Return to Seoul at Perth Festival


Park Ji-Min (as Frédérique Benoît AKA Freddie)
Photo Credit: Return to Seoul

In the opening scenes of the movie “Return to Seoul” the main character Freddie (Frédérique Benoît) is out for the evening with new friends and is asked the age old question:

Where are you from?

This question resonated with me and made me laugh out loud as it is one that I am asked from time to time.

Freddie is French – and looks Korean.

She is a 25 year old with Korean birth parents, who was adopted by a French couple as a baby and brought up in France.

On impulse, she ends up in Korea and thus begins Freddie’s epic journey as she sets out in search of her roots and her biological parents.

The movie charts Freddie’s progress over the span of 8 years.

During that time, we see her find and interact with members of her biological family along with developing new friendships, testing the waters with casual encounters and relationships, and finding a job.

It is an emotionally charged journey and a cultural eye opener for Freddie as she navigates the challenges of being in a foreign country that she knows little about, even though she looks like a local.

It was not only the dialogue, but also the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) nuances of her non verbal expressions with those around her that kept me riveted to the screen to see how Freddie’s life would unravel.

Return to Seoul is a thought provoking and contemporary film that traverses some universal themes including that of identity and finding yourself, cultural fit, gender roles and stereotypes, societal expectations, along with the challenges of adoption and the life long reverberations it can have on the families involved.

It was a gritty as well as a sensitive portrayal of one woman’s journey to find her biological parents and to find herself.

It is a riveting and absorbing drama that you won’t forget in a hurry, with a bittersweet ending.

Watch Return to Seoul at UWA Somerville under the pines and have a Charlies pizza (tip: try the garlic prawn pizza if you are partial to seafood!) to keep you warm on what was for us quite a cool windy evening.

Return to Seoul is showing at UWA Somerville as part of Perth Festival until Sunday 18 December.

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