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Petty Romance

(Jjae Jjae Han Romaenseu)
Sponsored by: Ciné Asie

Canadian Premiere

  • Romance / Comedy
  • /
  • South Korea
  • /
  • 2010
  • /
  • 110 min
  • /
  • video
  • /
  • Korean with English subtitles
Petty Romance Petty Romance Petty Romance Petty Romance

Official Selection, Shanghai International Films Festival 2011
Official Selection, Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2011

Screening Times

“Fast-moving and fun… has a real sense of chemistry… one of the best genre scripts in recent memory” — James Mudge, BEYOND HOLLYWOOD


Director: Kim Jeong-hoon
Screenplay: Kim Jeong-hoon
Cast: Choi Kang-hee, Lee Seon-kyun, Ryu Hyun-kyung, Song Yoo-ha, Oh Jung-se
Producers: Baek Kyung-sook
Print Source: M-Line



A writer with a capacity for creativity, in her assigned tasks and to no small degree in her self-image, Da-rim just lost her job as a magazine sex columnist. Lack of any such activity in her own life, mind you, never slowed her down, but now she needs to drum up some revenue. Jeong-bae, meanwhile, is a struggling, moody manhwa-ka, or comic-book artist, whose scriptwriting skills can’t match his capabilities at the drawing board. A publishing house has just offered 130 million Korean won (about 100 grand in U.S. dollars) for the best adults-only comic they receive, and Jeong-bae is eager to submit something. Following a series of dubious respondents to the ad Jeong-bae placed, he comes face to face with Da-rim. Sure, she’s egotistical, demanding and unpredictable, but she seems to be just the woman for the job, what with her initial idea about a sexy assassin who keeps men alive just to torture the erotically. The two creators certainly have their hang-ups, mood swings and shortcomings. Maybe it’s those similarities that are leading them, ever so awkwardly, down love’s path…

The conventional romantic comedy isn’t a genre of film that frequently makes its way to the Fantasia screen. But then, PETTY ROMANCE isn’t a conventional romantic comedy, and it’s not just the fact that the two main characters are concocting a cool manga full of sex and violence together (count on neat animated clips from this!). Number one at the Korean box office the week of its release, this debut feature from Kim Jeong-hoon is an oddball among the bouquet of rom-coms that hit the country’s screens last year. Lead actors Choi Kang-hee (MY SCARY GIRL) and Lee Seon-kyun, revisiting the quirky chemistry they found in the 2008 TV drama series MY SWEET SEOUL, are hardly the genre’s usual pretty faces on empty heads. Their characters are plain-looking, neurotic, difficult types, prone to dramatic swings from delusions of grandeur and deep despondency, and in proper Korean tradition, the humour here isn’t gentle (think MY SASSY GIRL) and things don’t always work out fine in the end. Bolstered by a great supporting cast, PETTY ROMANCE offers a sweet and sour yet laugh-loaded look at the lies we tell others, the lies we tell ourselves, and the funny way they have of becoming truths.

—Rupert Bottenberg

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