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.
Based on Benson Lee's own experience as a teenager, SEOUL SEARCHING is about a group of Korean teenagers/high schoolers sent from all over the world to participate in a government-sponsored summer program to help them connect with their heritage. Of course, since they're at the age of puberty and rule-breaking phase, all they could think of is how and when to party, but along the way, with any luck, they might make friends, fall in love, and learn something about their heritage after all.
As Asian myself, I think we need more movies SEOUL SEARCHING, movies that don't put Asians in stereotypical roles of just martial artists or doctors/scientists. But you don't have to be Asian to appreciate and enjoy SEOUL SEARCHING because there's a part in all of us that's always curious to know where we came from and what we're all about even if we choose to not realize it. And just like John Hughes, writer/director Benson Lee treats his characters, who are supposedly teens in this story, with the utmost respect and without insulting their intelligence. Today's generation may not fully understand how hard it was for kids their age back then, no internet, no social media, limited means of looking up stuff on your own and so they had to look up to other personas, mostly the ones on MTV.
It's funny how when you're younger, you desperately try to tap into certain identities that you think represent you because you're still in that phase of searching, which is why this film hits the mark on so many levels. As you get older, we look back and wonder why on earth did we ever wear those clothes or have such hairstyle. SEOUL SEARCHING does a great job of re-capturing the '80s in terms of its looks, the costumes and the music, you can tell who's inspired by Run DMC, who's inspired by Madonna and so on and so forth. The characters in this film are unique, they're Koreans born in other parts of the world, they come in with different perspectives, different habits, different ways of doing things, so to see them colliding as some kind of melting pot over a span of just one summer, of course hilarity, heartbreak, and certain revelations ensue, at the same time, SEOUL SEARCHING is also a gentle old soul longing to bestow its wisdom on us.
Great cast; memorable cast, each and every last one of them. Esteban Ahn's Mexican korean character in particular has some of the best lines in the film. Of course my favorite would have to be Jessika Van's rendition of Madonna's "Like a Virgin," which is amusing and you can't help but be admired by the focus she puts into that performance. SEOUL SEARCHING is nostalgic, fun, and heartfelt. I think it's good for people to learn and ultimately come to respect their heritage, I don't think it should be a mandatory government program, but I'm glad such program did happen in the '80s for these folks because otherwise, Benson Lee wouldn't have been able to share his great experience with the world.
-- Rama's Screen --
- Jun 21, 2016