In the film, Sang-woo's mother needs to leave him under the care of his old grandmother because she needs to find a job for them to survive. However, Sang-woo's grandmother is deaf and mute which makes the situation hard for him. Living with his grandmother is really against his will because for Sang-woo, a guardian like his grandmother who has speaking and hearing disabilities is like living in hell. He cannot accept the fact about his grandmother's situation and badly calls her a “retard.”
Frustration and depression consume him because he was accustomed to the city way of life. Living in the country side is far different from his previous home where electricity and technology are part of everyday life. He ignores all his grandmother's efforts for him and continues playing with his toys that he brought along with him.
On the other hand, his grandmother patiently does everything for his bratty grandson. She persistently cooks meals for him, washes his clothes, and gives the best that she can to for him. Unfortunately, Sang-woo returns her kindness with rejection of the traditional meals that she serves and prefers Kentucky Fried Chicken, Spam and cola over her meals. There was a scene in the movie where he stole his grandmother's ornamental pin to buy batteries for his video game.
He was expecting to receive the wrath and punishment of his grandmother, but when he arrived home, he saw his worried grandmother who was waiting for him to come back from finding batteries. Nonetheless, he got her hairpin for nothing as it did not provide him with any batteries since the rural village did not have the right size batteries for his toy. Many scenes in the film show how ruthless Sang-woo is to his grandmother.
His misbehavior comes to an end when his poor grandmother gets sick which makes him realize his mistakes. Suddenly, he is not the selfish brat he was. He assumes the responsibility of taking care of his ill grandmother. His grandmother's efforts and unconditional love for him pays off when she makes his grandson feel the true meaning of home. He received love and affection from a woman who cannot speak and hear but can show him the true meaning of life.
When his mother returns to fetch him and bring him back to the city, the love and kindness of Sang-woo’s grandmother make it hard for Sang-woo to leave her. Still, he needs to come with his mother so he taught his grandmother how to write for them to keep in touch. The Way Home is a heartwarming film that best describes sacrificial and unconditional love from an individual who is in her later life.
The study of gerontology involves the observation of people as they grow old and experience changes physically, psychologically, and socially. This film is suitable for a gerontology class because it gives students the chance to view what it is like to be old and how relationship of the old with the younger generation is affected. There are many changes during late adulthood, just like the case of Sang-woo's grandmother in the film. It does not only describe what an older adult experiences but it also shows how a person should deal with these changes.
What I like most about the film is the scene where Sang-woo's grandmother got sick. This is because I was able to understand how hard it is to get old and how much care and attention are needed when a person gets old and sick. The Way Home is a film that encompasses many discoveries about every individual's life: sacrifices, changes and love.
The Way Home (2008). The Way Home Website. Retrieved, March 7, 2008 from:
Whang, W.H., Whang, J.W. (Producer) ; Lee, J.H. (Director). (2002). The Way Home. [Motion
Picture] Korea: Paramount Classics.