Seen in Jeonju

Radio Dayz (2008)

14th October 2009

radio dayzOriginally posted February 8, 2008—I had mentioned on Monday that I loved the movie Radio Dayz that had opened a week ago and is currently showing in theaters.  I had originally thought that I would be writing about it for one of the magazines I write for, but I abandoned that idea after struggling with the article because I did not feel that I could get the three pages I needed to write. That frees me up to write a short review here.

But before I begin the review, I would like to direct your attention to the teaser poster above. This poster was made well before the release of the film which is why the release date on the poster just says January rather than a specific date. However, the most obvious thing about the poster for an English speaker is the misspelling of the word ‘Radio’ as ‘Ridio’. This is do to the old-style Koreanization of the word ‘radio’ in the Korean title which seems like a mistake today as it is now out of use. However, ‘ridio’ has apparently been abandoned and the misspelling is now in the word ‘days/dayz’ which although wrong gives the correct pronunciation.

Early promos and magazine articles about the film indicated that this was a Ryu Seung-beom venue..which while never a bad thing, would have been a waste of the other cast members. After watching the film however, I am happy to report that almost all the main actors have equal time with the exception of young Ko A-seong.  Her character, Soon-deok, has very little to do.

Ryu Seung-beom plays Lloyd, the fast-thinking producer of a radio program in 1930. The station is underfunded and understaffed. New ideas are needed to keep gain listeners. One of these ideas is to create a radio drama, the first of its kind in Korea. Lloyd gathers together a handful of voice actors. These consist of Marie (Kim Sa-rang) a beautiful and modern Jazz singer, the kisaeng Myeong-wol (Hwang Bo-ra) who often forgets that the radio audience cannot see her, Man-cheol (Oh Jeong-se) a voice actor who takes the part of just about every male character in the drama as the narration, reading the news and doing commercials. The previously mentioned Soon-deok is recruited to handle the voices of female extras. Off to a slow start, Lloyd also recruits a sound-effects man who simply calls himself K. 

The writing is handled by the harried Mr. No who has trouble coming up with what will happen next in the daily drama. He task is complicated frequently throw the script out the window if they don’t like how its going and adlib their way through the show.

The drama is a hit with the people with the people who argue on the streets about the love triangle and where street-performers re-enact the events of the previous day’s show. The cast is launched to stardom but the increased attention given to the radio drama also draws the attention of the Japanese colonial government. This may not have been a big problem for Lloyd, but some of the things his actors say outside the script may cause problems and one of his cast is secretly working for the Korean Independence Army.

I think this may be a first for Korean movies in the light way the Korean Independence Army is portrayed. Of course, this film is a comedy, by the four men making up the KIA (one of them is the well-known comedian Moon Se-yoon) are portrayed as being highly ineffective–the most successful thing they have done recently is rob a mail car. However, at least one of them is smart enough to recognize how useful the radio station can be to their cause.

The radio drama itself is extremely well-done. Not only is it used to poke fun at the government at the time, it also spoofs the cliches of modern television dramas. Love triangles, amnesia, contrasts in social status between the rivals for the hero’s affection…however, despite the cliches it manages to draw the modern viewer in and we begin to wonder..along with the writer…just how the drama will end.

With so many other high-profile Korean films released at the same time for the Lunar New Year, Radio Dayz may be pushed to the background–However, when the dvd is released, don’t hesitate to snap it up.  It is a genuinely fun movie!

One Response to “Radio Dayz (2008)”

  1. Dear Soldier (1944) | Says:

    [...] We saw in Angels on the Street that characters were sporting names like Mary and John and even in Radio Dayz, depicting life in Korea during the 1930s,the main characters were called Lloyd and Marie. [...]