Three young men face the university entrance exams upon which their economic and social fates depend. Kim Tae-Moo is a comic book artist whose art is plagiarized even as he’s humiliated at school, at work, and then in the army. Cho Sein, plagued by a drunken father, wants to be a hairdresser and is the victim of gay bashing and chicken hawks. The overweight, phlegmatic, and cowardly Kong Seungho lives to eat and watch videos. The film dramatizes their friendship, their family lives, and the crushing reality of the limited opportunities Korean society offers them.
The story is about three close friends who all grew up together in a provincial Korean town. The film starts on the day they graduate from high school. They face an uncertain future, as they all have failed the college entrance exam.
Kim Taemoo wants to pursue a career as a comic book artist. He finds employment but his work is reduced to demeaning tasks. Then he finds out that promotion means drawing comics under the name of another cartoonist who will take all the credit. Frustrated and angry, he quits his job. The only option left is a job copying another artist’s work in order to get around the copyright. Disillusioned, he turns to life on the streets.
Cho Sein is secretly studying to be a hairdresser and beautician. He is misunderstood by his alcoholic father who insists on making a ‘man’ out of him. Stretched to the limit he is prone to fits of depression.
Kong Seungho is extremely overweight and lacks ambition. He squanders all his money on food and renting video tapes. His main interest in life is girls. The only trouble is they find him uninteresting and undesirable. His luck changes when he gets a job in a video shop. Now he gets plenty of opportunities to watch videos and even talk to girls. But despite his enthusiasm for his new lot in life, he eventually loses his job.
Then the three friends get their call-up notices for military service. Kong Seungho goes on an eating binge and becomes so overweight that the military cannot accept him. Cho Sein decides to go to the army to develop his manhood and please his family. Tragically, he is sexually harassed by members of a street gang. The resulting emotional scar disqualifies him from service on psychological grounds. Kim Taemoo tries to get his friends to break his collar bone with a club. The plan fails. In the army he is unfairly victimized.
Much later the three friends reunite. In some way or another each one of them has been ‘betrayed’ by the system.
(Source: imdb.com; arsenal-berlin.de)
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Original Title: Sechinku
AKA: Three Friends
Country: South Korea
Director: Soonrye Yim
Stars: Hyun-sung Kim, Hee-suk Jung, Jang-won Lee
Run time: 93 min