» » Gukjesijang (2014)

Short summary

Amid the time of Korean War, a young boy's vow to take care of his family marked the beginning of a lifelong promise spanning 60 years.
Amid the chaos of refugees fleeing the Korean War in December 1950, a young boy, Duk-soo, sees his fate change in the blink of an eye when he loses track of his younger sister and he leaves his father behind to find her. Settling in Busan, Duk-soo devotes himself to his remaining family, working all manner of odd jobs to support them in place of his father. His dedication leads him first to the deadly coal mines of Germany, where he meets his first love, Youngja, and then to war-torn Vietnam in this generational epic about one man's personal sacrifices.

Trailers "Gukjesijang (2014)"

JK Youn named the lead characters after his own real-life parents, Deok-soo and Young-ja.

Young-nam Jang is three years younger than Jung-min Hwang who plays her son.

In its eighth week of release, "Gukjesijang" became the second highest-grossing film of all time in the history of South Korean cinema, with 14.2 million admissions. As of March 1, 2015, the film has grossed US $105 million in South Korea.

Thailand location was used for Vietnam war scenes.

Four VFX company is involved with the film's VFX.

This is the first Ditectorial for Youn JK in five years. His previous directorial to this was Haeundae.

For its North American run, the film premiered in Los Angeles on December 31, 2014 where it drew over 6,000 viewers after four days of release, mostly first-generation Korean-American immigrants in their fifties and older. Beginning January 9, 2015, it expanded to 43 US and Canadian cities such as New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver.

It was also screened in the Panorama section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015, and among the audience were 20 ethnic Korean first-generation immigrants whose experiences were portrayed in the film.

It is officially being remade in Hindi language with the title Bharat starring Salman Khan.

Mi-ran Ra is five years younger than Jung-min Hwang who plays her nephew.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Doomblade
    Wowww! I don't know where to start. The movie was so much better than my expectation after reading the IMDb's movie critics' reviews. I feel compelled to disagree with some of the criticisms that this movie tried to be melodramatic, some scenes were unnecessarily too comical, and that it was improbable and unrealistic for a person to go through all such tumultuous events. I like to recommend those critics to read about the 20th century Korean history.

    My mother now in her 80's experienced many of the same experiences and some additional events in her lifetime: the Japanese occupation (1910- 1945), her 11 -year old classmates being shipped off by Japanese as wartime prostitutes during WWII (1939-1945), Korean independence (1948), Korean War (1950-1953) during which time she was a refugee in Busan, etc.

    Immediately after WWII, after Japan exhausted all of Korea's natural resources, goods and men to fuel their war engines, Korean War broke. Whatever remained standing or fertile were bombed or burned up. After the Korean War, Korea was literally in rubble and ashes. Many families were split up and scattered during the war. The Streets were covered with orphans. Holt Adoption Agency placed many Korean orphans in American homes. These are all accurate.

    As an early teen (in early 1960's), I was hearing about many Koreans hiring themselves out to foreign countries to find work as miners, nurses, or soldiers. The movie was also accurate that Germany did not extend the visas of foreigner miners for they were hired to make up for their temporary labor shortage.

    I do agree with the critics that some of the acting was a bit raw, but they were soon forgotten as the movie pulled me into the story. I appreciated the funny scenes in the movie, for without them, it would have been too depressing to watch. This is a wonderful, wonderful movie, you must see! It is playing in K-Town at CGV theater. Also good eats in the same shopping mall.
  • comment
    • Author: Gnng
    Today Father's Day 2015, I brought my wife and kids to watch "Ode to My Father," a big Korean hit movie dubbed into Tagalog for local audiences.

    "Ode to My Father" has a reputation that precedes it. It is a big-budget film that cost a whopping ₩14 billion. It debuted in Korean movie houses in mid-December 2014, and remained at Number 1 for five consecutive weeks. By its 8th week of release, it became the second highest-grossing film of all time in the history of South Korean cinema with 14.2 M admissions and a $105M gross. This was second only to "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" released July 2014, which had over 17M admissions and a $132M gross.

    I know my wife will like a film like this. However, my kids, especially the boys, did not really want to go see what seems to be a heavy drama film. Good that they relented to have their old man choose the film to watch on his special day. During the film, I was happy to observe that they were quite attentive during the film, and did not fall asleep as they were saying they would. In fact, they ended up really liking the film, being dubbed in Filipino notwithstanding.


    "Ode to My Father" is the story of one Yeon Deok-soo, whom we first meet as an elderly man staunchly keeping his old imported goods store open in the Gukje Market of Busan, despite all odds. He is currently living with his wife of fifty years, Young-ja. Through flashbacks, we are told about the harrowing experiences this man went through in his life.

    As a boy, he lost his father and younger sister during the evacuation of their hometown Hungnam during the Korean War in 1951. Settling down in Busan at an aunt's house, Deok-soo took it upon himself to be the man of the house, helping his mother earn money and raise his two younger siblings. Extreme financial necessities brought him abroad as a miner in Germany in the 1960s and as a non-military personnel in Vietnam in the 1970s. During the 1980s, Deok-soo tried his luck in locating his lost father and sister through TV shows who helped reunite family members estranged during the Korean War.

    The movie had a "Forrest Gump" feel as we follow the life of this man through his extraordinary experiences over the decades. You can definitely see where the big budget went in the amazing production design depicting the different periods in different countries where the hero spent his life. Those scenes depicting the Hungnam Evacuation of 1951 were especially spectacular in scope and rich in details. Those scenes in the dangerous mine shafts of Germany and the war-torn villages of Vietnam were likewise made us feel the difficulty and tension of such dire situations. The drama of those footages of families reconnecting on TV felt very real and compelling.

    I do not watch too many Korean films, so I am not familiar with any of the main actors. Hwang Jeong-min played Yoon Deok-soo from youth up to elderly age. He does so with much conviction and heart, so that we completely absorbed into his life journey.

    Oh Dal-su plays his very close friend Dal-gu. Oh's character is given the role of the comic relief of the film. His antics can be cringe- worthy as his hairstyles were over the years, true. But without him, this film may have been too downbeat and depressing. There were a few brief scenes of a sexual nature that may be awkward when you watch with kids.

    Kim Yunjin plays Deok-soo's wife Youngja from her young days as a nurse working overseas in Germany to her old age. She plays supportive very well, but she was also given the opportunities to show that she can also speak her mind.

    Jang Young-nam plays Deok-soo's long-suffering Mother. Ra Mi-ran plays his enterprising Aunt Kkotbun. These two ladies play their characters with dignity and poise.

    With "Tidal Wave" (2009) and "Ode" under his belt, director Yoon Je- kyoon became the first direct with two films passing the 10 million ticket sales mark in South Korea. In "Ode", he plays his rich winning hand of a story with dramatic flair. The way the story was being told, tears can really flow out with not much effort. The older you are, the more you can identify with the family issues being told in the film and really get emotionally connected.

    Even if we are not Koreans, and we are not very familiar with these events in their history, we can still connect with Deok-soo's travails. We even hear the characters speaking in Filipino, yet that fact does not negatively affect our appreciation of the film as much as I feared. But yes, to be completely honest, the quality of Tagalog dubbing can be distracting at times. I would have rather watched this film with its original Korean dialogue track intact, with English (or Tagalog) subtitles.

    Overall, I enjoyed the multi-decade span of this story and how meticulously the story had been told and excellently presented on screen. How I wish I had my parents with me when we watched this film. Having gone through the war years themselves, I feel they would appreciate the family story, identify with the adversities and get emotionally affected even more than I was. 8/10.
  • comment
    • Author: Rainbearer
    Trust the Koreans to bring the words melodrama and blockbuster into the same motion picture. Indeed, JK Youn's latest film after his record-breaking special effects extravaganza 'Haeundae' sees him tell a family drama over sixty years that spans both the Korean War in the 1950s, the Gastarbeiter programme in mid-60s Germany, the Vietnam War in the 1970s as well as many other momentous periods etched in the psyche of his country's people – and each one of these episodes serves as a 'blockbuster' in itself not just in spectacle but emotion. It is no wonder that the film has since gone on to make its own history, becoming the second most-watched film in Korean cinema.

    Co-written by Youn and Park Soo-jin, the film opens in the present day with Deok-Su (Hwang Jung-min), his wife Yeong-ja (Kim Yun-jin) and his best friend Dal-goo (Oh Dal-su) who live in the coastal city of Busan, where Deok-su and his family run a small store in the city's Gukje (International) Market. On a walk with his youngest granddaughter Seo-yeon through the Market, Deok-Su recalls an eventful yet tumultuous life journey that starts in the early 1950s. Then a young boy who was one of the hundreds of refugees fleeing the Korean War, Deok-Su loses grip of his younger sister Mak-sun and is separated from his father, who disembarks to look for Mak-sun, as they try to board the SS Meredith Victory, an American cargo freighter that evacuated 14,000 refugees in Hungnam, North Korea.

    Arriving in Busan, Deok-soo is looked after by his father's eldest sister but is forced to leave school and support the family by working as a shoe shiner. The rest of the movie unfolds as a succession of perils as he strives to support his family as a young man – first, on Dal-gu's suggestion, he signs up with the inter- government Gastarbeiter scheme and is sent to work in the coal mines of West Germany, where he not only survives a mine disaster but also meets his wife-to-be Yeong-ja who was studying to be a nurse; then, he signs up for a non-military position in Vietnam with Dal-gu, where he narrowly escapes the clutches of the invading Viet Cong in Saigon but helps Dal-gu find a wife (Nguyễn Mai Chi) in a South Vietnamese villager that they help evacuate.

    True to the template of a blockbuster, Youn's film is constructed around a few major setpieces, each one of them deftly executed with both scope and intimacy so we can appreciate the immensity of the historical chapter as well as what it meant for our lead protagonist Deok-su and to a lesser but no less significant extent his family members and Dal-gu. It is therefore no surprise that Youn chooses as his finale the reunion of thousands of families in a live KBS- televised event back in 1983 – including that of Deok-su, who after three decades is finally reunited with his father and sister. Notwithstanding the fact that it is a re-enactment, Youn stages the climax with emotional aplomb; and by that, we mean you better be prepared for plenty of hugs, tears and kisses, perhaps even some of your own in a vicarious way.

    Like the best Korean tearjerkers, Youn's film makes no apologies for being unabashedly sentimental, but there is no denying that it is poignant enough to move you to tears. As with his previous movies, Youn demonstrates a firm grasp of mise-en-scene, so even though his core audience will likely have no difficulty identifying with his protagonist's struggles, he stages each one of the four major events with startling realism and, by doing so, pulls you into the thick of history. But most like 'Haeundae', Youn shows a knack for mining human drama potently, ensuring that his key sequences connect not just on a visual level but also on a deeply emotional one.

    The accomplishment certainly isn't Youn's alone; in fact, Hwang deserves much praise for doing the heavy lifting as the emotional anchor of the film. It is with his character that we laugh, cry and rejoice with, and Hwang's performance is sincere, heartfelt and affecting. It is even more impressive that he manages to carry the character from his twenties into his twilight years, and with a roster from gangland drama 'New World' to war comedy 'Battlefield Heroes' shows yet again why he is one of the most versatile actors in the industry now. It also helps that he has such an effortless chemistry with Oh, the duo's friendship through the years one of the most endearing relationships in the film.

    To fault 'Ode to my Father' for being emotionally manipulative is an understatement; that said, this is melodrama at its finest, coupled with some awe-inspiring scenes of spectacle, which is intended through and through for you to weep along with it. But in the midst of that, Youn delivers a compelling feature that taps respectfully into the wounded Korean psyche of the 1950s to the 1990s from key upheavals that now form the very fabric of their society. There is no doubt why it has been so successful at home, and for everyone else, this is a still an epic blockbuster melodrama which resonates with its universal themes of love, reconciliation and survival.
  • comment
    • Author: Kulabandis
    This film begins in the present time and is about a crotchety old man, Duk-Soo. Then, suddenly the film jumps back to 1950 when his family found themselves in the middle of a war zone. His father, mother and three siblings all scrambled to climb aboard a US ship for safety in the South. But as Duk-Soo (probably only about 8 years old at the time) climbed up the rope ladder with his sister on his back, the tiny girl fell off...and you assume she's drowned. The father climbs off the ship to look for her and before going, he tells Duk-Soo he's the man of the family until he returns. But it's total chaos there and the father never returns. As the years pass, Duk-Soo takes his responsibility to care for his family EXTREMELY seriously, working long, long hours and often working abroad in dangerous places...all to put his younger brother through college and to care for his mother and extremely ungrateful sister. Eventually, near the end of the film, after working a lifetime to support his family, there is a break when a Korean TV program works to reunite families torn apart by the war...even though decades have passed.

    The film is an incredibly moving experience--especially the last hour or so. It's all about the burden that Duk-Soo carried and how responsible and decent he is...and how so often the family and extended family cannot understand his work ethic. It's a wonderful microcosm of the Korean experience of the last 65 years--as Duk- Soo's story is one which undoubtedly resonates with many elderly Koreans today. Exquisitely made and well worth seeing.
  • comment
    • Author: Freighton
    This is a very touching and heartwarming (but also heart breaking) movie.

    I watched this with a friend who insisted I check it out. Usually I avoid movies that are foreign which have subtitles because I hate having to try to read to keep up with the dialog and story. Because that always means that I am missing some of the visuals appearing on screen.

    This movie was pretty slow. I don't want to say too much or spoil it but it's basically about a Korean boy who makes a vow that he will take care of his family which he then has to live up to for the rest of his life.

    Amazingly acted although I obviously don't recognize anyone in it or any names of the crew or directors. Just a great example of a touching drama with a story that sticks with you long after you leave the theater.
  • comment
    • Author: Wymefw
    Ode to My Father is a story for most Korean-Americans who came to the US as children with their parents. I always thought my Uncle Thomas was such a brave and entrepreneurial individual for going to Saigon during the war to sell pizza to the US soldiers but after watching the film, I realized these opportunities were presented to the masses after the Korean War. I never knew about the German coal mines recruiting laborers from Korea and that definitely gave me pause to reflect upon the scene where the Korean high schoolers were discriminating against the Pakistani couple at Starbucks. South Korea was once 3rd world too.

    My dad always lamented on why the conflict between super powers was fought on Korean land instead of Japan. And why Korea was divided and not Japan. Germany was divided after WWI, why wasn't Japan? Japan shared all its medical learnings from the wartime POW science experiments and gave unconditional surrender to the US to do its will and was spared. He resigned that the 2 atomic bombs were punishment enough.

    Ode to My Father is an attempt at epic film-making spanning 4 decades like Forrest Gump. The biggest issue I have with this film in attempting depiction of such a span of time is the lack of period transport for the film watcher. The film Taegukki was much better at cinematography showing life after the liberation from Japanese colonialism. You feel like you are there with the brothers. In Ode to My Father, the breathtaking scene of the refugees amassed at the port was eye-opening to say the least but the rest of the film showed contemporary thoughts and actions from its main characters rather than the unworldly views possessed by most Koreans living at the time.

    Duk-soo and Dal-gu's friendship is exemplary of the many friendships forged during that time. My father is still good friends with his buddies from middle school and high school. They never share stories or reminisce about the past because it is just too painful. But if my father saw this film, he would definitely be in tears at his ripe old age of 82.
  • comment
    • Author: Flas
    I love watching Korean movies. There is always something new to be discovered and their narratives can be out of this world in terms of inventiveness, crazy story lines, hard-hitting action, high melodrama and kinetic energy. If you have seen enough of Korean cinema, you will probably know your love for the current Korean flick is only there during the duration. The moment it ends, all memories of the film start to dissipate into oblivion. These are usually the dime in a dozen type of film. Ode to My Father belongs in the category of the 'two'. This one got the emotional beats spot on with nary any overt manipulativeness (which is a wonder) and it is easily one of the best films I have seen this year.

    Synopsis - Amid the chaos of refugees fleeing the Korean War in December 1950, a young boy, Duk- soo, sees his fate change in the blink of an eye when he loses track of his younger sister and he leaves his father behind to find her. Settling in Busan, Duk-soo devotes himself to his remaining family, working all manner of odd jobs to support them in place of his father. His dedication leads him first to the deadly coal mines of Germany, where he meets his first love, Youngja, and then to war-torn Vietnam in this generational epic about one man's personal sacrifices.

    Review - This film is ambitious in wanting to depict 60 years of tumultuous history through the life of one man. IMHO the movie manages to do just that. I like the strong sense of place and time. The staging of the epic scenes is so outstanding, I was easily pulled into the story. Absolutely love that refugee fleeing scene of Hungnam in 1951 which later becomes part of North Korea. It was heartbreaking to see how a pair of sister and brother get separated in the chaos. I also love the brilliant use of flashbacks to move the plot. How the flashbacks are triggered is seamlessly and creatively done.

    Jeong-min Hwang (of New World fame) who plays Duk-soo, gives his character a cheeriness balanced with a sense of dogged purpose. His positive energy is affable and infectious, and his stubborn bickering with his wife and good friend, the source of many jokes. Dal-su Oh, Korea's busiest supporting actor plays Duk-soo's best friend, Dal-gu through the years. Their relationship is painted with much comedic strokes and full-hearted poignancy without those usual skull-numbing stylistics.

    The immediate film you will no doubt compare this Korean film with is Forrest Gump which isn't a bad thing. But the similarity is only with its use of historical events. With Forrest Gump, a man is sanctified to God-like status and he unknowingly changes history, but with this one it doesn't walk that path. This is a story of a man whose his father's parting words at Hungnam haunts him to his core and he would take the entire duration of his life to live up to his father's words. The movie maintains an even tone throughout and I feel it is the historical events that change him. This is a film possessing a remarkable balance of sentimentality and harshness, light and darkness.
  • comment
    • Author: Nothing personal
    The film is the story of a guy born right before Korea war in 1950s and grew up and struggled in the country. The situation around him is harsh and cruel due to the drastically changing world affair. However he lives his life with lots of small but invaluable moments with his beloved family and friends. I was deeply touched by how strongly he is living everyday life. The beauty of connection of family is also impressive and moving.
  • comment
    • Author: Tansino
    as an grown man , i have never cried on a film but this film MAKE ME , because its shows how hard to be ( A REAL MAN ) and how hard to realized it the other people

    to be specific i cried on the last scenes and BELIEVE ME its not a SHAME when u know the pain and u felt it and if u didn't watch the movie yet , watch it and u may cry too ..

    my review , that i enjoyed it , i love it and in my opinion the less mistakes in a movie the more Success its made , and i mean by MISTAKE ' everything '

    and this movie , they didn't make any obvious mistakes

    • 1010 , 100100 , 5 STAR 5
  • comment
    • Author: Golden Lama
    I watched this film with my mom and she was so drawn in. She and the main character comes from the same generation. I think that while watching this movie, my mom and people her age understand a lot more than I know how it feels to live a hard life and to build up your family from nothing. Although my mom isn't a Korean, she can relates to those days when the oldest child of the family have to sacrifice happiness in his or her life for the younger ones. I think this is a film with a big heart and I'm glad that it was created because younger people can learn to appreciate and understand their parents or grandparents more. It is beautifully filmed, well-acted, and contain a story that is somehow feel "real" to me although many scenes are too intentionally sentimental. It makes you feel what is like to be someone who live in that generation. It makes you appreciate and understand older people in your family much more. The story goes through a whole life of a person but I don't feel that it's too long. There are moments of tears and moments of laughter, you can both cry and smile while watching it. I highly recommend this film for both the older and the younger generation in your family.
  • comment
    • Author: Gralsa
    What a beautiful movie. By far the best Korean movie I have ever seen. It starts with flashback of an old man's story, gets separated from his father and sister when he was a small guy. While separating from his father, the father entrusts him with the responsibility of the entire family. The entire story revolves around this. He strives very hard, travels places, makes his brother and sister study in University, etc. It's a beautifully narrated movie. One must watch it. One more special character in this movie is hi is friend who accompanies him during fights, war, mining, etc. He is also an interesting character. Probably without him the entire movie would look a little incomplete.

    Overall, a truly entertaining, beautiful and mesmerizing movie. It makes you to go back to your roots. Amazed... Thank you.
  • comment
    • Author: The Sphinx of Driz
    Ode to My Father was an interesting Korean movie. When a movie has a good enough story and plot behind it, the peripheral aspects that might not be that great such as acting, subtitles, or graphic effects can be forgiven in spite of their deficiencies. This movie contained some of those qualities. Since it was in Korean the majority of it had to be read with subtitles save the parts of dialogue from American G.I.'s. However the movie draws you in that that was not a hindrance as it was easy to forget that you were even reading what was being said.

    Ode to My Father is sort of Forrest Gump (1994) meets a Korean drama. We see the story focus on Duk-soo's (Jeong-min Hwang) life from the time he was a young boy fleeing Korea during the Korean War, along with aspects of his life throughout the 60's, 70's and 80's all the way to the present when he is an old man. This movie seems to use Duk-soo's reality as a representation of the many struggles and hardships of life that a lot of Koreans went through following the Korean War. Its sub-point of intent may have been to point out these struggles to the young Korean generation of today in order that they would have some realization with what their grandparents sacrificed so that they may have the life they do today.

    One thing this movie has is a lot of heart and it is clearly portrayed by the actors, many times in an over-the-top manner. It is definitely melodramatic. But that may have been the directors intent to try to get the point across for how hard this guy's life was. There is one scene where everyone on screen is crying and wailing away and a woman says, "I miss my mommy" to the point it wasn't coming across as to stir empathetic emotions rather it was comical and unbelievable, unfortunately. There were some comic relief moments throughout, but even those scenes were cheesy and accompanied with what sounded like clown music. One actress American audiences may recognize is Yunjin Kim who played Sun Kwan on the series LOST (2004). She was probably the best actor in the movie while the other main actors did a decent job; however there were some bit-part actors that were not believable at all as their acting seemed on par with a bad high school play. The special effects were pretty good and cinematography not bad. Though there were some silly moments throughout the film these can be overlooked when focusing on the story. Boredom or tiredness never set in while watching this as it held my interest the whole time.

    It is a movie worth checking out. Koreans for sure will relate better to it than some foreigners, but it does offer an insight into Korean life of yore for the non-native Korean. I give it 6 out of 10 stars as it was little better than your average movie.
  • comment
    • Author: lubov
    This is a high context movie. Therefore, if you are not Koreans who lived in Korea in the past decades, you will certainly miss so many hidden cultural and historical cues. So, you need to be more forgiving to it. For example, there is a very short scene where a guy appears who says a short phrase about the future. The boys who cleaned his shoes in the movie did not know who he was. He is the founder of Hyyndai corporation. There 10s of such short high context cues.

    So, this is really for Korean people.

    The story is a fused story of omnibus short stories of Koreans who survived not only the war, but the harsh lives of 1950~2000.

    Artistically, it is average. It is well done and tells the story well enough. Obviously there are exaggerations and mistakes. However, this is not a documentary at all. It is a movie. I see many people pointing out some errs in historical context. I challenge that it is extremely accurate in its overall depiction of Koreans.

    It is one of the most dramatic stories based on a person/family's journey to present. It shows many aspects of Korean society with moving and great and miserable bits and pieces.

    It is worth watching even if you are not Koreans.
  • comment
    • Author: Narder
    I've seen Korean movies that get pretty "emotional", but this one did a great job of balancing the hard and heavy parts with the light hearted depiction of someone's life.

    You may wonder why and how could I say this movie isn't a seemingly intentionally-tear-jerking tryhard movie?

    My grandpa's family lived north of the border when the war broke. He had lost a single parent, and as his older brother was in the south of the border when the war started, he became the dedault head. He took care of 5 younger siblings when North Korea forced him to join their side in the Korean war. He however defected to the South, and he began looking for his brother but his brother was kIA. He was not even 20 years old at this point. As a result, he lived in the south with no family and no home. The only time I've seen my grandpa cry was when he talked about his youngest sister he hasn't seen since she was 5.

    So in many regards, this movie wasn't an intentionally tear jerking teagedy, it was a tragedy because it was reflecting reality of that time.
  • comment
    • Author: Morad
    What an emotional ride, very moving indeed,funny, sad, poignant. I recommendend everyone to watch this film. A great film.
  • comment
    • Author: Gigafish
    In Korea, the movie seizing more than 10 million people means almost everyone saw that movie. To get that title, it should have appealing points for all the age groups especially seniors. 'Ode to My Father' covers some important Korean social events, such as Heungnam evacuation in the Korea War, sending labors to Germany, supporting the US Army in the Vietnamese War and 'Finding Dispersed Families' program. For the non-Koreans' understanding, I will make it short; this movie is Korean style 'Forrest Gump.' By the way, the main character Forrest Gump led the movie, and his heritage, environment, and experience were not that universal. But, the same position in 'Ode to My Father' referred the common Korean fathers' image. They were diligent workers and prioritized their family the most in their lives. I bet you could see many gray-haired movie-goers crying not because of the movie itself but because of themselves in the film.
  • comment
    • Author: huckman
    After tragically losing his sister and father, we follow our hero through the hardships of life. Ironically, it gets very comical during this time. The opening scene was touching, dramatic and heart wrenching, so I expected the film to follow the same pattern. The film felt overlong and even became a bit boring at times, essentially becoming a love story. The film then swiftly turned dramatic and emotional towards the end again, as families became reunited with loved ones, separated by war. Although it won't go down as a favorite, I'm glad I watched it.
  • comment
    • Author: *Nameless*
    This film was unexpectedly entertaining, well acted, moves at the right pace, and accurately describes the dynamics of an Asian family. The main character (young and old) is phenomenal! He demonstrates incredible ability to express such affecting sadness but still leave a strong optimistic tone to the movie unlike many Korean films that I find overly depressing. This movie has a lot going for it: good humor, interesting surprise twists, tragedy, and undertones of common themes woven throughout such as the replaying of his early life experiences through experiences as an adult.

    Spoiler alert!! The snippets of his life are a nice touch and is done tastefully with really nice flow and purpose! Although the story is a well known one amongst Asian families, this film is an excellent portrayal of the patriarchy found in Korean families and the importance of the eldest son.

    All in all, this is a great film that honours old fashioned family values. It's a good reminder of the sacrifices previous generations endured but often go unnoticed and makes you think twice about that bitter old man down the street and the fact that he might just have an amazing story to tell! Watch this movie!
  • comment
    • Author: crazy mashine
    I've been reading reviews of this film on Rotten Tomatoes and elsewhere by American critics, and while I agree with some of the criticisms (overly melodramatic, mediocre aging makeup), they all miss the entire point of this movie: it's the story of Korea and the Korean people. Well, at least South Koreans.

    I have no evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if the director came up with the penultimate scene, where Deok-soo weeps about how hard his life had been is juxtaposed with his family singing and clapping in the next room, and built a movie around it. That one image captures the heart of the South Korean people: prosperous and cosmopolitan, and also scarred and heartbroken.

    This is why this movie was so popular in Korea. It's a 2-hour catharsis for Koreans.

    It's disappointing but perhaps not surprising that so many professional American critics were so lazy in their reviews. I have non-Korean friends who *did* get the film's theme, but apparently it was because their hearts and minds were open to it.
  • comment
    • Author: Cae
    Yes, this is it - a tear-jerking, utterly sentimental, simplified family drama of Korean war and beyond, with all the imaginable clichés and predictable steps added - you want a war - you get it, you want a family torn apart - bingo. You want some factory tragedy and long weeping scenes - voila. You want even some battle scenes and mandatory heroism feats - get'em out now. We saw it all many times before and we know it all does not work. Period. THe only good and as always, even in poorest Korean flicks - breathtakingly beautiful nature. Apart from that, not more to ponder on or worth coming back to.
  • comment
    • Author: Broadraven
    One of the best Korean film I seen so far besides Sunny. Rich with emotions while watching and make you fall in love with every character. Korean cinema under CJ entertainment, are the best feature films to watch as filmmakers. The details of each character, plot, scene, location just so amazing to view and Ode to My Father gives the viewers a sense of pride, joy, sadness, etc. I do find this film almost alike to Forrest Gump, but just with different languages and settings but overall so great. As a filmmaker, I usually watch international/independent film as inspiration on project or ideas. The best films are always the ones that impact you.
  • Credited cast:
    Jung-min Hwang Jung-min Hwang - Yoon, Duk-soo
    Yunjin Kim Yunjin Kim - Youngja
    Dal-su Oh Dal-su Oh - Dal-gu
    Jin-young Jung Jin-young Jung - Yoon, Jin-gyu
    Young-nam Jang Young-nam Jang - Mother
    Mi-ran Ra Mi-ran Ra - Aunt Kkotbun
    Seul-gi Kim Seul-gi Kim - Kketsun (as Seul-ki Kim)
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Stella Choe Stella Choe - Maksoon
    Jesse Day Jesse Day - American Soldier
    Yunho Jung Yunho Jung - Nam Jin
    Min-jae Kim Min-jae Kim - Yoon, Dojoo
    István Medvigy István Medvigy - Maksoon's Husband
    Inho Tae Inho Tae - Yoon, Kijoo
    Teresa Trnková Teresa Trnková - German Nurse
    All rights reserved © 2017-2019