Art Museum by the Zoo (1998)

June 1, 2002 • Film, Korea, Reviews

[dir: Lee Jeong-hyang]

Plot: On leave from military service, Chul-soo makes a beeline for his fianc?©e’s apartment for a little rest and recreation. When he finds she’s gone out, he lets himself in and settles down to wait, cleaning up her untidy apartment and even paying her back rent. However, the girl who returns to the apartment is not his fianc?©e but Choon-hee, the new tenant. To Choon-hee’s dismay, Chul-soo refuses to leave the apartment until he’s found his fianc?©e and she finds she must help him in order to get rid of him.


The close quarters results in friction and sparks between the two opposites. They squabble, get their hearts broken, write a screenplay together and eventually fall in love. Shim Eun-ha (Christmas in August) who plays Choon-hee shines as the dreamy videographer unconcerned with the accoutrements of femininity such as cooking, cleaning, and clothes. It’s a delight that she finds love and gets the man without the requisite Hollywood makeover. Lee Sung-jae (Kick the Moon, Attack the Gas Station) plays the bossy control freak Chul-soo who barges into her life and takes over her screenplay. The story they create about an isolated zoo veterinarian (Ahn Sung-ki from Nowhere to Hide) and the art museum docent (Song Seon-mi) who falls for him begins to take on a life of its own as the two stories begin to mirror each other and eventually mesh.

I could lodge some complaints against this movie for its underdeveloped second story or the too-overbearing Chul-soo character, but in the end these are minor complaints. You’d have to be a curmudgeon not to fall in love with this simple, sweet, and utterly charming movie.

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