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I Wish I Had a Wife
Year: 2001

Jeon Do-yeon and Sol Kyung-gu
Director: Park Heung-shik
Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Sol Kyung-gu, Jin Hee-kyung, Suh Tae-hwa, Hur Jang-kun, Min Kyung-jin, Choi Yoo-sun
The Skinny: Well made romantic comedy starring Korea's best actress Jeon Do-yeon, and Peppermint Candy's Sol Kyung-gu. The story is nothing particularly innovative, but excellent star turns make the film enjoyable.
by LunaSea:
     Marriage is one of Korean Cinema's favorite subjects, from melodramas to romantic comedies. Director Park Heung-shik's debut (after making short films, and working as assistant director on Hur Jin-ho's Christmas in August) instead focuses on lonely people who are looking for a soulmate, but never seem to find the right one. It's a world where people talk to closed-circuit cameras, because they are afraid to express themselves for real.
     Bong-soo (Sol Kyung-gu) works at a bank, and sees friends and colleagues getting married left and right. That is, he sees everybody getting married but him. He videotapes monologues for his "future wife," almost trying to imagine a conversation. His quest to find the perfect wife seemingly comes to an end when he meets an old acquaintance (Jin Hee-kyung), but reality is always different from expectations. Won-joo (Jeon Do-yeon) is a teacher, working opposite Bong-soo's bank. She's really shy, and only feels comfortable when talking with her students. She's been looking for the right man for a long time, but it always seems like her hopes are crushed by real life.
     The two slowly get to know one another, be it through little accidents or chance meetings on the way home. She instantly connects with him, but he's too busy thinking about his "future wife," to notice someone is actually interested in him. This is a film that doesn't give answers, it instead presents situations we can relate to, and decides to develop the characters instead of their romance. The end of the film could mean anything; it's open to debate. Will they stay together, or continue to be friends? Will Won-joo continue to bear Bong-soo's mood swings, or grow tired? The pleasure isn't finding out if they'll start a serious relationship, but how they actually get there.
     After his excellent work in Peppermint Candy, Sol Kyung-gu returns with a funny, energetic performance. Bong-soo is a very interesting character, and Sol's ability to not take himself too seriously helps the light hearted tone of the film. There's a reason Jeon Do-yeon is the most sought after actress in Korea: she's simply phenomenal. Be it a shy country teenager in Harmonium in My Memory, a sexy but conflicted wife in Happy End, or her quirky performance in this film, she can adapt to pretty much any character with ease.
     Besides the leads' performances, the reason that this film works is it doesn't shove romance down your throat. I Wish I had a Wife is not a film that will hit you with passion or melodrama. The film works thanks to small, quirky details, appropriate character development, and involving performances from both Jeon Do-yeon and Sol Kyung-gu. Helped by Jo Sung-woo's sublime jazzy soundtrack and Park Heung-shik's polished direction, this is a welcome addition to this year's crop of romantic comedies. (LunaSea 2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Edko Video
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen