Spring in My Hometown (1998)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[dir: Kwangmo Lee; prod: Taesung Jung, Sungkyu Kang; writer: Kwangmo Lee]
Cast: Sung-kee Ahn, Yoo-Jung Bae, Jungwoo Kim, In Lee, Ji-hye Oh, Wok-suk Song, Oh-seong Yu
Running Time: 120 min

Plot: A story of two 13-year-old boys in a small country village during the last days of the Korean War. Sungmin’s father gets a job at US army camp through his daughter’s American boyfriend, and the family gets richer. But Changhee’s father has been long-lost and his mother can’t even afford one meal a day for her children. One day, the boys peep into a deserted mill-house which is unofficially used for prostitution, and find out Changhee’s mother with a GI soldier.
Changhee sets fire to the place and runs away. Months later, Sungmin hears a rumor that his best friend has been killed by a group of angry American soldiers and makes an empty grave with other boys. A year later, Sungmin’s father gets fired for stealing things from the camp. Sangmin goes to Changhee’s grave to bid farewell and the family leaves the village.


An interesting look at Korea in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s a nostalgic movie, with the beauty of a painting, but about halfway through it starts treating itself with such seriousness that movie becomes very hard to sit through. The plot is really quite similar to that of a movie like To Live, giving precedence to a new clich»: period pieces that show how hard things were for the older generations, and how they mutely suffered through it all. Quite interesting to look at, but once we start seeing more period pieces set in Korea in the 1950s, this one will probably be supplanted. It’s not very thematically daring or advanced. Instead, it punches its’ nostalgia. For United States audiences, though, it does offer some very interesting insight into why people in many other countries in the world don’t like Americans too much: the film goes to some length to make apparent the prostitution that went on in the American military bases during the Korean War.

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