Seoul Searching, set to release in 2015, is directed by Benson Lee and is an ’80s-set youth dramedy based loosely on Lee’s experience at a government summer camp in 1986.
The film is described as “16 years in the making” based on one of the craziest summers of Lee’s life. In it, “a diverse group of Korean teens meet at a special camp in Seoul where they were sent by their parents to learn what it means to be Korean — a side to them they know little about.” It is now in post-production, and snippets of the film were recently released on YouTube:
The preview has no dialogue but shows a little bit of the flavor to expect from the film: nostalgia, attitude and an explosion of emotions that can feel relatable and new all at once. With the description, that “although the intentions of the camp were honorable, the activities of the teens were not,” Seoul Searching will hopefully be playful in showing the carefree spirit of adolescence, while acknowledging the painful parts of growth under the lens of feeling one’s own culture as something that needs to be learned.
Seoul Searching is a modern low-budget indie film in English, and is a melting pot of actors of mixed ethnicities: Korean, Korean-American, British-Korean, Japanese, Spanish-Korean, German-Korean and Canadian-Korean. The film stars familiar faces from YouTube, such as Justin Chon, and known faces from the music industry, such as Jessika Van. The film had also posted a calling for auditions in March of last year. Through Facebook, they held an online casting call where actors and non-actors uploaded audition clips via Youtube. The top candidates for each character were posted, and the community voted on their favorite actors to audition in person with Lee.
The film is shot in Korea, receiving a nod from the Korean Film Council for location exposure, and is produced by Los Angeles firms Bowery Hills Entertainment and Mondo Paradiso Films.