Default Review

Review. Default brings the financial crisis of 1997 to life through three different parallel stories.
Synopsis. What if bank loans had been given out without proper oversight? What if the average consumer was lied to by the banks and the government about the state of the economy? What if the International Monetary Fund (aka the IMF) came to bail you out but their conditions for the cash would forever change the fabric of the country? This is the basis for Default.
More Details. Default is a 2018 Korean film with three stories that bring the financial crisis to life. The primary perspective is that of the banks and the government. This story stars Kim Hye Soo as the bank adviser that foresees the crisis, tries to change the government’s path during the crisis. The secondary perspective is by an equally insightful financial mind (Yoo Ah In) who sees the crisis as an opportunity to profit. The third perspective is from a small business man (Heo Joon Ho) trapped by a bad loan that he ends up holding the bag for.

What I liked about Default:

Gripping Story. This story by writer Eom Seong Min was strong from the first frame to the last. The crisis was identified and fought against. Not everyone had the country’s best interests in the forefront…some saw it as a chance for individual profit and positioning. The film is based on real events, but that doesn’t stop the viewer from wanting the results to be different. The IMF is not portrayed in a flattering light. But if the conditions they forced on the country are even half-true, the IMF was not looking to strengthen the country but rather open the country for foreign investors’ gain. The production of the film was top notch. The director (Choi Kook Hee) and producer (Lee Yoo Jin) set a relentless pace. You were in the whirlwind of the financial crisis.

Kim Hye Soo as the fiduciary voice of reason. She foresaw the issue, but they wouldn’t listen. She had strategies to stem the side, but they wouldn’t listen. She begged them not to accept the IMF mandates, but they wouldn’t listen. She was continuously belittled by a top official for being a woman and therefore her ideas were suspect. That was hard to watch. Kim Hye Soo gave the character a resilient edge. Anyone watching the movie wanted her to succeed in knocking sense into the officials that needed it.

Yoo Ah In as the visionary financial genius. He foresaw the issue and managed to convince some with wealth to go all in with his strategy to profit from the crisis. Ever time he correctly guessed the Government and the banks’ wimpy response. There was a moment when he seemed to recoil from the profit from human misery but quickly recovered. That was a bit jarring. I almost wished he’d hadn’t had a moment of seeing the human suffering then proceeding as planned.

Heo Joon Ho as the small business man who didn’t want to accept the loan based on a promissory note. But that was the way things were done and he signed the loan putting his business, his family, and his way of life at risk. He struggled to find a way out, but his options were limited. The weight of his employees, his family, his business partner, etc. steadily grew. His despair at being engulfed by the financial crisis was palpable.
What I did not like about Default:
Ending with the potential for hope. I am all for hoping things improve. I want to believe that 20 years later things could be different. But given what I see in my own country (USA), I’m jaded…it seems to bear out that those in power (government and industry) care about maintaining and growing personal power and profit above all.


Final Thoughts:

Default is a financial movie winner. The actors spearheaded the three stories so you were drawn into them and wanted them to succeed, find enlightenment, and overcome adversity. I was pleasantly surprised I enjoyed this film as much as I did.

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Posted in Kmovie, Reviews
3 comments on “Default Review
  1. beezrtp says:

    kjt, it’s me – Beez. WordPress made me create an account (that I’ll do nothing with) and “Beez” was not available so… WordPress said I couldn’t subscribe to any new posts until I created an account. I don’t know what’s up with that.

    I loved, loved, loved this movie even though it didn’t address the thing for me that I wanted to see and thought for sure it would depict. First, you know I was going to watch it no matter what it was about and had been waiting and waiting for it to become available to watch in the U.S., because I’ll watch Yoo Ah in acting in anything.

    But the only small, tad bit of disappointed was about not getting to see my expectation of what motivated the people, the citizens to send in their own money (gold) to bail out the government. I also don’t know if I misunderstood something because I had heard that the citizens rescued the country with their donations but in the movie it seems the deal with the IMF still happened. I just Googled it and the donations came after the fact but allowed S.K to pay off the debt 3 years earlier than contracted for.

    I hope S.K. will make another movie that deals with this patriotism, this attitude, the motivation and thoughts going through the minds of the average citizens that compelled them to sacrifice for their country this way. That’s what I thought I would see, especially while those people are still around to get their true thoughts. I’ll probably watch this movie again and enjoy it even more now that that expectation is gone.

    “I almost wished he’d hadn’t had a moment of seeing the human suffering then proceeding as planned.” kjt

    Yeah, that was jarring, but I was okay with it because it’s not like he was betraying anyone nor profiting off defrauding anyone. There was nothing he could do to change or fix the situation. It was going to happen no matter what. The government wouldn’t listen to their own financial advisors to do the right thing and Yoo Ah in knew they wouldn’t so why not profit from it? Although I’m probably the dullest banana when it comes to finance, I didn’t see him cheat anyone. I think he just invested in what the future was about to bring.

    One thing that really messed me up – the nice creditor’s who was letting the Small Businessman ride out paying – his suicide. At the funeral, you hear a bystanding mourner say that he took his life because one of his debtors paid him with a bad check and he trusted him. The implication is that Nice Guy Creditor, relying on the check being good, paid out his own debt believing that the check would clear and when it didn’t, he took the route so many did, thinking there was no other way.

    I want to believe it was a check from a different debtor, but where did Small Businessman suddenly get the money from when he called Nice Creditor to say “I’ve got the money that I owe you”? But why would he do that if he didn’t have the money? This leaves me not knowing if I still respect Small Business Man and depending on my feelings about him, I don’t know how I feel about seeing him in the future with his factory ok and advising his son “Don’t trust anybody but yourself!” Is he giving that good advice because of his own betrayal of Nice Creditor or just because he knew that happened to Nice Creditor by someone else. Of course, the advice is also because he trusted his partner who did not betray his trust but gave bad advice to do business based on a promissory note. KJT, what did you think? Was it Small Businessman’s check that bounced causing Nice Creditor to take his own life?

    • kjt, it’s me – Beez. WordPress made me create an account (that I’ll do nothing with) and “Beez” was not available so… WordPress said I couldn’t subscribe to any new posts until I created an account. I don’t know what’s up with that.
      I don’t understand why you had to make an account either.

      I hope S.K. will make another movie that deals with this patriotism, this attitude, the motivation and thoughts going through the minds of the average citizens that compelled them to sacrifice for their country this way.
      I could have sworn I read that a kdrama is being made with the story, but can’t find the article.

      I’m going to have to get back with you on the creditor question. I don’t have a clear enough memory what exactly happened.

      I was curious about your reaction to a Screen Anarchy reviewer’s point of view on the lead female character portrayed by Kim Hye Soo… “In particular, the drama between Si-hyun and her male colleagues (who disrespect her because she is a woman) feels excessive. Aside from one scene where Si-hyun eloquently explains to everyone how IMF policies are actually thinly veiled American imperialism, she seems to act as an highly emotional foil to the rational (and male) decision-makers in the Korean government—reinforcing the untrue stereotype that women are overly emotional. Perhaps Director Choi Kook-hee would have done better to keep Si-hyun’s dialog to economic facts, instead of impassioned pleas.”

      you know I was going to watch it no matter what it was about and had been waiting and waiting for it to become available to watch in the U.S., because I’ll watch Yoo Ah in acting in anything.
      Yep, I searched it out because he was in it. Have you watched the movie Burning ? I tried to watch it, but it didn’t resonate and I didn’t finish it.

      • beezrtp says:

        I find that reviewer’s comments ridiculous. Is it a male reviewer? If you see imminent disaster coming and you can’t convince those in power that it’s coming and you see that once they do finally look at the data, they decide to take steps that are not in the best interest of your country, who wouldn’t be emotional? And how do you explain male politicians (all over the world) emotional outbursts (sometimes actually turning into fisticuffs and physical squabbling on their respective Senate floors) over much smaller issues but they believe it’s important to their districts? The reviewer’s comments are mysogynistic and idiotic, imo.

        I totally HATED Burning. After all the hype, I was so disappointed in it. In my opinion it’s an “artsy” film and I’m one of those people who “I may not know art but I know what I like”.

        And HTH? (how the heck?) did they manage to make Yoo Ah in look homely?

        He even has a full on naked (from the back) scene and I am totally unmoved. Not that the filmmaker wanted me to be moved in that way, BUT kjt, you know me and I should’ve been a drooling idiot. But no, I was bored and unsettled at the same time. But not unsettled enough to feel this was interesting.

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