Growing up as a Korean adoptee I have always wondered “what if.”

What if I hadn’t been adopted? Who would I have become? Whenever I visit Seoul, I always wonder what my life would have been there. Those defining 'sliding door' moments in your life, the idea of 'what is meant for you will not pass you'. It's something I spend quite a lot of my time thinking about. 

A few months ago I had the privilege of watching Past Lives and let me tell you when I say I loved it! A love story in part as we ponder who Nora, our main characters soul-ate truly is, but also so much more than that. Past Lives also explores themes of identity, connections, cross-cultures and destiny. 

The film introduces us to the Korean belief of inyeon - the predestined bond between two people, the strings of providence that tie us together. Director Celine Song says: “I know that In-Yun is, and can be, a romantic notion, but at the end of the day it is more just about people's relationships …. the feeling of being connected and appreciating the people who enter your life— in this one, or the one before, or the ones to come. Everytime I visit Seoul, I always wonder if the inyeon between my birth mother and I are at play. If we are destined to cross paths once again. I often look at my husband Steve and I think about the coincidences that had to have occured in order for us to meet. “You and I are In-Yun as well,” Hae Sung tells Arthur at one point in Past Lives as they sit awkwardly next to each other, alone together for the first time. How else would these two strangers, from different worlds, end up together like this?

And as if you needed any more encouragement to watch this beautiful film, it stars Teo Yoo as well. I first discovered Teo Yoo in Seoul Searching - a film about Korean adoptees returning to their motherland, but you may also know him from K-drama Love to Hate You. He does NOT disappoint in this film. This stellar cast, poetic writing and beautiful cinematography has firmly made Past Lives my film of the year. 

Past Lives is out in UK cinemas on 7th September. You can watch the trailer here. 


September 06, 2023 — Maree Kinder

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