English Title: The Winter of the Year Was Warm
Korean Title: 내가 고백을 하면…
Director: Choi Dong-hoon (최동훈)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Not available
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Due to a busy schedule, I watched The Winter of the Year Was Warm in two (or three?) different viewings. That was a mistake. This is a beautiful film, but it is meant to be watched in one sitting.
This is not a film with a fast-paced plot or zany characters. It has no gratuitous gore, nor moments that will make viewers burst out in tears. It covers the (relative) banality of everyday life featuring a movie director from Seoul, South Korea’s capitol, and a nurse in Gangneung (강릉), a small city on the northwestern shoreline. (I have never been there, but I have heard excellent things about its beaches. It is a popular destination in good weather.)
The Seoul-based movie director wants to spend his weekends in Gangneung, and the Gangneung-based nurse wants to spend her weekends in Seoul. They are both unhappy with their weekly commutes between the two cities, and the lack of proper lodging when they arrive. After a lot of falderal, they meet through a mutual friend and (unsurprising, minor spoiler) decide to swap homes every weekend.
I have a lot of thoughts about the meaning(s) of the film, but I think there is a strong argument to be made that it explores the urban/rural divide in South Korea. The nurse wants to go to Seoul for the culture, whereas the director wants to go to Gangneung for the tranquility (and the seafood). Many people who live in Seoul frequently complain about its prices, congestion, and fast-paced lifestyle. Many people who live in smaller cities or in towns frequently complain about a lack of opportunity and a lack of things to do.
The Seoul Capital Area is already home to about 50% of South Korea’s population, and the number appears to be increasing each year. At the same time, many people who live in and around Seoul are increasingly trying to find ways to escape its “hustle and bustle.” (For example, when I lived in Seoul, camping was a really hot trend at the time.)
Anyway, that’s just my guess; I have other theories, but that’s the one I feel most confident about. There’s a lot more to say about the urban/rural divide, but I will not address it in this modest film review.
The film itself is very well-made, although I will admit that I am not sure if I would want to see it again. That is not to impugn its quality, but its pacing is not something I would go out of my way to rewatch.