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Seoul Searching 

Wednesday, Jul 13 2016
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Benson Lee's Seoul Searching is a funny and often poignant meditation on both ethnic identity and drinking games. In 1986, a group of Korean teenagers born and raised abroad arrive at the Seoul Summer Camp, created by the Korean government to help them reconnect them to their roots. (As explained in the opening voiceover, this real-life experiment was shuttered after a few years because the foreign-born kids were too rowdy.)Among this year's rabble-rousers are punk rocker Sid (Justin Chon), Madonna wannabe Grace (Jessika Van), and the crimpy-haired Kris, all from the United States, as well as self-styled ladies' man Sergio (Esteban Ahn) from Mexico and burgeoning banker Klaus (Teo Yoo) from Germany, all supervised by the tough Mr. Kim (In-Pyo Cha). The episodic Seoul Searching deftly combines crass '80s-teen-movie tropes — when was the last time you heard the words "panty raid?" — with the deep emotional moments reminiscent of the more complex John Hughes oeuvre. Indeed, the picture is open in its debt to The Breakfast Club, down to the key art being an homage to that film's iconic poster. Seoul Searching also raises an important question: How did the 1980s nostalgia wave come and go without a revival of Madonna's Desperately Seeking Susan look, and is it too late to bring it back?

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Sherilyn Connelly

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