Walk alongside the newly discharged Hong Man-Sup (Ahn Jae-Hong) as he returns to the world outside army life! We’re invited to watch him attempt to re-gain the past two years of his life as he decides that he wants to make the most of his youth: he is going to spend it both doing what he loves, and also – if he can manage it – being in love.
Fortunately for our hero it doesn’t take long before he finds his love interest, and as their interactions grow the film almost parodies the characteristics of regular romance films: the love interest has a love interest of her own, and he’s got deep and mysterious background music to boot! Slightly less fortunately, jokgu – Man-Sup’s other love-of-his-life – is a sport almost entirely limited to the likes of the unpopular. Anna (Hwang Seung-Eon), the classmate Man-Sup not-so-subtly adores, initially mocks his hopes to have the university’s jokgu court re-built. She thinks it’s a silly idea, though Man-Sup finds that hiding what you like simply because of the fear of being teased about it sounds sillier. He is in no way being defensive or trying to step on her opinion – it was simply a realisation said aloud, and it sits in Anna’s mind until she comes to the decision to help him.
Eccentric and absolutely loveable characters take us through their own journeys of hopes and dreams in this coming-of-age that reminds us that everybody holds different values when it comes to what made their youthful days well spent. The incredible cinematography of this fast-paced film only adds to its humour, with mind tricks and the occasional slap-stick being filmed as shots not too far off from what one might find in an art exhibition.
It’s not unheard of that the plot of a sports-based film might drag on, nor that large portions may be tailored to suit the likings of a more athletic audience. When a comedy like The King of Jokgu comes along and manages to make someone like myself – someone who loathes physical activity more than almost anything in the world – actually regret not participating in the playful pre-film jokgu tournament, it’s a pretty safe bet that the film is worth watching!
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time: 104 minutes (w/English Subtitles)
This review originally appeared as part of KOFFIA 2015.