Watching tragic movies like Dangerous Liaisons and One Step Away can be heavy on one’s heart, so today I choose to review one of my favorite “happy” movies—Love Impossible, also known as Love of South and North.
South Koreans have portrayed North Korea either in a very serious, dramatic light, as in Shiri or Into the Fire, or in a very comedic way, as in Welcome to Dongmakgol or Dreams Come True; Love Impossible falls into the latter category. Director Jung Cho-shin brings us this romantic comedy about Chul-soo (Zo In-sung), the son of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service director, and Young-hee (Kim Sa-rang), the daughter of a North Korean army marshal. Although this tale of two youngsters from starkly hostile states would probably not be a candidate for “most inspiring” or “most beautiful” film, it is one of my perennial favorites because of its ability to make me laugh—as almost every film about North Korea does.
Though the characters Chul-soo and Young-hee are flat and their development follows a rather cliché path (in the case of the former, playboy falls in love with an innocent girl; in the latter case, reserved and innocent girl accepts the overbearing courting of a playboy), their stereotypical profiles, especially on the part of Young-hee as a heavily-brainwashed North Korean student, brings about merriment and laughter. My favorite scene in this movie is when Young-hee breaks it down on a discothèque dance floor with her North Korean Army-inspired dance moves, to the shock and amusement of Chul-soo. Just for this scene itself, the movie is worth watching.
Tones of reunification underscore the entire movie, as it revolves around an archaeological investigation into the burial site of a couple from Baekjae and Shilla (two of Korea’s historical “Three Kingdoms”). This historical tale of two lovers, who flee borders of conflict to a neutral country to be with each other, is not only a mirror for Love Impossible, but also serves to remind the audience that with a spirit of love for one another, the North and South can be reunified once more in peaceful harmony.
This may be one of the few romantic comedies I would watch willingly; if you are looking for some very unique and original humor I would highly recommend it.
Love Impossible/Love of South and North (Korean: 남남북녀)—South Korea. Directed by Jung Cho-shin. First released August 2003. Running time 1hr 48min. Starring Jo In-sung and Kim Sa-rang.