I was stoked as all hell to check out “Castaway on the Moon” at the New York Asian Film festival on the 4th of July partly because I wanted to get a tasting of Korean cinema,partly because the synopsis of the movie sounded promising, & the rest of the the remaining “partly pie” was because I wanted to get out of the heat in the concrete jungle of NYC into the cool arms of Walter Reade Theatre! Up till this point, I’ve been getting plump on Hong Kong film madness & I was truly salivating for some bulgogi, bibimbap, or the ultimate…noodles with black bean sauce, korean style! I’ll get to the explanation of this metaphor in a bit!

Castaway on the Moon is a lighthearted hybrid drama of the comedy & romance variety. I really,really wanted to like this film especially when the director, Lee Hey-Jun came out to introduce the movie before the screening. He seemed like a real down to earth,honest, & charming director. He also mentioned that this movie bombed at the box office in Korea! Wow! Talk about being funny & honest! (Check out the video that I took of the director introducing his film before the screening above). After watching the movie, I really,really did like it! It was entertaining & offered up a slice of normalcy for the agoraphobiacs of the world! The movie starts off with Mr. Lee, a man who cannot stand the pressures of his everyday corporate life which results in him jumping off a bridge into the Han River in Seoul, Korea in a feeble attempt to erradicate himself & his financial woes. Unfortunately/fortunately for him, he somehow survives the ordeal & ends up on a deserted island not too far away from the city, but far enough so that he cannot swim to reach civilization. He curses at himself for not doing anything right including committing suicide & steadily curses at society & Building 63(his workplace) for his misfortunes with his pants pulled down to his knees! Mr. Lee flashes back to his childhood in the pool when his father forces him to learn how to swim, but he fails to keep afloat. In the same flashback scene, he suddenly is an adult in the pool & he struggles to keep afloat when his girlfriend decides to end their relationship. Thoughts of suicide still lingered in his mind, but he fights the temptation when he suddenly realizes that living on this deserted island can be a blessing in disguise. He is living in his own world & controlling his own destiny. He even has a place to call his own when he finds a Duck boat to inhabit in unlike the 7 years that he’s been trying to save to buy a home located across the river in the “real world”. His calls for H.E.L.P inscribed in sand is turned into the words H.E.L.L.O. He manages to teach himself how to catch fish by killing them inadvertently by washing himself with detergent in the han river. He then discovers how to catch birds by having the birds eat his poisoned fish resulting in their death. Mr. Lee finds an old wrapper of noodles with black bean sauce with just the sauce contents left behind. He begins to fantasize what noodles with black bean sauce tasted like as he remembers his past of rejecting this dish! His quest in his new life now is to find a way how to make fresh noodles to fulfill his dream of tasting this dish. Making pasta from plants ends in failure until his concoction of farming bird droppings will result in harvesting corn! The symbolism of finding a way to make this fresh pasta on the island is akin to him finding his own soul & purpose in life.

Meanwhile in Seoul, there is a parallel story about a young lady who lives inside her bubble. She suffers from agoraphobia & cannot deal with society. She cannot be seen & literally lives inside her room. Her only solace is taking photos of the moon & literally floats in air when she is in her zone of solitude! She happens on Mr. Lee one day on that deserted island when viewing through her telephoto lens. This young lady begins to take notice of his actions & basically begins to fall in love with him because of his passion to LIVE & his LOVE of trying to farm a crop to make fresh noodles for his instant black bean sauce. She begins to break out of her shell when she communicates with him with messages in a bottle tossed into the han river! Mr. Lee begins to communicate with her by inscribing messages on the sand as well. They both seem to be intrigued with each other until the young lady decides to have fresh noodles with black bean sauce delivered to the island for him as a gift which he takes as an insult. Making fresh noodles from scratch with his own ingenuity in this new world of his was a symbol of hope & self discovery of himself. He realizes that you cannot “buy” hope or self dignity. Mr. Lee soon realizes his dream as he makes his “Noodles with black bean sauce” from kernels of goodness with his harvested corn. The young lady sees all this from her viewfinder. She also sees Mr. Lee’s life on this deserted island come to a quick end when he gets deported back to the city by the local conservation group. In a whim, she desperately leaves the comforts of her bubble wrap to meet the man she honestly adores. Will they live out their fantasy together in the solitude of their own bubble wrap & styrofoam?!

Castaway on the Moon was an entertaining, cute, & insightful look into our own minds when stripping down the insecurities of oneself & analyzing the basics of understanding who you really are as a person in order to become comfortable in your own shell!

I think Lee Hey Jun, the director should of gotten praise for this movie but instead, box office sales slated this as a failure. In the eyes of the beholder of this movie, many of us ‘switchbladed’ this unique gem as a success to entertain the soul or should I say Seoul?!

Check out the Question/Answer session with the director of Castaway on the Moon, Lee Hey Jun that I captured on video below & his introduction of the film at the top of this aricle!

–Mr. C (7out 10 jajiang miens or noodles in black bean sauce for Castaway on the Moon)
(article, & video courtesy of Mr. C

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