Love Impossible (2003)

Do opposites attract? Of course they do

Photo of Sa-rang Kim and In-seong Zo in "Love Impossible" (2003)

Sa-rang Kim and In-seong Zo in "Love Impossible" (2003)


Also known as “Love of South and North,” Love Impossible is a silly romantic comedy that involves two unlikely lovers, people who are quite literally polar opposites.

Oh Yeong-hie (Sa-rang Kim) is a dedicated student who can recite a decades-old speech by leader Kim Il Sung. The daughter of a high-ranking military official, she wins a contest to head the North Korean student team sent to China on a dig of an ancient burial tomb. Her South Korean counterpart is Kim Cheol-su (In-seong Zo), a shallow skirt-chaser and the son of the head of the national intelligence agency. For reasons that are not so clear, his teacher coerces this failing student into representing the South.

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Of course, Kim falls madly in love with Oh, who rebuffs his attempts at witty pick-up lines and magic tricks, wanting desperately to find the tomb and claim the glory of doing so for her country. A series of silly vignettes in a dance club and in the underground dig does nothing much to sway her.

The movie that starts as a silly comedy ends with an attempt at a serious message about cross-border relations as, once the tomb is discovered, the story told on the tomb walls causes Oh and Kim to reflect on their relationship. The drama that follows is, unfortunately, not nearly clever or insightful enough, and fails to jerk even a single tear.

English-speaking audiences probably won’t find this one worth the effort, particularly because of what is apparently a very superficial translation of the subtitles. My wife, a native Korean speaker, howled with laughter and tried now and then to give me a sense of how some of the more earthy, cutting remarks should have been rendered into English. But more than just the literal meaning of the remarks gets lost in translation. If you love Korean comedy, this is likely an entertaining diversion for you, but if not, you’d be better off giving this one a pass.


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