As the host country for the 2018 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s national ice hockey team was automatically given a spot in the Olympic hockey tournament. The team would play at the highest level for the first time, facing the top countries in the sport. The skill gap between them and their opponents was huge, as South Korea had just 180 professional hockey players. Failure and defeat weren’t acceptable results, as losing face is considered the worst thing that could happen in Korean culture. But how to avoid humiliation, when defeat seems certain?
The documentary focuses on head coach Jim Paek, who was the first Korean-born player in the NHL. Paek faces the nearly impossible task of coaching the team for the Olympics and trying to prevent crushing defeat and national disgrace, when South Korea faces the big hockey countries such as Russia, Canada and Finland. Additional challenges are brought on by the unique world of South Korean hockey, affected by local customs, corrupt politicians and the managers of huge corporations.
The humorous documentary film by Janne Niskala and Oskari Pastila examines the intertwined relationship between sports, business and politics in South Korea.