In 1986, a group of foreign born Korean teenagers attend a summer camp in South Korea.In 1986, a group of foreign born Korean teenagers attend a summer camp in South Korea.In 1986, a group of foreign born Korean teenagers attend a summer camp in South Korea.
Seoul Searching depicts teens from around the world exploring their relationship to their Korean cultural identity - at a summer camp in Seoul, Korea. (Cue mass quantities of alcohol.) Like any teen film, it explores relationships with parents, peers, and authorities, but what makes this one so enjoyable is that it is so specific and spot-on in illuminating the Korean cultural experience.
As a hapa Korean and Italian woman, it's rare that I see a film so dynamic in its representation of complex cultural issues. The movie was hilarious, yet, particularly in one un-subtitled scene, still able to touch the depths of a drama. It explored everything from Korea's held anger towards the Japanese to the DMZ to Korean multiracial adoptees, while challenging and flipping assumptions in funny and clever ways.
The director – who admitted an homage to John Hughes – hired mostly 'non-actors' who knew their characters from the inside, which worked. For example, the actor who played Sergio from Mexico was actually a Spanish-speaking Korean man culturally representing himself. This was true too, for the German-speaking Korean man from Hamburg. The cast was beaming – you could tell they loved being in the movie.
The only characters that didn't land for me were the 'rapper' guys, and the only assumptions that didn't move enough for me were those about Korean fathers. But there were so many other things that worked – including the solid 80's soundtrack – that it still made my night.
- Jan 30, 2015