“A Boy and Sungreen” (보희와 녹양) – 2018 Busan Film Review


Ah, adolescence. It can be full of angst for the teenager and everyone in his or her orbit, but it seems like life is even more of a burden for Bo-hee in “A Boy and Sungreen” (보희와 녹양).  He is a persistently forlorn middle school student stuck with a feminine name who cries at the drop of a hat in situations that others would merely skate through. Were it not for his female best friend, Nok-yang, his amusingly sassy yang to his timid yin, Bo-hee’s sensitivity would get the best of him in pretty much every single situation in life.

However, there is an underlying reason to Bo-hee’s constant burden: he is increasingly convinced that his father, who supposedly died in an accident when he was little, is alive. The details are scant – he can’t recall his father’s face or name, and his mother has made sure that none of the family photos in the house have left any visual clues.  But he does recall that he has a half-sister named Nam-hee, who he manages to track down, kickstarting a series of events that leads Bo-hee down a path of self-discovery and newfound relationships.

The plot is not without its foibles; those familiar with South Korean cinema will recognize some commonly-used tropes centered on taboo subjects, such as the societal stigma of being a child with one or no parents (as is the case with both Bo-hee and Nok-yang).  Fortunately, these do not dominate the heartwarming narrative, which for the most part focuses on Bo-hee’s quest to find his father.  What he ultimately learns ends up becoming the lesson for the viewer: you may not always get the expected outcome you want in life, but that journey may result in something much more.

Ahn Ju-young’s debut feature film “A Boy and Sungreen” made its world premiere at the 2018 Busan International Film Festival.  It screens Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. at Lotte Cinema Centum City.