This movie is so sad! I thought it was going to be a thriller or some sort of exciting quest for the ultimate recipe, but it turned out to be a heartbreaking love story. Beware spoilers below!!!
Producer Choi Yu-jin () hears that a death-row inmate’s last words were his wishes to eat doenjang jjigae (aka spicy Korean beanpaste soup). The criminal is ruthless in his dealings and eluded the police for a long time before his capture. The police only succeeded because the criminal was too preoccupied over a magical other-worldly bowl of doenjang jjigae. As Yu-jin starts searching for this miracle recipe he is drawn into the story of doenjang jjigae-making mystery woman Jang Hye-jin (Lee Yo-won). Yu-jin delves deeper into Hye-jin’s story and learns of her tragic love story with Kim Hyun-Soo (Lee Dong-wook).
This movie isn’t something gripping that will make you sit at the edge of your seat. It grows and burns slowly drawing you in, making you question and wonder. You will drool at the doenjang jjigae and wish you were drinking a bowl as you watch this movie. I found the story telling in the movie deft, artistic, and smart.
The imagery and scenes in the country were beautiful. Two of the scenes that linger in my mind is the directors artistic shots. One is of the death-row inmate sitting in an inn drinking doenjang jjigae with the doorway framing him and the table. The outside is dark but the inside is brightly lit. Another is Hye-jin and Hyun-soo sitting in a hole in the ground they dug to put her fermenting pot into. The director has a scene where you look form a birds eye view and everything is lush green fields except the hole which hold our loving couple. There is literally nobody but them in the world in this scene, and their love is palpable.
I enjoyed how the movie was told from a third person viewpoint. The producer hungry for a story searched high a low for the doenjang jjigae girl. However, instead of finding a trashy story that might have gotten them high ratings, Yu-jin found something deeper that touched him to his core. I enjoyed that they held off on revealing Kim Hyun-soo’s identity until the story telling portion. His identity lent to one more layer of mystery. The movie did have the cliche of ghosts. Yu-jin found out Hyun-soo had already died and that Yu-jin was technically communicating with a ghost (literally Hyun-soo was called goblin man). But it wasn’t too overwrought and fit in with the story line. Hyun-soo still lingered waiting for his eternal love.
And the director never forgot the doenjang jjigae. I don’t know how bean-paste soup could possibly be used as a literary device but the director used it to tie his whole story together. From the beginning when everyone described its taste and smell, until the end when Yu-jin figured out the recipe ingredients/love/feelings and all, doenjang jjigae was really the star of this movie.
I really have to ask pinkblossom to take to me get some doenjang jjigae now. I can’t find a picture that does it justice and I’m too lazy to get a screenshot. So above are your alternative. But anyways, this movie is recommended for a good time, nothing too spectacular but definitely has lots of feelings worth mulling over.