Seoul Searching

The 2015 Seattle International Film Festival welcomed this submission from South Korea (English captions when appropriate). Directed by Benson Lee, we were promised the influence of the John Hughes school of teenage dramedy, but Hughes' films weren't laden with profanity or alcohol. This has a LOT of both. Eek!

We are in a 1986 Korean summer camp for foreign-born teenagers whose parents left Korea after the war. They scattered to the four corners of the earth, so this is quite an assortment of teenagers, back "home" so Korean instructors can teach them about cultural identity and their motherland. This story is based on that experiment, which had to be canceled after three years because the defiant teenagers couldn't be controlled.

We see:
  • Justin Chon - Sid is an American rebel, prone to violence. He patterns himself after Sid Vicious, the punk rocker who died in the late 70s.
  • Rosalina Leigh - Kris was given up for adoption and has conflicted feelings about meeting her birth mother; she loves her adoptive parents.
  • Teo Yoo - Klaus was raised in Hamburg, Germany. He's studying finance and intends to prove to Germans that Koreans aren't just laborers.
  • Esteban Ahn - Sergio was raised in Mexico and fancies himself quite the Latin lover.
  • Jessika Van - Grace acts like the biggest slut there. The scene where she drinks too much and vomits is really repugnant!
  • Albert Kong - Mike wears his camouflage with militant pride. He was raised in Virginia at a military institution.
  • In-Pyo Cha - Mr. Kim is their instructor and chaperon. He has his own story to tell.
In my opinion, this film relied too much on stereotypes. We had rappers before Rap became a genre and cross-dressing at a time when this would have been impossible. There are other examples, but just be warned...