Art & Entertainment

'My Name Is Loh Kiwan' On Netflix Movie Review: Song Joong-ki, Choi Sung-eun's Chemistry Shines In This Story Of Love And Survival

Outlook Rating:
3 / 5

Adapted from a novel penned by Cho Hae-jin, is 'My Name is Loh Kiwan' worth your two hours? Or can you really afford to skip past Song Joong-ki's performance? Read on to find out.


A Still from 'My Name Is Loh Kiwan' Photo: Netflix

‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’ is a romantic drama adapted from Cho Hae-jin’s novel, ‘I Met Loh Kiwan.’ Starring K-Drama enthusiasts’ favourite mafia actor Song Joong-ki, the film explores the interdependent lives of its protagonists as they face their personal demons and yearn to start afresh. The movie is now available for streaming on Netflix, and here’s our take on it.

‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’: Story

The storyline follows Loh Kiwan (Song Joong-ki), a North Korean defector forced to flee his life in China due to an unfortunate incident. In order to seek a fresh start, he travels to Belgium and tries to fend for himself in a foreign land where he is unfamiliar with the way of life. Amidst his struggle to achieve refugee status, a theft incident leads him to cross paths with Mari (Choi Sung-eun), a former shooting athlete. Little did a desperate Kiwan and hopeless Mari know that this encounter would give them something to live for.


‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’: Performances

It’s always a sight for sore eyes to see Song Joong-ki on screen. With each character he assumes, he adds his own unique touch to it. His versatility never ceases to astonish me. He has flawlessly embodied diverse emotions and has looked exceptionally convincing in the role of a refugee. His facial expressions, delivered with great sincerity, have been spot-on. What truly stood out for me were his desperate eyes, which reeked of longing. Not only that, his portrayal of Loh Kiwan has been so convincing that when he experiences joy, you share in that happiness, but when he’s at his lowest, oh can you feel those emotions with him.


There’s a mysterious aura surrounding Choi Sung-eun in this movie, which is gradually uncovered. Her character Mari’s rebellious persona, along with her distinctive fashion and makeup, stands out differently from how we usually see women portrayed in Korean content. While she has her own demons to face and her own problems to solve, she has seen subtle character growth, wonderfully showcased through her facial expressions.

Though Sung-eun doesn’t have as much screen time, her pure chemistry with Joong-ki has been the most heart-touching thing to happen to the film. Without much said or done, their love story, which is equivalent to freedom in the movie’s context, is so enchanting. Despite a turbulent start to their romantic journey, their brokenness and a sense to be nurtured and cared for, connect them on levels that can be felt through the screens.

The two major side characters have their own emotional stories, which only add to the vulnerable plot of the movie. Lee Sang-hee as Seon-ju garners attention every time she’s on screen. She portrays her character with immense power, and somewhere, you will find yourself rooting for her. The same goes for Jo Han-chul as Yoon-seong, who has excellently stepped into the shoes of a grieving and caring father, who only wants to connect with his daughter, Mari, because she’s his only family left.

Kim Sung-ryung as Kiwan’s mother, Lee Il-hwa as Mari’s mother, Waël Sersoub as the bar owner, and Seo Hyun-woo as Kiwan’s uncle have all delivered commendable performances in their limited screen time. They played pivotal roles in providing context to the main characters’ back-stories.


‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

Kim Hee-jin has penned the script, adding his unique touch to the adaptation, and has also stepped into the director’s role for the first time. When watching the film, you will be able to point out similarities with other cinematic masterpieces like ‘My Name is Khan’ and ‘Crash Landing on You,’ which explore the struggles of refugees and the power of love transcending borders. ‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’ has an unrealistic arc, but when looking at the bigger picture, the emotional aspect of the film surpasses that. The storytelling has a nuanced approach, but as they say, no movie is without its flaws. I truly hoped the film would shed more light on Kiwan’s struggle to attain refugee status while also delving deeper into the budding romance between the lead characters. Their romance, though beautiful and pure, felt very rushed.


The movie is visually stunning, thanks to the skills of Lim Won-gun. The camerawork beautifully adds emotion to each scene, with close-up shots capturing emotions and expressions, and drone shots turning the busy streets of Brussels into a character. Each shot has been thoughtfully executed to immerse audiences in the turbulent world of the characters. However, what has been lacking is the tone of the film. The lighting has been dull throughout, even during happy moments shared by Mari and Kiwan. Coming to the pacing of the film, it’s just about right. Had the makers decided to extend it, it would not have had the same emotional impact as it did. With many plotlines running simultaneously, the editors have handled it well, so as not to make it confusing.


What I also loved is the musical composition. The piano instrumental in the first few minutes of the film got me hooked onto what’s to come. The melancholic melodies have truly heightened the emotions, fitting right into the narrative.

‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’: Cast & Crew

Director: Kim Hee-jin

Cast: Song Joong-ki, Choi Sung-eun, Kim Sung-ryung, Jo Han-chul, Lee Il-hwa, Lee Sang-hee, Seo Hyun-woo, Waël Sersoub

Available On: Netflix

Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes

Premiere Date: March 1, 2024

Genre: Drama

Language: Korean, French

‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’: Can Kids Watch It?

Yes, with parental guidance.

Outlook’s Verdict

There’s only one take from the film: love is the strongest feeling of all. The movie leaves you with hope as well as an ache in your heart but with a happy ending. This movie is a perfect watch if you’re looking for something that will make you shed a few teardrops. Though not relatable to most, the heartfelt performances hit you right in the spot. A hopeful story of love, survival, and human spirit and determination, ‘My Name is Loh Kiwan’ will get to you.