Top 25 Korean Films - No. 2

Castaway on the Moon (Dir. Lee Hae-jun, 2009)

You may be surprised to see this so high on the list but here is a film that has enthralled and delighted me for the last five years. Castaway on the Moon is sweet, wonderful and hilarious but it’s also so, so much more. Lee Hae-jun takes a great premise (Robinson Crusoe on an island in the middle of the Han river flowing through Seoul) and executes it perfectly, but the beauty of his solo directing debut (he previously co-directed 2006’s Like a Virgin) is the wealth of social themes that are tightly but seamlessly interwoven within it.

Jung Jae-young has never been better but the laughter that comes from his droll delivery and pitch perfect timing is at times followed by tears as he remembers his humdrum life or goes about his new survival projects. Everything points back to Seoul’s ironic (due to its hyperconnectivity) communication shortfall, repressed political trauma and a national erasure of culture and individualism. As he toils for his black bean noodles, he gives himself something to live for and reclaims his memory, yet still finds himself ‘on the road’ at the film’s end. However, for once there is also hope. Quite simply a masterpiece and (almost) the best that Korean cinema has produced.

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