Benson Lee on 'Seoul Searching': 'My version of an 80s teen comedy that I wanted to see'

- Benson Lee wrote and directed "Seoul Searching," which premieres Friday in Los Angeles and offers a glimpse into life as an Asian teenager in the 1980s -- with a John Hughes-esque flavor.

The film centers around three boys who are Korean-Mexican, Korean-American and Korean-German. They meet at summer camp, each sent by their parents to teach them what it really means to be Korean.

The story was inspired by Lee's own experience.

"It was '86 and I was in high school and my parents were concerned because I went to a predominantly white high school," Lee explained on Good Day LA. "My father was like, 'You need to become more familiar with your heritage.'"

They sent him to Seoul for the summer, kicking and screaming, and Lee said the experience turned out to be a positive one.

"I met all these really interesting kids, Korean kids, who I never knew existed from Europe and South America."

The teen comedy and coming-of-age film examines the complicated issue of cultural identity for first- and second-generation Asian immigrants.

And if you think the film has a hint of "Breakfast Club"-style to it, you’re right.

"I really loved 80s teen comedies, and I really respected John Hughes because he respected young people and took their issues very seriously," Lee explained. "But the only thing I didn’t like was the representation of Asians in these films, so ‘Seoul Searching’ is sort of my version of an 80s teen comedy that I wanted to see when I was growing up."

Lee became the first Korean-American filmmaker to be accepted to the Dramatic Competition of the Sundance Film Festival for his first feature film "Miss Monday."

"Seoul Searching premieres June 24 in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre. Click here to purchase tickets.

Fun fact: Lee and our morning meteorologist Maria Quiban went to the University of Hawaii together.

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