Review: Cuddly South Korean comedy ‘Secret Zoo’ delivers laughs and heart

Yeong-gyu Park in the movie 'Secret Zoo'
Yeong-gyu Park in the movie “Secret Zoo.”
(Capelight Pictures)

Resistance might not be futile, but to deny oneself the amiably goofy charms of South Korea’s “Secret Zoo,” an inspired family comedy that gives fresh meaning to faux fur, would be a real shame.

In order to make attorney at the law firm where he’s a lowly assistant, Tae-soo (an appealing Ahn Jae-hong) is given the daunting assignment of keeping a failing zoo afloat for three months while the equity firm that took it over finds a buyer.

That’s no mean feat when it turns out the Dongsan Park establishment has sold off the majority of its main attractions.

Aware of the time crunch involved in trying to import additional creatures, Tae-soo attempts to make a go of it by recruiting the remaining skeleton staff to pose in furry suits that can sort of look convincing if viewed from as far a distance as possible.


In others’ paws, the upshot might have been something of a one-trick pony, but filmmaker Son Jae-gon, adapting the material from a popular web series, lends it a beguiling — and often laugh-out-loud — allure, especially where the cola-swigging polar bear is concerned.

Had it not been for the film’s unfortunate proximity to the poorly received “Dolittle,” which it handily dominated at the Korean box office last weekend, “Secret Zoo” would have made a natural choice for English-language reimagining.

‘Secret Zoo’

In Korean with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Playing: Starts Jan. 24, CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles; CGV Cinemas, Buena Park