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‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’ Review: Song Joong Ki Is The Heart And Soul Of The Movie | Movies News

New Delhi: Director Kim Hee-jin’s movie opens with Song Joong Ki’s  Loh Kiwan sweeping a bloody street clean. The next moment is on a flight to Belgium, and along with many like him, is told by his agent to just answer I don’t speak english, for an easy entry into the country.

An adaptation of the book “I Met Loh Kiwan” by Haejin Cho, tells the story of a North Korean defector seeking asylum in Belgium. Lost in translation and on hostile terrain Loh Kiwan is told he would have to wait a year for his application for refugee status to be processed.

From seeking refuge in a toilet, and scavenging bins to find food to eat, he takes to selling bottles to earn some money to fend for himself. He hits rock bottom when his wallet with a picture of his mother and a wad of blood-stained dollars is stolen.


The culprit is a young Korean girl Marie Lee (Choi Sung-eun). Marie is a former Olympic shooter but is caught in a vicious nexus of drugs and crime.

As he pleads for her to return his wallet, one sees the first flicker of emotion on Marie’s cold steely face. But in return for the wallet Marie has to once again become a pawn in the hands of a shady gangster (Waël Sersoub).

Marie, the motherless daughter of an affluent Korean expatriate, is estranged from her father, and on a journey of self-destruction. If not in a drug-induced haze, she is part of illegal sharpshooting contests to add to her gangster boss’s illegal wealth. Kiwan and Marie form an unspoken friendship as he manages to get a job at a meat packing company thanks to her.

Kiwan’s application is rejected on grounds of being Korean Chinese, how does he prove he is from North Korea. This is when the film loses a bit of steam and we get the unlikely and if not forced romantic track between Kiwan and Marie, as each seeks their sanctuary.

As Kiwan struggles to finally get what he seeks the most, “the permission to not stay, but leave”, one understands that freedom is not something one can take for granted. His mother’s words “Live proud and strong with your name”, are what he holds dear.

The film squarely belongs to Song Joong Ki, who once again proves his innate versatility and ability to get under the skin of his character. He tugs your heart as the upright and compassionate Loh Kiwan. An outcast who wants the same dignity to live and earn his keep. He breathes life into the film when the narrative itself seems to be losing steam, with his impactful performance.

Choi Sung-eun, one of the promising young stars in S Korean entertainment, does her best as Marie. As  Kiwam tells her “You scream a lot”, that’s what Marie is asked to do for most of the movie.

I Am Loh Kiwan tries to pack in a lot in its 120-minute run time and does not disappoint despite the few loopholes. Song Joong Ki is the heart and soul of this emotional drama. 

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