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Peppermint Candy
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Customer Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8.4 out of 10 (5)
All Editions Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8.2 out of 10 (9)

YesAsia Editorial Description

Peppermint Candy is the personal history of a man whose troubled experiences leave him greatly disturbed. Many of the episodes in our hero's life echo the contemporary history of Korea: serving in the military, torturing political dissidents as a policeman and losing money in a failed business venture. These symbolic events mingle with the personal aspects of his life: an early love affair, which continues to haunt him years later, and his subsequent failed marriage.

As one of the most anticipated films of 2000, Peppermint Candy was chosen as the opening film of the 1999 Pusan International Film Festival.

© 2002-2017 Ltd. All rights reserved. This original content has been created by or licensed to, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of

Technical Information

Product Title: Peppermint Candy Peppermint Candy Peppermint Candy ペパーミント・キャンディー (DVD) 박하사탕
Artist Name(s): Sol Kyung Gu | Moon So Ri | Kim Yeo Jin | Lee Chang Dong 薛景求 | 文 素利 | 金麗珍 | 李滄東 薛景求 | 文 素利 | 金丽珍 | 李沧东 ソル・ギョング | ムン・ソリ | キム・ヨジン | イ・チャンドン 설 경구 | 문 소리 | 김 여진 | 이창동
Director: Lee Chang Dong 李滄東 李沧东 イ・チャンドン 이창동
Release Date: 2002-03-01
Language: Korean
Subtitles: English, Japanese, Korean
Country of Origin: South Korea
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: All Region What is it?
Publisher: Alto Media
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1001827169

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This film has won 8 award(s). All Award-Winning Asian Films

YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Peppermint Candy"

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September 5, 2005

How did it all come to this? That's the unstated, but ever-present question that lies at the heart of Peppermint Candy, the second film from writer-turned-director Lee Chang Dong. His 2000 follow-up to Green Fish bears an intriguing premise. Like Christopher Nolan's Memento (2000) and Gaspar Noe's Irreversible (2002), this film begins at the chronological "ending" and works its way backwards. But Peppermint Candy differs from those two in part due to its epic scope, which chronicles twenty years in the life of one man, divided into seven episodes, each of which reveal new insights into how the character became the man we meet in the opening scene.

The film kicks off in the spring of 1999 as a sharp-dressed, but obviously distraught man stumbles upon a high school reunion of sorts that's taking place at a tranquil riverbank overlooked by a railroad bridge. These revelers recognize the man as Yong Ho (Sul Kyung Ku), a long-lost classmate that they failed to get in touch with for this twenty-year reunion. The people are generally friendly to Yong Ho and try to include him in the festivities, but the man seems mentally disturbed. Soon enough, Yong Ho reveals his mental state by climbing the railroad track to await his demise. With a train bearing down on him, Yong Ho shouts, "I wanna go back!" And in a manner of speaking, he does just that. At the moment of impact, the film freezes, then transitions to footage shot from the back of a train moving in reverse. The film resets three days prior to Yong Ho's suicide, bringing the viewer up to speed on what drove him to such a desperate action.

We soon find that Yong Ho has lost just about everything - his wife, his child, his job, his money, and as we will come to see, his innocence and his one true love. In this portion of the timeline, Yong Ho has a final encounter with his high school sweetheart, Sun Im (Moon So Ri), a meeting that will push him over the edge. The film then flashes back to other key moments in Yong Ho's past, which help illuminate his dark character. In these episodes, the film delves into his unhappy marriage with Hong Ja (Kim Yeo Jin), his brutal tactics while working for the police department, and the life-changing incident that traumatized Yong Ho during his time in the military, to name just a few. Eventually, the film reaches its chronological "beginning" in 1979, returning to the setting and the characters of the film's opening. We find those very same reunion-goers, full of youthful exuberance, as well as Sun Im in the prime of her life. We also find a youthful Yong Ho, one so dramatically different from the man we met at the start of the film. Armed with all the knowledge of what will happen to this poor character in the coming decades, viewers can only lament the bittersweet, if not outright tragic fate of the once-innocent Yong Ho.

One of the more interesting aspects of Peppermint Candy's backwards structure is the fact that it can be read in at least two different ways. On one hand, it can be seen simply as a device imposed on the narrative from outside the story. On the other hand, the final shot in the film suggests something more. Like Pascual Aubier's 1985 short film Flashback, in which a man's life flashes before him in reverse all the way back to infancy, so, too, can Peppermint Candy's trip into the past be considered in some sense, Yong Ho's spiritual journey to reclaim his lost innocence. In the film's final, moving shot there is a sense that Yong Ho is overwhelmed by the scene's beauty, yet prior to that moment, there is also the suggestion that he is experiencing a case of déjà vu. The ambiguity of exactly what is going through Yong Ho's mind in this moment of realization gives the film an extra dimension and creates a jumping-off point for viewers to debate the film's ending.

Sul Kyung Ku is a revelation as Yong Ho. He effectively portrays the character as a slightly different kind of man in each episode, although always rooted to a core personality. At times, the character is like a wild animal, prone to outbursts of violence at any moment, a characteristic which Sul would revisit in later films like Public Enemy and Rikidozan. As the sole anchor of the film, Sul Kyun Ku is a magnetic presence, holding the viewer's attention throughout the narrative.

Although Peppermint Candy suggests that Yong Ho's journey into darkness was a gradual decline, it could also be argued that his innocence was lost in a single instant and completely by accident. Certainly, his reaction to that traumatic event and the choices he made in its aftermath put him on the road to becoming the tragic monster seen in the film's opening scene, but the film also suggests that who we are depends not just on choice, but pure chance. Intellectually stimulating and heartbreaking to the last, Peppermint Candy is undoubtedly a modern classic of Korean cinema. By Calvin McMillin -

August 10, 2005

This professional review refers to Peppermint Candy (US Version)
First off, let me assure you that I am not spoiling anything by telling you that Yongho (Sul Kyung-Ku), the main character, commits suicide. This takes place in the movie's first sequence, about 5 minutes into the movie. The film is told in reverse order, akin to the masterful Memento, only the events that unfold in Peppermint Candy take place over 2 decades instead of a day. Because of this, some segments are more confusing than others, and time is needed to become familiarized with each new timeline the movie jumps to.

Peppermint Candy is very Korean in attitude as well as subject matter. It follows the life of Yongho through the tumultuous '80s and '90s in South Korea's history. Through Yongho, we see the events that changed the country, shaping it into the current state it is now -- for better or worse.

The movie has at its central core the student movement of the '70s, when students rose up to disturb the status quo in an attempt to change society as they knew it. Caught in the middle is Yongho, a man whose life is drastically altered, although how and why we don't know until near the end of the film, when the movie's narrative takes us further and further back into the past.

Peppermint Candy is slow-paced but never boring. Not an easy feat considering the subject matter, which has few bursts of violence and manic moments, but is very evenly somber for the most part.

Director Lee Chang-Dong relies on symbolism and a variety of motifs to express his views, and through it all Yongho is nothing more than a cog in some great machine. What happens to him is not necessarily his fault nor the result of his actions, but simply a representation of his inability to escape history. Yongho is a man caught up in a changing world, and nothing he could have done would have altered his fate -- or the fate of the country once the tide of change began.

Movie Grade: 4 out of 5 stars

By Nix -

This original content has been created by or licensed to, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of

Customer Review of "Peppermint Candy"

Average Customer Rating for this Edition: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8.4 out of 10 (5)
Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8.2 out of 10 (9)

See all my reviews

March 17, 2011

This customer review refers to Peppermint Candy (DVD) (2-Disc) (Special Edition) (Korea Version)
3 people found this review helpful

Response to Lloyd Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
I know, my reply is a few years late but I cannot believe Lloyd's stupidity. Peppermint Candy is undoubtedly one of the best Korean films ever made, In my opinion it is the greatest Korean film ever made and my Favorite film of all time. My major is Korean and History and I have to concur with Bill's reply to Lloyd's totally clueless review. Please, Lloyd, do yourself a favor, in future if you don't want to look like a complete numskull I suggest you don't review films that you don't understand. Silly man. Your stupidity surpasses you.
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November 1, 2005

This customer review refers to Peppermint Candy (US Version)
3 people found this review helpful

Billliant Allegory of Korean History in the Eighti Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
Lloyd clearly has no idea what he's talking about. the film is allegory of Korean history in the eighties starting with a man who leaves university and a burgeoning relationship with a young fellow college student and his psychological decline, starting from his unwitting killing of a Kwangju student in 1980 during the massacre after Chun Doo-hwan's coup d'etat. the film then, in reverse, travels through his psychological disintegration and eventual suicide beginning with his work as a police detective and reflecting the brutal interrogation techniques used by the police against pro-democracy youth during the eighties. This may seem implausible to our "reviewer" Lloyd, but he would do better reading up on recent Korean history, because the film depicts facts, not fantasies.
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August 29, 2005

This customer review refers to Peppermint Candy (US Version)
3 people found this review helpful

Deeply disappointed, lacking substance, flow, and Customer Review Rated Bad 2 - 2 out of 10
Upon reading the summary and the previous reviews, I looked forward to seeing this film. Unforunately, I found myself deeply disappointed upon the film's conclusion. The film isn't absolutely horrible, the acting is impressive, and the cinematography is well done, but this is by no means a great movie.

The story is told backwards, from the ending to the beginning, and attempts to recapture the past 20 years of a man's life. However, the pacing is ackward, and the film is full of plot holes which leave many unanswered questions. The film feels as if it wants the audience to believe that the characters and the storyline are profound and deep, when they both fall on borderline ridiculous.

Our "protagonist" is almost anything but. By the end (beginning) of the film he finds himself with nothing to live for, but his predicament is the fruit of his own labor. In the 20 year time span that covers his life, not once could I sympathize, or even pity our immoral hero, for his hardships and griefs are the results of his own volition. There are plenty of movies where we witness the metamorphosis of the central character from good to evil, and vice versa. This film however, has a hero which is unlikeable from beginning to end.

The lead actor displays a great portrayal of a someone suffering from bipolar disorder, but the situations he finds himself in are extremely unbelievable, to the point they are almost laughable. His actions, no matter how wrong, never warrant any type of punishment, whether from himself or society. I kept telling myself that this film is just one giant dream sequence, because the story is not the least bit plausible.

I really wanted to like this movie, but I felt nothing but contempt for the protagonist as the movie dragged on. Combined with the nonsensical world and circumstances, and the film's slow and ackward pacing, I would give this movie 2 stars at best, but have decided on 1 to level off the ratings for this film; it is by no means a 5 star movie.
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July 15, 2005

This customer review refers to Peppermint Candy (US Version)
2 people found this review helpful

Seol Kyung Gu's greating act Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
This is pretty early movie of Seol kyung gu. Actually people know him to see in 'Public enemy, But,I saw him first time in this movie'Peppermint candy'. what a surprise...great acting to play the role of small person in the big world...The Storyline of movie was pretty made me remind of my past and think my identity seriouly. This movie mainly talk about that Everybody think of the past and want to go back there once they face the irresistible things. Anyway, Good movie with English subtitle, I am just waiting for it's release! Soooon~
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February 1, 2004

2 people found this review helpful

See this movie!! Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
I strongly recommend this powerful and dark movie. The acting is great.
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