Right Now, Wrong Then

Staff Picks: Right Now, Wrong Then

Reviewed by Dean M., Materials Handler

Right Now, Wrong Then directed by Hong Sang-Soo is also available to stream on Hoopla.


This autobiographically inspired story is about a Korean film director, Han Chun-su, who meets Hee-jung, a young painter, while on a business trip. He arrives a day ahead of schedule and has time to waste as he walks around and looks at buildings and structures. The two characters meet randomly at a temple-like structure and agree to have coffee, talk about life, art and other things. Hee-jung says she knows about the Han's work and that she enjoys his films. Hee-jung allows Han to follow her around the city and they grow fonder of each other as the film moves on.

The film is shot in two parts. The first part is what is "wrong", and the second part is what is "right". It is essentially the same story told twice, but with subtle yet profound variations in each part. This works somewhat like a butterfly effect for how each of the two parallel parts end. For example, in part one Han fails to admit that he is married until the end of the night. This leads the Hee-jung to completely reject the romantic feelings that were building, obviously. In part two, Han discloses that he is married earlier on in the narrative, causing the two characters to have a nice ending to their adventures. 

In the second part of the film, Han values moral integrity by being honest with the Hee-jung. The value of integrity and honesty is a major difference between the second and first parts. This film shows how it can be beneficial to have moral integrity as a value and to practice it. Right Now, Wrong Then was directed by Hong Sang-Soo, a Korean filmmaker who often writes his screenplays autobiographically. He is a professor of film and his film crews consist largely of pupils who are more willing to help than to get reimbursed. The Library owns several of Sang-Soo's other films, which are also recommended.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

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