The President’s Barber (2004)

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Director: Lim Chan Sang
Casts: Song Kang Ho, Moon So Ri, Lee Jae Eung, Jo Young Jin, Son Byung Ho, Park Yong Soo, Ryu Seung Soo, Yun Ju Sang, Jeong Gyu Su, and Oh Dal Su
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Running Time: 116 minutes

Sung Han Mo (Song Kang Ho) is the only barber at Hyoja-dong, where the President lives. During a rigged election, he gets married to Kyung Ja (Moon So Ri) and forces her to give a birth to a baby over 5 months. The 4.19 revolution restores his belief that a barber is similar to a doctor. After a military government founded by 5.16 coup d’etat, the decree of hair cutting is announced. With that, a lot of customers go to Han Mo’s barber shop for haircut. One day, an unidentified person appears at his shop. Han Mo caught a spy at his area which leads him to become the President’s barber. Thus, he kept his reputation but troubles show up in his way which not only affects him but his family including his only son.

“The President’s Barber” has an interesting fiction story to tell with a mix of humour and drama to keep me on the edge of the seat. However, the connection and flow of each key event are a little bit out of place. Well, there are major key events which are known in history like the 4.19 revolution but the disease which the North Korean spies bring into South Korea is a bit too much. Yes, that scenario is part of the humour. However, a person who has diarrhea as a symptom of disease and shows that that person has contacted with the North Korean spies is out of the question. That is ridiculously impossible. Look at Han Mo’s poor son being punished with electricity (even though he’s having fun) just because he has diarrhoea.

My heart moves when it comes to watching scenes which are related to family and friendship bonding. After Han Mo’s son was punished, he became a disabled person which breaks his and his wife’s heart. They do whatever they can to cure him. Han Mo is determined to make his son back to a normal person even though he has to meet a ‘psycho’ doctor. The ending itself is really touching. For that, you have to find out since I normally don’t tell so much spoilers. On the other hand, Han Mo works hard to stable his career as the President’s barber while supporting his family. Even though sometimes he is bullied by politicians, he tries not to give up easily.

Since “The President’s Barber” is the first film of Moon So Ri to be shown at the London Korean Cultural Centre, I decided to say what I think about her based on how she portrays the characters in each film over the first three months of the year 2013. Just to give you a heads up. Moon So Ri is selected to be part of the ‘Year of the 4 Actors’. She was featured in films like “Peppermint Candy” (2000) and “Oasis” (2002). She has received numerous awards including the 59th Venice International Film Festival and 23rd Blue Dragon Film Awards.

In “The President’s Barber”, I am impressed with how she portrays perfectly as a nagging wife and mother in the family. At times, I laughed how she keeps complaining to Han Mo. At times, I cried when she finds that her son is missing and, in the end, his son has become a disabled person. What I see in her? The emotions that she evoked to make my heart moved. Even though it’s the first time for me to see her through this film, I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to see even more of her films.

Overall, “The President’s Barber” fiction story has a few glitches even though I enjoyed it. Yes, it has a nice story for the audiences to enjoy. Yes, some clichés are good and not overreacting. But, as I said before, the key events seem to be not connected. That’s my only doubt about it. Moon So Ri has portrayed well as the main female character of the film and I’m sure there’s more from her as I’m waiting to see more of her featured in films during the upcoming film nights.

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