Holiday in Seoul


"...practically a Korean knock-off of "Chungking Express" - but one hell of a good one..."

- Mighty Peking Man

Holiday in Seoul (1997)

Director: Kim Yui-Seok

Producer: Kang Woo-Suk

Cast: Kim Min-Jong, Jin Hee-Kyung, Jang Dong-Kun, Choi Jin-Sil

Running Time: 99 min.

Plot: At a corner of the city dazzling with neon signs, there is a hotel, where a bellboy is fascinated with a leg model. After her boyfriend's accident, she unexpectedly reappears, just like before. She operates the hotel's telephone, which proves an important means of communication. A cabbie rides a Harley-Davidson. She gets on his cab and gets into his life. Four urban guys and girl love, part, struggle with pain, and wander and fall into a different, new love.

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MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: It's happened to all of us. Whether it be at a shopping mall, grocery store, or even at Kentucky Fried Chicken - we've all fell in brief love with a stranger's image or presence. It's usually a three-minute obsession and a natural high of faithless hope. Should you walk up to her and introduce yourself? Should you keep on staring until she gains eye contact and smiles, hoping she'll approach you? Nah, fuck all that. It's the moment you're in love with, so don't lose it. It doesn't matter what happens after, because there is no 'after'. Just keep on looking at this stranger like you're some kind of psychopath and enjoy the view. Besides, she's so hot and intriguing that you're balls are lacking the courage you need you need to make your move. Oh well, it'll happen again in the future so there will be another hopeless opportunity.

Pathetic as the above sounds, you know for damn sure it's happened to you. I don't care if you're Jack The Ripper or a Shaolin monk. It's human nature - nothing more, nothing less.

This familiar incident is just one of subplots explored in Kim Yui-Seok's "Holiday in Seoul", an art-house joyride seen through the eyes of three vulnerable characters: The first, a heartbroken bus boy who falls obsessively in love with a "leg model" who constantly visits the motel he works at. The second, a cool-cat, insomniac taxi driver (Jang Dong-Kun from "Friend") with no direction in life. And lastly, a sassy-street girl with a heap-full of issues that range from freaky phone conversations to an identity crisis that's overshadowed by the death of her father.

Like many films that have jumped on the similar bandwagon, all the characters cross paths - an idea that's nothing new, but still delivers a pleasing effect.

And damn, talk about a film inspired by Wong Kar Wai's moody storytelling and Christopher Doyle's stylish cinematography. Christ, this film pretty much bites the nail in both aspects. Matter of fact, this feels more like a companion piece to Wong Kar Wai's "Chungking Express" than "Fallen Angels", a film that was intended to be the next few episodes in the "Chungking Express" saga. With that said, "Holiday in Seoul" is practically a Korean knock-off of "Chungking Express" - but one hell of a good one that's done in a classy and careful way, therefore, it stands on it's own merit as a solid piece of entertainment - copycat or not.

Another thing I want to note is the film's soundtrack, which consists of many recognizable pop tunes that range from The Beatles to Eric Clapton - all of which go great with their accompanied scenes (ala "California Dreamin" in "Chungking Express").

I hate to end this review with a comment like "if you loved Chungking Express, you'll enjoy Holiday in Seoul" - but that's the best way to describe it. If this was a world without a Wong Kar Wai, "Holiday in Seoul" would easily be a 9/10 or 10/10 film.

Still, this film is very recommended.