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Short Film Review: I’m Here to See the House by Junh Yoon-ah
Short Film Review: I'm Here to See the House by Junh Yoon-ah

Short Film Review: I’m Here to See the House by Junh Yoon-ah

“I’m Here to See the House” is an excellent movie, and a testament to the intense progress Korean cinema has been exhibiting in short filmmaking during the last few years.

The issue with housing in Seoul in particular has been one tormenting the locals for quite some time now, with the prices constantly going up, in an issue that has become international actually. Junh Yoon-ah focuses her short on this exact issue.

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The short begins with the protagonist, Seon-ok, boasting about the apartment she managed to buy after renting it for years. Her friends, however, know the truth, that she was not able to pay the overwhelming loan and had to rent it, and now has to live in a cramped one with her husband and daughter. At the same time, her husband pressures her to sell it since its price is quite high at the moment, and at his work, he is eligible for voluntary resignation. She, however, does not want to hear about it, considering the hardships they had to go through to buy it, plus the fact that her husband’s resignation will make her the sole income bringer in the family, with her working scrubbing bathers at the public bathhouse. Their daughter, Min-gyeong, in the meantime, is tired of the whole situation and their constant fighting.

Eventually, Seon-ok agrees, and tries to convince her tenant, Ja-hyun, to move. She is not exactly eager to do so though, and Seon-ok eventually learns by the real estate people who has given the house to sell, that she does not allow prospect buyers to see the apartment. Eventually her daughter, who has just gotten a job, announces that she wants to marry her boyfriend and wants to move into the apartment. When her mother tells her that she wants to sell it, the girl reminds her how she helped her son, with the whole concept of Korean patriarchy coming painfully in the fore. Inevitably, everything comes into a clash.

Jung Yoon-ah directs a film where everyone involved are on the right. Seon-ok feels the pressure from all sides, with the payment of the loan, the tenant who refuses to cooperate, a daughter who is demanding what she deems is her right and a husband who is about to become unemployed. Ja-hyun feels a similar pressure, having to find another apartment to move on while her little daughter still goes to school, and her husband never seems to be home. Furthermore, the actions of Seon-ok, which can only be described as hostile after a point, make her whole situation even worse. Lastly, Min-gyeong feels the unfairness as she is just asking what her elder brother got from her parents, who never actually even think of doing so before she suggests it.

As such, what becomes evident is that the fault is not with the individual, but with the system, with the pressure actually being piled up both from the financial and the social one. It is through this element that a very appealing tension becomes part of the narrative, actually carrying it until the breaking point, that even involves violence. It is in this scene that the excellent acting by Kim Ja-young as Seo-nok and Park Hye Young as Ja-hyun finds its apogee, with both women, and particularly the former, who has the most significant role, carrying the movie from beginning to end.

In a last comment, the men in the short do appear as somewhat useless, essentially leaning on their wives for support, in a ‘girl-power’ element that may not be so far from the truth, in the particular setting.

Lee Young-hun’s cinematography includes long shots in order to highlight the exteriors and the many close ups in interiors, in an approach that works nicely for the movie. Choi Cha-mi’s editing results in a relative fast pace that suits the aesthetics nicely, while adding to the tension the short emits.

“I’m Here to See the House” is an excellent movie, one that manages to make its realistic comments in quite eloquent and entertaining fashion, and a testament to the intense progress Korean cinema has been exhibiting in short filmmaking during the last few years.