4 Mind-Blowing Moments in Concrete Utopia

By  | 

South Korea’s official submission for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category of the 96th Academy Awards in 2024, CONCRETE UTOPIA is opening its gates, especially for Filipino moviegoers on September 20, 2023.

Concrete Utopia is a South Korean disaster-thriller film starring Lee Byung Hun, Park Seo Jun, and Park BoYoung that will take you on a trip as a group of survivors build a system in the aftermath of a severe earthquake.

As an official submission of South Korea for the Best International Feature Film category at the 96th Academy Awards in 2024, Concrete Utopia is a film with a concise overview of a realistic approach to a disaster that brings the humane side of each individual from different perspectives.

Based on the second part of the webtoon Pleasant Bullying by Kim Soongnyung, Concrete Utopia is directed by Um Tae-hwa by Um Tae-Hwa. The film runs 130 minutes long and is packed with astonishing and memorable scenes, so get ready as we go through four of the many mind-blowing scenes from Concrete Utopia.

Min-Seong’s car scene

Min-Seong is seen in the middle of the ongoing disaster along with other people helping a lady who was stuck in a vehicle. Not long after another upcoming wave of the massive earthquake was drawing closer that made Min-Seong face the harsh reality and retreated to a nearby abandoned vehicle leaving the helpless lady behind.

park seo jun concrete utopia

Not only did this moment set the weight of this disaster, but it was also a great setup to introduce one of the main character’s personalities, a public servant who tries with all their will to save lives as much as possible as an entire new wave of danger was approaching, almost sacrificing his very own safety.

The production team made an incredible choice of not shying away from showing the real-time impact the characters took from the disaster simulated by the impressive set production, CG, and costumes.

It is no surprise that Park Seo-Joon has delivered no less than a great performance, but these set of scenes all together truly set the audience all up for the ride.

The outstanding acting performance was accompanied by CG Supervisor Eun Jae-Hyun’s amazing work; the impact shots did not lack the “rawness” of the situation. Almost as if it brings the audience with the waves of the earthquake to feel it themselves.

Door tagging scene

There are only three rules. The rules for those who have lived: Obey the regulations or leave.

Residents who fail to comply are punished and tagged by their doorsteps and even invite other residents to ridicule them by leaving harsh comments on their walls.

lee byung hun concrete utopia

The horror is settling in for residents that compassion for the weak is to their own detriment. Recognizing that they are never safe enough and they still have to be cautious or else penalizing are to be done.

The mixture of the neatly choreographed fight sequence and visual symbolism in this scene encapsulated how what they deemed to be a utopia is all a facade after all with such a captivating visualization.

Hwang Gung Apartments vs. Cockroaches

They are all victims after all.

Despite the non-residents being segregated and being denied a chance to find shelter, they did not back down without a fight. The two sided conflict led to a mass physical quarrel.

It was a mess that did not feel forced, rather it felt real. It wasn’t coherent in a way that represented their emotions, it being anger and desperation. A monumental point that draws the lines of the division. An easy-to-follow and straight-to-the-point setup of what is about to entail.

Geum-ae as the loving mother

Geum-ae is the mother of one who is a part of the anti-crime force led by Young-Tak and Min-Seong. Coming back from an attempt to gather food supplies, the anti-crime force bears bad news about Geum-Ae’s one and only son.

kim sun young concrete utopia

Kim Sun Young played the character who was known as the head of women’s associations at Hwang Gung Apartments and the resident of room 207. She led the residents by being an attentive leader but more than anything she was a loving mother who tugged the viewers by the hearts.

The vulnerability shown by the character skillfully conveyed by Kim Sun-Young’s acting really draws the audience in. From being a reliable leader as she plays a central role in leading and weaving the residents together the transition from that to breaking down by the very sight of her child is exceedingly commendable.

The different stages of grief and influences of varying emotion such as anger, regret, sadness, denial and more that the character is going through with the situation was emulated by Kim Sun Young’s unparalleled acting skills.

Concrete Utopia Takeaways

Meanwhile, Concrete Utopia showcases a great mixture of disaster chills, drama, comedy, and just the right amount of body horror perfect for a thrill-seeking audience. The viewers are mainly following the perspectives of the main character Min-Seong, a public servant played by Park Seo-Joon who has a fluctuating moral stance for survival accompanied by his partner Myeong-Hwa.

park bo young concrete utopia

Myeong-Hwa is a nurse played by Park Bo-Young, who has a rather strong righteous personality. The survivors are facing the disaster’s aftermath with no information on how far the disaster struck, having no connection to the outside world. Famine and weather are becoming their main concern, it tosses people from being civilized to straight-up brutality.

The blurring line between survival instincts and selfishness is a common theme among the characters. The plot reflects a distinct political ideology bordering as a satire on nationalistic socialism.

With only one surviving apartment building having several characters with clashing ideas, personalities, and overall moral stances, it is a struggle to attempt to work out their differences in order to survive. The film did an excellent job of displaying the different dynamics between the varying characters.

Additionally, the film also sees Lee Byung-Hun, who is best known for his former works such as the critically acclaimed film Inside Men (2015). Park Seo-Joon, known for several television series such as Hwarang (2016–2017), She Was Pretty (2015), Fight for My Way (2017), What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018), and Itaewon Class (2020) provided outstanding acting as Min-Seong from subtle yet effective facial expressions of resignation to big action-packed scenes as well.

Park Bo Young who starred in the television series Oh My Ghost (2015), Strong Girl Bong-soon (2017), Abyss (2019), and Doom at Your Service (2021) and many more played an empathetic counterpart which served a great contrast from the major stance of the apartment resident survivors.

concrete utopia

The audience is put in the same shed of information about the disaster as the characters with little to no dramatic irony. Truly a thought-provoking film that requires the audience to assess their very own morals as they are leaving the cinema’s doors.

The graphics and artistic choices did not shy away from showing the “realness” of the disaster by having great impact shots beautifully framed for the viewers. Cinematography that emulates the rawness of the characters’ emotions accordingly.

Expect Concrete Utopia to take you on an emotional roller coaster this coming September 20, 2023, at select Philippine cinemas nationwide.

Review by: Crystal Navarro and Charie Navarro

** Hwang Gung Apartment made a system that assigned Yeong-tak (Lee Byung Hun) as their highest leader to finalize their decisions. There are departments such as the gatherers and the caregivers that Min-seong (Park Seo Jun) and Myeong-Hwa (Park Bo Young) are a part of respectively.

** The system the characters built consists of authoritarian leaders. Rather nationalistic, it is for their apartment building (Hwang Gung Apartments) by the residents, socialists who have disdain for non-residents of the apartment building that lead them to build a gate that borders the residents from other non-resident survivors as their survival response.