Movie Review: “1987: When The Day Comes”


The film “1987: When The Day Comes” is a South Korean movie featuring talented and renowned actors and actresses from South Korea, such as Kim Tae Ri, Kang Dong Won, Lee Hee Jun, Yoo Hae Ji, Ha Jung Woo, Park Hee Soon, Kim Yoon Seok, Yeo Jin Gu, and others. The story is based on true events with some fictional elements. It revolves around the real-life stories of Lee Han Yeol, an activist and Business Administration student at Yonsei University, and Park Jong Cheol, an activist and student from Seoul National University. The film is set during the era of the dictator President Chun Doo Hwan in the 1980s.

The narrative begins with the demand from various parties to investigate the suspicious death of a student during police interrogation. Many, especially student activists, raise their voices demanding justice for the deceased student. However, the police and high-ranking officials attempt to cover up the case, declaring the student’s death as a natural one caused by a heart attack. Yet, the public, particularly the family, student activists, and journalists, do not believe the police’s explanation. They continue to question the truth behind the inconsistencies and relentlessly pursue justice through various means.

It was an era characterized by dictatorial and authoritarian regimes, where government officials deemed any dissenting opinions as threats that needed to be eradicated. All protests were considered as challenges by the government, leading to widespread violence aimed at suppressing the populace and enforcing compliance and submission to the authorities. In this film, there is a portrayal of a high-ranking individual who holds strong anti-communist views, constantly suspecting those opposed to the government as being part of a pro-communist faction, adding to the tension within the narrative. The injustice surrounding the death of a student ignites the spirit and determination of student activists to move forward, to voice their demands for justice and freedom in their country. Eventually, a student demonstration occurs, resulting in numerous casualties and fatalities. The loss of another student’s life due to clashes with the authorities triggers massive demonstrations, igniting the fighting spirit of various segments of society who are tired and fed up with the authoritarian government.

The depth of the roles portrayed by the actors and actresses brings this film to life, allowing the emotions intended by the filmmakers to be conveyed effectively. Viewers are drawn into the storyline, feeling the atmosphere of the narrative along with the characters.

The story and plot of this film are compelling, heartbreaking, and gut-wrenching. Drawing inspiration from one of the historical events in South Korea makes the film more engaging and informative, enabling everyone to understand and appreciate the immense struggles of their predecessors in achieving the freedom enjoyed today.

The film presents a distinct visual style reminiscent of the past, perfectly complementing the 80s atmosphere with its props and settings. Towards the end of the film, original documentary footage of various demonstrations, photos of the deceased victims, their last belongings, funeral processions, and other documentation portraying the mourning atmosphere of that time are shown. This adds an extra layer of depth to the film, intensifying the sense of sorrow, while also serving as information and a tribute to the victims.

Film “1987: When The Day Comes” serves as a reminder of the preciousness of justice, freedom, and democracy. As Indonesians who have experienced authoritarian rule, this film resonates with us, as we understand the steep price of the freedoms we now enjoy, freedoms fought for by our past activists and student warriors. Born in an era where freedom is established, we may not directly feel the constraints of that time, but this film provides a glimpse into the darkness of authoritarian leadership. It teaches us that no matter how long justice is suppressed, there will come a time when everything reaches a turning point. From this film, we see various roles played by different segments of society, each fighting in their own way for the common goal of freedom and justice. We witness the significant role of students and activists in igniting optimistic spirit in the pursuit of justice and change for the better.

This film is highly recommended for history enthusiasts as well as those who enjoy historical fiction. Regardless of your preferred genre, this film is highly recommended. If you don’t shed a tear, feel hurt, sad, or sense injustice after watching this movie, I would question you:’)



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