‘Love 911’ heartwarming and touching

By Korea Herald

‘Goodbye Mom’ director returns with feel-good romance film just in time for Christmas

  • Published : Dec 4, 2012 - 20:10
  • Updated : Dec 4, 2012 - 20:10

After enjoying diverse genres of movies throughout the year, Korea’s film scene is seeing the arrival of a feel-good romance just in time for Christmas.

Titled “Love 911,” the film features top stars Go Soo (“The Front Line”) and Han Hyo-joo (“Always,” “Gwanghae: Who Became the King”) as a firefighter and a medical doctor who both struggle to come to terms with their past.

While the film pivots around the romance between Go and Han, the movie also manages to successfully deal with some serious matters, such as the code of ethics when protecting the lives of the general public. It does not lose the heartwarming, humorous tone throughout, in spite of the real pains and ordeals the characters go through.

“Love 911” is the second feature film by director Jeong Gi-hoon, whose 2009 debut movie “Goodbye Mom” (Korean title “Ae-ja”) was a great hit. The tearjerker, which told the story of a flaky young woman who suddenly finds out her strong-tempered mother has got only months to live, was recognized for its strong character development and engaging drama.
A scene from director Jeong Gi-hoon’s “Love 911.” (NEW)

Jeong proved that he can also pull off a romance on top of human drama with “Love 911.” In the film, local heartthrob Go Soo stars as Kang-il, an unhappy firefighter who lost his late wife to an illness in the past.

He suffers from a sense of utter guilt. When his wife ― who had been ill for a long time ― called him minutes before she collapsed, desperately asking him to be there for her, Kang-il was looking after a fire victim who was in fatal condition. Knowing the victim would die if he left the scene, Kang-il decided to stay there and sent an ambulance for his wife. But she fell unconscious on her way to the hospital, and died before Kang-il arrived at the emergency room.

Even after losing his wife, however, Kang-il does not lose pride in his job. Instead, he works harder than ever, always putting himself out there to save lives in spite of the danger. His nothing-to-lose attitude and strong work ethic intrigue Mi-soo (Han Hyo-joo), a medical doctor who temporarily works with Kang-il’s crew as a firefighter paramedic. She openly tries to flirt with him and get his attention, though Kang-il shows no interest and often ignores her at first.

Mi-soo, though mostly bubbly and even flaky, also suffers from guilt. While working as a surgeon, she made a critical mistake while performing an operation which left her patient brain-dead. She faces a court trial and is about to lose her doctor’s license. If she apologizes to the victim’s family and admits her mistake as a medical error, she’d lose her chance to keep her occupation and have to leave the practice forever. Mi-soo still thinks she has a lot to offer as a doctor, and is conflicted between her conscience and her desire to keep the job she has always wanted.

When the two finally become lovers, however, this becomes a problem. Kang-il thinks it is right for Mi-soo to apologize to the victim’s family, even if it requires her to give up her job as a doctor.

“I can save so many other lives if I let this one pass,” Mi-soo tells Kang-il. “It was a one-time mistake.”

Kang-il disagrees, saying the single life she destroyed is still as significant as the ones she’d be able to save in future. The argument puts their relationship in crisis.

Throughout the movie, viewers are faced with a number of critical situations where Kang-il and his fellow firefighters have to make difficult decisions to save those in danger in devastating situations. Director Jeong successfully touches on the issues of death, life, ethics and human dignity, and creates a moving account of those whose job is to serve mankind and sometimes have to risk their own safety and career to achieve their objectives and ideals.

Though predictable, its ending will also please most viewers.

“Love 911” opens in local theaters on Dec. 19.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)