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movie reviews: Miracle: Letters to the President (Hangul : 기적).

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The film “Miracle: Letters to the President,” also known as 기적 (Gijeok) in its original title, is a South Korean movie directed by Lee Jang Hoon. Set in the 1980s, the film is a fictional story based on true events. It primarily revolves around the dreams of a young man named Jung Jun Kyung, a brilliant mathematics student attending high school. Jun Kyung resides in a rural area without road access in Buncheo-ri, Socheon-Myeon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. He lives with his beloved older sister in the village. Jun Kyung’s father works as a train engineer. In their village, there is a railway track that serves as both the passage for trains and the sole route for the villagers to leave the area. There are no barriers or safety measures on this track, causing constant worry and fear for Jun Kyung and the villagers whenever they need to cross it. However, they have no choice but to use it. Contrary to imagining a railway track with a side road for crossing, in their case, they have to pass through a railway tunnel and cross over a large river with no safe sides to pull over when a train passes. Jun Kyung becomes a vital figure in the community, assisting fellow villagers in crossing the railway due to his intelligence.

This becomes one of the reasons why Jun Kyung dreams of building a train station in his village, so that the villagers can cross safely without having to wait. Jun Kyung tries various ways to make his dream a reality, one of which is by sending letters to the president. Jun Kyung consistently sends letters to the president dozens of times, refusing to give up because there is one significant reason that keeps him going. When he starts high school, his friend named Song Ra Hee helps him send letters to the president and assists him in other ways to achieve his dream.

Then one day, a significant event occurs that shakes Jun Kyung to the core and brings back the haunting memories of the railway track. This event makes him reluctant to leave his village and even more determined to build a train station.

One day, Jun Kyung’s dream comes true through his unwavering determination, hard work, perseverance, and refusal to give up. Even after a station is independently built by Jun Kyung and the villagers, trains don’t immediately stop there. There is still a process until finally, Jun Kyung’s dream truly materializes, and the first train successfully stops at the station. The station is named Yangwon Station. Jun Kyung can leave his village peacefully to pursue his dreams.

Screenshots from movies
Screenshots from movies

However, there is a plot that explains the true origin of why a young boy harbors such a grand dream and spends his childhood and adolescence pursuing it.

The film effectively depicts the challenging conditions in the story. It creates an atmosphere that leaves the audience in awe of Jun Kyung’s perseverance, sorrow, despair, and ultimately, the happiness derived from his struggle and the support of those around him. It also captures the warm atmosphere of the sibling relationship between Jun Kyung and his sister.

In addition to the main focus on Jun Kyung’s dream, the film also lightly touches on romance and includes some comedic elements that keep the audience entertained and engaged. It’s not a heavy film, but it carries valuable messages and impressions.

The depth of each character portrayed by the actors and actresses truly immerses us in the plot, evoking emotions that resonate with the audience.

The film raises awareness about the importance of equal infrastructure and transportation facilities for communities, highlighting the essential need that should be fulfilled by the government. It emphasizes the necessity for the government to pay attention to every citizen, whether in urban areas or remote regions. Rural communities often receive less attention, despite being entitled to the same rights as all citizens.

This film also portrays the irony of urgent societal needs being ignored or deemed unimportant by those in power. Must there be a major problem or tragedy before the voices of the people are heard? Should one have to be influential for letters and complaints from ordinary citizens to be acknowledged? And what about when someone who isn’t anyone of importance urgently needs help? Who should they turn to as citizens entitled to protection and fulfillment of their rights by the state?

The film imparts valuable lessons to its audience. For fans of 80s-themed movies, it’s a perfect choice for leisure time – light yet substantial, and it offers new insights into a piece of South Korean history.

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