- K-Cinema Library
May 27, 2019
- Writerby Pierce Conran
2013 | 101 MIN | Crime, Drama
DIRECTOR KIM Jung-hoon
CAST BYUN Yo-han, PARK Jung-min
RELEASE DATE April 3, 2014
CONTACT CJ Entertainment
Youth anxiety takes center stage in the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) graduation project Tinker Ticker. This debut film by KIM Jung-hoon debuted to little fanfare in the Asian Future section of the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2013, yet, despite never finding a home on the international festival circuit, it has turned into something of a cult film at home, partly owing to the presence of future stars BYUN Yo-han and PARK Jung-min.
Jung-gu (BYUN Yo-han) is a university teaching assistant struggling to land a full-time job. Dissatisfied with his life, he harbors a hobby of making homemade bombs that he sends to people who he believes will use them. He meets the audacious and dangerous student Hyo-min (PARK Jung-min) at his university and decides to send him his next package but when he becomes increasingly reckless, Jung-gu, fearing that he is unable to control him, takes matters into his own hands.
Despite the explosive subject matter, Tinker Ticker is more in line with social dramas than genre cinema owing to its focus on youth disillusionment and Korea’s hierarchical social structures. From an early age, Jung-gu has fumed at the unfair treatment he has received from his elders. He takes out his revenge on a violent teacher through a homemade explosive, which results in expulsion and difficulty in his adult life, as he fails to land a good job and is not allowed to pursue chemistry studies in graduate school owing to his tarnished record. Unable to rid himself of this stigma, Jung-gu continues to fabricate explosives in his spare time as he deals with a professor and colleagues that routinely belittle him.
However, rather than as a result of a build-up of the micro-aggressions he experiences from the authority figures around him, Jung-gu’s eventual figurative explosion happens because of the anti-authoritarian figure Hyo-min. Jung-gu is seduced by his devil-may-care attitude yet when this new friendship interferes with his true desire, which is to conform and fit into society, he begins to go down a path from which there is no return.
Both BYUN and PARK had appeared in several films prior to Tinker Ticker, but with compelling lead roles and strong chemistry, this is the film that allowed them to gain a major foothold in the industry. BYUN went on to lead Socialphobia (2015), another KAFA project, before becoming a major TV star in Misaeng: Incomplete Life, while PARK drew industry-wide acclaim in the wake of 2016’s DONGJU; The Portrait of A Poet.