North American Premiere
The new Korean Movie Night NY series Emerging Talent, co-sponsored by Koreqan Cultural Servie and Asia Society, begins with a free screening this coming Tuesday of The King of Jokgu, a wonderful comedy.
While serving his stint of compulsory military service, Sergeant Manseob Hong was known as "The King of Jokgu." And just what is "Jokgu"? Well, it's a hybrid sport that combines volleyball and soccer, but with the net that divides the two teams set at a height close to that used in tennis. (More information can be found at the Wikipedia entry for Jokgu.)
After being discharged, Hong returns to college where he resumes his studies in Food Science Technology in the Department of Food and Nutrition. He also comes across his friend Changho Park. Both of them loved playing Jokgu, but are upset that the university's only court has been converted for tennis. They initiate a drive to get the university to build a new Jogku court. Their efforts are ridiculed, the fact that Jokgu sounds like "jerk off" being a prime reason.
Hong also very much wants a girlfriend and falls for the beautiful Anna Suh, who's in his English language class. She agrees to be his partner in an assignment to perform a scene from a movie, but she already has a boyfriend, Kangmin, who was once a member of the national soccer team but couldn't make the big leagues because of an (unspecified) injury.
Hong's fortunes, both with regard to Anna and to getting a Jokgu court built, are improved immensely after he defeats Kangmin in an informal one-on-one game of Jokgu. Videos of the match, taken by student spectators, go viral across the campus, and Jokgu becomes both popular and respected.
The King of Jokgu, like the game itself, is somewhat of a hybrid. While primarily a comedy, it's also a youth film and a sports film, and it has more than a dollop of romance thrown into the mix. The various elements are perfectly blended, making the movie a most enjoyable watch.
AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; charming and delightful, highly recommended.