Organizers of SDAFF recently showed Director Kang Hyoung-Chul’s 2018 film “Swing Kids” as part of their 2019 Spring Showcase.

“Swing Kids” transported viewers to Geoje where American soldiers set up a prisoner of war (P.O.W.) camp during the Korean War. In order to maintain some control, the camp was split into two and detainees were separated depending on their allegiance, whether it was for the northern Communists or the southern Republic. While the divide helped, there were individuals like Roh Ki-soo who couldn’t help himself to the American goods and cause some trouble. His mischief led him to make a commotion at the dance hall but also an interest in tap-dancing. When a dancer-turned-soldier named Jackson must form a team for the upcoming press visits, he had an eye on the communist prisoner. However, due to Ki-soo’s loyalty to his fellow Northerns, he hid his hunger for dance. As much as he tried to stop the impulse, the craving to move with the music kept coming. Roh Ki-soo must tread carefully as several plans form to gain power within the camp.

Artistic director Brian Hu introduced the film by mentioning the unique taste that the event acquired over the years for Korean cinema. He said that the films would “get every emotion possible” and “Swing Kids” gave the audience a lot of feelings. Many would be drawn to Do Kyung-soo or D.O. from the K-pop group EXO who transformed into the arrogant and stubborn Ki-soo. It was interesting to see him perform tap along with Jackson’s actor Jared Grimes who currently has an extensive career on stage. While the music and choreography will easily catch the viewers’ attention, it does not cover the reality of the characters’ situations of being involved in a war. Hu mentioned in his introduction that “Swing Kids” “taps into the deepest, darkest” and  it did with the gradual increase of violence. There were moments of physical comedy along with dance scenes but the film had a shift to a very grim path. Viewer discretion is highly advised especially for those that are sensitive to bloodshed, gunshots and foul language.

For more information on “Swing Kids”, check out its webpage on SDAFF’s website. Though they wrapped up the Spring Showcase, the organizers will return November 7th for the 20th anniversary of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Visit Pacific Arts Moment’s website for more information it and other upcoming events.

All “Swing Kids” film stills courtesy of SDAFF.

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