Korea has again stunned the world by its marvelous achievement, with the movie Minari winning a Golden Globe award. Based on Director Chung’s autobiographical story, the movie follows the joys and sorrows of a Korean immigrant family’s life in the U.S.
Jacob, his wife Monica and two children move from California to Arkansas with a big dream of success. Jacob puts all of his money in making farms to grow Korean vegetables, and the family ends up living in a trailer. Monica is skeptical and displeased about the new surroundings. However, her constant grumblings can’t stop Jacob’s burning ambition.
Meanwhile, to take care of her sick child David, Monica brings her mother Soonja from Korea to Arkansas. But the children find it difficult to become attached to their grandmother easily, as she can neither speak English nor make cookies. All they do together is play cards. Soonja starts to plant “minari” which she brought from Korea, saying “Minari can take root and thrive anywhere.” One day, she suddenly has a stroke. As the situation grows worse, Jacob does whatever he can to keep the farm going. He joins his wife to work in a chicken farm sexing chickens. Monica is constantly worried as they are running out of money. Because of the conflict, Monica suggests that they should get divorced as she could not tolerate the situation any longer.
Then, one night, Soonja, who doesn’t want to be a burden on her daughter’s family, decides to try and help out but accidently burns the farm sheds down. Jacob and Monica try to get the crops out, but they are helpless as the fire had taken hold.
Luckily, the fire doesn’t take everything from the family. Rather it sharpens their focus on their family and resolves conflicts between them. They develop a stronger bond while recovering from the disaster. Monica does not leave Jacob, and the children open their hearts to their grandmother in the end. Thanks to the fire, they indeed become a family. They start to make progress with the farm and find their way again. The minari Soonja planted grows in abundance, giving some hope and a good sign for their future.
Then, why did this picture gain such a huge honor? Well, being bombarded with provocative and confronting stories, perhaps what we have really been looking for is the one that connects people together especially in this time of indifference and unconcern.
[No.56 March 29, 2021]