What I’m Watching – “Journey to My Boy” (아들에게 가는 길)
This is a movie about disability (both parents are deaf), and the cruelties of children. The director (Choi Wi-an) has a careful and steady eye for detail, and some of the scenes were beautiful.
There is a saying in Korean that “a love between a parent and child is like a river, because it only flows in one direction.” Here, the mother (Kim Eun-ju as Bo-hyun) loves her son as much as she hates her own mother for cruelties inflicted on her as a deaf child. But those cruelties were borne of love. And Bo-hyun’s desperate need for her child’s love is itself a kind of cruelty.
But for all that, the child – Lee Io-un, in a relentlessly whiny role – is a deeply unsympathetic character. By the end of the movie, I found myself loathing him. It is childhood as a dark, joyless, unforgivable place without respite. And the source of all that misery is neither injustice nor fear. It is shame. The insipidness of it, the sheer needlessness of that shame, the lack of circumspection which is the very definition of childhood, makes for a pretty grim movie.