The first half of the 20th century was traumatic for the Korean people. They suffered through a Japanese occupation for 35 years and then through a wrenching civil war which destroyed the country. Since the division of the country, South Korea has grown rapidly while North Korea has withdrawn and calcified in recent years.
At the time of that division, a destroyed Seoul begins to rebuild. This film is set just after that when we see a varied cast of characters adapting to changing times with varying degrees of success and willingness. The character at the heart of the film, Mr. Kim (Kim Seung Ho) is a doctor of traditional medicine and a rather old-fashioned man who is loathe to move into the future. Although he's good-hearted, his stubbornness is so strong, it almost destroys his life.
His son Hyun-gu (Kang Sin Seong Il), widowed daughter Hyun OK (Eun Hee Choi, and long- suffering wife Mrs. Kim (Jeong Soon Hwang). They deal with him in various ways, but usually by humoring him. A handsome young doctor of western medicine, Dr. Choi (Jin Kyu Kim) lives opposite him. Mr. Kim has two omnipresent friends - a sad-eyed real-estate agent named Mr. Ro (Hie Gab Kim) and a pretentious fortune teller named Mr. Park (Jang Gang Heo). He and his friends don't do much but drink and joke but they make for nice foils for Mr. Kim's grumpiness.
As regards Mr. Kim's kids, Hyun OK is secretly involved with the daughter of a lowly bar owner (Eun Jin Han). Before Mr. Kim knows about this relationship, he looks down his nose at the bar owner but when he learns about Hyun Gu's relationship, he has to re-evaluate his classism. No one else thinks the relationship is inappropriate except for Mr. Kim. Dr. Choi and Hyun OK are interested in each other and Mr. Kim frowns on this flirtation and also on Dr. Choi's western medicine. Mr. Kim really is the lodestone around which the community operates and so it is important that be progressive.
Most characters' responses to problems are pragmatic, but Mr. Kim feels his pride forbids him from changing. The clash between Confucianism and western ways comes into sharp focus over the differing medicines practiced by Mr. Kim and Dr. Choi. As I said though, this isn't a problem for Dr. Choi. It's only a problem for Mr. Kim. Dr. Choi is not threatened by Mr. Kim at all. Indeed, in one of the funnier scenes, when Mr. Kim wants to embarrass Dr. Choi, Dr. Choi turns the tables on him by soliciting advice on being a physician. Mr. Ro and Mr. Park also have no problem with Dr. Choi and wonder why Mr. Kim is so upset.
This is a big-hearted, warm film. The acting is good across the board and the story is well- told. There are some very funny scenes and the clashes over relationships and change are something all people can relate to.
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