18 year old David is a Korean-American who lives with his first generation immigrant family in L. A.’s Korea town where they run a small shabby restaurant and attend Mass regularly. He still lives at home and helps out in the restaurant like the good son that he is, and even accompanies his parents once a week for their family night at the local Spa.
The restaurant is failing and money is very tight so as he cannot afford gym fees, David exercises by jogging for miles in the streets every day and then works out at home in the privacy of his bedroom. With the door locked he can also admire his rather buff body in the mirror and take naked selfie pictures. It seems to be his only real pleasure, but even that is about to change when the restaurant is forced to close and his mother takes a job as a waitress at another cafe whilst his depressed father just stays at home and takes up drinking full time.
His parents are determined that David should make a better life than theirs and want him to go to University and get an education. The trouble is that David is far from academic and his SAT scores are so abysmal that he cannot qualify to be admitted to College. One of his mother’s more successful Church friends suggest that David spend the day shadowing her son Eddie for a day at USC to see if he really is cut out for University life, and as the two boys used to go to kindergarten together way back, then David agrees,
When the day comes, Eddie is much more keen on showing David how they all party there for a great deal of the time, and after a heavy night out drinking, he and his mates end up in a Spa to sober up and recover. Naked together, David is spotted eying Eddie and his friends up, and they realize that he is gay even if he doesn’t.
Even though his parents agree to somehow fund the expensive fees of a cramming service in the belief that this will get him good enough grades to qualify for University, David instead goes and gets himself a job without telling them. It’s at the same Men Only Spa that Eddie took him, and now working there he is both horrified and fascinated by all the sexual activity that is going on in the sauna and steam rooms. He takes him a long time to pluck up enough courage to do something about this and eventually he has his own brief encounter, although he is far too uptight to allow the other man to even touch him.
The movie is a really refreshing look at a young Korean with a foot in two different cultures in which he doesn’t feel he fits, which in a way mirrors his parents own struggle to find their American identities. On top of that however, David has to come to terms with his own sexuality, which looks like it is going to take a great deal longer to resolve.
Written and directed by newbie Korean/American filmmaker Andrew Ahn and with young Joe Seo giving an excellent understated performance in his first starring role, this movie tackles the all-too-often neglected issue of an Asian gay man ‘coming out’ and they do so in such a straightforward manner without a hint of melodrama, that makes it even more compelling viewing and one of the best new LGBT movies of this year.