Journey to the Shore is a Korean BL movie that portrays two high school students in a secret romance.

Journey to the Shore is a Korean BL movie about two high school students in a secret romance. The couple goes on a trip to a distant beachside town, far away from their peers and acquaintances. They enjoy their alone time together, working up the courage to display physical affection in public. Beneath their momentary happiness, these boyfriends feel troubled by a grim and depressing future.

I am wowed by Journey to the Shore, an excellent short film that conveys a beautifully poignant gay love story. The complex characters, their intimate relationship, and many heartbreaking emotions come together in this well-crafted narrative. The wistful romance is supported by two talented actors who bring charisma, authenticity, and gravitas to their performances.

Journey to the Shore BL Summary

What is the film called?

피터팬의 꿈

Where was the movie made?

South Korea

When was the movie released?

2020

How long is Journey to the Shore?

Around 30 minutes

What is the genre?

Drama

How would you describe the film?

Sad and bittersweet

Who is the director?

Uhm Ha-neul

Is Journey to the Shore BL?

Yes, Journey to the Shore has a gay romance.

Plot

Min Ha and Sang Bum wait by the bus stop together.

Minha and Sangbeom are high school students in a relationship. The couple plans a romantic trip to a remote beachside town, far away from anyone they might know. The bubbly Minha is excited about travelling with his boyfriend for the first time. However, Sangbeom seems more reserved, uneasy about being seen in public as a gay couple.

Minha wants to be physically affectionate during the trip. He tries holding Sangbeom’s hand on several occasions. However, his boyfriend feels self-conscious and doesn’t want anybody to notice them. Minha argues that they have travelled to a distant place and nobody knows who they are. Sangbeom tries his best to ignore any discomfort and enjoy their alone time together.

The two boyfriends hang out at the empty beach, frolicking in the ocean. When Minha accidentally falls and hurts his hand, Sangbeom tends to his boyfriend’s injuries. Their intimate moment prompts a kiss between them. Afterwards, they follow up by locking lips again, making out passionately by the sea.

The day passes by quickly. Limited by their age and finances, there aren’t many activities for these teenagers to do. Nonetheless, Minha and Sangbeom have a pleasant time together. Sangbeom even warms up to the idea of holding hands with Minha. He initiates the gesture discreetly, making his boyfriend smile.

Nighttime comes. Minha and Sangbeom are on the beach, enjoying a modest meal. As they watch the waves, Minha senses something is bothering his boyfriend and asks him what’s wrong. Sangbeom admits he has thought a lot about their relationship, expressing solemn doubts about their future together.

Journey to the Shore BL Trailer

Journey to the Shore Cast

Characters

Minha Kim Dong Hwi (김동휘) Kim Dong Hwi Instagram

Minha is portrayed by the Korean actor Kim Dong Hwi (김동휘).

Minha is a high school student and Sangbeom’s boyfriend. He dotes on Sangbeom frequently and likes to get affectionate with him. Minha is bullied at school because of the rumours swirling around his sexuality. Minha is interested in art and likes to draw in his spare time.

Sangbeom Kim Shin Bi (김신비) Kim Shin Bi Instagram

Sangbeom is portrayed by the Korean actor Kim Shin Bi (김신비).

Sangbeom is a high school student and Minha’s secret boyfriend. In private, he invites his boyfriend to his home all the time, where they hang out and chat. In public, Sangbeom isn’t comfortable being seen with another guy. Sangbeom is a transfer student who switched schools in the past.

Cast Highlights

  • Minha’s actor (Kim Dong Hwi) appeared in another sad gay Korean movie in 2018, titled Where to Go. It’s a short film at around 30 minutes long.

Journey to the Shore Review

Review

Movie Review Score: 9.1

A-
Minha and Sangbeom lean towards each other for a kiss.

Journey to the Shore is a phenomenal short movie, impressing me with its sensitive portrayal of a gay adolescent romance. The emotional story, nuanced characters, and poignant relationship are conveyed beautifully and brilliantly. Best of all, the material is elevated by two talented actors and an artistic production team. I couldn’t ask for more as a BL fan. Okay, maybe I might get greedy and want a full-feature film. However, Journey to the Shore already achieves an incredible quality in just thirty minutes.

The movie begins blissfully, highlighting the sweet, delicate bond between two high school boyfriends. Their personalities and relationship dynamics are quickly established through well-written exchanges. It won’t take long before you become enchanted by Minha and Sangbeom’s delightful interactions. I adore their kissing scene by the beach, a memorable moment illuminated by the characters’ genuine chemistry. Their other encounters are just as exquisite, emphasizing the warmth and affection between the lovers.

After establishing the adorable couple, Journey to the Shore introduces a heavy torrent of angst, melodrama, and homophobia. The flashbacks reveal more context to Minha and Sangbeom’s experiences, enriching their complex characterizations. Each traumatic memory is candid and concise, resonating with you profoundly. Every remark, every quarrel, and every teardrop pierces your heart with persistent pain. You’ll sympathize with these two vulnerable teenage boys, faced against the brutal intolerances in the world.

The acting in Journey to the Shore is credible, capable, and comfortable. Both leads shine with elegant performances, harmonizing the powerful emotions with their subtle expressions. Minha’s versatile actor (Kim Dong Kwi) can handle playful banter, dramatic confrontations, or quiet intimacy with effortless ease. Sangbeom’s performer (Kim Shin Bi) is also sensational, conveying maturity and authenticity on his handsome boyish face. Journey to the Shore struck gold by casting these two immensely competent leads, who deserve to have more high-profile careers.

Journey to the Shore is made by a top film school, and their experience is evident through the poised production values. The muted colours and intimate camera angles add to the melancholic atmosphere in the short movie. Many scenes look strikingly attractive, since the cinematographer knows the precise camera position that maximizes the ambiance. My favourite visual is when the characters sit on the bus, holding hands against a moody backdrop of rainy weather. That’s just one of the many examples where Journey to the Shore demonstrates refined artistry.

As much as I wanted an unrealistic happy ending, Journey to the Shore concludes devastatingly. I’m almost moved to tears over this tormented teenage tale, rich with meaningful symbolism and sorrowful themes. After finishing the movie once, I watched it again and again, reflecting on this magnificent narrative with fresh perspectives. I develop a newfound admiration with every rewatch, appreciating the intricate details, emotional performances, and stunning elegance. Journey to the Shore is a well-crafted and thought-provoking film that will stay with me for a long time.

Summary

Poignant story

Journey to the Shore tells a magnificent love story in under thirty minutes. The narrative is rich with profound themes, complex characters, and sorrowful emotions.

Precious romance

I love the interactions between Minha and Sangbeom. They are intimate and affectionate, but their delicate romance is faced against insurmountable homophobia.

Phenomenal acting

The two leads (Kim Dong Kwi and Kim Shin Bi) are superb. Both actors give authentic and powerful performances that elevate the film significantly.

Sad ending

Journey to the Shore has a devastating ending that leaves me heartbroken. I love the meaningful symbolism in the final scenes.

Superb artistry

Made by a prestigious film school, Journey to the Shore meets excellent standards with its poised production values. Many scenes look stunning and convey a melancholic atmosphere.

91%

Journey to the Shore is one of my favourite short BL films to date. The strong narrative, nuanced characters, and poignant romance create a lasting impression.

Journey to the Shore Movie Analysis

Analysis

Minha and Sangbeom

Minha places his head on Sangbeom's shoulder.

The movie begins with the two leads alone in the bedroom, both dressed in high school uniforms. Their activities give us our first impression of these characters, even without dialogue.

  • Sangbeom is cleaning up and folding laundry, demonstrating his serious and practical personality.
  • Meanwhile, Minha draws a cartoon picture, hinting that he’s playful and a bit of a dreamer. 

Minha comes over to the bed and rests his head on Sangbeom’s shoulder. Now, we know they have a romantic relationship. Minha links his arm around his boyfriend and talks excitedly about their upcoming trip. However, Sangbeom’s expression remains solemn with a lot on his mind. We don’t know what Sangbeom is thinking yet, but he looks uneasy.

The movie already introduces their personalities and relationship dynamics in just the first minute of the story. It’s an efficient use of time, showing a carefully crafted storyboard that doesn’t waste a single second of plot.

Train ride

Sangbeom falls asleep on Minha's shoulder.

Next scene, Minha and Sangbeom meet up in front of the train station. Sangbeom waits for his boyfriend while Minha makes a late arrival. This moment reiterates that one of them is more eager about the trip than the other. In Sangbeom’s defence, the time on the phone shows approximately 6:30AM. It’s a pretty early starting time for a romantic excursion. However, they have a long journey ahead, want to avoid any crowds, and have made an effort to begin their adventure early.

Minha and Sangbeom sit together on a nearly empty train. Minha tries to start a conversation. However, his boyfriend is still deep in thought and doesn’t want to talk. Suddenly, Sangbeom sniffs Minha’s shirt and teases him about the scent in his clothes. Minha gets a bit pouty, prompting the first time we see Sangbeom smile. It’s a warm, affectionate smile, the kind you give to someone you’re fond of.

In the next scene, Minha stares out the train window. He forces a smile on his face, but it fades away into a more serious expression. Up until now, his character seemed cheery and lighthearted about the trip. Deep down, he also feels troubled despite hiding this anxiety from his boyfriend. Later, Sangbeom falls asleep on Minha’s shoulder. Minha smiles again, more genuinely this time. He grabs Sangbeom’s hand and clasps it into his.

Beach scene

Minha and Sangbeom have arrived for a day at the beach.

Minha and Sangbeom have arrived at their destination. Their trip is a day on the beach in a distant town where nobody else knows them. Minha continues being affectionate with his boyfriend, but Sangbeom shakes him away. Sangbeom is worried that people will see them together, the visual of two guys holding hands. Nonetheless, Minha links himself to his boyfriend’s arm defiantly, claiming there’s nobody else on the beach. Besides, he doesn’t think anyone will know who they are.

This scene establishes an intriguing dynamic. Both characters are worried about the public perception of their relationship, but Sangbeom seems more self-conscious than Minha. If this was the fictional BL world, people might not bat an eye at two guys displaying affection. But in real life, these Korean teenage boys holding hands would draw attention to them.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be as brave and bold as Minha, dismissive of other people’s judgment? Or would you err on the side of caution like Sangbeom, keeping a low profile in public? While Minha’s courage is commendable, Sangbeom’s behaviour seems more pragmatic. Many gay couples face this same dilemma, especially if they live in the conservative areas of East Asia.

Injury scene

Minha and Sangbeom buy bandages after an injury.

Minha and Sangbeom spend time frolicking in the sea. Sangbeom gets cheeky and pushes his boyfriend into the water. Unfortunately, Minha scrapes his hand and starts bleeding. After realizing what happened, Sangbeom immediately runs over, grabs his boyfriend’s hand, and licks his wounds. Minha is startled by his intimate gesture. The camera zooms into Minha’s face, revealing a look of shock and reassessment.

Earlier, Sangbeom expressed reluctance to hold his boyfriend’s hand in public. However, he doesn’t hesitate to take care of an injured Minha. Licking someone’s palm feels a lot more intimate than holding hands. It must have caught Minha by surprise that his boyfriend would put aside his embarrassment to look after him. Sangbeom might act standoffish, but his affectionate actions reveal the love and tenderness towards his partner.

Later, we get a cute scene in the pharmacy where the teenagers buy medical supplies. Besides getting bandages and ointment, Minha cheekily mentions that they also want condoms. Sangbeom’s shocked expression is a funny picture, as the two characters mouth indignant words towards each other. The injury must not be that serious, since Minha is already preoccupied with other thoughts on his mind. 😳

Bandages scene

Min Ha and Sang Bum are boyfriends who visit the beach together.

Sangbeom carefully wraps the bandages around Minha’s hand injury. Surprisingly, we see there are cut marks on Minha’s wrist. It’s a troubling sign, indicating his character has a history of hurting himself. Beneath Minha’s happy and lighthearted demeanour, there’s a darkness inside him. And judging by the prominence of the wounds, his suffering still continues.

Sangbeom glances at the blade marks on Minha’s wrist, pausing hesitantly. He’s aware of his boyfriend cutting himself, but doesn’t address it at this moment. Instead, he continues wrapping the bandages over the cutting marks, even though that isn’t Minha’s wound location. His actions are symbolic, highlighting Sangbeom’s tendency to cover up emotional problems instead of confronting them. As he would later discover, some wounds run so deep that you can’t heal them with bandages.

Afterwards, Minha makes a confession. When Sangbeom sucked the blood from his band, it gave Minha the urge to kiss his boyfriend. Sangbeom looks flustered and embarrassed, turning away in indignation. Minha doesn’t say anything, but he continues to smile coyly. Sangbeom meets his boyfriend’s gaze again and they lock eyes for a moment. Then, the two protagonists share their first kiss in an exhilarating moment.

Minha and Sangbeom kiss

Minha and Sangbeom share a passionate kiss.

Journey to the Shore only has one kissing scene in the movie, but it’s excellently done. Sangbeom initiated the kiss, picking up the cues from his boyfriend. The kiss was gentle, with their lips touching for a moment. If you’ve watched other BL dramas, you’ll recognize this kind of light kissing that feels sweet but not passionate. That was the first kiss we see between the characters before Sangbeom pulls away. He looks bashful about what they just did.

However, Minha immediately expresses his exasperation, “That’s it?” His comment made me laugh because that’s exactly how I react to some kissing scenes in BL dramas. It’s fine when the kisses are cute and wholesome, but I’m also eager to see more passion. So when Minha said, “That’s it?” to his boyfriend, I felt a kinship with him. I know how you feel, bro~

Sangbeom knows it was an underwhelming kiss, but he’s also an awkward teenage boy not entirely comfortable with displaying affection. Luckily, Minha seizes the moment and initiates a second kiss, showing his boyfriend how it’s done. Their second smooch was a lot steamier. The characters were making out for real, deeply engrossed in their intimate moment. Afterwards, Sangbeom flashes a cheeky grin, perfectly content with the kissing lesson he just gave his boyfriend. 😚

Bus scene

Minha and Sangbeom hold hands on the bus.

Minha and Sangbeom’s date continues. The two boys want to see a movie together. Going to the cinema seems like an ordinary event for a trip that involves hours of travelling. Surely, they could have done the same activity in a place closer to home. However, keep in mind they must hide their relationship and not let any of their peers know. Their discretion means they must travel to a distant town just to feel comfortable about watching a movie together.

The weather has worsened and it’s raining outside. The rainfall might explain why the characters haven’t encountered many people in public. Up until now, Minha and Sangbeom have isolated themselves in their own little bubble. We haven’t seen another person for the first eight minutes of the film, creating a very intimate atmosphere. The weather also works stylishly for the film. I love the heavy clouds and grey overcast sky that set a melancholic backdrop for Journey to the Shore.

The protagonists take a quiet bus ride together. After scanning their surroundings, Sangbeom works up the courage to clasp Minha’s hand. His gesture surprises Minha, and both teenagers can’t hide their giddy smiles. Sangbeom might’ve resisted holding hands previously, but he’s okay with displaying affection under discreet conditions. I’m guessing the bus was empty and Sangbeom would yank his hand away if another passenger boarded the vehicle. Nonetheless, Minha appreciates his boyfriend and brings the hand closer to himself, near his pounding heart.

Cinema scene

Minha and Sangbeom want to see an adult movie together.

Their movie date doesn’t go well. The characters want to watch an 18+ erotic movie, but the clerk sees through their deceit and knows these boys are underage. The employee simply asks for their Chinese zodiacs, which trips up the teenagers and denies them entry.

Afterwards, they talk about their dinner plans. Minha wants to splurge on a fancy meal, but Sangbeom is worried they don’t have the money. We don’t see their actual meal, but they end up on the beach with a few bags of chips and bottles of alcohol. Whatever they ate couldn’t have been expensive based on the limited income for two high school students.

The failed movie and dinner dates illustrate the challenges faced by Minha and Sangbeom due to their age. These young characters aren’t adults yet, so they don’t have the resources to enjoy leisure activities independently. It adds another complicated layer to their relationship. On top of hiding their romance, other factors make dating a trickier prospect for two gay teens.

Break-up

Minha and Sangbeom break up on the beach.

The characters return to the beach, watching the waves after consuming alcohol. Minha gets drunk and asks his boyfriend about his unusual behaviour during today. He could sense something was off about Sangbeom. His premonition is correct. Sangbeom uses this moment to drop a huge bombshell. He wants to end their relationship.

The breakup announcement might be shocking based on the activities so far. While they didn’t go on the perfect date, the couple still enjoyed several pleasant experiences throughout the day. They kissed, held hands, and flirted. All signs indicated their relationship could have continued if we looked at today’s events. What went wrong?

If I must pinpoint a weak part of Journey to the Shore, this breakup scene could be written better. It’s too abrupt when Sangbeom dumps his boyfriend, gets up, and just walks away. I barely have the time to process what happened and don’t feel the impact of the unexpected news. The buildup and immediate aftermath of the breakup announcement could go more smoothly than what this movie presented.

Bullying scene

Minha is bullied and beaten up by his classmates.

There’s a deeper story behind Minha and Sangbeom’s romance. After the breakup announcement, the movie launches a series of flashbacks that portray their time in high school. Minha was bullied by his classmates, who discovered his sexuality. Several girls teased him for visiting the gay district with another guy, even taking a photograph of him. “Have you slept together?” One of the female classmates asked him, “Who’s the girl?”

Minha confronts his bully in a memorable exchange. He grabs her chest, provoking shocked reactions from all his classmates. “Feels shitty, doesn’t it?” Minha shoots a retort. “That’s what you’re doing to me.” The bullies are outraged, hurling more derogatory terms at him. Later that day, Sangbeom finds Minha with his face severely bruised. His classmates have beaten him up for what happened earlier.

As Sangbeom tends to his boyfriend’s injuries, he criticizes Minha for causing a scene. Why didn’t you just lay low!? Why did you pick a fight with them!? However, Minha believes he’s standing up for himself. So, I’m the bad one!? And you aren’t angry at them!? Their approaches show the fundamental differences between their characters. Sangbeom lives cautiously and pragmatically, hoping to evade attention. In contrast, Minha wears his heart on his sleeves. He doesn’t want to repress his emotions or sexuality.

Argument

Minha hugs Sangbeom after their argument.

Their difference of opinion prompts Minha to bring up how they keep hiding their relationship. “I want to walk holding your hand,” he tells his boyfriend with tearful eyes. “Why do you always let go of me?” Sangbeom dodges his gaze as Minha continues, “I want to hold you in public and kiss you. Why do you find this so hard to accept?”

Part of Minha’s grief comes from his boyfriend not standing in solidarity with him. Sangbeom seems upset about aggravating the bullies, more than his own partner getting insulted and attacked. His timidity troubles Minha. Why does Sangbeom not take his side against the tormentors? Why does he react reluctantly to public displays of affection? Worst of all, why does his boyfriend not feel like one when Minha needs him the most?

Later, the couple reconciles with Minha apologizing to Sangbeom. However, they haven’t resolved their main discrepancies, only brushing aside the issues for the time being. This conflict shows these characters are not on the same page about their relationship. Sangbeom craves privacy and discretion, whereas Minha wants them to be an out and proud couple. Their differing approaches to romance will drive a wedge between the couple, leading to the breakup in the present timeline.

Sangbeom’s past

Sangbeom tells Minha that he used to be bullied in his old school.

After their argument, Sangbeom and Minha open up to each other with a heart-to-heart. Sangbeom asks his boyfriend about the cuts on his wrists. Minha’s reply is alarming. He hates being alive and doesn’t think his life is getting any better. Sangbeom can’t offer comforting words because his own circumstances are pretty dire. He asks Minha whether their situations will improve once they become adults.

Later, Sangbeom confides in his boyfriend, revealing that he used to be bullied before transferring to this school. Sangbeom looks handsome and clean-cut now, but he used to have a more dweeby appearance. Although he wants to continue discussing what happened to him, Minha grows visibly upset. He doesn’t care to know why Sangbeom got bullied, whether because of his sexuality or something else. It distresses him to learn his boyfriend went through the same traumatic experiences.

Sangbeom’s background sheds new insights into his character. We understand more about his aversion to school conflict, a survival tactic to avoid being bullied by his new classmates. Meanwhile, Minha avoids discussing why Sangbeom got picked on, probably because he doesn’t need another psychological burden. It’s tough enough getting bullied yourself, but it’s worse if he must worry about his boyfriend facing the same treatment.

Sangbeom’s tears

Sangbeom cries in the bus stop as Minha comforts him.

Minha’s bullying problem at school doesn’t ease up. This time, he is confronted by a horde of aggressive male classmates, who interrogate him over the gay rumours. They want to know who he’s dating in the picture, but Minha doesn’t bring up Sangbeom’s name. He remains silent and doesn’t say anything to provoke them. Nonetheless, the homophobes won’t leave him alone, throwing punches and shoving him to the ground. 

Sangbeom arrives and sees his boyfriend getting assaulted by the bullies. They lock eyes for a moment, but Sangbeom averts his gaze and promptly walks away from the attack. Instead of stepping in to stop the fight, his self-perseverance has taken over. Sangbeom leaves Minha alone with the bullies, who beat him senselessly to a pulp.

Afterwards, Sangbeom sits at the park and begins weeping. He is distraught, tormenting himself with guilt and helplessness. A bruised Minha arrives and sees his boyfriend in this pitiful state. He wants to cry too, but tries his best to repress his tears. Minha has every right to feel angry towards his cowardly boyfriend, who abandoned him in a moment of need once again. Nonetheless, he approaches Sangbeom and puts on a brave face.

Why they broke up

Sangbeom is devastated after breaking up with Minha.

The movie returns to the present timeline in between the flashbacks. Sangbeom sits at the bus stop, visibly upset after the breakup. Minha approaches his ex and cracks a playful joke. Even though he just got dumped, Minha is the one cheering up Sangbeom. Later, Sangbeom is sobbing as Minha consoles his ex-boyfriend. Typically, you’d think the roles should be reversed in this situation. Yet, Sangbeom is an emotional wreck after the breakup and Minha comforts him instead.

Although Sangbeom initiated the breakup, it isn’t because he has fallen out of love with his ex. Instead, he’s pessimistic and unable to imagine a bright future for the two of them together. Back then, the female classmates could’ve taken a picture of him too, and Sangbeom just got lucky that they didn’t detect his identity. It was a close call, too uncomfortably so for the risk-averse Sangbeom. If they continued dating, there’s a likely chance the bullies would soon target him too.

If Sangbeom had stronger willpower, maybe he could stand up to the bullies, enduring the physical and psychological torment. Unfortunately, Sangbeom is fearful, insecure, and vulnerable. He wouldn’t hold hands with his boyfriend, wouldn’t protect him from the bullies, and wouldn’t continue having this relationship. However, Minha doesn’t blame Sangbeom and knows he’s a victim too. Minha has experienced the perils of being gay in an intolerant society. He understands Sangbeom’s unwillingness to shoulder the same risks and accepts his rationale for breaking up.

Minha’s decision

Minha agrees to break up with Sangbeom after all.

Sangbeom’s mood lifts after crying out his feelings. Minha wants to conclude their date on a happier note, so he suggests a fun activity on the beach. Their final moment together is a gorgeous scene, which involves Minha and Sangbeom dancing around with sparklers. Both teenagers have an enjoyable time, laughing jubilantly as they light up the night sky.

A weight has lifted from Sangbeom, who seems to be in much better spirits. Sangbeom is reminded of how much he appreciates Minha’s company. Although their secret relationship is nerve-wracking, being with his boyfriend fills him with joy and enthusiasm. Sangbeom changes his mind, willing to give their romance another go. He throws inhibition in the air and wants them to keep dating. Their break-up has become unbroken!

Unfortunately, Minha has also made up his mind about a critical decision. After Sangbeom announces they should get back together, Minha immediately breaks up with him. Their happy reunion lasted for about five seconds. Minha’s choice seems inexplicable since Sangbeom doesn’t want to separate anymore. However, Minha apologizes and dumps his boyfriend with a grin. The camera lingers on him, whose eyes fill with tears and his smile begins to waver. He does his best to put on a brave face, but we realize he isn’t joking. Their relationship is over.

Journey to the Shore Movie Ending

Ending

Sad ending

Sangbeom cries when he sees Minha has left behind a farewell present for him.

Journey to the Shore has a sad ending where Minha and Sangbeom don’t end up together. Their break-up on the beach is final. After the trip, Minha doesn’t return to school and we never see his character on-screen again. What happened to him is left up for speculation. However, Minha’s classmates have their own theories about his disappearance. “Do you think he’s dead?” One of the students gossiped before adding chillingly, “Not that I care.”

As these cruel words circulate around the classroom, Sangbeom opens his locker to discover Minha left him two farewell gifts. The first item is a hand-drawn picture of Peter Pan, which Minha sketched at the start of the film. The second item is his school uniform, an ominous sign that he didn’t plan on returning again. Sangbeom brings the clothes to his face, sniffing his ex-boyfriend’s familiar scent. He laughs initially, but then deteriorates into uncontrollable sobs.

Sangbeom stands in front of the locker, buries himself into Minha’s old uniform, and continues crying. The other students stare at him, whispering uneasily and looking perplexed. Although the movie never spells out what happened to Minha, you can imagine the severity to cause this reaction from Sangbeom. His character hated making a scene, but he loses control over his emotions after viewing Minha’s mementos. I can only think of one possible explanation. I’m afraid to say we never see Minha again because he committed suicide.

Final scene

An adult Sangbeom stares wistfully at the sea.

A time skip occurs and Sangbeom is now an adult. A quick scene shows Sangbeom getting his resident card as the clerk chastises him for the delay. It’s a subtle piece of symbolism, representing his character’s inability to move on after Minha’s death. If we look at the resident card as a token of adulthood, then Sangbeom seems stuck in a stage of arrested development.

Later, Sangbeom boards a train. It’s a callback to an earlier scene, except there’s an empty seat next to him, which amplifies Minha’s absence. Sangbeom recalls a past conversation where they talked about growing up. Sangbeom was excited about drinking, smoking & watching X-rated movies as an adult. However, Minha suggested his boyfriend could do these activities by himself. Sangbeom didn’t understand the implication at the time, but Minha never expected to live long enough to reach adulthood. Death had been on his mind for a while.

The final scene shows Sangbeom arriving at the beach, holding the artwork that his boyfriend drew for him. Sangbeom glances at the picture before gazing into the sea, lost in thought. We can only imagine what he is thinking, feeling, and experiencing at the moment. As night falls, Sangbeom remains still in his spot, watching the ocean waves crash into the shore.

Ending explained

Journey to the Shore has a sad ending where an adult Sangbeom isn't with Minha anymore.

What happened to Minha? Although the movie doesn’t clarify his whereabouts, there are many implications that Minha killed himself. Think back to the cut marks on his wrist, the abandoned school uniform, and the various conversations about the bleak future. Minha’s drawing of Peter Pan is also an emblem associated with eternal youth and never growing up. Journey to the Shore leaves enough clues to confirm his character’s suicide without saying the exact words aloud.

The next question is why Minha ended his life. Getting bullied definitely played a significant factor, but it’s also the loneliness of having no support system. We never meet Minha’s family, so his parents aren’t in the picture and don’t make an impact on his life. Minha also lacks any other friends in school, evident when nobody steps in to defend him from the bullies. Worst of all, he doesn’t even have his boyfriend’s support. Sangbeom abandoned him on previous occasions, too preoccupied wrestling with his own demons.

Let’s say they continued dating in an optimistic scenario. Could Minha rely on his partner to support him against the bullies? Or would Sangbeom dump him again if their classmates started speculating about his sexuality? Although Sangbeom cared for his partner to some degree, his love isn’t strong enough to overcome Minha’s doubt and depression. Ultimately, Minha felt too hopeless and didn’t believe his boyfriend would change or improve the situation. 

Journey to the Shore BL Information

Korean Academy of Film Arts

Korean Academy of the Arts (KAFA) is a film school that made the short BL film Journey to the Shore (2020). This institution has the distinctive reputation as the leading film academy in the country.

Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) is a film school that made the short BL film Journey to the Shore (2020). This institution has the distinctive reputation as the leading film academy in the country.

  1. Love this and your entire website keep up the good work! Just wondering if you know where one can watch this short film with English subtitles? It looks so good! Thanks 🙂

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