Cafe Seoul- Traditional confectioneries glue families together

As a child, we can remember fond memories of our parents cooking. This kind of intimate relationship with food brought about by traditional child-raising practices is familiar to many who grew up with their parents, or some parental figure in our lives. Jun remembers his relationship with his parents growing up in a confectionery shop in Japan. In Korea, he ventures to write a story of a similar confectionery shop in the city, and in the process brings the children who once lived under its roof back together.

Morandang, from one generation to the next

Morandang, from one generation to the next

Morandang is the name of a confectionery shop started by the grandfather of Sang-woo, Sang-hyuk, and Sang-jin. Sang-woo, being the oldest of the brothers, inherits the shop from his father when he died. The two younger brothers separate because they will not traditionally be able to inherit the shop.

Jun is a Japanese reporter working on a story about Korean confectioneries. He stumbles upon Morandang by bumping into Sang-woo, and his interest is soon piqued. As he learns about the background of Morandang, he is interested because the shop’s situation is similar to his own situation with his family in Japan. Once he learns that the shop is in danger of being taken by urban development with the help of the Mafia, in desperation he puts all of his effort to make sure that this shop survives, which is what he was unable to do for his father’s shop. In the end, Jun is able to form a sense of family with the Sang-woo, Sang-hyuk, and an old woman from his efforts.

Along the way, Sang-hyuk learns of the distressing situation of Morandang. Because Sang-woo is too badly injured to continue working at the shop, Sang-hyuk takes over with the tutelage from Sang-woo. Together they are able to bring the quality of their confectioneries back up to be able to reopen again. Doing so, Sang-woo and Sang-hyuk forms a bond that will be very important for the survival of their shop.

Later, the two brothers find out that their younger brother, Sang-jin, returned to Korea to open another, more modern Morandang using his acquired knowledge of European confectioneries. Because of this, the Mafia boss agrees to a battle between the two shops to decide the fate of the old Morandang. During the battle, the Mafia boss becomes nostalgic of the time when the brothers’ grandfather used to run the shop, and when he was being treated like family by their grandfather. The Mafia boss decides to spare the old shop, because he felt that the closeness felt by the old, memorable taste of the Korean confectioneries are more desired than the delicious, exotic European-style confectioneries, making the old shop’s existence required due to its value to the heart and soul.

The shop mirrors the state of the family

The shop mirrors the state of the family

In the end, this is a film of not only family, but also of accomplishment. When Jun leaves the old shop Morandang, he feels he was able to undo his feeling of loss of his family in Japan by making a friendship with the people of the old Morandang that is as close as family. Sang-hyuk finally finds his true purpose in life, which is being with his older brother and helping preserve the traditional taste and brand of the old Morandang. Sang-woo is no longer lonely in his shop as he is sharing it with Sang-hyuk. As for Sang-jin, he is disappointed from failure, but is optimistic and grateful of his studies of confectioneries in Europe, shown by his smile at the end. I feel that the brothers’ making of both types of confectioneries, the old-fashioned Korean rice cakes and Sang-jin’s European-style confectioneries, will build a stronger bond between Korea and the rest of the world.

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