Mini-Review: Hello, Schoolgirl (2008) – A Cute South Korean Romantic Comedy

Kwon Yeon-woo (Yoo Ji-tae) is a 30-year-old civil servant who just moved into a new apartment building. Han Soo-young (Lee Yeon-hee) is an 18-year-old schoolgirl who lives with her single mom (Na Young-hee), just one storey below. It is inevitable that they’ll meet, sooner or later. Soo-young seems annoyed by him at first, but then realizes that Yeon-woo is just shy. Slowly but surely the two fall in love, but will their significant age difference be a problem? Of course it will, because Soo-young’s mother doesn’t approve of their relationship. Meanwhile, Yeon-woo’s friend and colleague Sook (Kang-in) has been experiencing some heartache of his own. He has fallen in love with Ha-kyeong (Chae Jung-an) a woman significantly older than him, who isn’t completely over her ex just yet. Will love conquer all? Is it better to have loved and lost? And is there really such a thing as a cat-dog? 

Hello, Schoolgirl (original title: Soon-jeong-man-hwa) director Ryoo Jang-ha‘s second film and it’s based on a popular South Korean webcomic called Love Story by Kang Full. It’s unfortunate that the director hasn’t done a new film in five years now, because he really showed some promise and talent with this film. While we’ve seen this type of story repeatedly, this film feels like a fresh take on the romantic comedy. It distinguishes itself for its genuine heart and gleeful naiveté. However it’s the actors that really make this film come alive and the good news is that they’re all fantastic, especially the leads (Yoo Ji-tae and Lee Yeon-hee). Also, worth mentioning is Choi Soo-young, who will of course be known to KPOP fans as a member of Girls’ Generation. I must say that I particularly enjoyed her performance, it would be great to see her in more films.

While the film is incredibly charming and undeniably sweet and romantic, it’s not without its flaws. The two romances almost feel like separate movies, and while the characters are connected it almost sometimes you just want the film to move on to the main storyline. Like I said though, it’s hard to resist the film’s cuteness and that’s the beauty of South Korean romances. They’re almost like fantasies: Too perfect, too cute, too romantic to be true. However I must say, that when things get complicated in the relationships I was completely taken by the film and unsure if things were going to resolve, and I’ve seen my fair share of romantic comedies so of course I should know that everything will be fine, but will it? So the my hats off to everyone for creating such an engaging story with characters you can actually care about and relate to.

Rating on First Viewing: 7.5 out of 10

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