Swing Kids is a 2018 South Korean musical drama film directed by Kang Hyeong-cheol and based on the Korean musical Roh Ki-soo. The film stars Doh Kyung-soo, Park Hye-su, Jared Grimes, Oh Jung-se and Kim Min-ho. The film was released on December 19, 2018.
Swing Kids was screened at The 2019 1st PyeongChang International Peace Film Festival on August 18, 2019.
The story takes place in Geoje prison camp during the Korean War in 1951. Ro Ki-soo (Do Kyung-soo), a rebellious North Korean soldier, falls in love with tap dancing after meeting Jackson (Jared Grimes), an American officer and former Broadway star who has been tasked with putting together a dance company. Kang Byung-sam (Oh Jung-se) auditions for the company in hopes of finding his wife, Xiao Pang (Kim Min-Ho), a Chinese soldier and born dancer who cannot dance for more than a minute due to Angina. Yang Pan-rae (Park Hye-su) who needs money but says there's no money through dancing, also joins the group. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 63% based on 8 reviews, with an average rating of 6.33/10.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Praise was given to the film's production design and music, with criticisms directing towards the long running time and the structure of the film. Guy Lodge from Variety, wrote about the film: "Too often, it simply feels like two films wrestling in one roomy framework, sometimes overlapping to awkward effect".
Park Boram from Yonhap News Agency , wrote: "The film's booming tapping sounds set against the film's throwback soundtrack -- which includes David Bowie's "Modern Love," Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing," The Beatles' "Free as a Bird," as well as Korean veteran singer Jung Su-ra's popular 1988 song "Joy"—drive colorful vibrancy into the film, making the audience twitch with amusement throughout the film's 133-minute running time.", Park also added that the "musicality and a Christmas scene close to the end make the production a perfect film choice for the holiday season."
The film was ranked No.3 by Pierce Conran from Modern Korean Cinema in Top 15 Korean Films of 2018. Conran wrote: "Swing Kids was without a doubt the best theatrical experience I had all year. Infectiously rhythmic, this Korean War POW camp tap dance extravaganza will have you yearning for old-school Hollywood showmanship and begging for more when the curtain falls."