Review: GANGNAM BLUES, a Gorgeously Overwrought Gangster Classic in the Making MKC's Top 10 Korean Films of 2014 News: Gong Yoo Joins Yeon Sang-ho's Live Action Zombie Thriller BUSAN-BOUND 23 Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2015 Review: THE ROYAL TAILOR Spins a Colorful Period Yarn

Friday, February 27, 2015

New Korean Films: Wandering Souls (2015 Week 8)

By Fabien Schneider

Yes, I know, you must have been profoundly perturbed from waiting in vain for my column last week. But rest assured that this absence wasn't caused by my laziness, but was actually the result of an event that is quite rare: there simply was not a single Korean film released that week. No need to worry, the rhythm that you've been used to is back again with three new films gracing theaters this week, all of them independent productions.

The Avian Kind
(조류인간)


Jeong-seok is a famous novelist who spent the last fifteen years exploring the most remote areas of the country, looking for his wife who disappeared suddenly without leaving any trace. His last book recalls the events he went through, which doesn’t go unnoticed. A mysterious woman contacts him on the pretense that she can help him in his quest, while a group of people who also saw their dear ones vanishing think that Jeong-seok is the most fitted to get them to the truth. All the clues put together seem to point toward a village. But what they will discover there goes beyond everything they could imagine.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: WELCOME TO DONGMAKGOL Is a Surreal Anti-War Drama


By Chris Horn

There is perhaps no region better suited to make a unique anti-war film than Korea, a country itself split and in a constant state of escalated threats of renewed warfare. Not quite content to make a film weighed down by excessive melodrama, new director Park Kwang-hyun made a splash in 2005 with his quirky, surreal adaptation of Jang Jin’s well-regarded play Welcome to Dongmakgol. Though imperfect, this feature film debut ultimately proves more memorable than most other anti-war films that pile on the misery.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Korean Box Office: Detectives and Spies Lead Lunar New Year Weekend (2015 WK 8)


By Pierce Conran

Business shot up 70% over last week, as 3.88 million holiday spectators flooded the theaters, however that figure was over a million lower than last year's Lunar New Year weekend. Granted it's not exactly as fair comparison as LNY itself fell on Friday in 2014 and fell just before the weekend this year. Against stiff competition from British films and foreign animation, local films barely maintained their market share with 50.2%.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: WAIKIKI BROTHERS, A True Korean Classic


By Pierce Conran

Yim Soonrye could lay claim to being the first female director to forge a lasting career in the Korean film industry. Indeed, she has one of the most varied filmographies among current filmmakers, yet ironically, or perhaps necessarily, she rose to prominence by making a pair of films that explored Korean masculinity far more successfully than the majority of her male contemporaries. 14 years on, her second feature Waikiki Brothers (2001) stands up as one of the best works of contemporary Korean cinema. Though the movement is generally considered to have ended with Lee Chang-dong’s Peppermint Candy in 1999, it’s also a film that could easily be included among the best of the Korean New Wave. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coming Attractions: CHINATOWN to Battle In Theaters This April


By Rex Baylon

It seems that almost every trailer I write about ends up being an upcoming thriller or crime picture and this time is no different. Han Jun-hee, screenwriter for the 2013 thriller The Gifted Hands, debuts as director this April with Chinatown, or for people who've been paying attention, Coin Locker Girl. Starring Kim Hye-soo, of The Thieves (2012) fame, and Kim Go-eun, who you might remember from the erotic drama Eungyo (2012), Han's picture seems to be a gangster-cum-family melodrama with Kim Hye-soo playing a stern and powerful Chinatown gang boss and Kim Go-eun as her troubled adopted daughter.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: THE KING AND THE CLOWN is a Bawdy, Heartfelt Period Classic


By Chris Horn

There’s no question that Korean period films have continued to increase in popularity in recent years as three of the top ten grossing Korean films by ticket admissions are set during the Joseon dynasty. As Korean studios allocate increasing resources to the next big period films they would do well to study Lee Joon-ik’s masterful The King and the Clown. Not only does Lee capture a thematically interesting story rounded out by compelling performances, but The King and the Clown is brilliant in its sympathetic look at all levels of Joseon society.

Reel Talk: The Thriving, Yet Embattled Korean Indie Scene


Every Friday I appear on a segment called Reel Talk for Arirang TV on the 2 o'clock news, mostly covering Korean cinema.

There's plenty to celebrate in Korea's contemporary indie scene, with fascinating new works appearing year-round and across the world's biggest festivals, yet few viewers in Korea are getting a chance to see them. In the most recent Reel Talk I preview a few of the films that will get limited runs in Korea soon as well as the challenges the industry faces.

Korean Box Office: DETECTIVE K 2 Opens Over Original (2015 WK 7)


By Pierce Conran

2.25 million spectators shuffled into theaters during the weekend before the Lunar New Year holiday, which was better than last week but still far behind the comparable weekend last year, when Frozen and Miss Granny led the market. Local films maintained a slim majority with a 50.7% screening share.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

News: Golden Bear for Korean Short HOSANNA


By Pierce Conran

For the second time in five years, a Korean film has walked away with the Berlin International Film Festival's Golden Bear for Short Film. Na Young-kil trumphed with Hosanna four years after brothers Park Chan-wook and Park Chan-kyong took home the same award for Night Fishing.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

News: Bae Doo-na Boards Omnibus THE ROMANTIC


By Pierce Conran

Bae Doo-na is close to signing on to what would be her first commercial Korean film since 2012's As One. The film in question is The Romantic, an omnibus drama in the same mould as Love Actually (2003).

New Korean Films: Smart Moustaches (2015 Week 6)

Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island
(조선명탐정 : 사라진 놉의 딸)


By Fabien Schneider

Two years after his investigation of a series of murders led to a conspiracy by government officials, Kim Min, the best detective in Joseon, has been sent to forced retirement on a remote island. The only people who still come to meet him are his partner in crime, Seo-pil, and a mysterious girl who desperately asks him to find her younger sister. Kim Min comes to hear a rumor about counterfeit silver ingots that have been spread in the country. That’s exactly what he needed to get back on track. He decides to escape from the island with the help of Seo-pil and to investigate the mystery of the silver ingots as well as the missing young girl. But as they delve deeper into these affairs, they constantly come across Hisako, a woman with an unknown background.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: Im Sang-soo's THE OLD GARDEN, A Heady Cocktail of Art, Ambition and History


By Pierce Conran

Ambition, artistry and Korea’s painful recent past combine to fascinating results in The Old Garden (2006), an impressive yet flawed work from director Im Sang-soo which frames the trauma of a nation through a brief, yet passionate romance.