Korean Movie Reco: “I Can Speak” starring Na Moon-hee and Lee Je-hoon

Minjae: How are you?
Ok-boon: I’m fine, thank you! And you?

Lines between Min-jae and Ok-boon from the movie.

I Can Speak is a Korean movie that requires you to stock up on water and a tissue roll, as this film will surely touch your heart and eyes! This 2017 film tells us the story of a woman and her past that we shouldn’t forget.

I Can Speak DVD Cover / HanCinema

I Can Speak Movie Plot

The movie tells the story of Park Min-jae (played by Lee Je-hoon), a newly hired level 9 civil servant. As a newbie, he encounters Na Ok-boon (played by Na Moon-hee), a barging grandmother known as the Goblin Granny.

I Can Speak K-Movie

Ok-boon is protesting a redevelopment plan for a building in their neighborhood that appears to have been illegally acquired. Min-jae’s coworkers are tired of dealing with her, making him the one to assist with all of Ok-boon’s complaints.

When Ok-boon needed to study English and turned to Min-jae for assistance, their relationship took a subtle turn. Ok-boon is frequently kicked out because of her age, which makes learning difficult for her. She meets Min-jae, who speaks the language fluently, and has begun bothering him, which Min-jae consistently declines.

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He reconsiders Ok-boon after learning that his younger brother, Young-jae, frequently visits Ok-boon for a nice dinner. Min-jae eventually agrees to teach her after being moved by Ok-boon’s gesture. However, an incident draws Min-jae distant from Ok-boon that turned their relationship sour.

To everyone’s surprise, it was revealed that Na Ok-boon was one of the remaining comfort women during the Japanese occupation. She lived in hiding while her best friend, Jung Shim, tried to be a voice for them. Ok-boon revealed herself to the public when Jung Shim fell ill. Her revelation made it more clear that she is learning English to fight for their rights and to seek an apology from Japan through HR 121.

A repenting Min-jae visits Ok-boon to deeply apologize and to once again help her prepare for the trial. The film ends with Ok-boon gaining a lot of support from the neighborhood and civil service officers as she successfully stands in court in the United States.

My Thoughts

The Story

This movie deserves all the recognition it has received. It was a very heartwarming and, to be honest, heartbreaking story. Initially, I thought that this movie was purely about family and giving importance to our elderly; which the film showcases only to unveil a hidden history behind Ok-boon’s story.

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Upon researching, the movie hits 100 times harder knowing it was based on a true story. The fact that there were 1,000 Korean women abducted as comfort women by the Japanese is heartbreaking. The pain doubles upon learning of the hardships they encounter whenever people learn of their dark past. 

Expect to cry a lot when watching this film. I can’t recall the number of tears I shed while watching this one, on top of the heartwarming scenes between the people around Ok-boon. The most touching part I will never forget is when the whole neighborhood and Min-jae stood up for Ok-boon to be recognized! Watch out for the scenes full of laughs too! I’ll never forget the part where Min-jae and Ok-boon went to a bar. ICONIC.

The Actors

One word: Perfect. The cast was perfectly chosen, and I would like to commend the chemistry between Lee Je-hoon and Na Moon-hee. Their portrayals were like a match made in heaven, making the film’s storytelling work well. 

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I would like to commend actress Yeom Hye-ran, who portrayed the role of Joo-daek, Ok-boon’s friend in the neighborhood. Their scenes may be short, but they highlight the beauty of finding a true friend.


The film will play with its audience’s emotions a lot. There will be laughs, anger, and tears in this movie. It is an amazing film that lets us never forget the harsh reality women experienced in the past. Also, it teaches us the importance of valuing our elderly and never judging a person unless we know their full story. I’m really happy that HR 121 has been approved in real life, and I pray that all the comfort women in the world get the apologies they’ve been yearning for. 

Check out the trailer here:

All the nominations and awards they received, were truly DESERVED.

All photos are retrieved through HanCinema.

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