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The Bow (2005) More at IMDbPro »Hwal (original title)


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Release Date:
12 May 2005 (South Korea) See more »
A girl who thought the sea was the whole world became the whole world to one old man.
On a fishing boat at sea, a 60-year old man has been raising a girl since she was a baby. It is agreed that they will get married on her 17th birthday, and she is 16 now. They live a quiet and secluded life, renting the boat to day fishermen and practicing strange divination rites. Their life changes when a teenage student comes aboard... Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
2 wins & 2 nominations See more »
Hwal (The Bow)
 (From The Hollywood Reporter. 9 June 2005)

User Reviews:
Coping with unmatched expectations See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order)
Yeo-reum Han ... The young girl (as Han Yeo-reum)
Si-jeok Seo ... The student
Gook-hwan Jeon ... The student's father
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Seong-hwang Jeon ... Old Man (no name)
Seok-hyeon Jo ... Third Man

Directed by
Ki-duk Kim 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ki-duk Kim 

Produced by
Yong-gyu Kang .... co-producer
Ki-duk Kim .... producer
Michiko Suzuki .... executive producer
Original Music by
Eun-il Kang 
Cinematography by
Seong-back Jang 
Film Editing by
Ki-duk Kim 
Production Design by
Sol Art Chung 
Costume Design by
Kyung-mi Kim 
Makeup Department
Ki-sun Kim .... key makeup artist
Production Management
Seok-bin Jang .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Hun Jang .... assistant director
Sound Department
Hyun-soo Jeung .... sound
Music Department
Eun-il Kang .... composer: additional music
Transportation Department
Joyce Kirkconnell .... driver

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Hwal" - South Korea (original title)
See more »
France:90 min | Canada:88 min (Montréal Film Festival) | Argentina:90 min (Mar del Plata Film Festival)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:


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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
Coping with unmatched expectations, 20 January 2011
Author: oOgiandujaOo from United Kingdom

Hwal / The Bow is a very rich movie for those interested in Buddhism however in cinematic terms there are some fairly substantial and overt structural problems with the movie. For example the film starts with a jolt of clumsy expositional dialogue (this is where characters have a very forced conversation that reveals the back story of the movie). Motifs are over-repeated (shooting of arrows) and non-sourced / non-diegetic music is layered on every time the old man starts to play his bow, all the worse because it is fairly saccharine.

Those with a yen for Buddhist films are however living on food parcels and so the film's flaws may be overlooked in kindness to the healing the film provides and the thoughts it provokes.

The plot of the movie concerns an old man who lives out on the sea on a fishing boat. He provides divination services and also a platform for line fishing. Customers sit on pastel-coloured sofas and ease away the day. He has spent a decade bringing up a young foundling girl and intends the unnatural act of marrying her when she reaches age.

To me one of the key points of Buddhism is that if you are angry with the world, there are two ways to proceed, change the world or change your attitude to it, the latter is the more likely to work. Another idea would be to be like the smooth stone in a river, over which the world flows softly, rather than the jagged cause of turbulence. Dukkha (a catch-all concept of suffering that has no direct translation to English) is minimised by the changing of the self. One facet of dukkha is viparinama-dukkha, which concerns the pain of unmet expectations and the pain caused by the impermanence of happiness. The old man in the movie suffers from this and has to learn to deal with it.

I found myself accepting unpalatable truths about my life watching this movie and salvaged a couple of evenings of calm from it. I would recommend it to those seeking to do likewise. One point to raise is that Kim is not averse to animal cruelty in his movies, in this one a chicken receives several deliberate blows from a character.

Others have pointed to the entire movie being composed of symbols, this is a particularly beautiful alternative way of looking at the movie, although it amounts to much the same take home in the end.

This is to my friend Mollie.

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