Sypnosis (including spoilers):
This movie is about the life of a woman Hong Jang-mi from late 1970s to present day. Jang-mi (Ha Yeon-soo) aspired to become a singer, and trained hard with Soon-cheol (Choi Woo-shik) to debut as a group. She encountered Myung-hwan (Lee Won-keun), who fell in love with her at first sight. However, Myung-hwan was forced by his father to leave South Korea to pursue medicine in US, unaware that Jang-mi was already pregnant with his child. Jang-mi was also forced to gave up her chance to become a singer to give birth to her daugther, Hyun-ah. Instead, she chose to sing at pubs with Soon-cheol to earn money to raise her daughter, sometimes leaving her young daughter alone at home.
Years later, Hyun-ah (Chae Soo-bin) is already a high-school student, occasionally squabbling with Jang-mi (Yoo Ho-jeong). Soon-cheol (Oh Jung-se) continues to express his concerns for Jang-mi and Hyun-ah as a friend, much to Hyun-ah’s displeasure. Later, Jang-mi meets Myung-hwan (Park Sung-woong), who is now a successful doctor. Once, Hyun-ah tried to go astray by offering to stay overnight outside with her “boyfriend”, while that guy had ulterior motive. Fortunately, Jang-mi, Soon-cheol and Myung-hwan arrive in time to save Hyun-ah. Jang-mi is working as a juicer promoter to sell juicer and thus can only afford to stay at an old house which will flood when the rain is heavy. Reluctant to let her daughter stay at the emergency shelter during the flood, Jang-mi asked Myung-hwan to take in Hyun-ah for a few days. The relationship between Myung-hwan and Hyun-ah improves, and Myung-hwan finds out that Hyun-ah had a gift in music, therefore Myung-hwan suggested to Jang-mi to send Hyun-ah overseas for her music education, while he will take care of the education fees.
Reluctant to be separated from Hyun-ah and desparate to improve their living environment, Jang-mi chooses to become an insurance agent. Initially, Jang-mi’s income increases a lot, which enables Hyun-ah and her to move into better apartment. However, South Korea becomes hit by the IMF crisis, causing many people to lose their investments. Jang-mi’s long-time good friend, Kang-ja (Park Jun-myun), committed suicide when she learnt that she was in huge debt due the loss of all investments. Devastated by Kang-ja’s death, Jang-mi finally agrees to Myung-hwan’s suggestion of bringing Hyun-ah overeseas for her music education, while Jang-mi would stay to face her debtors (Jang-mi also served jail sentence, most probably due to the inability to repay her debtors). Since then, Hyun-ah lost touch with her mother, not knowing that Jang-mi had secretly attended her music concert. One day, Hyun-ah finally reunites with Jang-mi at the old house they once lived together…
A typical story about the hardships a single mother faced in raising her child. What makes this story interesting is the historical background of Korean society from 1970s to present day, when Jang-mi underwent the days with curfews, economical growth of South Korea in the 80s and 90s, and finally the IMF crisis in 1997 which led to bankruptcy of many households. Jang-mi’s life had been bittersweet, although she was not able to achieve her dream as a singer, she derived a lot of joy from raising her daughter (although there would be days with conflicts), who also served as her emotional support and motivation to improve their lives.
Comparing to Jang-mi, Hyun-ah was really lucky to have a well-to-do birth father who was able to support her to receive music education overseas, while Jang-mi had to struggle to make ends meet for half of her life. I think I might enjoy the movie more if the plot was changed to Hyun-ah and Jang-mi supporting each other to grace through the period of IMF crisis, rather than Jang-mi’s version of noble idiocy leading to them being separated for a decade. Overall, I will only recommend to watch this movie at your free time as the story is not that fantastic, with some slow-moving plot.