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Film / O Youth!

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O Youth! is a 1994 film from North Korea. (Yes.) It is a rare example of a romantic comedy from a nation whose films usually consist of strident propaganda.

Mr. Pak is father to five daughters, all of whom are accomplished athletes—a baskeball player, a swimmer, a weightlifter, a gymnast, and a soccer player. The main concern of the family is finding a bride for the only son in the Pak family, Ki Ho. Despite the fact that she's a mother to five woman athletes, Mrs. Pak feels that an athlete would not be a proper match for her son, as athletic women are too competitive. So when all five daughters propose athletes of their acquaintance as wives for Ki Ho, Mrs. Pak rejects all five.

Ki Ho is a bookish scholar preparing a thesis on the history of North Korean sport. He meets a lovely young lady, Un Gyong, in the library, when she checks out a book about the history of taekwondo that he was looking for. When he walks her to the embroidery center he assumes that she is an embroidery girl. Mrs. Pak for her part is delighted to hear that her son went for a walk with a young lady with a traditional feminine job like embroidery. What the Paks don't know is that Un Gyong is actually a trained taekwondoist, just the sort of girl that Mrs. Pak didn't want for her son.



  • Amusement Park: Ki Ho takes Un Gyong on a roller-coaster ride, where he delivers a lecture on the history of North Korean martial arts. As you do.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: "Can't I love a taekwondoist?"
  • An Aesop:
    • Don't get married until you've done something for your country.
    • And Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il know what's best.
  • As You Know: "Today, all of our daughters are coming home from the dormitory."
  • Distressed Dude: Deliberately engineered by the Pak sisters, when they get a couple of guys to pretend to mug Ki Ho and Un Gyong. They chuck Ki Ho into a lake, but Un Gyong busts out her taekwondo skills to send them running, and Ki Ho figures out that she's a taekwondoist.
  • Dramatic Drop: Mrs. Pak does this when she finds out that Ki Ho is going out with a taekwondoist.
  • Dramatic Irony: Various comments by Ki Ho and Mrs. Pak about how his new girl is great because she's so feminine and not at all athletic. Like when Ki Ho says "I like her feminine job and quiet personality."
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  • Excited Show Title!
  • Food Porn: Boy, the Paks do like to sit down and have delicious family dinners, don't they? Good thing there wasn't a terrible famine in North Korea in 1994 or anything.
  • The Matchmaker: Ki Ho's mom and all five of his sisters serve this role, looking for a wife.
  • Maybe Ever After: Everyone decides that Ki Ho and Un Gyong should wait to get married until after they've accomplished something for North Korea. And there's an amusing moment right at the end when Un Gyong flinches when Ki Ho tries to put his arm around her.
  • Meet Cute: Ki Ho and Un Gyong meet at the library when they both want the same book.
  • Security Cling: Un Gyong does this, jumping to Ki Ho when she's scared by a bolt of lightning.
  • Speak in Unison: The daughters do this sometimes, like when they're telling Mrs. Pak that they're going to set up Ki Ho with his taekwondoist girlfriend.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Ki Ho and Un Gyong are caught in a downpour that develops practically instantly. Then a bolt of lightning leads her to jump into his arms.


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