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  • Writer's pictureeclectic Stefan

Minari: “A sense of belonging”

Jacob and Monica

A sense of belonging is one of the essential human needs along with food, shelter, clothing, love, friendship, esteem, social interaction, and belonging to a community.

Young Korean couple Jacob and Monica Yi and their children Anne and David move from their jobs as chicken sexing workers in California to their new jobs in Arkansas as chicken sexers.

Seems like an unnecessary move to do exactly what they were doing in California.

The real reason for the move is Jacob’s dream, a variation on the American Dream of freedom, prosperity and success through hard work in order to improve life for one’s family and children. A crucial element is the attainment of these goals regardless of who you are and where come from.

Jason’s dream is starting a farm to grow Korean vegetables that are fresh and direct from grower to consumer. He has purchased a block of fertile land in the Arkansas countryside.

Jacob faces basic survival challenges. Nature is his first adversary. Arkansas is part of Tornado Alley. Then there’s water, his basic need to get his dream underway. He refuses a local water diviner imploring him to trust the divining rod and discovers his own source of water in the water table below Arkansas’ rich soil.

There is also the matter of his nearest market located in Dallas, a five hour drive. And the grocery store owner’s decision to buy Korean produce from California growers.

Jacob believes he can overcome these business hurdles. A large loan from bank is helpful while at the same time being a financial burden.

The tension between Jacob and Monica infiltrates everything they do. Monica can’t understand why they left profitable jobs in California to do the same work for less pay in Arkansas. That’s before she sees their new house. House is a loose description. It’s a dilapidated mobile kit home. It’s on cinder blocks and wheels. And it has seen better days. This version of the American Dream is decaying around the edges.

While personal tensions are heightened, all appears to be going well with the farming. The vegetables grow. Jacob is assisted by a neighbour, Paul, whose actions and extreme religious beliefs identify him as fervent and eccentric. Jacob is more direct when he says to Paul, “You crazy.”

Paul & Jacob

Paul’s eccentricity makes him an outsider in his own local community. Jacob and Monica and their children are accepted but, like Paul, are outsiders and slowly and gently seep into the community through their attendance at the local church.

Paul finds a connection with the Korean outsiders.

To sooth Monica’s anger and disappointment, Jacob arranges for Monica’s mother to arrive from Korea, which becomes a mixed blessing.

David & his grandmother, Soonja

David has a bewildering relationship with his grandmother, who, according to David, smells like a Korean grandmother but doesn’t act like his expectation of a grandmother. She enjoys gaming, swears, watches wrestling on TV, and allows the children to drink sweet, fizzy drinks for breakfast. Their daughter, Anne, finds it all confounding and a hindrance to her efforts to form friendship groups.

Jacob, David, Soonja, Monica & Anne

Jacob’s dream of success becomes a realisation of failure. The water dries up; Jacob and Monica’s marriage deteriorates; the children are restless; the grandmother is off-key.

The only thing that grows is their debt.

Minari Official Trailer

At its heart, Minari is a fundamental tale about the struggle for identity, the desire to belong, personal strife, conflict with both family and strangers, and struggles against natural forces. There are no easy answers; there are no simple one-size-fits-all solutions. Conflicts are raw. Desires are fierce. But hope and trust never totally fade, even when things seem lost in adversity, and that is their lifeline.

According to director/writer Lee Isaac Chung, Minari is a film about family, failure and rebirth. Minari slices through Jacob and Monica’s aspirations and shares their stresses and desires. In that way, it relates to all people.

WATCH MINARI (Korean & English languages with subtitles)

Minari is currently in general cinema release. Check your local independent and arthouse cinemas for session times.

Minari is also available for streaming on Apple TV, iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, Vudu, Fandango and Xbox.

Support workers in the film industry. Pay for your ticket. Rent/Buy the movie.



KOREAN FILMS | Global Commercial Releases

As you may well know, not all films are made in Hollywood.

Step into the realm of world cinema; step out of your film viewing comfort zone.

Let subtitles be your friend.

Parasite 2019

The struggling Kim family sees an opportunity when the son starts working for a wealthy family. Soon, all of them find a way to work within the same household and start living a parasitic life.


The Host 2006

A monster emerges from Seoul's Han River and begins attacking people. One victim's loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.


Snowpiercer 2014

Set more than seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, Snowpiercer concentrates on the tensions between the surviving humans who have been separated into social groups of the rich and powerful and the poor and desperate. They inhabit a gigantic, perpetually-moving train that circles the globe.

Lesser Known Korean Films


Burt Lancaster & Gary Cooper star in Vera Cruz (with Croatian subtitles)

*Une série de légendes projetées sur la partie inférieure d'un écran de cinéma qui traduit le dialogue des films en langue étrangère

*Una serie di didascalie proiettate nella parte inferiore di uno schermo cinematografico che traduce i dialoghi di film in lingua straniera

*외국어 영화의 대사를 번역하는 시네마 스크린 하단에 투사 된 일련의 캡션

*Eine Reihe von Bildunterschriften, die auf den unteren Teil einer Kinoleinwand projiziert werden und den Dialog fremdsprachiger Filme übersetzen

*A series of captions projected onto the lower part of a cinema screen that translates the dialogue of foreign language movies. Subtitles are the film industry’s method for developing an audience’s speed-reading ability.


FILM EXTRAS | Further viewing: The American Dream (for better and for worse)

Easy Rider 1969

Wyatt and Billy, two Harley-riding hippies, complete a drug deal in Southern California and decide to travel cross-country in search of spiritual truth. On their journey, they experience bigotry and hatred from the inhabitants of small-town America and also meet with other travelers seeking alternative lifestyles. Their vision of an idealised society of tolerance, love and a common understanding of one another's humanity is destroyed.


Citizen Kane 1941

The investigation of a publishing tycoon's dying word, "Rosebud", reveals conflicting stories about his scandalous life. Relevant to contemporary times with its tale of power and control of the media by a ruthless media baron. Regularly voted the #1 greatest film of all time.


The Pursuit of Happiness 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness is an American biographical drama about Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman. The film is based on Gardner's nearly one-year struggle being homeless while also caring for his son. The unusual spelling of the film's title comes from a mural that Gardner sees on the wall outside the daycare facility his son attends.


Wall Street 1987

Wall Street tells the story of Bud Fox, a young stockbroker who becomes involved with Gordon Gekko, a wealthy, unscrupulous corporate raider, who delivers the film's most memorable line of dialogue , "Greed is good".


Revolutionary Road 2008

A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems. They are bored by the banalities of suburban life. Their suburban life is full of boredom and desperation and their decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy.


Born on the Fourth of July 1989

Ron Kovic is a patriotic, young man who joins the Marine Corps with hopes of serving his country. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country for which he fought


American Beauty 1989

A sexually frustrated successful businessman and suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend. An incisive, and profound vision of the American Dream hitting meltdown.


Rocky 1976

Rocky shows you can do whatever you want, and gain success as long as you work hard regardless of who you are and where you come from. Self determination, discipline and an unfailing work ethic drives success. Rocky also communicates the importance of love. Rocky reinforced the values that drive America--persistence, a love of hard work, and a belief that life will always favour those who believe in themselves as the path to success.

All films are available to rent/buy through your streaming service of choice.

Support the Arts, film makers, film crews and all the people who earn a living from the production and distribution of movies locally and internationally.

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How does piracy affect the local Australian film industry?

From Village Roadshow:

“At an average cost of $8 million, every Australian feature film is a start-up business. The founders of that business have put in years of work to develop a film and raise the money required to get it made. Every dollar lost to piracy contributes to making it harder for the founders to raise enough money for the next film.

Whether a film or TV show is made in Hollywood or Hobart, piracy undermines investor confidence to finance movies in the first place. Investors are less likely to participate in films when piracy impacts their returns. Fewer films means fewer jobs for Australian creatives and less choice for consumers. Everyone loses‚ from actors through to audiences.

It’s not only filmmakers who are affected. The cinema industry includes thousands of workers in various roles. Village Cinemas, for example, is an Australian company, employing thousands of people. Many industry professionals begin their careers selling tickets or popcorn in regional and city cinemas. Piracy threatens the livelihood of these Australians”.

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