What is “A Werewolf Boy”? (besides a South Korean box office smash)

A Werewolf BoyI’ve been seeing a lot of online enthusiasm for South Korean film “A Werewolf Boy” over the past two months, but most of the talk has been about how well it’s doing financially, not about the content of the film itself. Today I decided to eschew Google News summaries in favour of a little research, and here’s what I found:

…young Suni and her family moved to a small village in Korea. There, they encounter a bedraggled orphan boy hiding under a bush and take him in out of pity. Called a “wolf boy” by some for his feral behavior and uncommon strength, Suni teaches the boy how to eat at a table, and read and write so that he might one day live among people. He repays her kindness with a devotion unequalled by any human being, a love that exceeds all normal expectations.

It’s the first commercial film by writer/director Jo Sung-hee, and it stars Song Joong-ki as the titular werewolf boy and Park Bo-young as the girl who tames and befriends him. According to Korea JoongAng Daily, it became “the most-watched Korean melodrama to date” within two weeks of release, and by all accounts it’s made a ton of money. So far it’s had a very low-key release in North America, limited to the Toronto International Film Festival and a handful of what look like art-house showings listed on the film’s North American web site.

So is “A Werewolf Boy” something your average werewolf fan might actually want to see? Viewer feedback so far indicates that there’s no actual lycanthropy in the film, and the fact that its original title (늑대소년 / “Neukdae Sonyeon”) literally translates as “Wolf Boy” is somewhat telling. Nevertheless, there are some scenes in the trailer (including a claw turning back into a human hand) that make me curious. When it’s released digitally, I’ll pick up a copy and let Werewolf News readers know what I find.