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My Mother the Mermaid: Film a cautionary tale

by Berna bass, staff writer


Directed by Park Heung-shik, My Mother the Mermaid (Ineoh Gong-Joo), opens on Jin-kook and Yeon-soon and their children, as they must give all the family’s money, money saved for their daughter’s school tuition, to pay debt from a loan that Jin-kook inherited when it’s cosigner died. Yeon-soon is upset because the family has lost its home, has no money to pay Na-young’s, their daughter’s, tuition, and is struggling financially. Yeon-soon, who has worked hard to give her daughter the life she never had, must tell Na-young she must go to work and to do her schooling “later.”


Na-young gets work at a post office and is offered an opportunity to go on an all-expenses-paid trip to New Zealand for job training. As she is about to embark on this long-awaited dream trip, her father disappears, and Na-young learns that he is very sick. Yeon-soon is nonchalant about it, and Na-young decides to skip the trip and look for her father.

Her uncle tells her not to worry, that Jin-kook has returned to her parent’s hometown, Ha Village. Na-young goes there and discovers something out of the ordinary. She has gone back in time 30 years. She meets her mother when Yeon-soon is only 20 years old. They become friends and Na-young watches as her mother, who was innocent, kind, and caring then, nothing like the person she becomes in the future, sacrifices her education to work hard and pay for her little brother’s education. Thus Na-young learns why her mother is always trying to give her advice and encourage her not to make the same decisions she made.

Na-young also gets to see her mother fall in love with her father, an emotion that also seems diminished in the present time.

When Na-young returns to real time, she finds her father is dying. Yeon-soon, who is very stubborn, makes it to Ha Village before Jin-kook passes away.

This film is a cautionary tale that attempts to give children who dislike their parents a different appreciation for them. In giving Na-young an understanding of how things may change a person as time goes by, the film is similar to The Notebook, a film in which a mother doesn’t want her daughter’s life to be like hers, but better.

The film is in Korean with English subtitles.


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