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CROSSING (Keu-ro-sing) (Korean)

  Publicity Stills of "Crossing"

Genre: Drama
Director: Kim Tae-gyoon
Cast: Cha In-pyo, Sin Myeong-cheol, Joo Da-yeong, Seo Young-hwa, Jeong In-gi
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By: InnoForm Media
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.crossing2008.co.kr/

Opening Day: 8 November 2008


Yong-soo lives in a small coal-mine village in North Korea with his wife and young son. Although living in extreme poverty, the family is happy just to be with each other. Then one day, Yong-soo’s pregnant wife becomes critically ill. Let alone medicine, Yong-soo can’t even find food for her in North Korea. So he secretly crosses the borders of China hoping to find the medicine for his wife. After many life threatening moments in China, Yong-soo is forced into South Korea, becoming an unwanted refugee prohibited to return to his family. Meanwhile, his wife passes away leaving their young son alone in desperation. With no one to turn to, his young son sets out to find his father not knowing where or how to find him.

Movie Review:

What kind of movie would make a cynical review like this one to be moved to, well, shed a few tears? Simple – A moving family film about love, freedom and separation set against a political backdrop which makes things difficult for the family to live happily ever after. While this Korean picture can be seen as an exploitative tearjerker, some can read it as a project with a political agenda to comment on the sensitive issues between North and South Korea. Nevertheless, this film has beat other popular Korean movies like Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser and Kim Ji Hoon’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird to represent South Korea in the foreign film section at the 81st Academy Awards to be held in February next year.

Director Kim Tae-kyun’s (Volcano High) latest film tells the story of a North Korean man living in a mining village who crosses the northern border with China to get food and medicine for his ailing wife, only to find himself on the run. His 11-year-old son also risks his life to trace his father in China.

The story is that simple, and it gives the perfect reason to bring on the breathtaking cinematography to showcase the vast landscapes of Korea, Mongolia and China, the heartbreakingly soaring music score that plays during the countless separation scenes, the intensely affecting performance by the cast, and yes, lots and lots of shouting, screaming and crying. This is human drama at its best.

The two protagonists in this deeply heartrending film are played by Cha In-pyo and Shin Myeong-cheol. Cha plays the father who will stop at nothing to bring medicine back for his dying wife. Although the good-looker looks a bit, err, too good, for a North Korean (no offence here, really), but the 41 year old has enough ruggedness and graveness in him to bring the character to life. Thirteen year old Shin plays the young boy tasked to take care of his mother while his father crosses the dangerous border. The fear and anxiety in this boy’s eyes provide the soul for the movie because it effectively portrays the desperation experienced by North Koreans to survive – How can anyone not be moved by his performance?

It is reported that this film is South Korea’s first movie tackling the issue of North Korean refugees, and what better way to bring about international appeal and draw attention to the pressing issue than to tell a poignant story of a family separated by the cold war? The 112 minute movie may be played out against a politically sensitive backdrop, but it is essentially about the fundamentals of human nature. Just because one is set back in life by poverty, violence and communist practice, does he not deserve the freedom that we in more developed countries enjoy? This message is probably what the filmmakers want you and I to go away with after watching the movie.

The explosions and car chases in this well produced movie may be set up, but we can assure you that the emotions are real.

Movie Rating:

(A deeply stirring film about human nature that deserves to be seen by all)

Review by John Li


. Secret Sunshine (2007)

. The Old Garden (2007)

. Once In A Summer (2006)

. When I Turn Nine (2005)

. Brotherhood (2004)

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