The Batter’s Eye: If the Sun Rose in the West

Umpires are the unsung heroes of baseball.

Aspiring umpire and traffic control officer Beom-soo (Im Chang-jung) meets theatre student Hyun-joo (Ko So-young) after she gets in a minor accident in front of him. The two have a flirtation and exchange letters, but the relationship is put on hold when Hyun-joo goes overseas to continue her studies. Of course, fate will bring them back together.

If the Sun Rose in the West (1998, directed by Lee Eun) is, at its core, very sweet. There aren’t many surprises but that’s part of the pleasure of this movie. Im and Ko have a kind, playful chemistry with each other and that helps carry this far.

It’s also fun seeing a baseball movie that focuses on an umpire. Beom-soo has some ups and downs as he learns the job but it does provide some good insight into what goes into the job. Hyun-joo, also known as Yoo Ha-rin as an actress, isn’t the most well-defined character, but she doesn’t necessarily need to be for this to work. Her blank goodness is really all that’s essential.

The conflict, as much as you can call it that, of course involves a romantic rival but it’s definitely an afterthought. We know Beom-soo and Hyun-joo are going to end up together. It’s just about watching them get there.

The on-field baseball stuff is good and it can get away with a bit less action since the lead character is an umpire and not a player. And really, for as much as this movie is about baseball (spoiler, but not really, since it would be expected, the climax takes place at the Korean Series), baseball seems fairly secondary to everything else.

It’s hard to say more than “it was cute, I enjoyed it” about this. It’s not going to linger with me but the temporary pleasure of watching it was enough.

(The title is sometimes listed as If the Sun Rises in the West but the copy I watched used this title, so that’s what I went with.)