Is Seoul Vibe Worth Watching? 

Park Dong Wook lives his life a quarter mile at a time. He returns home for the 1988 Seoul Olympics and takes a driving job that might not be worth it.

Seoul Vibe is a fun South Korean Netflix film that takes place during the weeks leading up to the 1988 Olympics. Filled with fast cars, criminal activities, and 80s nostalgia – should this film be on your watch list? 

Seoul Vibe is a film that seems like South Korea’s answer to America’s Fast and Furious franchise. As a fan of the earlier F&F films before they started going to space…I am perfectly fine with that. 

What is the Story of Seoul Vibe? 

The story of Seoul vibe begins during South Korea’s preparation for the upcoming 1988 Olympic games. 

Park Dong Wook's extended team of trendy thieves, spies, miscreants and drivers counting their stolen money
Park Dong Wook’s extended team of trendy thieves, spies, miscreants, and drivers counting their stolen money

Driver Park Dong Wook and his friend Joon Gi have just arrived back in South Korea after doing illegal activities in Saudi Arabia. Their buddy Bok Nam who drives a taxi without a license is waiting at the airport to pick them up. While loading their things into the taxi trunk, Dong Wook spots some guys in suits and on instinct, alerts everyone to jump in the car and they all drive away. 

The trio makes it back to their old hood and the two travelers realize that the neighborhood they left is essentially gone. The Olympics have a history of destroying lower-income or slum areas in real life, as well – so this wasn’t too shocking to see on screen.  

After a face-off with their local rivals, the men in suits catch up to Dong Wook and Joon Gi. Prosecutor Ahn has a bone to pick with the old government regime and proposes that Dong Wook’s gang do some espionage work – in exchange for a clean slate and visas to America. 

Is Seoul Vibe a True Story? 

The film follows Dong Wook’s group of friends and his sibling Yoon Hee as they infiltrate the criminal underground, make shady deliveries, and ultimately be set up and betrayed by both parties that hired the team. 

While I don’t know if Seoul Vibe is based on a true story, I do know that the film took a ton of inspiration from the American Fast & Furious movies. 

Similarities Between Seoul Vibe and Fast & Furious 

Dong Wook and his friends are flashy.  

John, Joon Gi,  Bok Nam, and Yoon Hee rock flashy 80s clothing
John, Joon Gi, Bok Nam, and Yoon Hee rock flashy 80s clothing

They enjoy dressing like 80s American B-boys, chugging Coca Cola, and blasting loud hip-hop music from their tricked-out rides. While the film begins with its own identity, it slowly starts to morph into a mash-up of scenes from various Fast & Furious films. 

Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift 

FF: Tokyo Drift is my favorite film in the franchise (with Fast Five being a close second). 

In Tokyo Drift, Han is murdered by one of D.K.’s goons after his Mazda RX7 is flipped over and blows up. (Retcon: actually, he is magically saved by Shaw in view of thousands of people who never saw a thing.) 

Both Han and Bok Nam are trapped in flipped cars that eventually ignite and catch fire

While we won’t get into the semantics on why his revival in Fast Five thematically makes no sense (coincidentally, Fast Five is the last film I enjoyed in the franchise) Seoul Vibe does pay homage to this scene. 

During Dong Wook’s last stand against Chairwoman Kang, Bok Nam breaks out his yellow taxi one last time to defend his friend. The Chairwoman’s bulldog The General pursues them with his own lackeys, resulting in one of them flipping Bok Nam’s cab. 

John’s car is hidden on the back of a garbage truck. In Fast Five, the gang hides money in a garbage truck to smuggle it away from the movie’s criminal compound
John’s car is hidden on the back of a garbage truck. In Fast Five, the gang hides money in a garbage truck to smuggle it away from the movie’s criminal compound

Since it’s almost the end of the film and he’s caused nothing but problems, John comes to Bok Nam’s rescue. After freeing him from the car leaking fluid, Bok Nam thanks John for saving him from becoming roast chicken, to which John replies:  

“This isn’t a movie. A car doesn’t blow up that easily” 

…when the two men get a somewhat safe distance away, the car behind them does indeed blow up in the movie. 

Dong Wook opens a row of Coca Cola glass bottles with his car spoiler while drifting at the Olympics
Dong Wook opens a row of Coca Cola glass bottles with his car spoiler while drifting at the Olympics

There is also a good amount of actual drifting in the film, like when Dong Wook’s spoiler drifts over and opens Coca Cola bottles.

This is reminiscent of the parking garage races in Tokyo Drift between D.K. and his opponents. And probably another very specific scene that I’m blanking on right now as I write this.

The Fast & Furious 6 Endless Runway Scene 

After successfully evading most of The General’s goons, Dong Wook manages to make it to the airport.

D.K. aims to shoot at Han in FF: Tokyo Drift while Dong Wook flips the bird at The General in Seoul Vibe

Using the Power of Friendship and horsepower engines, John pushes Dong Wook onto the Chairwoman’s military aircraft making ready to leave the country. 

Dom and his crew enter an airship while Dong Wook’s friends help him board the military craft

This mirrors the endless runway scene in Fast & Furious 6 when Dom and Brian enter an airship to rescue Mia who had been kidnapped by Shaw because…Reasons? Family?  

Honestly, who knows at this point. 

Furious 7 Plane Drop Scene 

Dong Wook makes his exit by driving out of an active military aircraft high in the sky. And… survives using the same parachutes that Dom, Letty, Brian, Tej, and Roman apparently did in Furious 7

Cars drop from the sky while fleeing military crafts using parachutes in both Furious 7 and Seoul Vibe

There are a few other scenes and similarities I could point out, but the sequences above were the most glaringly obvious.  

Although… I’m pretty sure the Daytona Continental Poster Dong Wook receives from Mr. Yoon could be a reference to the racetrack Dominic Toretto was working at in 2 Fast 2 Furious

Is Seoul Vibe Worth Watching? 

Seoul Vibe is a fun Netflix movie that you can put on one weekend night while making popcorn. While there are serious themes in the underlying narrative, the light-hearted and over-the-top 80s nostalgia make it a well-balanced film that is worth a watch. 

But, tell me your thoughts. 

Dong Wook makes off with the bag in the end, so all's well that ends well - right?
Dong Wook makes off with the bag in the end, so all’s well that ends well – right?

Are you an 80s baby? 

Have you ever attended an Olympic ceremony? 

Which Fast & Furious film is your favorite and why? 

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Korean Film Reviews and Discussions!       

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☆ In Asian Spaces    

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Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

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