A Hometown of the Heart
Director: Yun Yong-gyu
Cast: Byun Ki-jong, Yu Min, Yeo Heon-Yong, Choi Eun-hee
Film genre: Drama
Cert U, 76 mins, 1949
Distributed by Korean Film Archive
A boy lives as an orphan-acolyte in a peaceful mountain temple. Unbeknownst to him, his impoverished mother comes to catch just a glimpse of him, then returns to the city. A wealthy young widow almost adopts him, but the plan comes to nothing. Undaunted, he heads down the road to find his mother, against all odds, somewhere in the middle of Seoul.
A Hometown of the Heart had been a successful play before this beautiful film version brought it to a wider public. Korean mother-worship is nicely blended with reverence for the maternal Bodhisattva Kwanseeom. The visual lyricism and innocence of this tale seem all the more fragile when you consider that within some five months the country would be convulsed by war. Ironically, or just sadly, director Yun Yong-gyu - who was forced to leave for North Korea when Seoul was invaded, went on to make some of the first Korean War films in the North.