Helpless (2012 film)

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Helpless (2012) poster.jpg
Revised Romanization Hwacha
McCune–Reischauer Hwach‘a
Directed by Byun Young-joo
Produced by Shin Hye-eun
Oh Ki-min
Written by Byun Young-joo
Based on All She Was Worth
by Miyabe Miyuki
Starring Kim Min-hee
Lee Sun-kyun
Jo Sung-ha
Music by Kim Hong-jib
Cinematography Kim Dong-young
Edited by Park Gok-ji
Distributed by CJ E&M
Release date
  • March 8, 2012 (2012-03-08)
Running time
117 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Box office ₩18,459,203,000

Helpless (Hangul화차; RRHwa-cha) is a 2012 South Korean psychological mystery/thriller written and directed by Byun Young-joo based on the bestselling novel All She Was Worth (火車, Kasha, lit. "one-way train/fire chariot to hell") by Japanese writer Miyabe Miyuki.[2][3]

A man searches for his fiancée who vanished without a trace, only to discover dark, shocking truths about her and that she wasn’t the person he thought he knew.[4][5][6]


South Korea, 2009. A few days before their wedding, veterinarian Jang Mun-ho (Lee Sun-kyun) and his fiancee Kang Seon-yeong (Kim Min-hee) pull over for coffee at a motorway rest stop on the way to visiting his parents in Andong, southeast of Seoul. However, when Mun-ho returns to the car, Seon-yeong has disappeared and is not reachable on her mobile phone. All he can find is a hairpin in the rest stop's toilet. From the mess at her flat in Seoul, it looks as if there has been a break-in. Mystified, Mun-ho then learns from a banker friend, Dong-woo (Kim Min-jae), that Seon-yeong had earlier applied for a bank account but had been turned down when it was discovered she had a history of personal bankruptcy dating back to 2007. Investigating her debt history, Mun-ho finds she had been using someone else's name and identity. He persuades his cousin, Kim Jong-geun (Jo Sung-ha), a former police detective sacked for taking bribes, to help find her. Examining her flat, Jong-geun finds she left no fingerprints, had no friends and claimed her mother died two years ago. It then turns out that the woman (Cha Soo-yeon) whose identity she assumed two years ago had a debt history and has since vanished. Visiting Seon-yeong's hometown, Jong-geun hears rumors she killed her mother for her insurance money. Seon-yeong's real name is, in fact, Cha Gyeong-seon, and Jong-geun and Mun-ho realize she is now looking to take on another woman's identity. They think they know her possible target.[7]


Box office[edit]

Helpless debuted at No. 1 on the weekend box office, only three days after its premiere on March 8, attracting 607,463 moviegoers and grossing ₩4.7 million between March 9 and 11.[12] It topped the chart for two consecutive weeks, selling 561,666 tickets between March 16 and 18, according to KOBIS (Korean Box Office Information System).[13] It was the twelfth most-watched Korean film of 2012, with 2,436,400 tickets sold.[14][15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

2012 Baeksang Arts Awards

2012 Buil Film Awards

2012 Blue Dragon Film Awards

2012 Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards

2012 Women in Film Korea Awards


  1. ^ "Helpless". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-10-30.
  2. ^ Lee, Claire (8 March 2012). "Director explores financial, social horrors". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  3. ^ Kim, Kyu Hyun. "Helpless". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  4. ^ "Helpless (2012)". The Chosun Ilbo. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  5. ^ "Box Office". The Korea Herald. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  6. ^ "Now Showing". The Korea Times. 8 March 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  7. ^ Elley, Derek (10 March 2012). "Helpless". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  8. ^ Lee, In-kyung (29 January 2012). "Kim Min Hee Brings the Mystery for Train". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  9. ^ "Kim Min-hee Anything But Helpless in New Movie Role". The Chosun Ilbo. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  10. ^ Lee, Jin-ho (10 March 2012). "Interview: Kim Min Hee was Always Confident about Her Acting". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  11. ^ Oh, Mi-jung (13 March 2012). "Lee Sun Gyun Didn't Really Want to be in Helpless at First". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  12. ^ Suk, Monica (12 March 2012). "Thriller Helpless debuts at No. 1 on weekend box office". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  13. ^ Suk, Monica (19 March 2012). "Helpless leads box office for second consecutive week". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  14. ^ Hong, Lucia (9 April 2012). "Korean movies notch up higher number in 1Q ticket sales". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  15. ^ Oh, Mi-jung (4 May 2012). "The Helpless to be Released in Six Different Cities in the North America". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  16. ^ Kwon, Mee-yoo (27 April 2012). "Kim Soo-hyun wins Paeksang awards". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  17. ^ "Byun Young-joo Picked as Director of the Year by Female Film Critics". The Chosun Ilbo. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-05. 
  18. ^ Kim, Hyun-min (6 December 2012). "BYUN Young-joo Selected as the Woman Filmmaker of 2012". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 

External links[edit]