Archive of films Helpless / Hwacha

South Korea
2012, 117 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2012

All it takes is a couple minutes at a gas station to turn your life upside down. After a young man’s fiancée vanishes he sets out to solve her mysterious disappearance despite having not even one clue to go on. Will he find the young woman or will his misery engulf him? The movie achieves a workable blend of  intimate story and thriller.


Fiancés Mun-ho and Seon-yeong are having an enjoyable trip, but as soon as the man stops at a convenience store, the woman disappears. As such an event was completely unforeseen, her fiancé tries to figure things out. Will he be able to find the woman or will his search for happiness result in even greater sorrow and tragedy? Could it turn out that the woman’s disappearance isn’t the worst that could happen to Mun-ho? The crime-tinged love drama eventually reveals clues as to whether the woman was kidnapped or whether she simply left because she had been playing a game with her intended the whole time. This ambiguous movie goes beyond its generic boundaries and touches on more general questions while reconstructing the characters’ pasts, sensitively describing the extremes the main character is thrust into by the unexpected situation. Set against a detective story backdrop, the movie profiles character psychology, addressing the topics of alienation and feelings of emptiness in today’s cities – not uncommon themes for Korean cinema.

About the director

Young-joo Byun

Young-Joo Byun (b. 1966) first graduated in law from Ewha Women’s University and then in film from Chung-Ang University. Even her earliest films take up women’s issues. The Murmuring (Nazen moksori, 1995), on Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during the Second World War for the needs of Japanese soldiers, was the first documentary to see a South Korean theater release. She followed up this success with two quasi-sequels, Habitual Sadness (Nazen moksori 2, 1997) and My Own Breathing (Sumgyul, 1999). Her first feature Ardor was presented at the Berlinale in 2003.


CJ Entertainment Inc.
26th Fl., Parnas Tower 521, Teheran-ro, 06 164, Seoul
Korea (Democratic People's Republic of)
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, 35 mm
European premiere

Section: Another View
Director: Young-joo Byun
Screenplay: Young-joo Byun podle románu / based on the novel Ka-sha by Miyabe Miyuki
Dir. of Photography: Dong-won Kim
Music: Hong-jip Kim
Editor: Gok-ji Park
Producer: Hye-eun Shin
Production: Boim Pictures
Cast: Min-hee Kim, Sun-kyun Lee
Contact: CJ Entertainment Inc.

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