s not that necessary though, since the story

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is about the current occurrences in the palace, the clothes they are wearing and how it moved and revolutionized fashion during that era. I know that not everyone cares much about their clothing ensemble or any trending fashion but it’s best to appreciate this film through Kong Jin. He’s the kind of person who loved clothes and has the guts to innovate and because of him, a lowly tailor during a time of heirarchy, was able to stir political power for the King and Queen.

Music wise, it felt like I was watching a saguek drama since most of them has a background music that felt like I was listening to Pansori music but other than that, music flow was great that it moved my emotions while I watched the show. I’m highly recommending this to those who like to watch saguek and those who love clothes.

Photos are not mine. Credits to the owner.

*MAJOR SPOILERS*

Highlight to see text below.

Here are my thoughts about the main character’s relationship.

Dol Seok to Kong Jin – I love their relationship despite the self imposed rivalry for Dol Seok’s part. He is filled with awe and respect for Kong Jin’s work and yet he is also afraid and jealous because at the other side of the coin, he can be overthrown from his position, which actually happened because someone better came along. Though it was a bit vague if he remained as a head tailor in the palace, the fact that he was supposed to become a noble man in a couple of months. It was shown in the last scene that he was waiting at his home for the King’s royal decree which looked like it was not going to happen and yet he kept on waiting. It was sad that he did so much for the King but his loyalty was overshadowed by his limited talent and the King’s inferiority complex.

Kong Jin to Dol Seok – All he ever wanted was to make clothes for people, to make them look good and let them feel great about themselves. I love the way he respected Dol Seok because of his roots. Both of them were commoners, but Dol Seok was sought out by the King himself that it elevated his status among other people. However that’s not the main reason why Kong Jin liked him, it was because he knew that Dol Seok loved making clothes and that he had dedicated his whole life to making clothes. He knew that Dol Seok understood how he felt about the garments he made. Despite Kong Jin being eccentric and bold with his creations, he did not allow fear to consume him and so he still liked Dol Seok up to the very end even though he knew that he was about to die because Dol Seok make a copy-cat of his work. That particular scene when they were talking inside the jail was heart wrenching because despite how evil or mean Dol Seok seem to be, at the end when Kong Jin was gone and Dol Seok was burning Kong Jin’s remaining works, he found a nobleman’s garment that Kong Jin promised to make for him when he gets promoted. I think in that scene he realized how important Kong Jin was to him and the loss of a friend finally settled into his heart.

Kong Jin, the Queen and the King – During the early scenes when Kong Jin first met the Queen, it was implied how much he liked her as a woman and therefore she became his muse and inspiration. The proof was also the gold headdress that the Queen gave him as a gift for helping her out along with the message that he should give it to a woman he likes. Near the end of the movie, it was shown that he gave it back to her, implying that she was the one he liked. That’s why he made daring clothes for her not thinking what it would cost him. I like the huge difference between him and the King when it came to their personalities. Though the King loved the Queen, he could not let down his pride and come to her. It took a brilliant tailor to create an extravagant attire, the approval and appreciation of the Ming ambassadors and the failure of the opposing officials to humiliate the King before he went to seek the Queen but in the end it was too late. If my interpretations were right, the Queen did fall in love with Kong Jin because she accepted the hairpin and actually wore it. She also tried to save Kong Jin in her own way even though it was to no avail, at least she tried. She also mourned for his death using the handkerchief he gave her with an embroidery of her mother’s favorite flower.

The ending was beautiful despite the death of Kong Jin, it shows the impact of a man who moved the nation with his ideas and principles despite it being as simple as through clothes.

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Virgin Snow (Korean-Japanese Movie 2007)

Synopsis:

Min moves to Japan following his professor father. One day at a local shrine, he meets a beautiful, long-haired Japanese girl with innocent eyes. Her name is Nanae, and she is an aspiring painter. Min falls for her at first sight. He longs for her but soon learns that Nanae attends the same school to which Min has just transferred.

Min befriends Nanae, and despite the cultural and language barriers, they become fast friends, taking in the famous sites of Kyoto. Their feelings for each other grow, and on a visit to a ceramic store, Nanae promises some day to paint Min’s portrait on the pottery that is made by him. Min continues to learn the craft from his father, and he comes to realize that he has to put all of his heart, the kind of love he feels for Nanae, into making the pottery for it not to crack.

Because of his grandmother’s sudden illness, Min has to return to Korea to be with her. He cannot get in touch with Nanae, and he becomes anxious. After his grandmother regains her health, he hurries back to Japan to look for Nanae, but she is nowhere to be found. Have his true feelings for Nanae not reached her? Why has Nanae disappeared without a word?

Excerpted from: AsianWiki

Words from Me:

I can’t say I loved it but I am not saying I hate it, it was an average kind of film for me. I was probably just expecting so much from it since both main actors are my favorite but the story line was a typical one and there wasn’t anything special or surprising about it. The fact that there was so much hype for the movie prior to it’s screening, it was a bit of let down when I finally saw it and there wasn’t much of the feels aspect in it.

Despite having Lee Jun Ki and Aoi Miyazaki who are both top a rated Korean actor and Japanese actress as the main leads, the movie still didn’t make it into my must watch and recommended movies.

The story was more in the line of innocent love, or love at first sight and has many sweet moments. A girl would love to be treated like how Jun Ki treated Aoi here. It was just so sweet… but then again the character build up was slow (although amazingly it doesn’t have too many draggy moments as I have expected it to be) and the whole story lacked heart clenching moments as it could have been. It really had so much potential, so I wonder what the writer was thinking because the directing and cinematography was beautiful and I had not thing to complain about that. Maybe because this was a Korean-Japanese collaboration, the expectations were high and the pressure was heavy for the writer and producers.

As for the music, it was well done as both Japanese and Korean musicians incorporated their musical scores through out the film and it had a great outcome. It’s one of the things that perked me up. Then add the cinematography in it, the movie became bearable. The colorful views and touches in clothes, back drops and even the things that they hold… it was a pleasure to watch. Seeing Korea and Japan in one movie was breathtaking, making me want to travel there even more.

The Man from Nowhere (Korean Movie 2010)

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Since today is my birthday and I want to share something that I really like, I’m republishing this post to those who love action movies.

Synopsis:

Cha Tae Shik is a quiet pawnshop keeper in a rundown neighborhood who has  formed quite a unique friendship with his next-door neighbor Jeong So Mi. She is a young child who’s the daughter of Kim Yeon Soo, a pub dancer and drug junkie.

One day, Yeon Soo got caught up in a drug ruse with some powerful gangsters, which resulted in getting herself kidnapped along with her daughter. Unexpectedly Tae Shik became involved and this is when he started the manhunt to save little So Mi from her abductors.

Words From Me:

Initially, I wanted to watch Ip Man rather than this movie, but then my male cousin was insisting on watching this film because he has already started it and kept talking about how awesome it was. I had no idea what I was getting myself into until I started watching it.

So here are the things I learned about “The Man from Nowhere”:
It was a highly acclaimed film back in 2010-2011.
Won Bin acted as the main character.
The young female actress was Kim Sae Ron.

These names are pretty much known in the Korean entertainment industry up to this day and I can’t believe I missed this film back then. I’ve seen several posters as a reference to this movie in different dramas which states that it was an epic accomplishment for any filmmaker.

But ‘nuff said about that.

What made me like this movie (aside from Won Bin) was how it was action packed and yet emotional. Doesn’t matter that the theme was similar to several old films i.e. Leon – The Professional, which starred Natalie Portman when she was still a young kid. It wasn’t exactly about the story line or the theme. It was more about the character execution of the actors. The young Kim Sae Ron as Jeong So Mi was such an endearing character for so many reasons. On the other hand, Won Bin as Ahjussi absorbed her quirkiness. This emotional exchange goes both ways though, as his character was such an eccentric and aloof person but despite that, So Mi was able to love him as he is, like that of a daughter, while Ahjussi loved her all the same as a father. Their screen time together was so palpable it clenched my heart to watch them all throughout the film.

Then there’s also those supporting characters acted by Kim Hee Won and Kim Sung Oh (oh how I freaking love this guy!!! I always love watching him act regardless if he’s a main character or a supporting one). These pair are the kind of people you would want to bury alive. I was gritting my teeth while watching them, they looked like a bunch of fools but they are both street smart and had evil souls. They work so well as the villains. I sooooo love to hate them. Then, put in the thailander Wongtrakul Thanayong as Ramrowan in the mix, the antagonist circle is complete. The guy is such a charismatic assassin, I like him so much because his character is someone who is in for the fight and not exactly for the killing.

On the other aspects of the film, the cinematography and awesome action scenes was spot on and never felt redundant. The heart racing scenes weren’t overwhelming. They were shown with perfect timing which was one of the best things an action film can do. It doesn’t seem tiring to watch. Even though some of the scenes were visually disturbing, I still felt like asking for more because I was looking forward to justice at the end of it all.

For a film with a storyline that centralized about drugs, human trafficking and gangs… it seemed impossible to put in an emotional aspect in all of the chaos happening, but no. The Man from Nowhere is different because it was able to pull in the audience (like me!) in an emotional wreck. I also admire the transition of the main character from his past character to his present and then back again, it made him seem more… human.  And then insert the back ground music, things couldn’t be more perfect.

One thing I try not to think too much about is associating Cha Tae Shik to the character of Robert McCall which Denzel Washington portrayed in the movie “Equalizer”. Both characters were fearless and mind-blowing-badass that they are so freaking similar. I don’t want to talk too much about their similarities hence the spoiler. You must check both movies to see the resemblance of characters for yourself. I will probably re-watch this in the near future, but as of now, I will meditate in the memory of such an astounding film.

Highly recommending this to all action-buffs out there.

Fabricated City (Korean Movie 2017)

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Synopsis:

Kwoon Yoo is a great tactician in the virtual world and is called “Captain” by a bunch of other gamers who follows him around. They trust his decisions in every game, thus their team always win. However, though they get the final victory, his character always end up dead because he can’t resist sacrificing himself to save his teammate who is in dire need which makes him a revered man in the gaming world.

In reality, Kwoon Yoo is just an unemployed man who can only afford to eat cup ramen noodles and is having difficulty finding a proper job. He sometimes visits his mother who continuously believes in him and tries to support him in any way she can.

One day, he is framed for a murder he did not commit earning him a ticket in jail without bail. Everything in his life gets messed up until he is helped by the same people he always spend time with, the gamers who call him captain. He was helped by “Mr. Hairy” whom he always saves and end up sacrificing his life for in the virtual world. When he finally meets everyone in real life, he was in for a surprise because they were all willing to sacrifice their lives to help him and get his name cleared out.

Words from Me:

To be honest, I watched this movie in VIU via streaming for the sole reason of seeing Ji Chang Wook prior to his enlistment in the military. I had no idea what it was about, except that the title triggered my curiosity. When I started watching, the movie did not disappoint despite the slow build up in the first half of the story. I guess it was the introductory part that made it a bit draggy for me. Yet it was action packed and bloody as per my expectation. The title “Fabricated City” was very appropriate because the concocted false situations for the victims were orchestrated really well.

I like how they used the virtual world as a benchmark to make the fabrications seem like reality. Another part that I liked in this movie were the characters. The ones who supported the main actor were really a bunch of misfits who seemed like they can’t do anything right in the real world. The most surprising one for me was Mr. Hairy due to reasons I won’t reveal because I hate to be the bearer of major spoilers. On another note, the villain in the movie is another interesting character. Min Cheon Sang is the type of antagonist you’d love to hate because he is crazy and he knows that he’s good at what he does but still… he’s very demented.

Music wise, there’s nothing really memorable about it because there were a lot of kick ass moment on screen to pay attention to. Aside that, I’m recommending this for those who are in for an action packed ride who likes computers, hackers, mind blowing set ups and cons.

 

Antique Bakery (Korean Movie 2008)

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Synopsis:

As an heir to the family fortune, Jin Hyuk has money, the looks, the charm, everything except finding the love of his life. So he sets up a cake shop where women are sure to come. He hires Sun Woo, a talented patisserie who had a crush on Jin Hyuk back in high school. Along with an ex-boxing champion Gi Beom and a clueless bodyguard Su Young, the four unique and handsome young men stir up the quiet neighborhood at their cake shop, Antique. Although seemingly careless and happy, each of the four men have unforgettable past that they are afraid to face, but their secrets slowly begin to unravel.

Words from Me:

The Kmovie would have been a good queer film if not for the plot. I watched the movie earlier with a friend and am not surprised as to why 1 million viewers tried to watch this film within two weeks. How could four-hot-good-looking-irresistible stars not garner these amount of fans?

In this movie, what was really interesting was how each character had their own story to tell. I’m also glad that the director and producer gave the chance for these characters to show their own side of the story. The movie is quite long, with bits of musical pieces in between that I almost thought it was going to be like a broadway musical show up to the end.

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Joo Ji-hoon (from Goong and Mawang) who played as Kim Jin Hyeok, Antique’s owner was the most complex character in the lot. He had this terrible past which he doesn’t have closure with up until he made up the Bake shop. Jin Hyeok do not actually like sweets because of an incident 20 years ago. The only way he could move on from that was to catch the person who inflicted trauma in his past but the story does not only revolve around him. There’s more…

Kim Jae-wook (from Coffee Prince) as Min Seon-woo, the gay Patisserie (my favorite character) was VERY queer, charming, hot and definitely devious when it comes to making men; straight or gay fall for him. Only Jin Hyeok is the exception for some certain reason related in the past (again). He is the only guy who is able to resist his charm thoroughly up to the present but there would be some side story between their friendship and how things work out in favor for both of them in the end.

I loved the way Jae-wook presented his character, it seemed so real and not icky to watch all. There were several kissing scenes with a guy in this movie to show how gay his character really was. What fascinated me more was that before I actually watched the movie, I have read several comments from him as to how he was able to portray the character in a realistic manner. During the filming sessions, he admitted that he was having a very hard time internalizing his gay character because in reality he wasn’t gay. What’s more interesting is how it seemed so natural on screen, you wouldn’t even think he was uncomfortable with the whole process. He was so darn convincing that I would think he was gay if I didn’t know any better.

Yoo Ah-in (Sungkyunkwan Scandal) as Patisserie apprentice Yang Ki-beom, a punk kid who wanted to eat cakes and is running away from something. The kid is an insistent worker, stubborn but has a high respect for Seon-woo and would only acknowledge him as the best Patisserie in the whole world. He also has a sweet tooth that he became the official taster for the bake-shop.

Choi Ji-ho as Nam Soo-yeong, the guy who is unbelievably stuck with Jin-hyeok. He is the son of the Kim’s house nanny and became Jin-hyeok’s body guard in the process. He may be a bit slow, and could have been affected by the charms of Seon-woo but he has a great respect and kin-ship affection (not in a gay kind of way) towards Jin-hyeok. He always sees to it that he will be able to cater the needs of his young master.

There are other characters that have their own roles, but it would be too tedious to mention them one by one. Over all the movie’s quirkiness is thanks to these four wonderful guys. They have brought the entire film to the best of its ability that even in its 109 minutes, did not once made me feel it was draggy or boring. The mixture of humor and suspense was perfect, even the soundtrack fit so well with the whole movie. There might be some several graphics that was a bit too exaggerated but the colorful atmosphere and acting took that tiny glitch away.

The movie may not show any love interest between a man and woman, but it would certainly show how people could connect deeply with each other no matter how one is scarred from the past or has a marred future. It only shows that in the end, everyone would be able to cope up with their own personal demons.

A must see movie for those who has a queer eye and a different perspective in life.

 

One Day (Korean Movie 2017)

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Synopsis:

A newly widowed insurance investigator handling the case of a woman in a coma after a car accident encounters her spirit when he visits her in a hospital one day and realizes that he is the only person who can see her.

Excerpted from: TvN Asia

Words from Me:

I’m in a movie hangover.

I didn’t expect to be in this kind of state at all. I only watched this because of Kim Nam Gil and barely read the synopsis. Lately, I noticed that I’ve been picking a lot of melancholic stuff which I know isn’t good for my heart but then again this movie was beautifully portrayed that I’m letting myself succumb to the fact that it is about death, letting go and moving on with your life. To be exact, the story is the opposite of a happy-go-lucky-romantic-comedy which is my usual genre to pick and it is pretty far from being perfect… however, though it may sound like a despondent type of film, it definitely has a lot to offer.

The storyline involves some supernatural characters like a half ghost (half dead-half alive) but it is very interesting and I liked the fact that it lead me to realize all kinds of emotions through the main lead’s character portrayal. I was kind of waiting for some romance, however there was none up to the very end. I was only left with a bittersweet ending and lasting taste of some meaningful friendship. My tears fell at some point due to the emotional baggage of both the lead protagonist. I was partly wishing something really good will happen for the female lead which was acted by Chun Woo Hee but I already knew how it would end for her and so I braced myself for the inevitable and instead tried to enjoy the interactions that unfolded in front of me. On a side note, I love how the sub characters made the movie more fun to watch as they gave color to the main ones. Without them, I’d say that main lead’s lives could have been more bitter and dull.

I’d like to commend how Nam Gil was perfect for this role along with Woo Hee as his co-star. They suit each other well and even though my prayers for some romantic interaction between the two of them wasn’t granted, I didn’t feel disappointed at all because the friendship that they both portrayed was spot on. As I’ve already mentioned earlier, the male lead was the sole reason I checked out this film, I expected for him to be good in his character portrayal. Yet again, he has proven himself as a great actor and never lets me down. He has also exceeded my expectations! The female lead on the other hand was unexpected. It was the first time I’ve seen her and yet she was able to capture my attention and put her in my list of female actresses to follow. I liked her acting style and her portrayal of a blind person. It definitely looks hard to pretend to be blind because at some point there would be a glitch in the acting, but she was able to portray her character impeccably which impressed me.

The music was as morose as the movie could be, not that memorable but it was tuned in perfectly for each scene and I liked its simple tune. Overall this is a movie worth watching and doesn’t seem like a waste of time at all. Recommending it to those who are looking for some bittersweet drama full of lessons about the reality of losing a person you love.

The Battleship Island (Korean Movie 2017)

Sinopsis Film Korea The Battleship Island (2017)

Synopsis:

During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean people, who were forced onto Battleship Island (‘Hashima Island’) to mine for coal, attempt to escape.

Excerpted from: CJ Entertainement

Words from Me:

This movie wasn’t really in my “To Watch List” due to the overrated reactions of those who’ve already seen it. After watching it I could understand the fuss since it was a good watch but it was not exactly the best in my book, it gave me mixed feelings as I went through with it. On another note before watching the show, I didn’t really go through the actor list. The only familiar face I knew was Song Joong Ki. To my surprise I found So Ji Sub and Kim Soo An, the little kid who played as the daughter of the main lead in that zombie movie entitled “Train to Busan”. Seeing them with diverse character backgrounds made my watching experience more enjoyable. I also discovered a new actor named Hwang Jung Min who caught my attention, his role was the father of Soo An which he acted so well and turned me into a believer of his talents. I’m sure I’ll be checking out some of his other movies soon.

Story wise the plot was cut in different segments to show several protagonists and their situations before arriving in the same place at the same time, however it was a bit off in some places. As if scenes were inserted here in and there without considering the back story and handing it off to the viewer’s imagination instead. I guess that’s one of the quirks that I had to deal with while watching films. I need to have a concrete backstory on everything before making a logical conclusion. Setting that aside, I still enjoyed it as it was despite having my heart clenched every time I see the hardships of Koreans who were forced to work under the Japanese regime. There was this particular scene that got to me, it was the part where they made a facade for human trafficking by indicating that they were employed. Someone was announcing in the speakers that the Koreans were employed by a certain company all the while they separated the male and female then handed them record books for their payment as they walked off the boat and were guided to their sleeping quarters, rifles were held behind their backs as they walked on. Men had their hair shaved off and brought to the mines while the women’s bodies were checked for any signs of diseases as they were going to be put in the comfort house where they were made into whores. The fact that these people were practically kidnapped, put into slavery and yet the Japanese still say that they were employed… it was a dark irony. That being said I believe that the movie has a serious tone, but despite that it still has its own happy scenes scattered about at unexpected moments.

The OST was fitting all throughout its run time. It had all the elements needed to represent how a person’s war torn heart could be put in a melody. I would suggest to wait until the credits part as the song used for it may hit a few cords of a melancholic heart and make a lasting memory about the movie. I’m rating it 8/10 for the way it affected me after I’m done watching. I could still hear the agony during the battle and the cry for freedom of the people who were forced to slavery masked by employment. I may not be rewatching this soon but I am recommending this to people who want to watch a dramatic-action-packed movie and know a piece of history of Koreans during World War 2.