Sa-Kwa Yi-kwan Kang

Sa-Kwa means "apology" in Korean, and this character study of a free-spirited but selfish young woman in Seoul leads to regret but also maturity. After she is abandoned by her fiancé, Hyun-jung (Korean star Moon So-ri) reacts by hooking up with Sanghoon (Kim Tae-woo), a mensch who works in her building. Sweet and sincere, Sanghoon has been showering Hyun-jung with flowers and inviting her to operas and picnics. However, they are mismatched, coming from different backgrounds and personalities - she is outgoing and carefree, he is conservative and retiring. Nonetheless, they marry and have a child, laying aside their differences and working hard to make the union work. Soon enough, the marriage withers as Hyun-jung takes up with her old flame and Sanghoon takes an assignment across the country. Hyun-jung is left older, wiser and apologetic. Korea's best actress, Moon So-ri, delivers a strong performance but it pales next to her characterisation in the superior A Good Lawyer's Wife (2003, directed by Sang-soo Im), which plays like a black, nihilistic version of this film. Sa-Kwa falls flat, offering neither revelation nor artistic voice. Director Yi-kwan Kang shoots the film handheld like a documentary, but unlike a good doc, Sa-Kwa offers little insight into his characters. Sure, the marriage and its dissolution ring true, but what's the point? Though playful, mischievous and sexual, the character of Hyun-jung comes off as spoiled and inconsiderate. When the couple splits, we side with the husband, not her. After all, she was unfaithful to him while he worked to bank money for the baby. Her remorse comes too little, too late for us to care. No apologies here. (Chungeorahm)