Every now and then, I subject myself to a marathon of movie-watching or drama-binging. Given that I have 4 more papers to produce this week, I very naturally fell into my most natural safe-haven response: cuddling down with some drama-watching.
This movie was beyond my expectations.
I remember hearing about it when it first hit screens in 2012, and the cast was more than enough to get me hyped for a watch. Park Boyoung (Speedy Scandal) was an adorable actress who sold me on the humanity of her acting in her last hit with Cha Taehyun and Song Joongki is my heart’s resident man-child who first stole screentime in the drama Triple. So seeing the two matched up in a “human drama” launched it into my must-watch list.
A year went by though and as I was stolen into grad school, I didn’t put much energy into looking for it. Just by coincidence, it happened to be on Netflix tonight, and I immediately headed in, unprepared for its heart-wrenching plot.
Park Boyoung is probably my favorite crier in the whole world. Her crying neither snivels, nor is the type that simpers its way into your ears. She is all parts beautifully real, with whimpers of rage and frustration, desperation and fear all wrapped up into her tears.
In this story, her character Suni finds a werewolf boy in a new countryside home leading to an incredibly heartwarming (but ultimately heartbreaking) vignette of her life there for that short time.
We start off in modern-day setting, with Suni as an elderly lady with white hair and living in the United States with her children. Called back to Korea to settle a sale of her old home, she flies back and embarks with her spitting-image granddaughter to spend the night at her old home.
And so we are introduced to the world of her meeting with Chul-soo, the werewolf boy she finds in an old warehouse outside her new home. Her mother assumes Chul-soo, who can’t speak and acts akin to a wolf, is a tragic result of one of the 60,000 orphans of the Korean War. Through a series of glimpses at the ridiculous bureaucracy of policies, they temporarily ‘adopt’ Chul-soo into the family.
His feral instincts to eat everything possible frustrates and disgusts Suni at first, whose personality seems fairly proper and clean.
But when he protects her from sleazy city boy Ji-tae (Yoo Yeon-seok) who has bought the country home for them through birth riches, Suni begins to find a new appreciation for Chul-Soo.
And so she begins to train him using a dog training manual. Using orders such as “wait”, “stop waiting”, “go” and “stop” and rewarding him with ‘dog pats’ to break him into expected social etiquettes. She continues to feed his endless curiosity by teaching him to write, and trying to convince him to copy her and learn to speak. Slowly, they grow on each other, and Chul-soo is completely a loyal puppy, following her around and obeying all her commands.
Ji-tae becomes slowly enraged at his perceived-fiancee’s growing affection for Chul-soo, and is determined to prove his feral nature. As such, this leads to a series of acts that bring the local police and a researcher into town.
The researcher is aware that Chul-soo is part of an experiment funded by the government to build “shadow armies” whose soldiers were inhumanly strong. But because of Chul-soo’s domestication, the police sees no purpose in putting down (i.e.: killing) an innocent, and the researcher agrees. However, in a final desperate act after a confrontation with a neighbor in town, Ji-tae finally unleashes a violent domino effect that results in Chul-soo transforming into a werewolf.
The ending for this story broke me. Despite knowing it could not end perfectly, the implications of the conclusion broke me inside. Not because of bad writing, but simply the sadness of the reality of what happens. And the haunting factor of Suni’s last words to Chul-soo, when she leaves him in the wilderness to escape being shot dead:
"Wait for me, I’ll come back."
And that incredible moment, when Chul-soo speaks the first and only words we ever hear from him throughout the entire movie:
In short, this movie was worth every minute. If ever there was a human drama to watch, this would be it. Just try to not to bawl too hard when it concludes.@5 hours ago
#wolf boy #korean #song joongki #park boyoung #movie #werewolf