Love Phobia (Domabaem) (2006) • South Korea

Movie Poster for FailanMelodrama is what the Koreans do best. Love Phobia is standard formula stuff: cute and funny for an hour and then it makes you cry for another hour without dashing your hopes for a happy ending. It's executed extremely well with quirky bits throughout. If you like melodrama this is a grand slam home run. It's an interesting allegory as well but I don't want to give away too much.

Love Phobia is about a girl, Ari, who claims she has a curse and that bad things will happen to anyone who touches her. She also claims to be an alien. The film starts off with her as an elementary school kid who befriends a young boy, Jo-Kang. After he touches her one day he comes down with the measles. Ari mysteriously disappears the next day. Ten years later she reappears just as mysteriously in Jo-Kang's life, and then disappears again. Ten years later, or so, she returns to Jo-Kang again and her true story unfolds.

Hye-jeong Kang plays Ari as a teenager and as a young woman. She is not only cute beyond words, she's one of Korea's best young actresses. This is something that sets Korean melodramas apart, they use real actors and actresses instead of flavor of the month idols. From The Butterfly and Oldboy to this, with a half dozen well-received films in between, including the controversial and complicated Rules of Dating ... Hye-jeong Kang, at just twenty-six, is on a roll. Seung-woo Cho is also very good as Jo-Kang. Both are convincing as teenagers and as young adults, a testament to the Korean epidermis, perhaps, as much as thespian prowess.



  1. I was going to say something like, "probably not for me." Then I saw the Gooooood girl and thought I'd best leave you two alone together.

  2. I didn't catch your reference at first, I see/saw now ... I deleted her comment.

  3. None of the movies of Far East (China, Japan & Korea) that I've seen are conventional romantic melodramas. I guess need to do away with that. Unfortunately romantic melodrama is one genre I'm not very fond of.

  4. If the convention is: Happy Couple+Disease and then loss, ala "The Notebook" for example, the Korean version of that is "A Moment to Remember" (girl gets alzheimer's/guy watches as she slowly forgets who he is), Korea is making tons of those flicks.

    Until I discovered Korean cinema, I would never have described myself as a fan of romantic melodrama. I'm still not a fan of "conventional" melodrama, but Korean conventional and, well, I guess, western conventional are a bit different.

    The Koreans can't seem to get away from melodrama, it seems to infiltrate most of what they do, at least recently. Even "The Chaser" has melodrama in it. That's one of the things I like about Korean films, they mix genres all the time and tend to go waaaay over the top. When it works, it works extremely well. Check out "A Moment to Remember", or for a mixed genre masterpiece: World of Silence.

    Maybe I'm stretching here, overwhelmed by the violin soundtrack, but I think the Vengeance Trilogy is pure melodrama! Pure Korean cinema.

  5. Haven't seen a review in your blog for sometime now... Whatsup?

  6. I came to like Kang Hye-jeong so much I want her to stay on the home page?