01. Under the Sky of Seoul ( Seoul-ui Jibungmit ) Lee Hyung-pyo, 1961
“Under the Sky of Seoul,” the debut film of director Lee Hyung-pyo, is a family drama that depicts the events taking place in the alleyways of Seoul, which surround the family of Kim Hak-gyu (played by Kim Seung-ho), who runs an oriental clinic. Although this was his debut film, Lee Hyung-pyo had advanced experiences and sensibilities from having produced films at USIS. The film could have felt static because it takes place in small spaces such as homes, an oriental clinic, and narrow alleyways. However, the director used natural camerawork, upbeat music, and interesting accessories to drive the boredom out of the screen. Because it is based on a serial novel printed on a newspaper, this film has a narrative that is composed of individual episodes woven together. Each episode induces laughter from the audience by presenting minor conflicts and resolutions, but in the end, an important incident—city council election—is used to resolve fundamental issues causing the minor conflicts and complete the story as a whole. As such, “Under the Sky of Seoul” feels like multiple sitcom episodes, rather than a well-organized feature-length story.
Lastly, Kim Seung-ho, who played the role of Kim Hak-gyu in this film, went on to strengthen his on-screen image as a father figure by playing father roles in multiple family drama films during the early 1960s. I like Kim Seung-ho’s character in “Under the Sky of Seoul,” because unlike the shabby father in “A Petty Middle Manager” or hardworking father in “A Coachman,” this father character is charming for his stubbornness combined with slight sneaky tendencies. (Lee Su-yeon, Researcher, Korean Film Archive Research & Exhibition Team)