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Film Review "YMCA Baseball"

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Margaret Siryj
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Film Review "YMCA Baseball"


The setting of the film, "YMCA Baseball" is Seoul, 1905.  One of the movie's main characters is Hochang, and the story begins as he views a couple of missionaries practicing the Western game of “catch”.  He quickly notices that the ball that they are using (the official size) is quite small compared to a ghord that he plays with for fun.  He is interested in playing sports and considers this as a possible career choice.  Even though this seems like a good choice, his father, on the other hand wishes Hochang would continue with his studies and become a scholar.  This presents an internal conflict for Hochang who is torn between his desire and the dream his father places before him as a scholar.  As the young man  continues playing baseball with the team, “YMCA Baseball Team”, his father decides to go and “check things out” and find out what his son is talking about. 

Hochang’s father shows up to a game unannounced, and as he notices his dad there, he quickly and abruptly loses focus on the game.  The baseball player makes dumb mistakes because he was blindsided that his father would attend.  Hochang wants to be a good son and obey his father, but he wants to follow his sport dream.  As a result, the father disowns his son because he wanted him to take over his school and be a scholar, too.  The end of the story, Hochang decides to be a scholar master at the Chunghak School.

I plan to use this film in my World History class this semester when we study China and Japan during the same time period as the setting of this movie, the early 20th century, Seoul, Korea.  After showing the movie, students will work collaboratively to discuss the Global Impact on Western Views of the East, and how this movie examines the conflict of a son who appears to be the approximate age of my students.  Each group will have to cite and present specific examples from the film justifying their claim. On a personal level, a learning activity will be a response to how a person should either follow their own path, or pursue their parent’s future wish for them.  This is poignant especially with my student demographics ,who after conducting a class survey, many of my students’ parents are entrepreneurs and would like their child to take over the family business.  This is exactly what Hochang’s father was hoping.