Food Is Where The Heart Is

Sang-Hyuk showing Jun how to correctly make sweets the Korean way

Masaharu Take’s film Cafe Seoul (2009) is centered around three men and how the connection of food brings them together in an unlikely way. Take used the technique of focusing on different point of views to give insight on each character that helps the audience connect the dots when the three stories converge. The first story began with Jun, a Japanese journalist, headed to Korea in search of interest stories. He stumbles in to a Korean confection bakery called “Moran-dang” where he meets Sang-Woo, the owner. Intrigued by the little shop that reminds him of his own from childhood, he decides this is what his story will be on. The second story starts as Jun gets to know Sang-Woo and the background of the shop. The shop was owned by Sang-Woo’s parents who taught him everything he knows about baking. When they tragically died Sang-Woo took over the shop in their memory as his other 2 brothers dispersed. The third story is simultaneously going on. It’s about Sang-Hyuk, a lead singer in a band who is losing his hearing, and with his hearing his dreams of being a musician. When “mafia” guys come in to try to take the bakery away from Sang-Woo they vandalize the shop and beat him up. This is where the third story meets the other two. Sang-Woo broke his arm and can no longer run the shop. When “Moran-dang” is in danger of closing, little brother Sang-Hyuk returns home after drifting apart from his brother to be in a band. With the help of Jun, Sang-Hyuk agrees to run the shop and restore his relationship with his brother. In the end they save the shop and create new friendships. In Cafe Seoul, food is what binds the whole story together. It represents family, love, and memories. In the beginning it is food that brings Jun to the small confection shop when he spills the grains of the store owner. It is then food that intrigues him to learn more about Sang-Woo and through this he learns about the similarities they both share growing up in a confection shop, both having 2 siblings, and both wanting to carry on their parents legacy they left behind. This connection creates a bond between the two men. It was the memories food created that brought Sang-Hyuk back to rekindle his relationship with his brother and ultimately save the shop. The memories of his childhood, of his parents were all tied to the little sweets in the store. Take really focused on the process of making the food showing extensive scenes, close up shots of every detail in the process. The way of making food comes out of love. It takes time and patience to create a beginning to end moon cake that must be nurtured by kneading the dough and handled with care. Food played such a powerful role in each and everyone of their stories.

Everyone coming together to do whatever it takes to save the shop

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