Kim So-jin, Kim Hye-jun, Park Se-jin, Kim Yoon-seok
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… a remarkable showcase for Kim Yoon-seok’s deft direction and the very fine performances he manages to get from his cast.
Known predominantly as an actor in South Korean crime and action thrillers such as The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, actor Kim Yoon-seok directs, co-writes and stars in this strangely tender familial drama Another Child (originally called Underage).
It follows Joo-ri (Kim Hye-jun), a high-schooler who discovers that her father has had an extra-marital affair with the mother of her classmate Yoon-ah (Park Se-jin). This confronting revelation comes with even more complexity: Yoon-ah’s mother, Mi-hee (Kim So-jin), is pregnant.
Angry with her own mother’s actions and resenting the arrival of a baby that threatens to wreck the one-on-one relationship she’s enjoyed with her mother all her life, Yoon-ah directs her anger and frustration at Joo-ri, which signals the start of a strangely adversarial friendship between the young girls as they’re forced to reckon with the massive upheaval that’s been foisted on them by their respective parents.
Joo-ri’s mother, Yeong-joo (Yum Jung-ah), finds out about her cheating husband at the same time as her daughter. Feeling betrayed by her husband she decides to project her anger towards the pregnant Mi-hee and decides to confront her. Meanwhile Mi-hee, who’s been single for a long time, feels that she once again has purpose and meaning in her life though even she feels the situation is untenable and her adulterous relationship, doomed.
The person most responsible for the mess they’re in is the feckless and responsibility-shy father of Joon-ri, Dae-won (played by director Kim Yoon-seok). It’s the cowardly way his character refuses to deal with the situation that’s the fulcrum for the film’s drama, where the women left in the wake of his behaviour must find a way to cope and move on.
While the setup may seem slightly soapy, the execution is, dramatically-speaking, rather spartan and devoid of melodramatics. It’s really a remarkable showcase for Kim Yoon-seok’s deft direction and the very fine performances he manages to get from his cast. Despite its seemingly convoluted plot, what ultimately emerges is a quietly tender tale of two families in crisis, inextricably linked by betrayal and the birth of a new life, while the young girls caught in the middle are forced to grow up rapidly, in order to compensate for their parent’s all-too-human flaws.