With insightful understanding, the movie Return to Seoul explores the lingering impacts of abandonment. Using an intriguing plot springboard, writer director Davy Chou focuses on a young woman named Freddie who leaves France to visit a friend in Korea. Having no intentions other than finding good times and seeing what her birthplace looks like, Freddie takes a “one-night-sta
nd” approach to life that puzzles her loving adoptive parents. She sees no connection between reckless behavior and her background that includes little information about birth parents. But writer-director Chou grasps the significance, moving forward in time as Freddie changes her surface situations without filling any deeper needs.Learning from a casual question that Korean policies mean she can probably find her birth parents Freddie take the leap to discover her genetic roots. Avoiding the warm and fuzzy in settings that step outside city night clubs into a bleaker countryside, Chou shows the complications of fitting back into a place where roots never thrived. Love, guilt, hope, and more mix like oil and water for Freddie, who puts on a protective mask to hide her vulnerability. Park Ji-Min stands out as Freddie, acting audacious but letting her fears show through. She and Chou ask viewers to be patient with the character, whose hurt expresses itself through inconsiderate, selfish actions designed to test people’s steadfastness. Not easy to hang around or watch, Freddie making her Return to Seoul works cinematically as an effective but sad character study.