“Soonjeong Manhwa” With Yoo Ji Tae & Lee Yeon Hee Tops Box Office

December 4, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Movies | 2 Comments
Tags: ,

Lee Yeon Hee in "Soonjeong Manhwa," which is playing at local theaters.

Since debuting in 2003, the sweet, wistful online comics by Kangfull have become a pop culture phenomenon in South Korea, generating countless Internet hits and message board discussions. Their incredible online following, however, failed to translate into box office success, as the first two attempts at bringing the comics to the big screen (“Apartment” and “Babo”) resulted in commercial flops.

But the third time may be the charm for the popular Internet cartoon. Opening on November 27, “Soonjeong Manhwa,” based on Kangfull’s first serial, topped the box office in its first weekend. And the popularity is well deserved, as the film version adroitly brings the sweet and poignant love story to life.

Both the online and cinematic versions of “Soonjeong Manhwa” (which translates into “Pure Hearted Comic”) revolve around two unconventional romances where age difference plays a role. In one of the relationships, between an 18-year-old high school girl and a shy 30-year-old man, the age gap is noticeable and highly questionable; in the other, between a melancholic 29-year-old woman and a determined younger man, the disparity seems more due to life experience than physical age.

The film’s director, Ryu Jang-ha, wisely avoids trying to recreate the serial comic, and instead, finds his own way of interpreting the two distinct relationships. Ryu, who also helmed the sentimental drama “When Spring Comes,” recombines the scenes and details of the original serial and adds many of his own touches. Some of the changes are major, such as setting the story in the summer instead of winter, while others are more subtle.

Though the film ends up deviating much from the comic’s plot, Ryu preserves the original’s essence – the gradual growth and buildup of love regardless of age difference. Much like the comic, the film remains true to love’s internal logic, no matter how embarrassing or quirky, and makes a potentially scandalous relationship seem sweet and chaste.

Most importantly, Ryu succeeds in capturing the tenderness of the online comic, which slowly comes to the surface as the relationships unfold. There is a rich, layered quality to the film, where each little decision or gesture leads to further meanings and possibilities.

Some fans of Kangfull may find fault with how much the film departs from the original comic. Indeed, there are times when the movie aims too much for the conventionally beautiful, sacrificing the awkward, self-deprecating humor that drives much of Kangfull’s works.

On the other hand, these same fans should be pleased to know that when it matters, the film version is unafraid to wear its heart on its sleeve, just like their beloved online comic.

In theaters. 113 minutes. 12 and over. Distributed by CJ Entertainment.

Source: Korea Times
Picture Source: Max Movie
Credit: seoulfull.wordpress.com



RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Hmm, I’ve seen the trailer to this and it does look pretty interesting. Glad to hear it’s buzzworthy. I’ll definitely check this out.

  2. the trailer looks so cute =)!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: