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When I Turned Nine (2004)
"Ahobsal insaeng" (original title)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 361 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 3 critic

A life of nine year old... It ain't an easy life! Yeo-min is a matured and thoughtful 9 year old boy who lives in a small mountain village. Even at his young age, he has too many things to ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Seok Kim ...
Baek Yeo-min
Se-yeong Lee ...
Jang Woo-rim
Myeong-jae Kim ...
Shin Ki-jong
Ah-hyeon Na ...
Oh Geum-bok
Baek-ri Park ...
Black Swallow
Seon-kyeong Jeong ...
Yeo-min's mother
Dae-han Ji ...
Yeo-min's father
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ae-Yeon Jeong
Hyeon-jeong No
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Storyline

A life of nine year old... It ain't an easy life! Yeo-min is a matured and thoughtful 9 year old boy who lives in a small mountain village. Even at his young age, he has too many things to take care of. First, he has to protect his friends from the neighborhood bully Black Bird and keep peace in his neighborhood. Second, he must share his lunch with his best friend Ki-jong who lives alone with his sister. And, third, he has to sell ice cream bars after school to save enough money to buy a pair of sunglasses for his mother who injured her eye while working at a factory. He is a good son to his parents and a loyal friend to his buddies. He does well in spelling tests and has completely memorized the multiplication table. He is a nine year old boy who thinks he knows everything he needs to know about the world he lives in. Until... Even as a nine year old, there is a girl you want to protect! One day, a pretty city girl moves into his village. Her name is Woo-rim and she is by far the ... Written by CJ Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

26 March 2004 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

When I Turned Nine  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,533 (Hong Kong) (6 May 2005)

Gross:

$13,533 (Hong Kong) (6 May 2005)
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A film is based upon the bestselling novel of the same title. See more »

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User Reviews

One big ode to Korean strength through suffering
1 September 2004 | by (Sarnia, Ontario) – See all my reviews

WHEN I TURNED NINE (2003) Directed by Yoon In-ho. Korean drama films set in public or high-schools often make me uneasy for I know there will be severe Korean Cranial Abuse, played completely straight, as this is one of the many liberties apparently afforded teachers (among other authority figures) in Korean culture. Westerners will no doubt react with horror at the relentless, wordless beating young Baek Yeo-min (Kim Seok) endures from his stone-faced teacher for dunking the shoes of snooty new classmate Woo-rim (Lee Se-young) in retaliation for an earlier slight. Not only do the very real looking blows eventually start knocking him to the floor, he gets back up and faces into yet another one because, well, that's just what you do. Yeo-min is the defacto Big Boss of his public school social order in the early 1970's. He takes his licks, defers without issue to his elders and their rigid disciplines, and is actually quite attracted to the Woo-rim, a Seoul transplant who's prone to inflating the wonderfulness of her possibly broken family, lies like a rug, plays favourites in the playground pecking order and will make you very tempted to call her something that rhymes with 'bitch.' But Yeo-min sees beyond all that, even if he doesn't understand why, and much to the chagrin of his female friend Keum-bok (Jung Sun-kyung). Meanwhile, on the home front, Yeo-min's greatest desire is to buy a pair of sunglasses for his mother, who was blinded in one eye by a factory mishap and now spends her days a recluse at home, and who ultimately teaches him the error of his weak thinking by whipping the back of his calves with a reed in yet another scene of heart wrenching realism that may put off those who don't read up on the culture. He also becomes acquainted with the town philosopher, whose inability to connect with a local music teacher echoes the potential social problems of Yeo-min's attraction to Woo-rim. Ultimately, this plays like one big ode to Korean strength through suffering (an understandable facet of the country's cinema), and though I'm willing to allow for my own ignorance of other cultures when something doesn't quite sit right with me, much of the melodrama in this film seems a tad disingenuous, particularly the dialogue written for these wise-beyond-their-years youngsters. Now I'm aware from the books I've read, that the harsh living conditions for the Korean under classes from the 50's to the 70's were enough to make anyone grow up fast and hard, I'm still somewhat uncomfortable with the sight of an ten-year-old standing before her bawling classmates and owning up to a laundry list of 'issues' as though it were her final day in rehab seems just a little bit phony. Director Yoon In-ho and screenwriter Lee Man-hee, working from a novel by We Kee-cheul, know just what buttons to push to get the tear ducts welling up, but I'm afraid they don't know how to push them lightly.

From a technical perspective, the film looks stunning, with the barren poverty of the small town beautifully captured through several seasons by cinematographer Chun Jo-myoung.


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