Movie: Swing Kids

This movie was a surprise! I did not expect to be watching another Korean movie so soon. I watched this one on the plane and it was a riot. Got me laughing out loud, and feeling sad too.

Swing Kids

Duration: 1h 13 minutes

What's it about: A North Korean prisoner of war gets roped in to join the American military dance team during the Korean War. He learns and falls in love with tap dance.

Here's some actual history before I share more about the movie.

The Korean War (1950-1953) is a war between the North and South of Korea. NK was supported by the Soviet Union and China, while SK was supported by the US.

After WW2, Korea, previously under Japan Occupation, was temporarily split into two between the USSR, and the US. The Cold War between these two behemoths exacerbated the situation and NK eventually invades the SK, triggering the Korean War.

Today, the border is split at the 38th parallel, where some tourists visit and know it as the Demilitarised Zone. The Korean War is also referred to as 'The Forgotten War', because of the lack public attention. Before it, there was WW2, and after it, the Vietnam War. The Korean War is considered very recent really. It started only about 70 years ago.

Main Characters

Our rakish hero is Roh Kisoo, played by the very charismatic EXO boyband member Do Kyungsoo, or D.O. He has the boyish and rebellious Eddie Peng and Ethan Ruan feel. He also played the depressed soldier who SPOILER accidentally killed his friend in the movie Along With The Gods.

He is part of the North Korean faction, and his brother died for the cause. This makes him some sort of hero. However, he gets roped in to dance an American dance, which he finds that he simply cannot resist. It's a betrayal of his country and cause, and therein his conflict.

Kisoo spends most of the movie being torn between wanting to dance and wanting to be loyal.
Jackson is the African American man who brings the team together and teaches them the Broadway tap dance. He is under pressure to do so, under orders, if he wants to go back to his family. He's a rather chill dude though and often exudes an air of resignation, but comes alive when he dances.

Yang Pallae is a very pretty, opportunistic and earnest lady who wanted to translate for Jackson to earn some cash for the family, and ended up being part of the dance group. She is a sweet and lively character.

She was also part of a lady civilian group that dances with American soldiers. Super cute girl.

Xiao Pang the chubby Chinese POW and this other Korean uncle who is looking for his wife are also part of this randomly thrown together troupe. But we all love an underdog.

What to Expect:

Expect to tap your feet at least once. The tippity tappity rhythm is irresistible! There are tons of close-ups of tap dancing feet.

Expect a lot of humour, especially in the first hour. Things get a little draggy from then on.

But this movie comes with lots of darker elements too. After all, the film is set during wartime.

This scene where two soldiers from different factions play a game of volleyball despite the barb wire fence reminded me of the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. 

There are some plot twists here and there, but they don't really deliver with enough punch, possibly because there's so much going on in this show. It swings from cheerful dancing to fire and bombing in a split second. Some scenes also feel very incredulous (dance confrontation), while others warm the cockles of your heart (the 'romance' and duo dance sequence - so cute and reminiscent of other dance movies).

Didn't notice this movie at all in 2018, so I'm glad to catch it now! I give it a 7.5/10 with extra
points for a good looking lead. Haha. You can watch this movie online here.

Overall it was a fun show to watch. But after the entertainment ends, you remember that the divide between NK and SK still stands, and many families are still separated. War is truly a terrible thing. What's more unbelievable to me sometimes is that we can sit around and enjoy our luxuries while war rages on in other countries (Syria Civil War and more. click to read more). Yet as an individual, I am uncertain of what to do. I will read up more and at least be educated about it though.

Further reading:
Read more here on How You Can Stop The Wars.

Till next time,