“Seobok” might be getting the kind of review you’d expect from sci-fi fanatics critical of its ‘been there before’ plot and missing clever twists. However, the film, starring Korean superstars Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum, is an honest, straightforward discourse on some of the most important questions we have while on lockdown.
Min Gi-heon (Gong Yoo) is a former intelligence agent whose days are numbered because of his brain tumor. Chief Ahn (Jo Woo-jin) of the Korea Intelligence Agency hires him to ensure the safety of Seobok (Park Bo-gum), the first human clone. Everyone is out to get Seobok, who’s a product of stem cell cloning and genetic manipulation, as he holds the secret to eternal life. Seobok, who has lived all his life in the laboratory, gets a chance to see the outside world for the first time with Min Gi-heon in tow. Together, they try to escape those out to get Seobok, while searching for meaning in their lives.
Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum Duo
Coming from different eras of the Hallyu wave, the Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum tandem is an unexpected and welcome treat to Korean entertainment fans.
The rugged, foul-tempered Min Gi-heon played by Gong Yoo is a stark contrast to Park Bo-gum’s Seobok character. While the innocent Seobok holds the key to eternal life, Gi-heon struggles to protect him in order to live.
Both shine on their own as individual characters but their scenes together are always touching and thought-provoking.
Questions on Life and Death
A “Seobok” review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the dialogues that seem to be apt moreso now than ever before.
During a confrontation scene, Gi-heon snaps at Seobok who questions his reason for protecting him:
Seobok: All men die anyway. Why should you get to live? Are you worthy of being saved?
Gi-heon: You’re right, every word you said. I’m not worth it. I deserve to die. But I’m doing every damn thing I can to live. Is that so wrong? Tell me. What did I do? What else should I do?
The two continue to reflect on their lives as they draw close to each other.
Seobok: What does it feel to be dying?
Gi-heon: Not good. It sucks actually.
Gi-heon: Because you’re dying. Why else?
Seobok: Then did it feel good to live?
Gi-heon: There were good times and bad times, and definitely some shitty times. I’m confused now. I can’t tell if I want to live or if I’m just scared to die. I don’t know anymore.
As Seobok discovers his purpose for living, Gi-heon gets the real reason why he continues to protect him, even defying his superior’s orders.
‘Seobok’: An Honest Review
“Seobok” comes in with a lot of expectations not just because of its main leads but because of the sci-fi genre it has been marketed by CJ ENM. The story-telling might be lacking in some parts and the gloomy atmosphere and discourse might bore some. However, “Seobok” is satisfying for those looking for a straightforward philosophical drama. Nothing fancy, just pure unadulterated good dialogue and acting from two of Hallyu’s biggest superstars.
If you haven’t seen it already, check out where to watch Seobok in the Philippines.