‘Dream’ Shares South Korea’s Journey to the Homeless World Cup

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

The Homeless World Cup is an annual association football tournament advocating the end of homelessness. Created and hosted by the Homeless World Cup Foundation since 1999, the event brings together teams of homeless people from various countries to compete. Available on Netflix, Korean film Dream tells a dramatized story of South Korea’s debut in the tournament, and the team’s journey to get there. 

Set in 2010, the story follows professional soccer athlete, Yoon Hongdae (Park Seojun), who is trying to recover his public image from an incident of violence involving a reporter. With a fugitive mom on the run, his press days are filled with inquiries about his involvement with her and her whereabouts rather than sports career. With the building stress, the last straw was teammate, Sungchan (Kang Haneul), moving into the international league. Exhausted, feeling the pressures of living up to Sungchan’s legacy, and frustrated by his mother’s presence in his life, Hongdae assaults a persistent reporter. Falling out of the general public’s favor, Hongdae’s PR and management team tries to come up with an idea to save his image and prevent their company from losing money. Their solution? Take a hiatus, rebrand, and coach the homeless soccer team for a documentary by aspiring director Lee Somin (IU).

While training the team, Hongdae’s faux concern and care for the team members and Somin slowly evolves into something more genuine. Scripted concern turns into real concern; he goes out of his way to protect and coach those on the team. And as he gets to know everyone, he starts to find his true self along the way. Given an ultimatum to choose between the team or his own career, his decision isn’t as difficult as he thought it’d be, as he easily chooses to be there for his team until the end. 

Although the film stars big name actors such as Park Seojun and IU, they are not the focal point of the story. Instead, the movie follows the first national team as they prepare for the tournament, and it focuses on each team members’ backstory, motivation, and growth. Despite not being the best, the ragtag team of homeless individuals comes together and finds their drive, as they give their all against their much stronger opponents. Even with humorous moments during training, the movie is not a comedy as one may suspect upon first glance. Tugging on the viewers’ heartstrings, Dream is instead about learning to pick yourself back up when you’ve fallen, and care for others, and see things from a different point of view.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The highlight performances from Dream without a doubt comes from Ko Changseok, who plays Jun Hyobong, and Kim Jongsoo, who plays Kim Hwandong. Both Hyobong and Hwandong have melancholic backstories involving their families, and as the film wraps up, most loose ends are tied up and resolved, including theirs. The two actors’ portrayals of older gentlemen who acknowledge their past mistakes and wish for nothing more than to make amends is realistic, heart-wrenching, and tear-inducing. The actors’ empathetic portrayals of their characters’ emotional storylines make audiences want to cheer them on.

Especially in a country where senseless violent acts towards homeless individuals are still common, as mentioned in the film, this Dream humanizes these individuals, giving them a voice and reminding people that they deserve kindness and respect. Even with so many characters that appear throughout the movie, there isn’t an overwhelming amount of information to remember, as everyone is so different and easily identifiable as individuals. Yet even with such distinct characters, personalities, and stories, the mismatched group learns to empathize with one another and work together to achieve their goals. If you’re looking for a comedic yet meaningful movie that can give you a renewed perspective on homeless individuals and being kinder in general, then Dream is certainly a movie you don’t want to miss.

Recommended Articles