Love, So Divine

Kyu-sik and his good buddy Seon-dal are studying to be priests. Well, actually Kyu-sik is studying and Seon-dal is trying to find reasons not to be a priest. After a night on the town Seon-dal lands them both in trouble, when he bumps into Kyu-sik during mass. He stumbles and breaks a cherished reliquary blessed by the Pope himself.

As a sort of punishment, Kyu-sik and Seon-dal are sent to a small parish in the country, led by the old priest Nam, to work hard, get their heads straight, and prepare for their upcoming ordination. Unbeknownst to Nam, his grand daughter Bong-hee has just returned from USA. Next morning when Kyu-sik is doing his chores, he stumbles across Bong-hee in the church. She’s collapsed from drinking, and when he attempts to help her, she falls on top of him and plants a big kiss on his mouth! In that exact moment, the resident nun walks in on them, and once again Kyu-sik’s gotten himself into trouble. Though Kyu-sik gets off with a warning, Bong-hee has sparked his interest. She’s obviously a lost soul, and must be saved (At this point the most dim-witted viewer will be aware of Kyu-sik’s attraction to Bong-hee, but it’ll take another hour for him to reach that conclusion, so we’ll just sweep that under the rug for now.)

Slowly a dysfunctional love/hate relationship develops between them. And though he gets increasingly frustrated with her disrespect for God - a fact she smirkingly enjoys - he just can’t seem to get her out of his mind. Things take a turn for the worse, when the old priest suggest Kyu-sik try to persuade Bong-hee to get baptised, as part of his education.

The poor priest really has his work cut out for him, but soon Bong-hee begins to look at Kyu-sik in a different light. And he himself begins to question his upcoming vows of celibacy.


There’s one reason I bought this film, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I buy every single Korean romantic comedy I can get my hands on. It stars Ha Ji-won.

Forget that her butt looks amazing in tight jeans, or that her cheeky smile can melt the socks off any XY member of the human species, this girl has screen presence! She radiates a level of energy and life, unmatched by any other Korean actress. Recently she’s done mostly comedies - which of course suits her age - but I’m sure that if she ever gets to do serious drama, she’ll bring the house down.

Although “Love, So Divine” deals with a priest who must decide whether his love for God trumps his love for a “common” girl, it never gets preachy or overly religious. In the end this is a story about how much a person must be willing to sacrifice for his/her beliefs, but the film never over-dramatises this question, and it seems perfectly aware that it needs to work itself towards a solution to Kyu-sik’s dilemma that doesn’t trivialises the problem, which must be something religious people all over the world can recognise. Is Kyu-sik’s attraction to Bong-hee a temptation to be overcome, or true love that needs to be embraced?

Romantic comedies are inherently predictable, so in the end it becomes more about the journey than the goal. “Love, So Divine” is somewhat slow-paced in the first act, but it picks up as soon as it gets to play the two leads out against each other. Their irresistible banter, aided by good chemistry between the stars, means we’re in good company, even though the film doesn’t take a single unexpected turn. In the end the film is so sweet and innocent that it doesn’t really matter.

Technically “Love, So Divine” is nothing exceptional, though, this being Korean film everyone behind the camera delivers top-notch work. But at the risk of sounding ungrateful, I’d expect nothing less. The movie is shot with a serene confidence by director Hur In-moo, who never gets into anything too complicated, but always makes sure that we have a clear view of the action and the locations, and as result you won’t spend a single moment confused about what’s going on.

“Love, So Divine” ends exactly as it should, but it comes up a bit short, when it’s time to deliver the actual payoff, a problem often encountered in this type of Korean films. A note to Korean filmmakers: Watch “Dirty Dancing”. Now that’s how you end a romantic movie! It’s important to let the audience hold on to the movie-magic as long as possible, so when we leave the film’s pink fluffy environment, we do so floating on a little cloud. Eventually the cloud will vaporise and put our feet gently on the ground again. I wish “Love, So Divine” had let us float just a little bit longer.
David Bjerre
February 13, 2005

Original Title
Shinbu sueob
South Korea
Hur In-moo
- This is his first feature
Kwon Sang-woo as Kyu-sik
- Once Upon a Time in High School ('04)
- My Tutor Friend (2003)
- Volcano High (2001)
Ha Ji-won as Bong-hee
- Slave Love (2004)
- Sex Is Zero (2001)
- Phone (2002)
DVD Availability
Available on DVD from YesAsia: