S.Korean film to release in Chinese mainland after six years, seen as 'icebreaker' by Chinese experts
Published: Dec 01, 2021 07:36 PM

Promotional photo of the movie Photo: Maoyan

Promotional photo of the movie Photo: Maoyan

After six years, South Korean movie finally entered the Chinese mainland movie market again. Comedy Oh! My Gran will be heading to cinemas in the Chinese mainland. News that the film, also known as Oh! Moon-hee, would be releasing on Friday quickly swept Chinese social media, with Chinese experts seeing it as an 'icebreaker" for cultural exchanges between the two countries.

Moon-hee, played by veteran South Korean actress Na Moon-hee, is the lead role of the movie. In her mind, Moon-hee is a "Secret Jouju," the princess in a TV cartoon animation, but in reality, she is just an aging granny with Alzheimer's disease who is cared for by her son Du-won and her grand-daughter Bo-mi. One night tragedy strikes when Bo-mi gets hurt in a hit-and-run accident. 

Moon-hee is the only witness, but she is only able to mumble nonsense and the police prove to be unable to help. With Bo-mi in a coma, Du-won and Moon-hee have to step on the road to track down the culprit behind the crime.

Although the elderly woman has a difficult time remembering anything because of her disease, she tries her best to recall the license plate number to find the person who hurt her granddaughter. Her earnestness in this endeavor has led Chinese netizens to comment that the movie must tell a warm and healing story.

The last South Korean movie to screen in the Chinese mainland was the 2015 film Assassination starring Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Jung-jae. The fact that the six-year-old movie looks to break this dry run has been seen as an optimistic signal by netizens and experts.

"Maybe it's an attempt to break the ice," Luo Luo, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

She explained that choosing this movie as the restart may be because the theme of family affection is a soft place in everyone's heart and the warmth and touching story can cross boundaries.

"The film will be released near the end of the year, which is a time when families greet each other or get together. The affection in the film touches the hearts of the audience and makes them think about their family relationships and feelings," the critic said.

Some South Korean entertainers have come to the Chinese mainland for events recently, including actor Lee Dong-wook, who made his China debut in the December issue of GQ China

Before this movie, Catman, a Chinese-South Korean coproduction from 2016 starring South Korean actor and singer Oh Se-hun in the lead role, finally received a new release date of March 14 for the Chinese mainland, but this ended up getting extended indefinitely. The movie was finally released on Chinese streaming platforms in May, but was removed after only two hours.

South Korean pop culture has cooled down somewhat in China since South Korea deployed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in 2016