Castaway on the Moon (Kim’s Island) – Korean Movie Review

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Castaway on the moon is one of those movies that just keeps coming up. If you’ve ever been on a streaming site or an asian drama or movie site, this movie keeps appearing again and again, and for good reason. It’s one of those movies I’ve downloaded several times but only finally watched tonight.

Castaway is the story of two people who are recluses from the world. Minh-hee Hong is a failure at life. Deeply in dept, abandoned by his girlfriend and failing in his career he attempts suicide by jumping off a bridge, only to wake up stranded on a small deserted island in the middle of the wide Han River.

At first he tries to kill himself again, until he tastes the sweetness that a simple life can offer. He decides to live on in a subsistence lifestyle, with the skyline of Seoul framing his life he adopts a scarecrow for a friend and finds an abandoned carnival paddleboat for his shelter. He begins enjoying his new life, until he finds an instant black bean noodle packet and he desperately wishes to taste the flavour that he has neglected his whole life. That flavour comes to represent hope for him.

All this while, a hikikomori girl named Kim Jung-yeon who is physically and mentally scarred and has spent the last three years of life never leaving her room is watching through the lens of a camera that she has focused on the city to catch the special moment twice a year when Korea performs their air raid drills and everyone stops moving, leaving the city magically empty like a ghost town. During one such moment, she sees him on the island. Thinking him an alien at first, she is fascinated.

Eventually she makes contact with him, leaving her home for the first time in years to throw a wine bottle containing a message onto the island. He finds the bottle and opens it and finds it contains merely one word – “Hello”.

The two continue to exchange notes and Jung-yeon is buoyed by Min-hee’s success at managing to raise his own corn in the hope of eventually making flour for his noodles. Min-hee’s strength becomes Jung-yeon’s strength and she slowly reestablishes contact with the world, and leaving her fake online life behind.

Maybe I love stories about hikikomori, or perhaps I just love stories about people isolating themselves from society and then finding that glimmer of hope in humanity that they’ve lost. I also love the concept of a guy abandoning his structured life of credit cards and job interviews and rules only to find a more simple life, which is a theme that resonates with me, having left the developed world for the developing one.

Castaway on the Moon is a movie that keeps coming up for a reason. Because it’s beautiful. It’s simple and uncomplicated, yet it tells a deep and complex story even through its simplicity. Perhaps it is a story that would not work if it were made in a western country, but I think the themes are universal and I think this movie can give everyone a little hope, just like the sachet of black bean flavouring gives Min-hee hope.

And the ending…. well, the ending is just priceless. Nothing tacky. Nothing over done. Just… perfect in every way.

Oh and as an aside, Yi loved every minute of this movie. She laughed so many times. I cried so many times. She laughed at me crying. I cried at her laughing. We hugged and at the end we were both happier for having seen it. Castaway on the Moon, or Kim’s Island. Get it from your favourite Asian movie website, torrent site or if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so… buy a copy. You’ll be sure to want to show it to someone one day.

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