During the Hungnam Evacution (1950, in the Korean war), when many refugees were transported from (what would become) North Korea to the south, a little boy, Deok soo, loses his sister in the crowd while climbing onboard of the US navy boats. Due to this his father goes back to look for her, telling his son to take their family to Busan, where his aunt runs an imported goods store and to take good care of the family by becoming the head of the family in his fathers stead. Follow Deoksoo along the many hardships he has to face because of the Korean war. Where will it bring him?
Name: 국제시장 (Gukjesijang)
Also known as: International market / Ode to my father
Director: Yoon Je Kyoon
Produced by: Yoon Je Kyoon / Park Ji Seong
Written by: Park Su Jin
Distributor: CJ Enterntainment
Release date: 17th December 2014
Running time: 126 minutes
Spoilers! Do not read if you want to see the movie without any major spoilers.
During the Hungnam Evacution (1950, in the Korean war), when many refugees were transported from (what would become) North Korea to the south, a little boy, Deok soo, loses his sister in the crowd while climbing onboard of the US navy boats. Due to this his father goes back to look for her, telling his son to take their family to Busan, where his aunt runs an imported goods store and to take good care of the family by becoming the head of the family in his fathers stead.
From young age, Deok soo (the first born of the family) becomes the breadwinner for the family, doing all kinds of jobs to get some money. In 1960 they decide to travel to Europe, germany to work as miners, since it pays very well. This way they would be able to support their families from affar with more money than they could in Busan. In germany Deok Soo falls in love with nurse Young Ja. After a miners acccident Deok Soo leaves Germany as his visa expires. A few months later Young Ja shows up in Korea. She is pregnant. Not long after they wed.
A few years later, Deok soo’s aunt passes away and his uncle, in need of money, tries to sell the important goods store. Deok soo disagree’s. He decided to go to war-torn Vietnam to earn money for his sisters wedding and for the store. Young ja does not like this as she knows the danger of war, however, Deok soo tries to convince her and takes his best friend, Dal goo, with him. Even though he told Young ja is was save, Deok Soo returns with a lame leg because of being shot while trying to help villagers escape from the Viet Cong.
He managed to buy the store and runs it together with his wife, their lives go on. In 1983 a Major broadcast station in South Korea runs a TV program in which relatives, who got separated because of the chaos during the Korean war, are reunited. Deok soo gets called in, they might have found his father. He soon realized this was not the case, to the whole families sadness. Not long after he gets contacted again, they have found his sister, Mak Soon. She now lives in America as she was adopted by a American family. They re-unite. Soon after their mother passes away.
In present day they decide to sell the store. Deok Soo tells his wife that it is time to sell the store, remarking that his father is probably too old at this point to still be alive for a reunion.
This is definitely one of the saddest movies i have seen. The fact that is basically follows the hardships many Korean people have faced during the time doesn’t make it any easier. Basically you follow the boy from Hungnam, Deok Soo, from the Hungnam evacuation untill nowadays Korea. You will see many events that have happened. Since the economy was ruined after the Korean war many young men and women went overseas to support their families. This movie shows well which options they had and how much the people had to suffer in order to get (south) Korea back into the shape it is today. The sentence that got me the most is definitely:
“Isn’t it a relief to know that it was us, and not our children, who were born into this difficult era and lived through all these hardships?”
If you are interested in the Korean history from the past 70 years, but don’t feel like spending hours googling and researching, this movie is definitely recommended. At some parts heart shredding but overall defenitely worth the heart aches and after watching this movie, you will surely see Korea through different eyes.
Picture sources: Google