Steel Cold Winter is a 2013 South Koreanromance/mysterythriller film starring Kim Yoon-hye and Kim Shi-hoo. Directed by Choi Jin-sung, it premiered in the New Currents section of the 18th Busan International Film Festival and was released in theaters on November 7, 2013.
Yoon-soo was once a student at one of the best high schools in Seoul, but a trivial remark he made turns into a vicious rumor that leads his friend to commit suicide. Unable to bear the guilt, Yoon-soo attempts to kill himself. To help him recover, his family moves to Ijeon-li, a snow-covered village on a mountain. On the day of the move, Yoon-soo sees a mysterious young girl skating by herself on the frozen lake. Having started school in this small, rural town, Yoon-soo slowly finds peace within. Despite the villagers’ kindness and his peers’ ongoing fascination with him as a cool guy from the city, he keeps to himself. There is, however, one girl who gets Yoon-soo’s attention: the class outcast Hae-won. The aloof Hae-won, who lives alone with her mentally disabled father, is viewed as a pariah by the entire village and constantly at the center of the townsfolk’s gossip. As if seeing himself in her, he offers her sympathy and warmth, and Hae-won slowly opens up to him, feeling that he’s the only one who understands and accepts her. But soon, Yoon-soo also becomes consumed by the brutal rumors surrounding
Review : by Mura Yagami 夜神月 ( link)
Because I’m sick in bed and bored in a house, I decided to look at different kdramas when I suddenly stumbled upon what is actually a film called Steel Cold Winter. I was hesitant, for no reason I can place, but came out pleasantly surprised and touched. So let’s take a walk.
Before I begin, let me give a quick SYNOPSIS: Concerned for their son’s well being after a tragic incident, Yoon Soo’s parents relocate to a village nestled in the Gangwon-do Mountain. At his new school, Yoon Soo attracts the attention of his classmates and settles in nicely; but his interest has already been taken by the outcast, Hae Won, whose cool demeanor, passive expression and wandering figure captivates Yoon Soo in. The rest of the school thinks she’s eerie and pitiful, and a cluster of rumors circulating around her mentally ill father pit’s her classmates opinions against her. But Yoon Soo ignores what they say and starts to place himself in her life — but when a shocking event digs Hae Won into an even deeper hole, Yoon Soo is no longer sure about her. The real question is what can be trusted; our eyes, our mouth, our ears, or our heart?
This kmovie is a masterpiece in and of itself. I love coming across drama’s and movie’s that are completely uncovered gem’s with so much underlining potential that flourishes on screen.
Hae Won from STEEL COLD WINTER
Hae Won – In the beginning of the film, Yoon Soo is seen standing by the edge of a frozen river, with headphones in his ears. There, he see’s a pretty girl ice skating in what appears to be a school uniform, seemingly unbeknownst of him as he watches her. This girl is later revealed to be Hae Won. Something about her was just likable to me. She’s very calm, and collected, and almost ghostly with the way she barely reacts to anything and everything. She doesn’t shy away beneath a person’s gaze like most girl’s (in high school dramas) do, and she wasn’t loud and boisterous either. She almost seemed mature in what she said and did. She didn’t ignore other’s when they talked to her, just going about her day. From what I noticed about Hae Won, she wasn’t arrogant or sullen, she was just quiet and observant.
Hae Won and Yoon Soo talking
No Love Triangle – I loved that there wasn’t a love triangle. Love triangles are usually a popular choice among people because they lead to conflict, uncertainty, jealousy, and two distinct strands of chemistry (and tbh, that stuff is addicting). But I liked that Steel Cold Winter didn’t have this trope because it really added to the deeper meaning of Hae Won’s loneliness. No one liked her, or understood her, or wanted to talk to her because she was weird and came from a troubled family. Yoon Soo’s appearance in her life wouldn’t have made as much of an impact if there was someone else in the story too. The same goes for Yoon Soo. Hae Won understood him in a way other’s didn’t. It really gave a “you’re the only one for me” kind of vibe.
Yoon Soo from STEEL COLD WINTER
Yoon Soo – Despite Hae Won suffering from most of the issues, Yoon Soo was probably the most complicated character I tried to figure out. When he first saw Hae Won at the river, why was he drawn to her? Specifically her? It could’ve been that she was the only pretty girl skating at the river, and obviously someone guy would pay attention to that. But then why did he notice her as much in the classroom? It could’ve been because he recognized her. It also could’ve been because of how isolated she was from everyone else; she just kept to herself and seemed content with it. From then on, Yoon Soo learned about the rumors circulating Hae Won’s personal life, and that obviously drew attention as well. But one thing I liked about Yoon Soo was that his response to everything was natural – whether it was anger, fear, shock, shame, curiosity, pain. Nothing he did seemed unrealistic, and made the acting itself forced(even when he killed the doctor and foreman out of anger for fueling Hae Won’s suffering. Someone he loved was in pain because of the doctors hurtful words and the foreman’s unforgivable actions).
Hae Won and Yoon Soo resting on each other
The Understanding Between Them – Hae Won and Yoon Soo were two different people who were more alike than they thought. That was one of the reasons why they were so good for each other. They understood one another in ways no one else did. They both came from situation’s beyond their control, and were given the brunt of the sympathy. Hae Won’s character is hard to understand, and Yoon Soo’s problems are well disguised, but because of what they’d both been through they complete each other. This ties back to the “you’re the only one for me” vibe.
For ex: When Yoon Soo, in fear of Hae Won, runs from the river barefoot and goes straight to the police station, he instantly confesses to the investigator that he saw Hae Won enter her now-dead father’s bedroom with a knife. But upon the investigators reproach on Yoon Soo for saying that about a mourning daughter, Yoon Soo stresses that “something is wrong with her!” (as in she’s kinda crazy). But little did he know that standing behind him, holding a pair of shoes he left at the river, is Hae Won, who stares at him in shock and disappointment. When they’re alone, Hae Won then compared Yoon Soo to herself by bringing up his past trauma, saying that Yoon Soo didn’t kill his best friend. Rather he committed suicide, but no one believes him. Through this, she relates to how she didn’t kill her dad, and yet no one believes her, not even him, who is all she has. By this, Yoon Soo is ashamed for condemning her for something she didn’t do, like he’d been condemned. But what I love about this makeup scene is that it’s not, “I’m sorry for the crap I did, will you forgive me?” and then she’s like “Of course!” Instead, while Hae Won is hurt by what Yoon Soo said, she knows he doesn’t understand and isn’t angry with him. The problem isn’t that he doesn’t the situation, it’s that he doesn’t understand HER, otherwise he would’ve known the truth that she didn’t kill him, so by bringing up that example Yoon Soo finally grabs a hold of Hae Won’s character, which is similar to his own. This scene is very touching to me.
Hae Won and the villagers looking into a hole
The Parents – One of the only things I struggled with in this film were Yoon Soo’s parents (whose names I can’t recall). The reason they came to this village is to help their son. But throughout a good portion of the movie, he run’s off and does all kinds of things behind their backs. They can’t keep up with him half the time, to the point that he dies in freezing water in a frozen river somewhere far away with Hae Won at the end of the film. It’s tragic in a way, because they tried to help Yoon Soo but it did him little.
The Themes – WARNING: This is not a spoiler because things like these should be known for those who watch it in case it is triggering. This kmovie definetly requires a mature audience. Not only does it contain graphic language, violence, animal abuse and suicide, but it also centers around sexual abuse. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
The Plot Twists – In the beginning of the film, there are brief scene flashes of someone hitting somethin with a shovel, and it then reveals Yoon Soo’s bloody face, weary and pained. This tries to draw the viewer in before pulling a “few weeks before” type of scenario. At the beginning of the film, you think you’ve gotten everybody figured out, until the end draws near and suddenly you don’t know who to trust. Specifically, the rumors circulating Hae Won threw me off. Deeper into the film though, when that one scene pops up with Yoon Soo’s bloody face, it made me wonder “how did I get here?”. It’s always so interesting to see where a film will lead you before you show up in the place you’re meant to be.
Yoon Soo’s pained face splattered in blood
The ending was bittersweet, nonetheless. I read a few reviews after watching it and multiple people disagreed with how the film ended. Some people said they skated away into the dark and lived their lives separate from everyone else’s, while other’s said they’d died. It can be concluded in fact that they had broken through the ice and fallen into the river. The ice they were skating on was thin, and Yoon Soo noticed, but instead he clasped Hae Won’s hand and told her he loved her, as a final deceleration before they disappeared out of the camera shot. There, the sound of cracking ice grows louder and more frequent, until it finally breaks and we can hear sloshing water as they’ve fallen in. Nothing comes afterwards, except for the shots of the empty river, which masks their death beneath the shadow of night. This is supposed to show that they ultimately disappeared, and no one knows what happened to them or where they’ve gone (imagine when that river thaws in the summer). It breaks my heart to imagine Yoon Soo’s parents, worried for their son who they never found. While it is sad, it’s one of the only moments that they’re happy together.
As depressing as some people would say this film is, I think it really underlines the emotions that lace in between the interactions these characters have. It’s sweet, sad, and yet twisted all the same when we come to terms with how harsh reality is and the unfair treatment people receive for things that aren’t their fault. While it doesn’t leave me feeling empty, this film left me satisfied. It’s rated a review of 7.3/10, but I believe it deserves a 9.7/10 at best.