Single in Seoul

Single in Seoul

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Single in Seoul, a South Korean romantic comedy, promotes being single as a decision.

Bilibili streams parts of Asia while Single in Seoul, starring Lee Dong-wook, overstates singleness. Pairing with Lim Soo-Jung and featuring Esom giving a message about contemporary romantic culture you would think it will be a winner but unfortunately it falls little flat.

Joo Hyun Jin (played by Lim) is an editor-in-chief who has to come up with writers for the book that talks about their amazing single lives in such sparkling cities like Barcelona and Seoul. She loses her local writer to pregnancy (not as single as she thought) and must find another one fast. Luckily for her though her boss knows someone who can write well.

Enter Park Young-ho played by Lee Dong Wook; he is an unmarried professor who wants to become an author someday. He owns just one mug at his place. Young Ho can show how to get all the best things from life at Seoul without having a girlfriend or wife nearby. At first he was praising this way of living on social media, but now he is ready to put his wisdom into writing, which will be something great for him. Later in the story it becomes clear that his current “man is an island” mode of thinking has been deeply root due to previous heartbreak.

As we observe Joo working with Young Ho-the editor’s own love life involved reading too much into innocent flirting-, they become friends through each other’s eyes even if not noticeably so . Meanwhile Joo was also working on another book involving her more experienced Korean counterpart set in Barcelona .

The tension changes when young ho’s ex-girlfriend comes up – the same lady who taught him how to remain single again.. His perspective on what actually happened has been challenged through another person’s experience.As someone who had been committed to his former viewpoint instead, he feels unbalanced and questions himself.

I was expecting more from the highly productive and emotive screenwriter Lee Ji Min’s directed by Park Bum Soo (Victory, Red Carpet) . Some of the Lee scripts like The Drug King and The Man Standing Next have been made into brilliant films dealing with more complex themes.

In addition, following on from the rom-com legacy of Lee such as Tale of the Nine Tailed to Touch Your Heart and Lim lead roles in Melancholia as well as Chicago Typewriter, not forgetting Esom (LTNS, Kill Boksoon) among others – it feels like a concept that would resonate well with a cast of veterans. Nevertheless, it lacks excitement just as much. Actually comedic moments are not very funny too which is bad for both rom and com in one movie.

What Single in Seoul does is show that maybe being single isn’t as much of an active choice someone like Young Ho can be proud about. One reason might be fear – but not fear of unknown. A simple ‘been there done that” reaction. Worldwide there are reports concerning low birth rates in different nations including South Korea therefore there could actually be something true in this.

During a press conference, in Seoul, to promote the movie, Lee who is forty two spoke about his own single life and mixed emotions concerning his character’s experience. This means that even he wants to enjoy meat grilled in a restaurant alone as Young Ho suggests but it is different here (in South Korea). It may be difficult for one to get to grill meat place and have a table for one including when you are Lee Dong-wook.

“My own single lifestyle is not any different (from my character’s). I eat whenever I’m hungry; I go to bed and rise up when am satisfied – I watch movies at times”. He also says the benefit of being single is this. When I come back home after having alcohol with friends, I can feel comfortable on my own rather than feeling empty. In contrast, dating entails sharing time, space as well as emotions. Sometimes these things make me want someone else but at other times they make me feel good by myself too.

Lee wraps it up in few lines of conundrum. Wouldn’t you? If there was someone with whom you wanted to share your time, space and feelings? But if not… As pointed out by Young Ho himself he is Mr Right himself.

It sounds like the book would work well because it has an imaginary world where couples do not exist yet people live together in a society where communal meals are value highly and singles face limited options. Additionally this offers another way of living besides following the norms such as 2023’s Because I Hate Korea (based on a novel). Therefore, the pressure from family eases off due to increasing financial independence thus reducing urgency towards finding partners. Hopefully there will be more Korean BBQ tables for one in future years.

The subdued colors and slower pace of Single in Seoul distill that slightly melancholy mood of springtime persistent cold weather when love should have been blossoming all around us. To put it briefly, it is a film that does not seem to be the typical romantic comedy. In this way, the developing connection doesn’t hit the mark and lacks chemistry and spark. It poses a global question with an answer from each individual – does partnering come at a price?

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