Girls and Dolls - The Many Faces of Bae Doo-na SNOWPIERCER Stays Uncut but Release Downsized Review: THE ATTORNEY MKC's Coverage of Korea's Berlinale Lineup Top 10 Korean Films of 2013

Monday, March 10, 2014

News: HAN GONG-JU Picks Up Three Awards At Deauville Asian Film Festival


By Patryk Czekaj

There's no stopping Han Gong-ju, a little South Korean indie that's taking the film festival circuit by storm. Since its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival last October, Lee Su-jin's debut feature has won many awards at major film festivals around the world, starting with the Citizen Reviewers' and CGV Movie Collage Award on native soil, at the aforementioned BIFF.

Friday, March 7, 2014

News: SNOWPIERCER Alert! Mark Your Calendars for June 27th


By Pierce Conran

Snowpiercer is finally getting a stateside release. The internet is saying June 27th but CJ Entertainment is telling me June, with no day fixed as of yet. If it does open on the 27th it will have to contend with the new Transformers film (and my birthday). As previously reported the film will be screened uncut but rolled out in limited release. However, as The Weinstein Company will release through their label Radius-TWC it may well become available on VOD at the same time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

News: Jeon Do-yeon And Kim Yoon-seok In Talks for New Lee Yoon-ki Film


By Rex Baylon

For those Korean film fans that have an affinity for quiet settings and slightly damaged female characters, the films of Lee Yoon-ki have acted as cinematic catnip. Having made a reputation for himself in the film festival circuit for Rohmerian style dramas featuring female protagonists muted by some tragic event in the past the director has been off the radar since 2011 after the release of his fourth feature, Come Rain Come Shine. There have been various rumors about forthcoming projects and though none have added up to much news has surfaced that award-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon (Secret Sunshine, 2007; Happy End, 1999) and superstar Kim Yoon-seok (Thieves, 2012; The Chaser, 2008) are in talks to star in Lee’s fifth feature, titled A Man and a Woman.

Produced by b.o.m Film with an agreement by CJ Entertainment to distribute the finished picture, the new project would reunite Lee with Jeon after their 2008 collaboration My Dear Enemy, which played at several festivals around the world and became a critical darling. The only thing confirmed about the script is that the film will focus on the passionate relationship of middle-aged lovers. Of course, all this pondering on the plot will be moot if the two actors can’t reach an agreement with Lee and the producers.

Though Jeon and Kim have shown strong interest in working with Lee on this project both actors already have full schedules this year with Jeon Do-yeon appearing with Lee Byung-heon in the period drama Memories of the Sword and Kim Yoon-seok pulling double duty on Sea Fog and the upcoming Tazza sequel.



Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: HORROR STORIES 2 Slightly Improves Upon Its Predecessor


By Patryk Czekaj

At first glance, Horror Stories 2 looks like a more mature and self-conscious version of the original film. Though the chapters are still uneven and often come close to being simply absurd, the directors seem aware of the predecessors’ mistakes and ultimately create a gripping and penetrating atmosphere of terror, grounding their visions both in dreams and in a three-dimensional reality. This clarifies the structure of all the segments and gives them a much-needed touch of intrigue. Less cheap thrills based on jumps scares and nonsensical gore material makes Horror Stories 2 a serviceable allegory for the soul and its journey towards redemption.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: THE BOOMERANG FAMILY Swings For Your Heart


By Rex Baylon

The concept and role of family has gone through several evolutions in the history of man. At first being just an institution for the birthing and raising of offspring. Back than, it took, as the old saying goes, a whole village to raise a child. As populations increased and values shifted away from group think into a more individualistic mode the definition of family became more constrained.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Hong Sang-soo's Beautiful But Slightly Strange OUR SUNHI


By John A. Riley

Some critics have characterised Hong Sang-soo's latest film as evidence of a prolific director running out of steam. In fact, Our Sunhi demonstrates a refinement and distillation of the director’s technique as he approaches an Ozu-like mastery of his craft.

Friday, February 21, 2014

News: Three Wins for South Korean Cinema at this Year's Berlin Film Festival


By Rex Baylon

As the Berlin International Film Festival closes its doors for another year Korean cinema was not completely left out of the loop, even if no films from South Korea made it into the main festival competition. Two documentaries A Dream of Iron and Non Fiction Diary both took home a NETPAC Prize for Best Asian Film and Sprout was awarded the Crystal Bear for Best Short in the Generation Kplus section.

Having both premiered at last year’s Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Non Fiction Diary, a harrowing documentary about South Korea in the early 1990s when true democracy was still in its infancy, won the Mecenat award for Best Documentary and Sprout, a charming tale of a little girl’s quest to get some bean sprouts for her grandfather’s funerary rites, received a special mention for the Sonje Award. While A Dream of Iron, a stylishly done picture about the POSCO steelmaking factory in Pohang, had its world premier at this year’s Berlinale Forum section.

Last year, other South Korean films like Cheong, Shin Su-won’s Pluto (2012), Hong Sang-soo’s Nobody’s Daughter Haewon have all received awards and accolades at the Berlin Film Festival and this year continues the trend, proving that South Korea’s indie film scene is still going strong.

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Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

News: Kino Lorber Purchases Tartan 'Asia Extreme' Catalog


By Rex Baylon

For film fans of the early aughts their first introduction to the violent but beautiful world of Korean genre cinema most often came from the UK-based DVD label Tartan Films. Known for their Asia Extreme sub-label in the early days of DVD the company curated a unique catalog that showcased various genres and talent from all over Asia. From South Korea, Tartan was responsible for being the first English language company to release films by Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon and Kim Ki-duk as well as titles such as Memento Mori (1999) and Nowhere to Hide (1999). By 2008 though, the company facing financial trouble sold most of its catalog to the Palisades Media Group and its Asia Extreme catalog was left to go out of print.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: BETWEEN THE KNEES Lies Korea's Sexual Awakening


By Pierce Conran

While eastern and western sensibilities co-exist somewhat happily in Korea these days, this wasn't always the case. Faced with independence after a long spell of colonial rule in 1945, albeit divided from the Soviet-controlled North, South Korea, through the presence of the US military, was presented with the trappings of the West for the very first time. Ever since then, there has been an uneasy relationship between respect for established local tradition and cravings for imported comforts.

Many films have examined this dichotomy, including Early Rain (1966). However few have done so as aggressively as Lee Jang-ho's Between the Knees (1984), a fascinating and frustratingly paradoxical work from the Korean New Wave. Both progressive and surprisingly conservative, it's a little hard to peg exactly what director Lee's angle is at different points of his film.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Berlinale 2014 Review: SPROUT's Short and Sweet Seoul Odyssey


Part of MKC's coverage of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival and the 18th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

A little girl’s trip to the market becomes a charming journey through modern Korea in Yoon Ga-eun’s delightful short film Sprout, which premiered at the Busan International Film Festival last October. Korean indie cinema often makes a point of demonstrating what’s wrong with society while many of the values most prized by citizens are typically found in the nation’s commercial output, albeit through rose-tinted windows. Thus it has been treat to see some younger, low-budget filmmakers explore the positives of their country in recent years. Films like Koala (2012) have not forgotten the realities of the society they inhabit, but they have also placed the good right alongside the bad.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Berlinale 2014 Review: NON-FICTION DIARY Offers Captivating Glimpse of 1990s Korea


Part of MKC's coverage of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival and the 18th Busan International Film Festival.


By Pierce Conran

I stepped onto Korean soil for the first time almost 13 years after the end of the 1990s but there's no arguing the otherworldliness of that time, which can still be picked up on today by sampling the available media from that era. These days, some Koreans even reminisce about that special, indefinable feeling if a certain 90s song pops on in a basement bar.

Though a fan of documentaries, I've remained somewhat on the periphery concerning those from Korea despite my keen interest for the rest of the industry's output. A number of the subjects that they embark on are captivating, even essential at times, but they haven't always been made in the most gripping fashion. Mind you, I'm loath to admit that I still haven't seen some of the major recent successes, such as Talking Architect (2011) and Planet of Snail.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Berlinale 2014 Review: Grand and Hypnotic, A DREAM OF IRON Won't Soon Be Forgotten


Part of MKC's coverage of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

Early on in A Dream of Iron, a new documentary premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival this year, director Kelvin Kyung Kun Park shows us images a whales moving through the vast blue expanse of the ocean - enormous creatures that were once considered grand and mysterious. Soon after, Park brings us to the expansive POSCO steel-making plant on the coast of Southern Korea and proceeds to show us the process of shipbuilding through a series of arresting visual tableaux. Gargantuan in size, these vessels demonstrate the soaring ambition of the human race, as enormous components are each readied for assembly with minuscule laborers dotting their surface.