If you thought Korean movies are only about romance and sad love stories, you clearly haven’t watched Train to Busan. We kid. But really, K-movies extend to more than the romance genre.
There has been movies about politics, the supernatural and comedy. The latest K-movie to hit the screens in Singapore, Swing Kids, blends a few genres into a two-hour show: dance, comedy, melodrama and politics.
Set during the Korean War, the story follows a North Korean prisoner-of-war Roh Kisoo (acted by EXO member Do Kyungsoo) who finds himself conflicted about staying true to his communist roots and embracing his love for tap dancing, an American dance.
He joins a group of misfits—a Chinese soldier who wants to be a choreographer, a civilian who was mistaken as a communist, a civilian girl who is trying to make money to support her family, and an African American soldier who was a Broadway tap dancer before enlisting into the army—and form an unlikely friendship with them.
Scroll through the gallery to find out the social issues that the movie touched on that are relatable to all of us.
Despite depicting the Korean War, the movie doesn’t champion capitalism nor communism. Instead, it focuses on how ideologies have led to conflicts. One character lamented how the capitalist and communist ideologies were forced on them, costing them innocent lives, including his grandmother, who didn’t choose to be a part of the ideology struggle. And indeed, the biggest victims of ideological wars are often the innocent people who want no part in fighting for such causes.
With talks of inclusivity, racism is a hot topic now, not just in the United States, but all around the world. And this movie aptly touches on that issue by putting the spotlight on how Jackson’s race has caused him to be ostracised by his fellow recruits. Despite his sergeant status, a White corporal remarked that he didn’t want to take instructions from a “nigga”, a slur term used to describe African Americans.
Park Hyesu’s character, Yan Panrae, laments how difficult it was being a woman in a Korean society—especially one that was at war. Gender equality remains a highly debated issue in South Korean even today. While some people try to push for gender equality, a camp of people view feminists negatively. Rapper San E recently got into trouble after his song lyrics dissed gender equality.
If there’s one thing most Korean shows have in common, it has got to be familial bonds. This movie is no different. We won’t spoil it for you, but there are a few emotional scenes between Kisoo and his brother that would break your heart.
Swing Kids is now in cinemas.