Decision to Leave 헤어질 결심(2022)⎟ Review, Explained

Park Chan-wook directed the movie “Decision to Leave”, which was released in Korea in 2022. He won the Best Director Award at the Festival de Cannes. “Decision to Leave” is a must-watch film that has a mysterious and delicate approach to portraying the emotions between a man and a woman.

A man fell from a mountain and died. There is Haejoon, a passionate detective who takes risks rock climbing to uncover the man’s death. Haejoon inspects the man’s belongings. An expensive watch, a wallet, the dead man is a very possessive man who carves his initials into all of his belongings. His wife Seorae comes to the police station for questioning.

<Decision to Leave> Information

  • Director: Park, Chan-wook
  • Cast:Park, Hae-il, Tang wei, Lee, Jung-hyun
  • Release Date: 2022
  • Running Time: 2h 19m
  • original title: Heojil Kyolshim (헤어질 결심)

<Decision to Leave> summary and review

Seorae’s husband didn’t even have enough belongings, so he carved his initials into Seorae’s body. Seorae used to get beaten by her husband. That could be a sufficient motive for murder. When asked by police if it surprised her that her husband died. She answered no. Seorae even laughs slightly. Haejoon suspects Seorae.

Seorae is a Chinese woman who used to be a nurse and is now working as a caregiver in Korea. When Soowan, Haejoon’s junior, becomes suspicious after seeing Seorae go to work without being sad even though her husband dies, Haejoon says, “If grief envelops some like crashing wave, there are some to whom it spread slowly like ink in water.”

Haejoon, who suffers from severe insomnia, work undercover as a hobby. Haejoon parks his car in front of Seorae’s house and observes her. He watches Seorae eat ice cream instead of dinner, talk to herself while watching a TV show, and falls asleep in an uncomfortable position. Seorae knows that Haejoon is watching her. Seorae doesn’t hate that fact. Rather, she feels like Haejoon protecting her.

There were wounds on Seorae’s hands, and Seorae’s DNA was found in her husband’s fingernails. When Haejoon asks what happened, Seorae lifts her skirt and shows the scar on her thigh. Seorae explains her husband scratched her hand while trying to stop her from self-harming. When Seorae goes to the bathroom, she sprays fragrance on her wounds. Seorae has a smile on her face as she sprays fragrance and smells it as if she were treating something precious.

Soon, Seorae’s alibi is proven, but Haejoon continues to doubt Seorae. He continues to work undercover and watched over Seorae. There is a dead bird in front of Seorae’s house. Seorae talks to herself in Chinese as she buries the dead bird in the flower bed. When Haejoon Secretly recorded what Seorae said and listened to it, what Seorae said was, “bring me the head of that kind detective.” Haejoon is curious about the meaning of Seorae’s words.

The case ends when the suicide note comes out. But Seorae has another sin. She killed her own mother. At the request of her dying mother, Seorae, who was a nurse, helps her die comfortably. Even though he knows all this, Haejoon cannot stop his feeling for Seorae. Haejoon is dating Seorae, who is no longer a suspect, as with her husband, gradually develop feelings for her.

Haejoon also brings her to his house and cooks for her. Seorae is surprised to see photos of open cases filled with Haejoon’s living room, and realizes that it is these open cases that keep him, who has an outrageous sense of responsibility as a detective, from sleeping. Seorae helps Haejoon solve a cold case, burns that photos, and stays by his bedside so that he can sleep well. He asks Seorae what she meant when she said she wanted his “head”. Seorae laughs and says, it’s not the “head” but the “Heart”.

Haejoon cannot sleep next to his wife. Seorae has already taken his “heart”. At that time, Haejoon discovers conclusive evidence that Seorae may be the culprit who killed Ki Dosoo at the home of the old lady where Seorae works as a caregiver. Haejoon, who followed the route that Seorae likely took that day, becomes convinced that Seorae is the culprit who killed Ki D0s00. Haejoon, who came home to Seorae, questions Seorae. But He, who already loves her, cannot bear to send her to prison. so Haejoon says,

Seorae searches for “shattered” on her smartphone after Haejoon left.


*ruined and broken

13 months later,

Seorae seems to have become a completely different person. She has already married another man. Haejoon was transferred to Ipo, where his wife works. Seorae came to Ipo, where she had no connections, to avoid debt collectors. The two meet again at a market in Ipo. However, news comes that Seorae’s new husband had died. Haejoon is curious as to why Seorae came to Ipo. The two meet at the beach and talk.

Haejoon: Am I such a puchover?

Seorae: Am I so wicked?

Seorae’s turquoise dress flutters. Her dress, which looked blue or green depending on how you looked at it, and the wallpaper in her house before moving to Ipo were all the color of the blue sea. Blue and green are the colors that represent Seorae. On the one hand, Seorae seems like a pitiful woman, and on the other, she is a murderer. These colors revealed the two sides of Seorae.

In <Decision to Leave>, both the characters and viewers continue to have double feelings about Seorae. Also, the color red appears when Seorae is placed in front of the violence. In the scene where she is violently beaten by a debt collector, she looks like a different person because she is wearing a red silk dress. The soft pink color only appears once in a scene with Haejoon. In <Decision to Leave>, the colors of Seorae have important meaning.

Seorae was once again in the crosshairs because of the death of her second husband. Haejoon’s heart is troubled. One day, the two climb a mountain together. Seorae went to scatter her mother’s remains. There, Seorae gives Haejoon back the cell phone he told her to throw away earlier. Then she say to Haejoon,

Go back to before you were shattered

This is Seorae’s love for Haejoon as described in <Decision to Leave>. She wants to protect him because he has high pride as a detective.

Seorae drives the car and heads to the sea. Seorae’s second husband’s cell phone, which she threw away at the sea, has been recovered. Her husband was threatening Seorae, saying had a file. When Haejoon asks what file it is, Seorae says it is a recording of you saying you love me. Haejoon is confused. He never told Seorae that he loved her. No matter how hard he tried to remember, he couldn’t remember anything like that. The name of the file saved on the phone is “runined and broken”, and it contains Haejoon’s voice.

To Seorae, those words were undoubtedly words of love.

Seorae head to the sandy beach with a bucket. She digs a large hole, goes into it., and drinks a bottle of soju. The sea water is rising. Haejoon goes to Seorae’s location using location tracking, but she is no longer visible.

In <Decision to Leave>, there is one song that plays continuously throughout the movie. It is Korean singer Jung Hoon-hee’s “Fog”. It is said that director Park Chan-wook was inspired by this song when writing the screenplay. The film, which ends in Ipo filled with fog, is most suitable for the love between Haejoon and Seorae, which is obscured and hazy like fog.

Why did Seorae come to Ipo? Why did Seorae get married in a hurry? That is, to make a decision to leave.

<Watch the official video of Jung Hoon-hee’s “fog”>

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