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Directed by Samuel Kiehoon Lee

Cast: Bobby Choy, Paul Hwangbo, Sally Yoo

Immediately after the feature, ticket holders can enjoy a pre-recorded bonus Q&A with director Samuel Kiehoon Lee!

Sleepless in Seoul could be an alternate title for Samuel Kiehoon Lee’s feature debut, GYOPO, whose motley mix of Korean expats strut and skitter about in the thrum of the city’s famously bustling streetscapes in expressive black and white. Break apart the sociological fictions that come with the title’s diasporic grouping and what’s left are the young and the restless whose sometimes awkward, sometimes touching hopes, dreams, whims, and angst are set loose on a place that can cast a spell and break it not so gently at the same time. 

With an improvisational rhythm whose every narrative trip keeps landing somewhere else, GYOPO moves in free association from side hustles to hookups to high concept performance art with equal aplomb, paying close attention to the weird loneliness that comes from looking for apartments and dealing with bureaucracy and getting cross-faded at the park with people whose names you can only half-remember. There are no roots to be found or sown here, no grand epiphanies about “identity” or “culture” to be made.

Recipe for a gyopo? Mashup a ‘60s French New Wave aesthetic with a killer Korean psychedelic rock soundtrack, throw in a lot of soju and some really bad sex, and it’s a long day’s journey into night followed by a long night’s 1-cha, 2-cha, 3-cha towards morning. To be gyopo in Lee’s space-time continuum is really not to be.

Anthony Yooshin Kim

Sponsored by Korean American Coalition San Diego