Sex is Zero
Sperm. Buckets of puke. Sticking it in the wrong hole. Yes, we’re dealing with yet another teenage gross-out comedy (you in the back, stop giggling). Okay, so the characters here may be out of their teens, they may be older, but they’re not wiser.

Eun-sik (Lim Chang-jung) enrolls in university after completing his military service. Consequently he’s a few years older than most of the other students, and he’s a bit of an outsider.

Eun-sik is also the most unlucky guy on this planet. He always seems to be on the receiving end of some outrageous twist of fate, which doesn’t exactly make his life easier.

He quickly notices the beautiful and confident Eun-hyo (Ha Ji-Won), who is one of the most popular girls in school, and prominently featured on the gymnastics team. Eun-hyo, however, is in love with the coolest guy on campus, and Eun-sik is forced to watch from the sidelines.

Meanwhile everybody else are dealing with the same problems: Trying to get laid, trying not to get laid, trying to get laid with new people or trying to get laid with the same people. It’s a vicious circle for sure.... Actually I think this is what they call the circle of life. Disney would be so proud.


If you don’t think it’s funny when somebody accidentally eats a sperm-sandwich, or if you dislike gratuitous shots of semi-nude wet girls with bouncing breasts, stop right here. Then this film is not for you.

Gross-out comedies like this are usually a mixed bag. They can go either way. Personal tastes, the appeal of the actors, and even what company you see it in, will influence whether you like this film or not.

From what I’m told, “American Pie” didn’t fare too well in Korea, but apparently they lapped this one up in no time. As for myself, I didn’t care for “American Pie”, but I did enjoy “Road Trip” and recently “Eurotrip”. Go figure.

If gross-out comedy is your thing, don’t be put of by the fact that this one isn’t American. Because even though “Sex is Zero” is distinctly Korean, the humor is universal. After all, there’s no language barrier in sperm eating jokes.

The film opens as an ensemble piece, and cleverly introduces all major characters in one single shot in the beginning. Presented with 10+ lead characters all virtually the same age, I found myself getting quite confused to begin with. But eventually the film zeroes in on the relationship between Eun-hyo and Eun-sik.

I wish the film had been a little more clear in its set-up. It takes quite some time for before it indicates that the guy, who at first appears simply to be the class clown, is in fact the “hero”. This is partly due to the film’s lack of focus. It fumbles around from one character to the next in an uneven episodic way.

However, when the Eun-hyo and Eun-sik relationship becomes the main focus, it provides the film with a solid core, and then everything falls into place.

Their relationship really is the perfect core for this kind of story, and while the film never misses an opportunity to kick Eun-sik in the nuts (literally) for a cheap laugh, he still emerges as a real character. His infatuation with Eun-hyo is believable and sweet, and reveals the film’s inherently good nature.

Eun-sik, on the other hand, seems like she just stepped out of a “real” teenage film. She’s oblivious to the way even the most simple gesture towards Eun-sik has a profound effect on him. She only has eyes for the cool guy, and ignores the one person who’ll do anything for her, who will never rest until she’s happy. Ha Ji-Won plays the part with both sensitivity and flair for humor.

Towards the end the film introduces a rather nasty subplot involving abortion, and then the film stops being funny quite abruptly. A change this radical could have been introduced a bit more delicately.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing this kind of subplot to a film where everybody thinks about sex, and where no match is too unlikely to be attempted. But to find a character collapsed in the bathroom, bleeding like a stuck pig, is a little too rough and it seems inconsistent with the well-established tone of the film.

Personally I liked “Sex is Zero”. I found the humor irresistible, and the relationship between Eun-hyo and Eun-sik is sweet and simple. It reminded me of my own school days. However, I will acknowledge that the humour and the shift in tone may put some viewers off. There’s no easy way of determining whether this film will be to your liking or not, so I can only give one advice, which coincidentally applies to everything in life...

Give it a try. You might just like it.
David Bjerre
May 27, 2004

Original Title
South Korea
Yoon Je-gyun
- My Boss, My Hero (2001)
Lim Chang-jung
- Beat (1997)
- Jakarta (2000)
- Bet on My Disco (2002)
Ha Ji-Won
- Ditto (2000)
- Phone (2002)
- Slave Love (2004)
DVD Availability
Available on DVD from YesAsia: