The chorus of voices in the comments section of this film is a mood.
Strongberry’s queer media releases have been something I’ve always looked forward to every year. Long Time No See (2017), a BL series I’d mentioned in a post before, helped me get back to watching more Korean queer media, and My Pistachio (2018) was probably one of their first shorts that I’d ever appreciated. Needless to say, when I saw the notification for a new queer release in June on their YouTube channel, I was visibly excited about it. Anyone would’ve been, considering how adorable the teaser was.
However, there’s a catch. The movie was only 7 minutes long. I spent an entire hour agonizing over that.
Hold Me (Sonjaba Jweo in Korean) is packaged as “a gift from STRONGBERRY for the Pride Month in June” (to borrow their own words from the description). It follows what may be considered as a very clichéd ‘graduation confession’ by many viewers; two people missing the ceremony on their last day of school is a common trope in romance titles. What makes it not-so-cliché is how they go about it.
The opening scene itself tells us who intends to confess first; it shows Yeonho (Hong Minki) running at full speed with his classmate and friend Jaemin (Jeon Yeongin) in tow. He looks like he wants to say something, but all he does is apologize to the latter. Their conversation makes Jaemin want to take matters into his own hands, which he does. What follows is a confession, a few messed-up graduation photos, and wide smiles (there’s plenty more where that came from).
What I found wonderful about this short film was that only 7 minutes were required to cover so many things; from the struggles of getting into university, to the inherent need for going about apologizing to someone they like—something that queer people feel is required of them, especially when it involves a person of the same gender. The fact that most of the characters do not exactly fit into the beauty standards seen in Korean media is a welcome change as well.
The height difference definitely made my heart flutter (a guilty pleasure, really). But that’s not the only thing it did. Although usually seen as a gendered heteronormative trope in romance title, it served as a tool of subversion in this case—something that I found more endearing than the trope itself. The promise of hope and happiness at the end was also just as precious as the nervous but longing gazes, the burning red ears, and the small peck.
In spite of all this, I am in two minds about the comments—most of which were requests for this short film to be adapted into a series. On the one hand, I want the same. On the other hand, I feel that it’s perfect the way it is, and I wouldn’t want to change anything about it. It was truly a gift during Pride Month, and it’s a tradition that I hope Strongberry keeps alive for many more years to come.