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Cinophile: Castaway On The Moon

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Life sucks and sometimes it can become too much. This leads a man called Kim to jump off a bridge. But instead he becomes stranded on an uninhabited island in the Han river running thorough Seoul. Here he finds himself stuck, eventually accepting his lot and beginning to create a new existence on the patch of isolated land.

Then a recluse, a woman named Kim, spots him from her apartment window through a camera lens. She is also a recluse, having locked herself away three years ago due to some nondescript accident. It had left her scarred – both physically and mentally – and she now never leaves her room, instead living vicariously through fake social media accounts online.

But this changes when she spots the strange man on the remote island’s beach and they begin a long-distance relationship where he writes messages on the beach and she replies by throwing bottled messages from a bridge onto his island.

Castaway From The Moon is not a romantic comedy. It is one of those brilliant films that cannot be easily defined, so gets lumped into a certain bracket for convenience. The people marketing this film had no idea how to sell it, so they slapped a lot of RomCom cliches in the trailer and on the poster. That or they made the movie look incredibly goofy.

This is not, nor is it easy to define by its contemporaries, like Tom Hanks’ Castaway. It’s somewhat like that but then again not at all. The best way to describe Castaway On The Moon is that it evokes memories of 500 Days Of Summer – a film that by first glance is a RomCom but ends up being something profoundly deeper and yet incredibly quirkier. This gem from South Korea is even more so, but it is not romantic – other than the unusual relationship between the two lead characters.

Castaway On The Moon is really about life, happiness and how what matters can change all the time. It’s a sweet film with just touches of bitterness, yet also very contemplative with just hints of sugary ideals. It is also one of the best movies you’ll have seen for a while. And if someone accuses you of only watching violent Asian films, this is the perfect counter-argument. Then treat them to a bowl of black bean noodles.

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Castaway On The Moon
Castaway On The Moon makes several references to the Tom Hanks movie Castaway. Look for a face appearing on the bicycle seat. It also tips its hat to A Cry In The Wild, another renowned castaway-themed film.


The movie collected numerous awards, particularly around Asia. One of the lead actors, Jung Jae-Young, also won an award for his performance. Unfortunately its marketing sold it as a romantic comedy and audiences really support it.
There has been some confusion over the evacuation drills seen in the movie. These happen twice a year in Seoul, in preparation from a North Korean attack.

Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

Last Updated: September 15, 2014


  1. Haven’t seen this but the marketing side reminds me of how they tried to sell Solaris (with Clooney). *facepalm*


    • James Francis

      September 21, 2014 at 17:17

      That was also a hard movie to explain in ads and trailers.


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