Jin Woo and Hyun Min live by the secluded countryside in A Distant Place.

A Distant Place is a Korean movie about a gay farmer and his quiet life in the countryside. He raises a young child with the small rural community supporting them. His lover from the city moves in and settles down, forming a cozy family unit. However, their idyllic lifestyle is disrupted by an unwelcomed arrival.

In recent years, there has been an influx of sad gay movies that take place in the countryside. A Distant Place is a worthy addition to the list, impressing me with its melancholic story and beautiful visuals. This meaningful film captures the struggles of the down-to-earth characters, highlighting the nuanced themes of family and conformity.

A Distant Place Summary

What is the movie called?

정말 먼 곳

Where was the film made?

South Korea

When was the movie released?

2020

How long is A Distant Place?

Around 1 hour and 55 minutes

What is the genre?

Drama

How would you describe the film?

Deep and mature

Who is the director?

Park Kun-young

Is A Distant Place BL?

Yes, A Distant Place features a gay couple.

Plot

Jin Woo and Hyun Min spend time in the outdoors together.

Jin Woo is a sheep rancher who lives in the quiet countryside. He works on a small farm owned by Joong Man and his daughter Moon Kyeong. The father-daughter duo must take care of Moon Kyeong's grandmother, a frail senior woman whose mental health has deteriorated. Jin Woo is close to his employers, spending a lot of time together. Moon Kyeong has a secret crush on Jin Woo, but her feelings aren't reciprocated.

Jin Woo raises a young child by himself. Seol is an adorable little girl who loves animals and playing in nature. Moon Kyeong visits the pair frequently and helps to look after her. Although Seol is old enough to start kindergarten, Jin Woo doesn't enroll her in school. Instead, he wants her to stay on the farm and enjoy the outdoors.

Hyun Min arrives on the farm to live with Jin Woo and Seol. He is introduced as Jin Woo's college friend from the city. However, the two men are secretly lovers, keeping their romantic relationship hidden from the rest of the community. The observant Joong Man has noticed his employee's close bond with this other man. However, he remains quiet about his suspicions.

Hyun Min is an out-of-work poet. Fortunately, he finds employment at a nearby institute, teaching a recreational poetry and writing class. He is a popular teacher and his adult students look up to him. Hyun Min gets settled into his new countryside life and wants to stay here long-term, delighting Jin Woo. Life seems blissful for the couple, as Jin Woo, Hyun Min, and Seol form a cozy family unit.

Suddenly, an unexpected visitor shows up at the farm one day. Jin Woo's twin sister Eun Young has arrived from the city. She is Seol's birth mother. When his sibling had economic troubles five years ago, Jin Woo stepped in and assumed responsibility as Seol's primary caregiver. Now, Eun Young claims her life is back on track and she wants to raise Seol in the city again. However, Jin Woo is skeptical of his sister and remains reluctant to part ways with Seol.

A Distant Place Trailer

A Distant Place Cast

Characters

Jin Woo Kang Gil Woo (강길우) Kang Gil Woo Instagram

Jin Woo is portrayed by the Korean actor Kang Gil Woo (강길우).

Jin Woo works as a sheep rancher in the countryside. He lives quietly on a farm, raising a young child by himself. Jin Woo used to study art and design in college, where he met his lover Hyun Min. Since then, he has escaped the city and retreated to a secluded rural community.

Hyun Min Hong Kyung (홍경) Hong Kyung Instagram

Hyun Min is portrayed by the Korean actor Hong Kyung (홍경).

Hyun Min is an out-of-work poet from the city. He visits Jin Woo on the farm and finds a teaching job nearby. They are in a relationship, but have kept their romance secret from the small rural community. Hyun Min is a popular teacher and his adult students adore his poetry classes.

Supporting Cast

Seol Eun is portrayed by the actress Kim Si Ha (김시하).

Seol

Kim Si Ha (김시하)

Eun Young is portrayed by the actress Lee Sang Hee (이상희).

Eun Young

Lee Sang Hee (이상희)

Moon Kyeong is portrayed by the actress Ki Do Young (기도영).

Moon Kyeong

Ki Do Young (기도영)

Joong Man is portrayed by the Korean actor Ki Joo Bong (기주봉).

Joong Man

Ki Joo Bong (기주봉)

Myeong Soon is portrayed by the Korean actress Choi Geum Soon (최금순).

Myeong Soon

Choi Geum Soon (최금순)

A Distant Place Review

Review

Movie Review Score: 8.5

B+
Jin Woo and Hyun Min are in bed together.

What if you can escape your old life and get a fresh start in a quiet, secluded community? A Distant Place explores the idea of a safe refuge insightfully and introspectively. This melancholic movie is rich with emotions, highlighting each character's experiences throughout a cohesive narrative. The story is packed with nuanced symbolism, which unfolds subtly as the drama intensifies. A Distant Place has put a lot of thought into conveying its meaningful messages and philosophical themes.

Although this movie is depressing, A Distant Place begins blissfully. The first thirty minutes are calm and serene, showcasing Jin Woo's ordinary day-to-day life in his countryside home. He's surrounded by a doting child, a loving companion, and close peers who respect him. There are a few early instances of potential tension, but the drama never escalates further. The protagonists live in a protective bubble, shielded from any stress or conflicts in the external world.

However, this peaceful utopia is shattered starting from the film's second act. Once you develop an attachment to the down-to-earth characters, A Distant Place amplifies their personal hardships. The movie fills you with a heavy heart when the illusion of paradise crumbles and the protagonists suffer through adversities. Many scenes will haunt you with poignant struggles, intense exchanges, and devastating fallout. Each moment feels intimate, focusing on the sensitive emotions behind the vulnerable facades.

The gorgeous visuals accentuate the gloomy atmosphere in A Distant Place. With creative camerawork and clever post-editing processes, the movie often looks picturesque. The cinematographer loves using elegant wide shots to observe the characters from a far distance. It's a stylish technique that augments the relationship dynamics, like capturing a still memory. My favourite moment is when Hyun Min hugs a sobbing Jin Woo in the middle of the night. There's no dialogue, but the scene conveys raw emotions through ambiance and artistry.

The romance between Jin Woo and Hyun Min is tastefully portrayed. While their physical affections aren't explicit, we see them embrace and sleep in the same bed. There's a tenderness to their interactions, conveyed through coy smiles and small compliments, illustrating a close bond between the leads. With that said, the relationship scenes are tame, making me wish we could see more passion between this couple. The best movies in this genre are epic love stories, whereas A Distant Place seems mild and plays it safe.

Over the years, there have been many excellent gay films about rural life. I'd include A Distant Place in this list, but admittedly it doesn't measure up to the best of the best. Some aspects of its narrative could be elaborated better. Also, the characterizations for Hyun Min and the supporting cast don't receive enough focus. Despite a few shortcomings, this exquisite movie resonates powerfully. A Distant Place makes a memorable impression with its authentic story, sympathetic portrayals, and poetic imagery.

Summary

Poignant story

A Distant Place is an emotional movie filled with nuance, symbolism, and heartbreak. The story is crafted thoughtfully, beginning with calm tranquillity and escalating in heavy angst.

Tender romance

Jin Woo and Hyun Min have a tender romance with interactions that highlight their close rapport. Their relationship scenes are tame and don't feel as passionate as the best gay love stories.

Good acting

The cast puts in sentimental performances that accentuate their down-to-earth characters. The child actor playing Seol is fantastic and appears like a natural on screen.

Sad ending

A Distant Place has a devastating ending as Jin Woo's idyllic paradise falls apart around him. However, I don't love where his relationship with Hyun Min stands at the end of the film.

Excellent artistry

This atmospheric movie is beautifully crafted with skilled camerawork and stylish scene compositions. The cinematographer uses wide shots artistically to create memorable images.

85%

A Distant Place is a brilliant addition to the pantheon of sad gay films in the countryside. The heartfelt story, sympathetic characters, thought-provoking messages resonate powerfully.

A Distant Place Movie Analysis

Analysis

Seol's family

Jin Woo becomes Seol's primary caregiver.

A Distant Place doesn't spell out the relationship dynamics at the beginning of the movie. Initially, you might be inclined to think Jin Woo is Seol's father or Jin Woo and Moon Kyeong are married. Later, the film clarifies that Jin Woo is actually Seol's uncle. Plus, he only has a platonic friendship with his coworker Moon Kyeong.

I suspect this ambiguity is an intentional narrative choice, blurring the lines of a traditional family unit. By not defining their relationships right away, the viewers must observe the interactions between the characters and make their own assumptions. You might misinterpret Jin Woo as Seol's parent because of the close bond they appear to have. Even though that's not their actual relationship, Jin Woo and Seol feel like they have a father-daughter connection.

Notice how Seol calls Jin Woo "Mama" instead of "Papa" or the more accurate term "Uncle". This quirky nickname is a sign that A Distant Place proudly defies the traditional family hierarchy. The film demonstrates that the official labels aren't as important as the actual bonds. When Seol drew her family portrait, she included Jin Woo, Moon Kyeong, "Nana", "Grandpa", and "Uncle" Hyun Min. She sees them as her ideal family even though they aren't related. A family can be formed anywhere, even in a distant place, with the people we choose to love.

Jin Woo and Seol

Jin Woo is protective of Seol and sees himself as her parental figure.

We don't realize it at first, but Jin Woo is in hiding. Years ago, he was an artist who lived in the city. He met Hyun Min at school, where they fell in love and maintained a steady romance. However, Jin Woo made the bold choice of moving to the remote countryside with his niece Seol. He uprooted his entire life, giving up his career, his familiar surroundings, and even his relationship.

Jin Woo made these sacrifices to secure a fresh start in a new location. The advantage of moving to a secluded area is that nobody knows about his past. Living in this small rural community, Jin Woo can assume an inconspicuous identity instead of standing out as a gay man. He can rebrand himself as a parental figure to Seol and other people wouldn't judge him.

Another benefit of living in the farmlands is that nobody can find Jin Woo. He purposely concealed his whereabouts so that his sister wouldn't be able to locate him. The farm becomes a secret hideaway for Jin Woo, like a safe refuge that protects him from his past. However, history still finds its way to Jin Woo no matter how much he tries to escape.

Hyun Min's arrival

Jin Woo is excited when Hyun Min joins him on the farm.

Jin Woo probably could have kept his new identity and remained undetected forever. He lived in the middle of nowhere, entirely off the radar. If Jin Woo had been careful, there should be no way to trace back to his hidden retreat. However, Jin Woo didn't cut all the ties from his past. Despite living in isolation, he still maintains a long-distance relationship with Hyun Min. Understandably, he misses his boyfriend and invites him to the farm for a visit.

Hyun Min's arrival is like opening Pandora's box, exposing a lot of personal information that Jin Woo wanted to suppress. Up until now, he had sole control of his public persona and revealed little about himself. The other farmers simply perceive Jin Woo as an ordinary guy with a child. He didn't even tell his friends about studying art in the past. "I don't draw anymore," Jin Woo states with uneasiness, as if having artistic skills might make others see him differently.

Jin Woo tries to be secretive about his relationship, introducing Hyun Min as a "college friend". Nevertheless, the newcomer's arrival still triggers curiosity and suspicion. Despite being subtle, Jin Woo can't hide his excitement around seeing his boyfriend again. Moon Kyeong notices that he's in a happier mood than usual. Joong Man also catches a glimpse of an intimate moment between them. The elusive Jin Woo has been getting careless lately. It turns out his fondness for Hyun Min is the one secret that he cannot keep.

Jin Woo and Hyun Min

Jin Woo and Hyun Min spend time together on the island.

Hyun Min adjusts to his new environment surprisingly well. He finds a steady job in his niche field, teaching poetry to students who adore him. We also see him participate in various farm activities, showing his willingness to integrate into this small-town community. Hyun Min plans to continue living here instead of moving back to the city. This decision must surely please Jin Woo.

Keep in mind Hyun Min relocated to this foreign place solely for Jin Woo. He isn't hiding from his family and he doesn't have a responsibility to raise Seol. Yet, Hyun Min is still willing to uproot his life for the man he loves. Later in the film, he daydreams about moving to another farm with Jin Woo, opening a B&B together. It demonstrates his commitment to this relationship, like Hyun Min will follow Jin Woo wherever he goes.

The most romantic moments in the film take place during Jin Woo and Hyun Min's camping trip. Imagine two lovers enjoying intimate time together on a tiny island, away from the rest of society. They embrace, hold hands, and who knows what these two were doing inside the tent. As they go fishing, Hyun Min asks his partner whether he gets bored living in the countryside. "I can sit here all day." Jin Woo replies, before adding nonchalantly, "And now, I also have you."

Getting caught

Moon Kyeong discovers the relationship between Jin Woo and Hyun Min.

Ideally, Hyun Min and Jin Woo shouldn't have to sneak around with their romance. However, their discretion is necessary when fitting in with a small rural community, where people's perceptions might not be as enlightened. The less that others know, the more privacy that they have.

Nonetheless, Moon Kyeong finds out about their intimate relationship. She accidentally opens their bedroom door and sees the couple sleeping in the same bed. The revelation must have scandalized Moon Kyeong, who harboured an obvious crush on her colleague. As she quickly leaves the house, the men are still asleep and don't even realize their secret is exposed.

Moon Kyeong's discovery could have been the catalyst to much bigger drama. We've seen this scenario play out in many BL stories, where the couple gets caught and confronted by the female love interest. Yet, Moon Kyeong pretends like nothing happened, maintaining the same dynamic with Jin Woo as previously. There are no tears or arguments. Life goes on normally for Moon Kyeong after finding out her crush likes somebody else. A Distant Place shows restraint by not milking the drama, defying our expectations of how this typical storyline progresses.

Moon Kyeong and Jin Woo

Moon Kyeong used to have a crush on Jin Woo.

Moon Kyeong's low-key reaction is typical of her character. Everything about Moon Kyeong indicates she has a compassionate personality and would protect Jin Woo's secret. This woman takes care of her ill grandmother, helps her father on the farm, and acts as a big sister figure to Seol. She exudes empathy and doesn't seem like the type to behave maliciously. She doesn't even tell her dad Jin Woo is gay, playing dumb and keeping up the charade for her friend.

Moon Kyeong is down-to-earth and family-oriented, complementing Jin Woo's temperament suitably. If A Distant Place wasn't a gay movie, her character would be the ideal love interest for him. Jin Woo was also her best bet for husband material, giving Moon Kyeong a preview of blissful matrimonial life. You can tell she genuinely enjoys Jin Woo and Seol's companionship.

Sadly, the man of her dreams is already taken. Moon Kyeong remains unlucky in love, trapped in a small town with few romantic options. From what we could see, the men around town seem mostly narrow-minded and brutish. Or as Moon Kyeong says herself, "They're so mean." If Moon Kyeong continues living here, it's unlikely she'll encounter another male suitor as desirable as Jin Woo.

Moon Kyeong

Moon Kyeong takes care of her ill grandmother.

Although Moon Kyeong isn't the primary focus in the story, her circumstances are sympathetic. According to her dad, she dreams of moving away from the farm to live somewhere else. Yet, Moon Kyeong remains in this small town out of love and obligation to her family. Initially, she can't abandon her ill grandmother. After the grandma's passing, Moon Kyeong still can't leave her dad to manage the farm by himself.

For a while, Jin Woo and Seol's presence made rural life more tolerable for her. Unfortunately, they're gone by the end of the film, leaving her future bleak and lonely. A reason why she cried in the bathtub is because she reflected on the limited options in her life. Moon Kyeong might have once envisioned a happy family life with her dad, grandma, Jin Woo and Seol. Now, that fantasy is shattered, replaced by a depressing reality of solitude and lovelessness.

On the bright side, I believe Moon Kyeong will persevere. Another quality her character demonstrates throughout the movie is inner strength. She's a tough lady, unfazed by life's disappointments and hardships. Whether Moon Kyeong remains single or finds another man, she'll pick herself up and not wallow in self-pity.

Joong Man

Joong Man knows Jin Woo is gay, but he doesn't say anything.

Like his daughter, Joong Man keeps a low profile. He is a man highly averse to drama, avoiding conflicts as much as possible. When Joong Man gets scammed by his business contacts, he merely grumbles and doesn't confront them. When his daughter admits to liking Jin Woo, he doesn't share his suspicions about his employee's sexuality. The only time when Joong Man gets provoked is at the funeral, interrupting the gay rumours and gossip. It shows how much he cares about Jin Woo, defying his usual tendency to stay under the radar.

The reason for Joong Man's elusiveness is explained at the end of the movie. During his final conversation with Jin Woo, we discover his complicated past. Long ago, he defected from North Korea with his family. Joong Man arrived at South Korea in his 40s, getting a fresh start in a democratic territory where human rights are cherished. Due to his peculiar background, Joong Man has learned to stay out of trouble and not arouse any suspicion.

There are intriguing parallels between Jin Woo and Joong Man. Both are outsiders in Korean society, facing discrimination and hardships over their secret identities. Like Jin Woo, Joong Man also escaped from his past, arriving at a distant place for new freedoms and opportunities. Perhaps that's why he feels sympathetic to Jin Woo's plight, seeing similarities between their situations. Some people live in the middle of nowhere due to necessity, seeking a safe refuge. Joong Man knows better than anyone not to judge other social outcasts.

Eun Young

Eun Young arrives on the farm to make amends with Jin Woo and Seol.

Jin Woo's twin sister Eun Young is the antagonist of A Distant Place. Her arrival triggers a turning point in the plot, destroying any semblance of peace and utopia for our protagonists. Eun Young is Seol's birth mother. Years ago, she lost her savings from a con artist, overwhelming her so much that she abandoned her parenting responsibilities. Jin Woo picked up the slack for his twin and became the primary caregiver for Seol. Now that Eun Young's life is back on track, she wants custody of her child again.

Eun Young is seeking redemption. Yes, she messed up in the past. She was hardly a good mother, a good sister, or a good human being for that matter. However, Eun Young wants a second chance, making up for lost time over years of missed parenting experiences. While the other characters are trying to hide, she is the exact opposite. Eun Young wants to confront her history and bridge the distance with her daughter.

The conflict between Jin Woo and his sister is complex. Both parties haven't handled the situation amicably. On the one hand, Eun Young shouldn't have ditched her daughter like she's baggage. On the other hand, Jin Woo shouldn't have hidden his whereabouts from his sister, separating Seol from her mother. A Distant Place doesn't portray either sibling as entirely right or wrong. Both characters have their sympathetic and unflattering moments during the story. Their dubious actions have created this tricky moral conundrum with no elegant solution that pleases everybody.

Getting outed

Jin Woo cries after Eun Young outs him in front of everyone at the funeral.

The most critical scene of A Distant Place happens at the funeral. A tense exchange escalates between Jin Woo and his sister. She yells at him in the heat of the moment, outing his sexuality in front of everybody. Eun Young instantly regretted her words, but it was too late to undo her public spectacle. Jin Woo had spent years building a new identity in the rural community. He worked hard to live inconspicuously without drawing this kind of attention. His deepest secret is now exposed, turned into malicious gossip that spreads across town.

Earlier scenes have revealed that Jin Woo feels massively insecure about being gay. School was torture for him, so traumatizing that he withheld Seol from kindergarten to avoid the same experiences. You can imagine the severity of his struggles as a gay adolescent growing up in a conservative society. This anguish has trickled into his adulthood, distressing Jin Woo any time he arouses suspicion over his sexuality. And now, they all know the truth about him due to a shocking betrayal by his twin sister.

After getting outed, Jin Woo runs away with Hyun Min chasing after him. The camera is distant, capturing only the shadowy figures of the men. It's silent in the middle of the night, and the only sounds we hear are the quiet sobs from Jin Woo. Hyun Min slowly approaches Jin Woo, wrapping his boyfriend in a gentle embrace. They don't look or talk to each other, but the tenderness is loud and clear. Hyun Min's sentiment is along the lines of, "You can't see or hear me, but I'm here for you in your darkest moment. Just know that you can lean on me for support."

Hyun Min's poem

Hyun Min reads his poem to a nearly empty classroom.

As the news spread, our protagonists feel the immediate effects of small-town homophobia. Jin Woo's acquaintances are rude to him, ignore him, or gossip about him tactlessly. He goes from being an ordinary farmer to THAT GAY GUY in big capital letters. Hyun Min also loses his teaching job after most of his students stop coming to class. He ends up reading his poem to a nearly empty classroom.

Hyun Min's poem is about refuge, describing "a nearby place" and "a distant place". The close location is a metaphor for our current lives, while the remote location represents the new life where we want to escape. The poem begins by mentioning how expensive it is to leave behind our old lives. We can only flee as far as our finances allow. Yet, our situation is so urgently bad that we have no choice but to escape anywhere else. We must leave before our only escape route disappears.

Far was a synonym for expensive
We would be gone as far as we could afford
But we couldn't dare to imagine a more distant place
Because the precipice was precipitating every day
We had to go before it vanished

The next few passages describe the uncertainty of the new life. We don't know whether it's the right decision to leave. We're also unsure of how much effort and hardship the journey entails. Possibly, we made the wrong assumptions about getting a fresh start. Perhaps a new life elsewhere wouldn't be any better than what it seemed like in our fantasies.

The distant place was dissolving every day
Boulders fell, dirt crumbled away
Plants plopped into the sea
Swallowed by the waves, thus never be heard

As we imagined the distant place, we grew uneasy
Whether we were getting it right, that we would not know
How hard we tried, we would not know
Whether we would be right or wrong about our imagination

The poem reiterates that starting a new life will be a turbulent experience. We might encounter obstacles, get homesick, and suffer many setbacks. Don't expect sympathy, because our struggles might seem insignificant to others. Despite the difficulties, the prospect of taking refuge elsewhere is still appealing to us. Fantasizing about escape is our only hope. Otherwise, we'll fall into despair over the grim reality of our current situation.

We would tumble over a rock, lose our footing
Doubt our roots, endure a fall
The sound of the fall was so small that it would be unheard

Still, we imagined of the distant place
While we stood in a place near us
Only that could keep us falling off the precipice

Hyun Min's departure

Jin Woo gets into a heated argument with Hyun Min, causing him to leave.

Faced with constant bigotry from the townspeople, Jin Woo is on edge and feels pushed to his limits. "I thought it would be different here, but it's the same everywhere." Jin Woo mutters bitterly after a tense exchange with several homophobes. Hyun Min tries to calm him down, worried his partner might behave drastically. However, Jin Woo shifts his vitriol to the nearest target, lashing out at his boyfriend instead.

Jin Woo blames Hyun Min for what is happening. He rants about how his boyfriend made him anxious, constantly worried over other people's perceptions of them. Jin Woo also accuses Hyun Min of revealing his whereabouts to Eun Young. Hyun Min insists he made the correct decision, telling Seol's mother where her child is. As the hostility escalates, Jin Woo delivers a lethal line to his partner, "You ruined everything."

Since his arrival, Hyun Min has shown unconditional love and support to Jin Woo in every situation. It's a shockingly inaccurate statement, pinning the responsibility on him. However, we also understand Jin Woo is in an emotional state, spewing nonsense in the heat of the moment. Nonetheless, his harsh words break Hyun Min's spirit. After their argument, Hyun Min leaves town without a trace. He only came here for Jin Woo, but it seems like his presence isn't appreciated. His sudden departure devastates Jin Woo, instantly regretting everything he said.

A Distant Place Ending Explained

Ending

Sad ending

Seol goes missing in the A Distant Place ending.

A Distant Place has a sad ending where Hyun Min leaves Jin Woo after an intense argument. We don't see them reconcile by the end of the film. Jin Woo desperately tries to get in touch with his partner, but he's too distracted and loses track of Seol. He was supposed to be looking after her, but the young girl escaped into the woods without him noticing. A police investigation extends into the night, as Jin Woo and Eun Young search for the missing child.

During a cinematic segment, Jin Woo wanders around the forest in a melancholy daze. He finally finds Seol's body on the ground, resting next to a sheep. Fortunately, she's still alive! The young girl just fell asleep through the night, but she's relatively unharmed. An emotional Jin Woo embraces Seol. Despite his massive lapse in supervision, she is safe and sound.

Leaving the farm

Jin Woo and Seol leave the farm in the movie's ending.

As they make their way home, Jin Woo tells Seol they'll leave the farm. She'll start going to school, just as Eun Young wanted. Also, Jin Woo asks Seol to stop calling him "mama", indicating he relinquished his parental rights to his sister. After what had transpired, he doesn't have the moral high ground over Eun Young anymore. The traumatizing incident made Jin Woo accept that Seol is better off living in the city with her birth mother.

Jin Woo also has no reason to continue living in this small town, which doesn't welcome him anyway. He quits his job on the farm and departs with his sister. It's unclear what their living arrangement will be like once they arrive in the city. I'm guessing that Jin Woo might still live with Eun Young and Seol, at least for the short term. Eun Young hasn't given her brother grief for losing Seol, so at least they're on amicable terms. Maybe Jin Woo can work at his sister's cafe, who knows?

Nonetheless, it's clear that Jin Woo and Seol won't have the same dynamic anymore. Ultimately, Eun Young has taken back her parenting rights, meaning Jin Woo has lowered in importance and status. He might or might not be part of Seol's upbringing. At most, he'll just be her favourite uncle.

Jin Woo and Joong Man

Joong Man opens up about himself in his final conversation with Jin Woo.

Before Jin Woo's departure, he has one last conversation with his boss. Jin Woo apologizes for keeping his sexuality a secret. Joong Man admits he already knew beforehand, but it was never an issue that needed to be addressed. He's surprised when Jin Woo quits his job on the farm. However, Jin Woo doesn't want to cause him any more burden. Joong Man indicates he would've liked to see Seol grow up here. It's clear he developed a strong connection with the two of them.

Joong Man revealed more about his past during the chat. Although it was never said explicitly, you can piece together the conversation and learn that Joong Man originally came from North Korea. He had relocated here years ago, raising his daughter by himself. Jin Woo asks if his boss ever thought of leaving this farm, but Joong Man doesn't have anywhere else to go. He already escaped once. He's settled here for good.

As their conversation comes to an end, Joong Man asks Jin woo one final question: "Are you leaving to be with him?" Jin Woo has an ambiguous expression, but we don't hear his answer. I think it's pretty likely that Jin Woo will try to reconcile with his boyfriend. Whether Hyun Min will forgive him is a different matter. Let's hope their relationship is strong enough for a fresh start in the city. Earlier, Hyun Min had talked about moving to an open-minded country and settling on a farm with Jin Woo. I want that so badly to be their future together. 😢 

Black sheep

Jin Woo is devastated after Hyun Min leaves him in A Distant Place sad ending.

Just as Jin Woo and Seol are about to leave the farm, Moon Kyeong stops them with an exciting announcement. One of the sheep will give birth, and Moon Kyeong wants Seol to witness this moment before she departs. The final scene takes place in the barn, as Jin Woo helps to deliver the baby while Seol watches with curiosity.

A Distant Place began with the death of a sheep, setting the dark tone for the rest of the story. Loss has been a recurring theme throughout the film, highlighted most clearly when the grandmother passes away. However, the movie ends differently by celebrating the birth of a baby sheep. It's symbolic of new beginnings, offering a bit more optimism to an otherwise bleak ending. There may be loss and grief throughout our lives, but it's also balanced with birth and hope in equal measures.

The last shot in A Distant Place is the imagery of a baby lamb. The animal is covered entirely in dirt, almost giving it the appearance of a "black sheep". I interpreted it as a nod to the classic idiom, referring to those divergent from the norm. Some of us are born differently with no control over our discrepancies. Are we destined to be the black sheep in society, or can find we an inviting place where our diversity is welcomed? As the ending credits roll, this thought-provoking movie leaves you with a lot to ponder.

A Distant Place Information

  1. I just watched this lovely, melancholic film. The cinematography was superb, especially all of the wide-angle shots. The film ends sadly and yet perhaps there's some hope for the future. Life goes on. Thank you for being so thorough (and for writing about Joong Man originally coming from North Korea…didn't get that!)

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