Hyoja-Dong Ibalsa (2004)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Political Drama, Political Satire  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - Korea, South   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Korean superstar Song Gang-ho (Memories of Murder) stars in writer/director Lim Chan-sang's ambitious feature debut, The President's Barber. Song stars as Seong Han-mo, a barber whose shop is within shouting distance of the "Blue House," where the president (Jo Yeong-jin) lives. The film takes place during the early '70s, a tumultuous period in South Korea's history, and Seong finds himself in the middle of a number of historical events. Seong doesn't know much about politics, and follows the lead of local leaders, who involve him in a scheme to rig an election in the president's favor. His son Nak-an (Lee Jae-eung) is born during the April 19 revolution, while soldiers are gunning down protestors in the street. Later, he inadvertently gets in the middle of a bitter political rivalry between Park (Park Yong-su), the head of the CIA, and Jang (Son Byeong-ho), the head of the secret service. When he inadvertently embarrasses Park, Jang rewards him by helping him become the president's personal barber. Park's prestige grows among his neighbors, and his life improves. Even his nagging wife, Min-ja (Moon So-ri of Oasis and A Good Lawyer's Wife), is proud of him. His relatively carefree, oblivious life is thrown into turmoil when the government starts rounding up people with diarrhea, purportedly to help them track down collaborators with sick North Korean spies. Little Nak-an gets sick, and Seong misguidedly tries to prove his loyalty to the dictator by turning the boy in, thinking no harm will come to him. But he's underestimated the brutal irrationality of his leaders. The President's Barber had its international premiere at the 2005 New York Korean Film Festival.



history, political-unrest, wife