Film Review: The World of Us at Koffia
The Korean Film Festival in Australia (Koffia) is back for its eighth outing! The World of Us played at the Opening Night in Sydney and we sent Addy Fong along to check it out:
In the complicated world of primary school politics, the desire to belong hinders the formation of friendships, filtered by preconceived notions and prejudice based on one’s actions, social class, grades and popularity.
Ga-eun Yoon’s debut feature, The World of Us is a story which showcases not only social issues that affect primary aged children in Korea but many of us no matter what age.
The film is as follows: Sun (Choi Soo-in), a girl who is established as the outsider early on in the piece, is often ignored by a popular group of girls – including a former friend Bora (Lee Seo-yeon) – who exclude and bully her despite the kindness she shows them. Upon meeting Ji-ah (Seol Hye-in), a fellow classmate new in town, Sun and Ji-ah quickly become friends and share their summer holiday together, making friendship bracelets, sharing meals and secrets with one another.
After seeing the isolation and mistreatment Sun faces, including not getting picked for the school sports team, being excluded from social conversation and sitting alone in the classroom, it is welcoming to see Sun gain a friend as someone who is both the protagonist and a kind and respectful human being. We want the best for her but suspect that her happiness may be temporary.
Throughout The World of Us, Sun’s isolation is felt through the use of singular shots which employ a shallow depth of field, separating her from the world she resides in, we celebrate the friendship she shares with Ji-ah only to be devastatingly hurt by their mistreatment of one another due to prejudice and misunderstanding. Despite the story being set in Korea and having characters of primary age, anyone would be able to relate to Sun’s feelings of loneliness and urge to belong.
Addressed in Yoon’s film is the fear many of us may think about, that once established friendships groups will fade. It seems even in Primary school cliques form, determined by social class and what someone owns, rather than who someone is. Characters in The World of Us deal with pressures of school, tutoring, home, and relationships amongst other things.
Sun’s adorable little brother Yoon (Kang Min-joon) is always getting into fights with his friend, but his childlike manner helps to provide perspective to a story surrounding the ever-changing nature of primary school politics by asking Sun, ‘If I keep hitting him when can I play?’ Yoon’s perspective of conflict and how it should be resolved differs from that of his sister Sun’s whose conflict is never fully resolved by the film’s conclusion.
Unlike the bandaids and bruises on Yoon’s face, the damage inflicted by Sun’s conflict with other girls in The World of Us, in particular her former friend Ji-ah, damages what was a once great relationship that may now never heal.
The eighth Korean Film Festival in Australia travels around the country throughout August and September. For schedules, tickets and film information, head to http://www.koffia.com.au/
Review by Addy Fong.