*This review contains no spoilers, so please read with ease.
“1987: When the Day Comes” is the newest, historically rooted film by CJ Entertainment. Though it’s a filmmakers adaptation of an emotionally charged set of events, the movie itself revolves around the very real death of young college student and pro-democracy activist Park Jung-Chul.
You learn early on that Park’s untimely passing was the resort of malice and foul play. As police and a special anti-communist task force do their best to cover up the “accidental death,” a rogue prosecutor, the media, and fellow college students fight to uncover the truth. Screen writer Kim Kyun-Chan and director Jang John Hwan do an impeccable job delivering a story that’s both heartbreaking and inspiring.
The film opens with organized chaos. As an introduction into our setting and time period, the then sitting President Chun Doo Hwan is giving a speech reassuring citizens that he’s going to keep social order during a visibly troubled time. Viewers learn there’s a heightened sense of fear regarding members of communist parties living secretly in South Korea.
As a foreigner to the country and someone new to Korean history, the message and the images of anti-state and anti-communist movements seem eerily familiar. Once we’re presented with Park’s death, you immediately know someone messed up, but the obvious culprit is unclear.
To cover the mistakes of his men, Park Cheo-Won, played by Kim Yun-Seok, sends dirty cops to persuade a prosecutor, Ha Jung-Woo, to sign the student’s forged death certificate. When Ha refuses, the media gets wind of the story, and trouble ensues.
The film intricately maps the many parts and lives that came together to give Park’s family the truth they deserved. What started as a case of someone being tortured to death, masterfully blossoms into a nation’s cry for liberation from corruption and oppression. The final moments of the film depend largely on the efforts of the many small heroes you meet throughout the story. From the fun duo of an uncle and niece, portrayed by “Confidential Assignment” actor Yu Hae-Jin and actress Kim Tae-Ri, to a witty reporter, portrayed by Lee Hee-Joon, all parts are essential when it comes to the fight for justice.
During part of the movie, you witness a rally overflowing with people wanting a better, safer future where the truth is front and center for everyone to see. Also included is the real life footage of the young student’s funeral service, so even if you were strong throughout the entire move and somehow able to hold back tears, this is the point when the flood gates open.
Leaving the theater after the movie was over, there was not a dry eye in sight. “1987: When the Day Comes” has no shortage of powerful moments, but it also provides comical ones that give your heart and nerves a break. From beginning to end, I was sucked into the plot and was saddened by the unfortunate facts of this real life story. This film is well worth the trip to your local theater! Even if you’re not of Korean heritage or familiar with Korean history yourself, each viewer will walk away inspired by the story of average people who just wanted to fight corruption and ultimately change their world.
For more details on this important period in Korean history that would later come to be known as the June Struggle or June Democracy Movement, we recommend you start reading here.
Have you seen the film already? If not, make sure to check it out, then let us know what you think!
LizzySKpop is a WTK writer who loves discovering new music, attending and working concerts, as well as trying Korean beauty products. She enjoys the music of GOT7, MONSTA X, BTS, BIGBANG, EXO, and many more. Although she is pretty new to the Kpop world, she is already a hardcore fan and finds more groups every day to love. As well as being a writer and photographer, she also DJ’s Monday Nights at 8pm on wtkradio.com. She is proud aunt that has spread the love of Kpop to her nieces as well.
Media: CJ Entertainment