FanTasia 2010: Castaway on the Moon (김씨 표류기)
Kim Seong-geun sees no other way out.
He is horribly in debt with an interest-free loan company. He has no job after his employer restructured. His wife left him. What else is there that can go wrong? Before Kim finds out he decides that he will throw himself from a bridge spanning the Han River. He jumps, and washes ashore an empty island in the middle of the river. He can't swim across; not just because of the polluted waters but he also never learned to swim. He can't seem to flag anyone down; passing tourists wave to the friendly man on the shore of the island waving back. His cell phone is running low on battery power and he cannot convince the authorities that he really is on a deserted island in the middle of the Han. He's seemingly stuck there forever. So begins Castaway on the Moon, an absolutely delightful comedy out of Korea.
Written and directed by Lee hae-joon Castaway on the Moon delivers a considerable and constant number of laughs - seriously do not remember laughing this much at a comedy in quite a while - while also offering subtle social criticism of a consumer culture as well as commentary about what in Japanese culture is referred to as Hikikomori or also called Agoraphobia. Other than his wonderful screenplay he also proves to be quite deft behind the camera as well.
Back to that seclusion because it introduces a second characters in this film. In Asian cultures this Agoraphobia is often thought to be caused by the educational culture or desires to succeed. Driven to be study hard and become successful many will lock themselves in their room and never venture outdoors again. Such is the case for the young woman played by Jeong Ryeo-won. Though the reason for her seclusion is not revealed as much as the male Kim is a castaway on his own island she is a castaway from society. Perhaps she succumbed to the pressure to succeed. Perhaps is the scar she hides on her right brow. Whatever the reason is she lives her life exclusively online, creating a persona by taking bits and bytes from other profiles on social networking sites. She has a strict regiment. She counts the number of calories she eats at every meal. She considers her time spent on social networking sites as work. And she completes 10,000 steps per day. As a hobby she takes pictures of the moon, because there is no one up there.
One day she observe male Kim after finding a message 'HELP' scrawled in the sand on the shores of his island. He has managed to eke out a humble living off the trash and refuse dumped into the river. He has made himself a small camp. He unsuccessfully fishes and hunts and is left to feed on the indigenous flora. Female Kim finds herself captivated by this strange man on the island and begins to follow his every move until one day he changes 'HELP' to 'HELLO'. She finds herself compelled to respond to his greeting, so, for the first time in many years, she ventures out of her apartment, with great comedic effect I might add, to deliver a message in a bottle to male Kim.
And so this strange relationship begins between the two. They know nothing of each other. Yet once he finds her message they begin to communicate to each other. He scrawls messages in the sand. She ventures out with more bottles. Sprawling with sweet moments, laugh out loud hilarity, and moments of sincerity, Castaway on the Moon is sheer delight from beginning to end, even during its bittersweet moments. None of it feels forced or overwrought. It is a definite keeper. And though the state of this relationship is never drawn to the close at the end of the film is still ends hopeful and we are left to make up our own happy ending for this strange couple of distant strangers drawn together by hope.
Castaway on the Moon
- Hae-jun Lee
- Hae-jun Lee (screenplay)
- Jae-yeong Jeong
- Ryeowon Jung
- Yeong-seo Park
- Mi-kyeong Yang