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5 Things To Love About Korean Musical Drama Film ‘Life Is Beautiful’

"Life is Beautiful" was chosen as the opening film for this year's Korean Film Festival titled "Ka-ja! (Let’s go!) Korea Through Films"

Is life really beautiful? Korean musical drama Life Is Beautiful ironically poses this while the film revolves around Oh Se-yeon, a wife found to be terminally ill of lung cancer who asked her husband Kang Jin-bong to help her find her first love as a dying wish and to mark her final birthday.

The Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines chose the 2022 movie Life Is Beautiful to kick off the Korean Film Festival 2023 in the country, dubbed as “Ka-ja! Korea Through Films,” which recently had its run at select SM Cinemas

Other Korean selections at the festival included critically acclaimed movies such as The Book of Fish, Gyeongju, Director’s Intention, Everglow, Bori, and Jukdo Surfing Diary.

"Life is Beautiful"
"Life is Beautiful"
7 Films That Are Featured At The Korean Film Festival 2023


7 Films That Are Featured At The Korean Film Festival 2023

“Knowing that Filipino viewers have discriminating taste, we feel honored when Korean films and TV dramas are well-received in the Philippines. Many Filipinos have grown fond of Korean dramas and films and it has become a beacon for stronger cooperation and friendship between our two countries,” Korean ambassador to the Philippines Lee Sang-hwa said during the Korean Film Festival launch held at the Director’s Club in SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

With Life Is Beautiful as the lead film screened at the film festival launch, it enjoyed the privilege of curiosity and wonder among the moviegoers. Metro.Style is among the fortunate few who caught the film festival’s opening. The verdict? Life Is Beautiful must have been the pick to open the festival for several good reasons. The film amazingly serves as a bridge to Korean and Filipino cultures who share commonality in the values and lessons that the film depicted and championed. 

Below are more reasons to love about Life Is Beautiful and how it’s shaping up to be a modern classic destined to be discovered, rediscovered and appreciated over and over again for many generations to come.


It stars well-loved actors and actresses. Ryu Seung-ryong, Yum Jung-ah, Park Se-wan and Ong Seung-wu breathe life into the colorful characters that keep the plot going in the film. Veteran actress Yum Jung-ah as the suffering wife Se-yeon made a stunning turn as a rebelliously assertive person who just wants to finally do the things she has always wanted to do and chase after her heart’s wishes and what she thinks she deserves. Not to be outdone, beloved actor Ryu Seung-ryong hilariously yet emotionally plays the role of the seemingly uncaring husband Kang Jin-bong who have layers of emotions uncovered in the journey. Young stars Park Se-wan and former WannaOne member Ong Seung-wu charmingly take the viewers to the flashback era of young and innocent first loves—complete with song and dance production numbers.

Park Se-wan and Ong Seung-wu
Park Se-wan and Ong Seung-wu | Photo from Hancinema

It’s a musical drama—it’s even called Korea’s first jukebox musical film. First and foremost, it’s an amazing showcase of Korean filmmaking and their unique brand of storytelling. Musical drama is a rare genre utilized in South Korea so while musicals are popular in the country, it’s the first of its kind to combine drama, choreographies and using retro songs from the 1970s to 2000s. The songs may not be familiar to Filipinos except for the song "Sleepless Rainy Night," recently remade by K-pop superstar IU, but the melodies and the theme of the songs are timeless and touching enough to embrace despite the language barrier. At first, the concept will make you wary of the storytelling but afterwards, it all felt like magic especially as the film begins and ends in an almost similar scene to wrap things up neatly.

Experience an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of emotions with the plot twists. How to even explain the rollercoaster ride of emotions with this film? When tears start streaming down your cheeks, laughter will suddenly escape your throat as you wade through the emotional journey of dealing with terminal illness within the family but also let out a few laughs with how the characters find themselves in surprisingly hilarious situations. True to Korean storytelling traditions, there are a number of plot twists that will either send you heartbroken or rolling on the floor with laughter. It helps that the majority of the film scenes is set against the backdrop of the romantic autumn season. Be prepared with the plot twists but also with tissues to wipe your tears away. It sent some viewers sobbing in between scenes of the 122-minute film.

It’s a film that takes you on a road trip to South Korea. You’re also in for an autumn joyride from the streets of Seoul to the Korean countryside with breathtaking views that includes road trips to Mokpo, Busan and Bogil Island located in South Jeolla Province. More than a simple road trip for the odd couple in search of the wife’s first love, it was a touching journey of revelations and re-discovery of what made the marriage special and a celebration of mundane moments that often went unnoticed as day-to-day life got busier and distracted us from the truly meaningful moments.

Life is beautiful when lived with love. It’s also a film that transcends culture and even if it’s told in Korean, Filipinos can certainly relate to this family-themed movie. As the film bravely faces the certainty of death, it also teaches us to number our days, take stock of what we’ve always dreamed of doing (bucket list!), to remember why we love who we love, and to place value on the seemingly simple things and simple pleasures that ultimately matter the most as we live our lives with love and loved ones. After all, life is short. Live it well.

Directed by Choi Kook-hee, Life Is Beautiful premiered in 2022 and has since earned various acting and production nominations at Baeksang Arts Awards, Blue Dragon Film Awards, Director’s Cut Awards, Grand Bell Awards, Korea Culture and Entertainment Awards, and at Vevey International Funny Film Festival.

Lead photo from Lotte Entertainment