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Ko - production in Busan
  • In Focus: The Winter of the Year Was Warm
  • by Darcy Paquet /  Nov 16, 2012
    Directed by David CHO
    Starring KIM Tae-woo, YEA Ji-won, SEO Beom-seok, AHN Young-mi
    Release Date November 15, 2012
    David CHO's The Winter of the Year Was Warm is a simply told film, based on the simplest of premises. Actor KIM Tae-woo (Woman on the Beach) plays a character named In-sung who is very much like the director himself in real life: he is the owner of a small film production company, who operates an art-house theater in Gwanghwamun, and who has recently taken up directing. After his debut film fails at the box office, he falls into the habit of spending his weekends in the coastal city of Gangneung, where he is particularly fond of the local cuisine. One day, through a mutual friend who runs a cafe, he meets Yu-jeong.
    Yu-jeong, played by YEA Ji-won (Hahaha), is a nurse who lives in Gangneung. Yearning for the cultural life of Seoul, every weekend she avoids social meetings with her coworkers and travels into the city to stay with a friend, visit the theater, and eat out. One day, however, her friend starts dating a man, and suddenly Yu-jeong has to spend her weekend nights in the city's cheap motels.
    Although it feels too realistic in style to be called a romantic comedy, The Winter of the Year Was Warm is at turns both comic and romantic, so the viewer naturally expects Yu-jeong and In-sung to become a couple. However their paths rarely cross, since In-sung is in Seoul while Yu-jeong is in Gangneung, and vice-versa. So instead of dating, the relationship that occupies the center of the film is something far more practical: each agree to set aside one room in their respective apartments, and on weekends, In-sung stays in Yu-jeong’s place while Yu-jeong stays in In-sung’s. It takes a lot of convincing before the somewhat withdrawn Yu-jeong agrees to this arrangement, and both agree to a complicated set of ground rules, but in sharing their homes with each other, they eventually start to develop a strange sort of in absentia intimacy.
    This is the third feature film by David CHO (CHO Sung-kyu), the founder of production/distribution company Sponge. His previous works Second Half (2010) and The Heaven is Only Open to the Single! (2012) are made up of the same blend of finely-observed realism and light romance, but critics have been giving this latest film in particular strong praise since its premiere at the 2012 Busan International Film Festival. The naturalistic acting of KIM Tae-woo and YEA Ji-won is the film's obvious strength, but CHO has also clearly taken a step forward as a writer and director. The film opened on November 15, and viewers in Seoul are advised to watch it at CHO’s Spongehouse Theater in Gwanghwamun (one of the film's locations) for maximum effect.
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