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Who Are You?
  |     review    |     availability     |


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Timesmart Media Ltd.
Korean Language
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
Music Video

Year: 2002
Director: Choi Ho
Cast: Cho Seung-Woo, Lee Na-Young
The Skinny: Pretty much a Korean version of You've Got Mail, this film skews younger and hipper than the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan blockbuster. It's also a much better film.
by Kozo:

     You've Got Mail goes to Korea with Who Are You?, a surprisingly winning romance that manages to be as charming as it is predictable. Cho Seung-Woo is Kyung-Tae, a co-founder of "Who Are You?", an online role-playing game which functions as both a dating simulation and an online chatroom. Now entering beta testing, the game affords the chance for Kyung-Tae to meet In-Joo (Lee Na-Young), one of the game's many beta testers. She happens to work at an aquarium in the same building as Kyung-Tae lives and sleeps (as a game designer, he never leaves the office), and quickly interests him with her mildly off-kilter behavior and independent attitude.
     Intrigued, Kyung-Tae takes over as her online "partner," conversing with her via his computer avatar, Mello. In-Joo ends up unburdening herself to her new online friend, which only interests Kyung-Tae further. Unfortunately, In-Joo isn't too impressed with Kyung-Tae in real life, and makes it known via their online chatting. In person, the two spar and disagree constantly, but online Kyung-Tae is her "special friend", a personal confidante and trusted kindred soul. Ultimately, In-Joo's trust worms its way into Kyung-Tae's heart, which brings up the inevitable conflict: tell her, or not? And if so, how? Will she accept a "loser" computer geek like Kyung-Tae, or will she see that despite his deception, he's really not that bad a guy? Hell, this is a movie—what do you think happens?
     Like its inspiration, Who Are You? mines an undeniably interesting personal dynamic. Kyung-Tae knows the truth about their online relationship, but In-Joo does not, which adds extra layers to their interaction. Thanks to the setup, Kyung-Tae becomes an infinitely more interesting character, as all his actions, words, and even expressions have multiple meanings beyond the obvious. Cho Seung-Woo handles the character with likable charisma and self-deprecating sensitivity, though he doesn't always show it.
     By comparison, In-Joo should suffer, as her personal disdain for Kyung-Tae could make her seem less sympathetic. Still, actress Lee NA-Young (who was also in the horrid sci-fi flick Dream of a Warrior), is likable and refreshingly tough, and the personal pains she's given are handled believably and without egregious overdone drama. Both actors make their characters appear real and appealing, such that whatever predictable steps the script takes to get them together don't even seem to register. Though there are lots of words in the script, a lot of the emotions are related in a quiet, subtle manner.
     Who Are You? is ultimately a better film than You've Got Mail because it resists the urge to be cloying and cute, and portrays the characters' lives with sufficient realism and unspoken detail. The appeal of the characters and their lives makes the film's more awkward steps less annoying than they could be. Like almost every film romance ever made, maudlin emotions and cheesy happenstance play a part in the final solution, and Who Are You? is no exception. When the denouement rolls around, whatever obstacles that exist are dispelled with little tension or emotional complexity. This is really just a glossy youth romance with attractive cyberspace trappings, and anyone who's looking for surprising or original stuff is expecting too much. But for what it is, Who Are You? accomplishes enough to make it worthwhile. (Kozo 2004)

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen