Monday, June 27, 2011

Korean Cinema News (06/20-06/26, 2011)

As we roll into Summer, the news cycle is slowing slightly but there were still some interesting stories this week, including some on theater monopolies and the huge success of Sunny.


A Look at Asia's Take on Spaghetti Westerns
Based on the spaghetti westerns that emanated from Europe in the 60s and 70s, Asia has recently taken to shifting what is chiefly an American genre to the East. Korea's The Good, the Bad and the Weird (2008)is the most popular example thus far. (, June 20, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk's Latest Selected for Karlovy Vary Film Fest
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has invited Kim Ki-duk's latest film, the documentary Arirang to screen in its 'Another View' section. (Yahoo! News, June 21, 2011)

New Character Posters for Sector 7
The much anticipated Sector 7 has released some new posters, they are characters shots for the main stars of the picture. Sector 7 will be released on August 4. (Film Smash, June 21, 2011)

Upcoming Blockbuster Quick Promises Speedy Thrills
Quick, a summer action film focusing on motorcycle will be released on July 21 in Korea and producers are promising that it will be the fastest Korean blockbuster ever. (The Korea Times, June 21, 2011)

Seoul Begins Showing Local Films with Japanese Subtitles
The City of Seoul, with the help of CGV Theaters, will begin to exhibit Korean films with Japanese subtitles. This follows the increasing popularity and viability of English subtitles being added to local films in Korea's capital. (The Korea Herald, June 21, 2011)

Poongsan Readying for Big Splash
The Kim Ki-duk scripted Poongsan, directed by his protege Jeon Jae-hong, was just released this past weekend in Korea, and its producers have high expectations that their low-budget film will make a big impact on the marketplace. (Joong Ang Daily, June 22, 2011)

Korean Stars Owed 2.2 Billion Won in Backpay
The Korean Entertainment Management Association (KEMA), is claiming that various stars are owed a total of 2.2 billion won in backpay. Affected screen talent includes Hyeon Bin and Song Hye-kyo. (Manila Bulletin, June 23, 2011)

Quick Presold to 7 Countries
Incoming blockbuster Quick has been presold to 7 countries, including France. The film is reported to have cost around 8 million dollars. (, June 23, 2011)

Outcry from Independent Producers as Multiplexes Monopolize Screenings
Following previous complaints, the Korean Film Producers Association (KFPA) has outlined new grievances against multiplexes which continue to exhibit monopolistic tendencies. The main problem is that in Korea the main exhibitor are also the main film producers, thus they control access to their films and smaller, independent features are often squeezed out of the marketplace. (Joon Ang Daily, June 24, 2011)

Will Sector 7 Be the Next Hit to Crack 10 Million?
This summer sees the return of potent Ha Ji-won/Yoon Je-kyoon team, who previously collaborated on Haeundae (2009). Many are wondering if they will again have a hit on their hands that will cross the 10 million viewer mark. (, June 26, 2011)


Dr. Jump (no subs)

Pain (no subs)

Quick (no subs)


Sunny Back on Top
After 4 weeks coming in behind Kung Fu Panda 2, Sunny saw its weekend take increase by 50% (330,000) and handily took first place, it has no accrued an enormous 5.7 million admissions. Kung Fu Panda is still going strong and looks set to cross 5 million next week. Poongsan was the big new release and did well with 240,000 while holdover White added 100,000 to its total, which stands at 615,000. (, June 26, 2011)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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, June 23, 2011

Blades of Blood (구르믈 버서난 달처럼, Gooreumeul beoeonan dalcheoreom) 2010

Most national film industries have their own variant of the period film and depending on the length and volatility of their history, they may have a few different epochs rendered in these offerings. Korea revels in genre cinema so it is no surprise that period films are numerous in the marketplace. Like other genres it is frequently cross-blended with other styles of filmmaking, and frequently it is twisted into something you may not expect: The King and the Clown, a gay period romp, became the nation’s top grossing film when it was released in 2005; Woochi mingled period, action, and science fiction into a high concept comedy and went on to be the second best performing film at the local box office last year; and Detective K, the first installment of an episodic procedural comedy was the most successful film in the first quarter of this year. These clever and original examples are joined by many more straightforward but exceptionally well-made period dramas such as Chunhyang (2000), Untold Scandal (2003), and The Servant (2010) all of which scored big with Korean audiences.

Every year over 100 films are made in Korea but only a dozen or so are marketed overseas. Blades of Blood is one of these and my guess is the film’s producers were hoping that foreign audiences would find something to connect with in this expensive and frequently gloomy enterprise because it certainly didn’t at home. The film only managed 200,000 admissions, a far cry from break-even point. The film features major, bankable stars, is technically competent, and can be quite good at times, so why did it flounder so badly?

The film is more than passable, if somewhat unremarkable, and I’m sure the filmmakers were a little surprised by its poor showing. Out of the two marquee names, Hwang Jeong-min is very good as the blind swordsman Hwang (more than a little reminiscent of Zatoichi) but Cha Seoung-won is problematic as the ambivalent villain Mong-hak. This perception could be entirely my own since I associate him with Kim Sang-jin’s blithely irreverent comedies. Cha portrays characters who are always over-the-top, goofy, and unsure of themselves: a disrespectful youth in Attack the Gas Station (1999); the fighting teacher in Kick the Moon (2001); the wannabe homeowner in Ghost Story (2004); or even as the jailed father in A Day With My Son (2007). To see him in such a startlingly different role is jarring and I couldn’t really get over it. Hwang on the other hand is familiar with oddball characters, A Man Who Was Superman (2007) being a great example, and he excels and seems to revel in this role.

Technically the film is very proficient, the cinematography is solid, the production design and costumes detailed, and the sound is very effective, if a little overbearing at times (like when the soundtrack is inundated with dozens of swooshing swords). One thing I couldn’t possibly understand was the prosthetic vampire teeth they attached to Cha, I suppose they were symbolic of his descent into mayhem, his craving for bloodletting and power, but frankly they looked ridiculous. The final shot of the film is also immensely perplexing, I’m sure that it means something but I really couldn’t be bothered to figure out what that is.

I think the film’s major flaw, at least what pervaded most of its running time, was the uneven plotting and the plodding exposition that went along with it. From the very beginning I had a little trouble following what was going on. I knew there was a rebellion that were forced to compromise and Mong-hwa wasn’t going along with it, he set out hellbent on revenge (possibly, I’m not sure) and killed Gyeon-ja's family. Then Gyeon-ja and Hwang (a former member of the rebellious alliance) went after Mong-hak. There’s also something about the Japanese invading, the rival faction in the King’s court, and a girl but she is so poorly written I can’t quite figure the role she played in it all.

I’ve racked up quite a few negative points, but I must say that I enjoyed a lot of this film. When I could follow it, it was at times engaging and the fight scenes were very good. The comical scenes involving Hwang mentoring Gyeon-ja were played for cheap chuckles but they work well, because they are well choreographed and because of Hwang. A lot of the narrative is an excuse for swordplay, characters get killed with hardly any provocation, but I suppose that’s par for the course and I think it benefits the film. The ending is quite melodramatic and somewhat apart from the rest of the film, but it’s done very well and I wonder had rest of the film had been done this way, could it have struck a deeper chord with Korean audiences? I definitely enjoyed myself with Blades of Blood despite its numerous flaws but I daresay that for many viewers it may be a step too far in the wrong direction.


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 Review Round-up, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (GMT+1).

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Petty Romance (Jje-jje-han Ro-maen-seu) 2010

Korean romcoms are a dime a dozen in Korea, this is well known, the good news is that most of them are quite good, which is also well know but more than a little surprising to people who may not have seen any. I remember when I first saw My Sassy Girl (2001) and was whole-heartedly enjoying myself, even in spite of my previous prejudice to the genre. Back then I would talk anyone’s ear off who would listen about Korean cinema, truth be told I still do that. It was easy to recommend films to film buffs, most of my colleagues in college, but I struggled to honestly recommend Korean films to many other people. Save the Green Planet (2003) and Oldboy (2003) may have left an impression on me but doubtless those who may not be so keen on stylized violence would be left in the cold. Similarly, Peppermint Candy (1999) and The Power of Kangwon Province (1998) may have been perfect fodder for intellects (would be and otherwise) but those who go to the theater purely for entertainment could not hope to find much to their liking in these films. It was then with great joy and relief that I came across My Sassy Girl, a wonderfully entertaining film that was clever, well-made, and would appeal to a different kind of film viewer. I was able to recommend Korean cinema to people who don’t ever seek out foreign film.

Jeong-bae and Da-rim
This was a turning point in my appreciation of Korea’s film industry, revenge picks and arthouse flicks were all well and good, and they were oh so good, but I learnt that Korea had a lot more to offer to a broader audience. My Sassy Girl was a complete departure from what I’d seen and yet the skill, craftsmanship, and many of the inherent themes still made this evidently cut from the same cloth as what I had previously digested. It’s just that the cloth was bigger than I had once thought, if such a commercial film, a romantic comedy could be produced by an emerging industry, what else was in store? I quickly found out that the answer was a lot, I opened myself to films that on paper may not have been my cup of tea. I was wholly democratic in my Korean film selection and the treasures I uncovered were rich and plenty.

Petty Romance is not My Sassy Girl, and likely it will not motivate the same kind of response as it did in me, but it is a more than serviceable film that reminded me of that same feeling. If it were an American film I would probably hate it, because it would have displayed less ingenuity, quality, and verve, but I admit also because it wouldn’t have been Korean. I am completely biased at this point, and unashamedly so. I will watch any Korean film and pretty much always find something to like in them or link them to others I’ve seen. On paper, Petty Romance is a film that I would have no interest in, but I trust Korean filmmakers to do something new and I also trust the online community of filmmakers that have been quite taken with this new offering.

Externalizing the internal with animation
The film is about an amateur comic book writer Jeong-bae who is a great illustrator but has some problems when it comes to writing a story. After being rejected everywhere with his 3-years in the making oeuvre, he decides to enter a competition for an adult comic with a $100,000 prize. He must do this in order to buy back his late father’s painting, which otherwise will be auctioned off to cover his debt to one of his father’s friends. Da-rim is a struggling sex columnist who can’t hold down a job and is staying with her playboy brother. Jeong-bae interviews for a story writer to help him win the competition and selects Da-rim, they bicker their way through the project and of course fall in love but not without a few obstacles.

It’s a simple story that is told effectively but it does approach its subject matter in a clever fashion. As the two create the story for the comic it becomes apparent that it is just a externalization of their sexual anxieties, not least because Da-rim is a virgin. Debut director Kim Jeong-hoon-Il, who previously penned Sword in the Moon (2003), capitalizes on these moments with well-rendered animation sequences which also serve to quicken the pace of the film, which is not always up to speed with the snappiness of the film’s characters. In fact the film’s main flaw is probably its length. At 117 minutes it is not an overly long Korean film but the story struggles across it at points. A curious amount of counterpoint is achieved throughout the film, especially due to the animation scenes which are explicitly violent and sexual that are placed in this quirky good-natured romcom. I think it is a good addition as it adds some gravitas to the inner frustrations of the characters.

A very modern film
The lead performances from Lee Seon-gyoon and Choi Kang-hee are quite charming and their chemistry is engaging. The supporting characters are the typical placeholders you would expect in this kind of a film and while the resolutions are visible from a distance the journey is entertaining enough for this to be a worthwhile venture. One last thing I should say about this film is that it is definitely one of the most modern Korean films I’ve seen. It was released last December and besides its use of iPhones and the various other trappings of modern society it has an extremely modern look and feel: one scene features Da-rim and her friend at a club where the music is very downbeat minimalist techno and the patrons dance in a trance. I can’t quite explain all it but it felt a little different from what I’ve seen previously. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who doesn’t already know they like Korean romcoms but if you have any interest in them Petty Romance is definitely worth a look.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Korean Cinema News (06/13-06/19, 2011)

A pair of great features lead off this week, on legendary filmmaker Lee Doo-yong and emerging artist and filmmaker Park Chan-kyong. A number of industry related items follow as well as a good number of trailers, including a fantastic new one for The Front Line.


An Appreciation of Filmmakers Lee Doo-yong
A detailed feature on Lee Doo-yong, who was a prominent Korean filmmaker in the 1970s and 80s, second only to Im Kwon-taek on the international scene. (Korean Cinema Today, May 28, 2011)

Artist Park Chan-kyong Explores Space Between the Koreas
Korea's bustling art scene is beginning to have quite an impact at home and abroad. One influential artist,  Park Chan-kyong, seeks to highlight the middle ground betweens the Koreas. He is filmmaker and photographer who most recently worked with his brother, famed director Park Chan-wook, on Night Fishing, a short film shot on an iPhone. (The New York Times, June 13, 2011)

Korean Film Archive Releases A Hometown in Heart
The Korea Film Archive is releasing a new classic film on DVD. A Hometown in Heart, adapted from Ham Se-deok's play A Little Monk, will be released on June 20th. (Far East Films, June 13, 2011)

Kwon Jin-hee's The Idea of Creation in competing in the Shanghai International Film Festival's iPhone film competition. The film follows life's up and downs from the perspective of a bug. (Joong Ang Daily, June 13, 2011)

CJ's 4D Cinemas to Launch in Thailand
Major Cineplex Group plc is joining with CJ 4Dplex Co in order to launch the later's new 4D technology screens across Thailand. This makes Thailand the fourth country to offer such a cinematic experience, after South Korea, China, and Mexico. (Bangkok Post, June 14, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk on the Benefits on Low-Budget Filmmaking
After making a splash at Cannes with his new documentary feature Arirang, Kim Ki-duk is prepping for the release of his protege Juhn Jai-hong's Poongsan. He extols the virtues of low-budget filmmaking against the commercial Korean film market. (The Korea Times, Junes 14, 2011)

Lineup Announced for 15th PiFan
The 15th Puchon International Film Festival, which will open its gates on July 14th for 10 days, has announced its lineup. Na Hong-jin's The Yellow Sea will be in competition and the upcoming thriller Blind will serve as the closing film. (Film Business Asia, June 15, 2011)

Jang Hoon Explains The Front Line and Tensions with Mentor Kim Ki-duk
Jang Hoon's anticipated third feature, The Front Line, is being released in Korea on July 21st, it tells the story of the 'forgotten' war by highlighting lesser-known incidents of the Korean War (1950-1953. Jang also explains the state of his relations with Kim Ki-duk, his former mentor, who has recently spoken out against him. (, June 16, 2011)

Movie Version of K-Drama Dae Jang Geum on the Way
One of Korea's most popular TV shows, the historical drama Dae Jang Geum is set to be remade as a film. It is aiming for an international release in 2013. (, June 16, 2011)


Lots of new trailers this week for a variety of films, including romance, action, war, horror, and thriller. Three are new full length trailers, in addition to previously released teasers.

Always (no subs)

Blind (no subs)

Don't Click (no subs)

The Cat (no subs)

The Front Line (no subs)


Close Race for No.1 from Three Holdovers
Kung Fu Panda 2 had a slight edge at the box office this weekend with its 280,000 admissions versus 270,000 for Sunny, which crossed the 5 million mark on Saturday, and 260,000 for the latest X-Men installment. Super 8 had a decent opening (235,000) while The Green Lantern barely made an impression (120,000). Among Korean holdovers, K-horror White held very well and now has nearly half a million admissions, while Moby Dick floundered in its sophomore frame. (, June 19, 2011)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Typhoon (Tae-poong) 2005

Kwak Kyung-taek’s Typhoon was a major blockbuster that hit South Korean screens in the winter of 2005 and wound up with an impressive 4 million admissions. Kwak is no stranger to success, his autobiographical feature Friend (2001) was the highest-grossing film of its time when it attracted 8 million viewers across the peninsula with its tale of boyhood friends following different, and often violent, paths into adulthood. Typhoon reunites the director with Jang Dong-gum, a major star who, as well as Friend, has headlined blockbusters such as Taegugki (2004) and the forthcoming My Way (2011), he has also appeared in foreign language films such as China’s The Promise (2005) and New Zealand’s The Warrior’s Way (2010). The film also stars Lee Jung-jae another big star who has featured in Il Mare (2000) and The Housemaid (2010). Armed with a $15 million budget Kwak took his production across Asia, with various sequences of the film shot in Thailand, Singapore, Russia, and Seoul and Busan in South Korea.

The Vengeful Sin (Jang Dong-gum)
Like many Korean blockbusters that preceded it and those that would follow it, the film derives it central tension from the divide between the Koreas. In this narrative Jang portrays Sin, a North Korean defector who has become a pan-Asian outlaw seeking retribution against the whole peninsula and Lee ass Gang Se-jong, the top Navy operative enlisted to take him down. Throw in some nuclear materials, big ships, submarines, lots of explosions, and a heavy dollop of melodrama and what follows is a fairly standard and messy Korean actioneer. The results aren’t all bad though and as many other reviewers have noted, the production design and many of the set pieces are engaging, and of course the weepy sentimentality, so keenly perfected by Korean filmmakers, succeeds here even though it really shouldn’t.

It's clear that Kwak took a page or three out of Hollywood's book while he made this film. Examples like the Mission Impossible (1995) reference (magazine on the plane, like the 'recommended' movies of the MI franchise), the fancy, high-tech command center, and the general style of the mise-en-scene, are all reminiscent of America's big-budget summer movies. I mention this because what bothered me the most about the film was the lack of focus in its plot. The exposition was far from clear and at many points I found myself unsure of what was going on. I think this is a casualty of the blending of the American and Korean aesthetics and moviemaking styles.

Se-jong (Lee Jung-jae) is briefed a la Mission Impossible
After the success of Friend, Kwak has endured as one of Korea’s most successful directors. All of his films beside Mutt Boy (2003), have finished in the Top 10 for the Year, this streak is not likely to end any time soon with the imminent release the The Battle of Yellow Sea (2011), a hotly anticipated 3D action pic. At his best his films are very effective productions that combine technical skill, pathos, and action, Friend being the most popular example. My personal favorite is A Love (2007), which despite its overplayed Shakesperean dramatics, is a very well rounded piece of cinema and easily the most tightly plotted film in Kwak’s career. He seems to use the same devices and techniques in most of his work and I appreciate that he favors focusing on characters and their stories and uses these to heighten our investment in the action sequences that populate his narratives but with Typhoon this poses a problem. Sin’s sad story is well rendered and easy to understand, thus his motivations are clear but all the diplomatic and military wrangling between the Blue House, and other foreign powers, in addition to the terrorist plot that drives the film, are so haphazard and byzantine that they overwhelm what should be a fairly straightforward thriller. 

Knife fight in the belly of the ship 
Besides Sin’s backstory, Typhoon is also a film which focuses on two alpha males, both portrayed by huge stars with sculpted, masculine physiques. Just like John Woo’s old Hong Kong films, a major element is the friendship that potentially develops between them, even as they stick knives into each other (I could read into this, but I’ll leave it up to you). Se-jong is sympathetic to the plight of Sin and his sister but he cannot condone the terrorism that the outlaw plans to perpetrate, although he is also ill at ease with the dirty tactics employed by the Blue House (Korea’s White House). This potentially interesting relationship is not given enough time to develop and ends up as little more than an afterthought. During the climax, their relationship comes to a head in the belly of a cargo ship, but the subtleties have been glossed over and sidelined by the attempts to make this film a larger affair, replete with international and political overtones. 

I think that if Kwak had stuck with what he was good at, even if he can’t be very subtle about it, and had opted to tone down the political machinations that weigh down the film, Typhoon could have been an effective and engaging pan-Asian thriller. Instead the film is a bit of a mess, interspersed with some good moments and some great music but let down by a poor script and some bad decision-making. A little judicious editing wouldn’t have hurt either.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cinderella (2006)

I have not seen a great deal of Korean horror films and this is something I very much want to amend as out of what I've seen, there are a number that I love: Memento Mori (1999), Tell Me Something (1999), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), Bedevilled (2010); and many that I am quite fond of: Whispering Corridors (1998), Into the Mirror (2003), R-Point (2004), and Princess Aurora (2005). The first film that fell into my lap after making this recent, arbitrary decision was Cinderella (2006), a plastic surgery psychological horror from a director previously known for softcore erotica. I knew nothing about it going in but was intrigued by the setting, initially. The film has a few interesting ideas but it’s fatal flaw and what sets it apart from other Korean horror films, in a bad way, is its complete lack of technical proficiency and misuse, or perhaps misunderstanding, of horror conventions. The film isn’t scary, doesn’t look good, and worse is hard to follow, despite a fairly straightforward narrative.

Young girl on the operating table
Plastic surgery is a hut button issue in Korea; its soaring popularity is even a national source of tourism, which is now promoted by the government. Many worry what kind of values this kind of aesthetic and vain obsession instills in young and insecure women. Korean entertainment forums and message boards across the web are replete with speculation as to which actresses have had work done, it is also frequently mentioned in the news. Thus it seems only natural that this topic would transition to cinema and it did, making a big splash in 2006 with at least 3 major films that I can think of: Kim Di-kuk gaves us Time which was probably the film that dealt with the topic in the most damning fashion; 200 Pounds Beauty was the third highest grossing film of the year, it acknowledged the issue in a lighthearted fashion but didn't really make draw any conclusions; finally, of course, is Cinderella, which given how well the subject matter should lend itself to a psychological horror, strikes me as a missed opportunity.

Horrific, or ludicrous?
Martin Cleary over at New Korean Cinema makes a good point in his review. Advertising for Korean horrors, or most Korean films for that matter, always looks sublime and promises a lot. There are a number of highly-varnished Korean films that match this marketing but films that don't can be a real let down. Cinderella suffers from this comparison, the posters look great, full of vivid, freaky (and well photoshopped) imagery that the film simply doesn't deliver on. One scene in the film, probably the only one that people will remember, tries to capture this grotesque imagery in an ill-advised art classroom sequence where two young girls carve each others faces in a trance. It already sounds silly, but in its execution it is evenmore ridiculous than you could imagine.

Cinderella is a definite misfire and I don't think that director Bong Man-dae is someone worth looking out for. I'm not sure what his intentions were at the outset: the film isn't scary so it doesn't constitute the central appeal of horror; it could be interpreted as a psychological thriller but it doesn't really explore this territory adequately; it's possible, as other people have mentioned, that he was paying homage (read ripping off) Japanese horror films like Dark Water (2002), but with no new twist, observation, and such a lack of immaculate mise-en-scene, which we have come to expect from Korean cinema, it's hard to understand who thought this was a good idea. Ultimately, I was bored by the film, the story was less and less engaging as it wore on, the finale fell flat, and I wasn't able to take anything away from it. Only for die-hard Korean horror fans (and I know there are a few of you out there)!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Foul King (Banchikwang) 2000

Kim Jee-woon is famed for his beautifully crafted and violent films, so it was a bit of a reminder for me to see The Foul King (2000), his sophomore feature and until now the only one I had not seen form his filmography. It was a swift reminder that his films were not always as polished, however the film is definitely Kim’s as it showcases his trademark dark humor and fascination with the dark human psyche.

One of the most visible Korean films of the moment is Kim’s sixth film, the brutal I Saw the Devil (2010), an uncompromising vision of just how primal our instincts can be and how our hypocrisy can excuse even the most horrific behavior. As far as its aesthetics, plot, and casting are concerned, it brings to mind A Bittersweet Life (2005) the most, which also stars Lee Byung-hun as a man driven to merciless and unrelenting revenge. From a thematic standpoint though, it recalls Kim’s inspired debut, The Quiet Family (1998), a very original black comedy that was remade by Takashi Miike as The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001). This film, about a family that runs mountain lodge, follows their misfortune, as accidental deaths taint their new venture until they become violent and amoral by the narrative’s conclusion. Just like I Saw the Devil, The Quiet Family assumes that everyone has the potential for unspeakable violence. 

Dae-ho in the grip of his boss' headlock
The Foul King is not quite so dark, but it cannot escape the director’s interest in our questionable morality as human beings. Song Kang-ho plays a discontent and ineffectual bank clerk (Im Dae-ho) whose sole ambition is to be able to break out of the grip of his boss’ headlock. When his frustration becomes too much, he pursues wrestling in order to attain his goal. The narrative doesn’t get much denser than this, there’s subplot involving his colleague and we meet his disinterested father a few times.

It is not uncommon to hate your boss and to want to beat him, so at first Dae-ho’s focus on it does not seem strange but it is the catalyst for all the violence that he surrounds himself throughout the film. He gets in touch with his aggression and this has two clear effects: on the one hand, it spurs his ambition, he becomes dedicated to wrestling, trains diligently, and eventually gains people’s respect, including his own; on the other hand what starts as a venture to defend himself against his bully boss leads him to stab people in the head with forks and other acts of violence which are less and less fuelled by revenge and become geared towards entertainment.

Just like The Quiet Family, The Foul King exhibits Kim’s knack for black comedy, this is ultimately the film’s greatest strength and due in no small part to Song Kang-ho-s central performance, one of his first leading roles. This is also the role that made him a star and it's easy to see why. I've spoken many times about the emasculated males that are so prevalent in Korean film and it makes sense to bring it up again here as Song's character and performance carry all the traits commonly associated with this phenomena, such as the hierarchical nature of his professional life and the unconventional, and comical, nature of his fight scenes.

The climactic fight
The film may not be the technical masterpiece that Kim’s later films would be but it does employ some clever techniques, especially in it’s dizzying, brutal, and lengthy wrestling finale. Slow motion and other editing techniques are used effectively and framing, as well as props and production design add a welcome note of absurdity to the proceedings.

Perhaps the film’s most important theme, and certainly an important one for moviegoers around the world who seek the confines of musty theaters for escape and respite, is the search for and confirmation of identity. Dae-ho is shy and unassertive but he becomes a decent wrestler, although he needs to wear a mask, and since he is the cheating ‘Foul King’, he has no honor. This helps him in his private and professional life but he must still do away with the mask, as he can ony confront his father and profess his love for a colleague from behind it. In the film’s visceral and climactic wrestling scene, his mask is finally torn off. This spurs him to equally match his superior opponent but Kim has a little fun with this ‘self-discovery’ when Dae-ho confronts his boss for a final showdown, which is scored with Western musical cues, only to slip as he charges towards him. Very funny but also telling, how much can a person really change?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Memories of Murder: Part VII - The Host

Bong Joon-ho is a filmmaker who is meticulous and knows what he is doing at all times, his intelligence and acute understanding of the needs of Korean audiences have made him incomparably successful in the theatre of contemporary Asian cinema.  With Memories of Murder he took the image of the emasculated male and he subverted and subjugated it and yet at the same time deified it to created a box office sensation that was choke-full of sociological pertinence.  His next film was even more successful and possibly more ambitious, certainly from a technical standpoint.  Essentially he took his lens and did for the South Korean melodrama what he had already done for masculine identity with Memories.  The Host is the highest-grossing Korean film of all time, and still sits comfortably on that laurel.  lt is a difficult film to label; when it was released overseas it was billed as a Jaws-like monster movie but to simplify it to that level does it a great injustice.  At its core it is a family melodrama that is punctuated and informed by the genre’s lengthy evolution in Korean cinema.  It is also monster movie, a comedy, and a political and social critique.  Song Kang-ho, although no longer employed within the civil service, reprises his stereotype as the post-traumatic emasculated male.  Here he is Park Gang-du, who runs a riverside store hut with his father, the archetypal family head, who was also in Memories playing the local chief inspector.  Song Kang-ho's character also has a young daughter and two siblings: a sister, who is a gifted archer and an alcoholic brother.

The family 'grieving' the loss of their youngest
The family is most definitely scarred. There is no mother as she has died, and the young daughter's mother ran off after she was born.  The archer sister is an extremely talented but intensely reserved individual who crumbles under the slightest amount of pressure.  The brother is a former student activist who has now more or less been cast out of society and idles his time drinking on unemployment. The father is also a mess and probably most like Gang-du, he desperately tries to keep the family together and attempts to stop all the in-fighting.  Whenever he opens his mouth, his demeanor seems to suggest the temperament and nobility of a wise old man but after a sentence or two the spectator along with his children recognize an old crackpot who takes himself more seriously than everyone else does.  The granddaughter is mortified by her embarrassing father and serves to represent a bored generation that has little respect for their parents; however she is portrayed in a positive light as she would likely outfox the whole bunch.  The narrative unfolds when a monster emerges from the Han River and after going on a rampage, steals the daughter.  Then against the oppressive and bumbling military rule which is attempting to contain the situation, as well as the antagonizing influence of the American military, the family draws together to retrieve their youngest and most valuable family member.  The film is extremely sophisticated in its approach to a plotline that could easily veer off course but it carries on with verve and winds up being so entertaining that it is totally irresistible.  The film, just like Memories, succeeds enormously in representing the Korean family and the engrained obstacles that it must face as a unit. "Commercially driven Korean melodramas serve to illustrate some of the defining features of Korean films and the societal contexts in which they are produced".

Song Kang-ho in The Host
The Host also displays a certain and very recent trend in South Korean, namely the process of using multiple genres within the same narrative and successfully creating post-modem and accomplished works of entertainment whose main focus is to deal with certain sociological and historical issues. Another such film is the delightfully off-kilter Save the Green Planet (2003), which involves aliens, a punk version of Over the Rainbow, extreme torture and a swarm of killer bees “Korean filmmakers found that by blending and bending existing genres, they could create works that appealed to audiences who wanted something new”.  The Host has been the most successful of these films and to date the most fully realized.  The film is highly melodramatic and manipulative but steers us very smoothly to certain emotions and conclusions on certain sociological issues that pervade the narrative and all the while it is highly amusing.  By blending these different genres, the hybrid that has resulted, much like the monster (or The Host of the title), is clear evidence of the "transmutation of historical genres that engage this process of recuperation".

The film's narrative ends with the death of the girl in a show down which harkens back to the brutal student demonstrations of the 1980s, it is highly emotional and while it is set in the present, it does bring us back to that time.  The loss of the new generation as well as the  destruction of the eldest generation (as the patriarch also perishes in the narrative) leaves the 684 generation forced to band together and face their own traumas without the help of others.  However, the film's coda makes light of this as a year later the events are replayed on the news but those watching turn it off as they are too busy filling their bellies.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Korean Cinema News (06/06-06/12, 2011)

News this week mainly focused around titles acquired for distribution and film festivals. No trailers but a few videos and the box office report.


The Yellow Sea Acquired by Eureka for UK Distribution
UK distributor has picked up Na Hong-jin's sophomore feature and plans to release it on October 21st. There are still no plans for its release in the US, although Fox, which produced it, is expected to do so. (Twitch, June 6, 2011)

No Doubt Invited to Shanghai International Film Festival
Park Soo-yeong's new film No Doubt has been invited to the Shanghai International Film Festival which is taking place June 11-19. (, June 6, 2011)

Cinema Guild Acquires US Rights to The Day He Arrives
Hong Sang-soo's latest film, which was well received when it played in the Un Certain Regard section of last month's Cannes, has been picked up for distribution in the US by Cinema Guild. (, June 8, 2011)

Park Chan-wook Casts Matthew Goode in Stoker
Park Chan-wook's English-language debut has added Matthew Good to its cast. Colin Firth was originally attached to star in the picture with Mia Wasikowska. (The Belfast Telegraph, June 9, 2011)

Green Days: Dinosaur and I Reviewed
Anticipated Korean animation film Green Days: Dinosaur and I is reviewed by The Korea Times. The film is set to be released on June 23. (The Korea Times, June 9, 2011)

Horror Films Set to Invade Theaters This Summer
Korea's audiences are in for a scare or two this summer as numerous horror offerings are set to invade the multiplexes. Along with Hollywood's plate of scares, Korean horror will also make a splash this season with films such as White and The Cat. (Joong Ang Daily, June 10, 2011)

Zhang Jingchu to Promote Korea's Cultural Tourism
Korea’s Culture Ministry and the Korea Tourism Organization have selected Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu as a goodwill ambassador in a bid to promote Korea's cultural tourism. (The Korea Herald, June 10, 2011)

CGV Develops 4D Cinema
Korea's CGV Cinemas has developed four-dimensional cinema technology which adds the sensation of smell to the moviegoing experience as well as moving seats, drops of water, and gushes of air. After a successful test screening of Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Cinepolis will open 11 4D theaters across Mexico. (Guadalajara Reporter, June 10, 2011)


Video Report from The Jeonju Film Festival
Kevin Lee reports on Korean cinema in this video for Ebert at the Movies. While ostensibly from the Jeonju Film Festival, it is really just a basic primer on the basics of Korean cinema. (Ebert at the Movies, June 10, 2011)

Jang Jin on Korea's Got Talent Judging Panel
In a curious career move, respected director and screenwriter Jang Jin is currently on of the judges for Korea's got talent. For those interested parties, the above link leads to a recent video of the show, no subtitles. (, June 2011)


Panda Hangs On to First Place
Kung Fu Panda 2 led the marketplace for a second week but saw its haul dwindle by two thirds, nevertheless it has accrued 4 million admissions to date. X-Men: First Class dropped a little less for an additional 320,000 tickets. Meanwhile, Sunny continues to impress with a small drop and 270,000 admissions. Moby Dick and White: The Melody of the Curse both opened this week to midlevel numbers around the 170,000 mark. (, June 12, 2011)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Korean Cinema News (05/30-06/05, 2011)

Another big week for Korean film news. Some great interviews and lots of (unsubtitled) trailers and a number of great features including a fascinating expose on the supposed liberal stranglehold over Korean cinema and an opinion piece on imagination in Korean film (can't say I agree with it). Box office at the bottom as always.


Hollywood Inundated with Korean Animators
Korean animators are all over the Hollywood these days, with many taking on coveted roles, such as Jennifer Yuh, director of the current blockbuster Kung Fu Panda 2.  Other prominent figures include Kim Sang-jin, the first Korean head designer to work at Walt Disney Studios.  (, May 30, 2011)

The Journals of Musan Wins Yet Another Award
Park Jung-bom's highly revered film has added to its trophy collection again by winning the top prize at the Andrei Tarkovsky Film Festival. The jury was presided over by English thesp Ralph Fiennes. (The Voice of Russia, May 30, 2011)

The Melbourne International Film Festival isn't until July 21st but a few early selections have been announced and they include the popular Korean action film The Unjust.  (Film Business Asia, May 30, 2011) 

The Seoul Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/sexual Film Festival is underway in the Korean capital and will continue through June 8.  The festival, with the tagline "isn't it time to color yourself?" will present 24 international and domestic feature films.  (The Korea Times, May 31, 2011)

Opening Lineup for New York Asian Film Festival Announced
The New York Asian Film Festival, which will take place from July 1-14, has announced its opening lineup. There will be a special section entitled Sea of Revenge, which will feature: The Chaser (2008), The Unjust , The Yellow Sea, Bedevilled, Haunters, The Man From Nowhere, and Troubleshooters.  (Unseen Films, May 31, 2011)

Program for Cinema Seoul Power Unveiled
The Honolulu Academy of Arts will present its Korean Film Festival, Cinema Seoul Power from June 11-26. Included in the program are Blades of Blood, The Housemaid, and Secret Sunshine (2007). (Honolulu Art Academy, May 31, 2011)

North Korean defector Kim Gyoo-min is set to release his first feature film after having previously worked on films such as South of the Border (2006), Crossing (2008), and 71: Into the Fire (2010). Winter Butterfly is based on his own experiences and tells the story of a mother and son who suffered form severe food shortage in North Korea. (The Korea Herald, June 1, 2011)

Ambassadors Named for Seoul International Youth Film Festival
Actors Lee Chun-hee and Kim Sae-ron have been named as the ambassadors for the 13th Seoul International Youth Festival, which begins on July 7th The festival will present 143 films from 37 countries. (The Korea Herald, June 1, 2011)

After her successful turn in Late Autumn, Tang Wei has landed a commercial in Korea but she is hoping to get more roles in Korean films, which she admires very much. (Arirang, June 1, 2011)

Oh Jung-hun writes that Korean films pale in comparison with Hollywood as far as imagination is concerned. He cites how local will flock to new installments of franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean to devour their creative worlds. (The Korea Times, June 2, 2011)

The 4th Network of Asian Fantastic Films has announced its 23 projects which include new offerings from Kim Seong-ho (A Girl With Sushi Knife), Moon Seung-wook (Elysium), and Lim Tae-hyeong (Two Rabbits in Osaka). (, June 2, 2011)

Review for New Thriller Moby Dick
The Korea Times takes a look at the new conspiracy drama Moby Dick, which is set to open domestically on June 9th. They praise the picture, from first-time director Kim In-je, for being painstakingly real. (The Korea Times, June 2, 2011)

Liberal Bias in Korean Cinema
Yu In-chon, Lee Myung-bak's first culture minister, is attempting to oust left-leaning figures in the culture office. Yu has been met with resistance but he is not the only one who believes that the left has gained too much control of the industry and may even be using it to promote it agenda. (The Dong-a Ilbo, June 3, 2011)

2011 Becoming Banner Year for Korean Animation
Many animated films have sprung up in Korea this year, including The Houses and Earth Rep Rolling Stars, and others are on the way, Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild and King of Pigs. However, the most likely to find international success is Green Days, to be released June 16. (Animation Insider, June 3, 2011)

More to Korean Cinema Than Meets the Eye
Abhimanyu Das writes that Korean cinema should be seen on an equal footing as the juggernauts of cinema like India and the US. He examines Memories of Murder (2003) to highlight his point. (The Sunday Guardian, May 2011)


The director of the acclaimed I Saw the Devil sits down for an interview with Asian Movie Pulse in which he discusses the pressures of outside influences on films in the 21st century.  (Asian Movie Pulse, May 30, 2011)

Kim Kkobbi Interview at Terracotta Film Festival
Paul Quinn sat down with Kim Kkobbi, star of Breathless (2008), at the Terracotta Film Festival to discuss her career, acting style, theatre, and upcoming projects.  (Hangul Celluloid, June 5, 2011)


Lots of trailers this week but no subtitles to go with them.

Poongsan (no subs)

Play (no subs)

Blind (no subs)

Head (no subs)

Mama (no subs)

Moby Dick (no subs)


Pandas and Mutants Pack in the Crowds
Kung Fu Panda 2 remained No. 1 this weekend with a decent hold and has accumulated nearly 3 million admissions to date. Meanwhile X-Men: First Class opened with a solid 630,000. Sunny continues to do well at No. 3 with 385,000, it has now topped 4 million admissions and is within striking distance of first place among 2011 releases in Korea. (, June 5, 2011)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Suicide Forecast (Soo-sang-han Go-gaek-deul) 2011

I went into Suicide Forecast with little expectation, mostly because I didn't know much about it. I had seen a trailer some months back but it had no subtitles so it wasn’t much of an indication. All I could gather was that it was a comedy and that Ryoo Seung-beom wore long hair for his role as its principle protagonist. As I sat down at the CGV cinema near Downtown LA and the lights dimmed, I was at once excited by the curious opening credits sequence and taken in by the strong cinematography.

The basic elements of the plot laid themselves out quite quickly during the opening scenes. Ryoo plays Byeong-wu, an up and coming life insurance salesman who is about to hit the big league. He has a beautiful girlfriend who is concerned with his growing attention to consumer products and grooming, in a word, his vanity. We also meet a plethora of other characters who are all somehow involved in a car pileup that occurs when a petty thief who has swiped a young musician's money on the street steps into the path of a vehicle while he makes his getaway. Byeong-wu encounters a setback when one of his clients, when meets him late at night seeking comfort, commits suicide and thus loses his company money. This and other scenes, as well as the title, foreshadow the real impetus of the film, which will be a journey for Byeong-wu to become compassionate again as he races against the clock when it becomes apparent that four of his clients who signed at the same time will likely commit suicide when their two-year minimun requirement is met. This would be ruin for the young salesman so he makes it his mission to convince them to change their plans. His efforts are mostly fruitless at first but soon he learns more about them and discovers how to approach them in different ways all the while learning things about himself in the process.

An intriguing premise to be sure but the conclusion seems obvious and I hope I'm not spoiling too much by saying that it is. I’ve become used to Korean films that presented themselves as one thing, move quickly towards a conclusion only to turn into something else entirely. For the uninitiated it can be a jarring way of experiencing a film, but personally I love to have my expectations subverted. After the premise was set up I was assuming that this would be the case here because while the concept is good, it’s a little thin for the two-hour running time. So when the halfway point came about and little had moved forward and the simple ending began to seem inevitable, I grew restless and bored but mostly disappointed. Granted not all films need a big plot to create an engaging narrative, but Suicide Forecast lacked the urgency, verve, or creativity to really draw me in beyond the initial premise. It mostly relied on having interesting characters and as is common in Korean cinema, the narrative would pause to delve into their pasts and step out with richer characters. This works, to an extent, as we do get to know these characters and appreciate their motivations and trajectories. They are relatable and all quite different even though they are so tightly connected. The big dollops of melodrama are expected and perhaps necessary in such a narrative but the emotions they try to evince are not always earned.

Ryoo in the central role continues to show us how versatile a young actor he is. I remember first noticing him in the popular martial arts action-comedy Arahan (2004) but it was later in his roles as a delinquent juvenile (Crying Fist, 2005), an ex-boyfriend (Family Ties, 2006), and an entitled Magistrate (The Servant, 2010) that made me notice his considerable range. Once again he shows us that he can inhabit a character unlike the previous ones he has incarnated, although perhaps this time it is not such a major departure. While I think he did a good job with Byeong-wu, I don’t know that the character was as unique as he probably needed to be to fit well into this kind of an environment.

After a flabby and expository midsection, Suicide Forecast boils down to its inevitable conclusion. I knew it was coming and what to expect but despite myself and not completely to my surprise, the intense and emotional (albeit saccharine) mini-conclusions as each character finishes their journey are cathartic and well-rendered. As sentimental as the ending was, it was also a saving grace of sorts for the film. Following a curious opening act and a meandering middle, it embraced itself by lowering its ambitions and playing to its strengths.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Korean Cinema News (05/23-05/29, 2011)

Lots of news this week, including, festival news, castings, features, and much more.


Director Jang Hun Preps Upcoming War Film The Frontline
Following on from his brilliant debut Rough Cut (2008) and his extremely successful sophomore effort Secret Reunion (2010), Kim Di-duk's former protege Jang Hun is readying The Frontline for release this summer. The big budget blockbuster stars Sin Ha-kyun and tells the story of the final jockeying over final borders in the closing moments of the Korean war, after a truce had been agreed upon. The film is set to hit multiplexes in July. (Twitch Film, May 23, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk picks up award at Cannes
After competing in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival, Arirang, Kim Ki-duk's first directorial effort in three years has earned him the best film prize which he will share with German helmer Andreas Dresen whose film Stopped on Track was also in competition. (Joong Ang Daily, May 23, 2011)

Details and Poster Released for New K-Horror Ghastly
Plot details have emerged regarding Yang Yun-ho's follow-up to Grand Prix (2010), the horror film Ghastly. has a look at the poster. (, May 23, 2011)

The Journals of Musan Triumphs at Tribeca
Park Jung-bum's The Journals of Musan has won yet another award, this time at the illustrious Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It was named the winner in the best new narrative competition and was awarded a $25,000 cash prize as well as a further $50,000 towards post-production costs. (KOBIZ, May 24, 2011)

Final Details from the Cannes Film Market
As the Cannes Film Festival packed up last week, details emerged regarding the final sales from the film market, which included more international sales of Na Hong-jin's The Yellow Sea this time to Scandinavia and the Baltic region. (Film Business Asia, May 25, 2011)

Joint Venture Between Korean and Japanese High School Students
A new project, funded by the Processing Together Charity, will bring eight Japanese students to Seoul where they will collaborate with eight Korean students to make a film dealing with their cultures and histories. (The Korea Herald, May 25, 2011)

Korean Entertainment Dictates Fashion Trends in China
Korean entertainment is massively popular across Asia. In China, as well as other countries, hallyu has become so pervasive that it has begun to influence local fashion trends. Many young Chinese consumers who are hooked on Korean TV drama and movies are keen to adapt their lifestyle and consumption choices in order to emulate their Korean idols. (The Korea Times, May 25, 2011)
A new film dealing with the North is set to open domestically in June. Poongsan is produced by Kim Ki-duk and directed by Juhn Jai-hong. It tells the story of a mysterious man whose job is to transport goods across the border in three hours. (The Korea Times, May 26, 2011)

SIFF Launches Mobile Film Competition
50 films shot on smartphones will compete in the first ever Mobile Film Competition as part of the Shanghai International Film Festival. Park Chan-yu's Lofty Waves will be in competition. (CNN, May 26, 2011)

Sector 7 Presold to 46 Countries
CJ's much anticipated 3D monster film Sector 7 has presold its distribution rights to 46 countries. The film is Kim Ji-hoon's follow-up to May 18 (2007). (, May 26, 2011)

Korean Film Emerging in US Market
A great article about how Korean cinema and filmmakers are becoming more prominent in the United States. The new CGV cinemas were packed for screenings during the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival of Late Autumn and others. Korea auteurs Park Chan-wook and Kim Jee-woon are prepping their Hollywood debuts while others, such as Jennifer Yuh, have already gained a foothold. (The Korea Herald, May 27, 2011)

Winners Announced for Baeksang Awards
Last Thursday, Lee Byun-hun won the prestigious Daesang grand prize at the 47th Baeksang awards. The Man From Nowhere came way with best film while Ha Jung-woo of The Yellow Sea and Tang Wei of Late Autumn walked away with the best actor and actress prizes respectively. Lee Chang-dong was also awarded best Director for Poetry. (Manila Bulletin, May 27, 2011)

Kim Ki-young's First Film Discovered
After being thought lost for more than half a century, Kim Ki-young's debut feature The Boxes of Death (1955) has been found. It was discovered in a US archive and screened in Seoul last Thursday. (The Korea Times, May 27, 2011)

Korean-American at the Helm of Kung Fu Panda 2
Hollywood latest blockbuster animation, the much-anticipated Kung Fu Panda 2, was shepherded to the screen by Korean-American filmmaker Jennifer Yuh. She started out as an assistant at Dreamworks in 2003 and she is the first Asian woman to direct at the studio. (Joong Ang Daily, May 27, 2011)

Kwon Sang-woo Set for Chinese Debut
Korean heartthrob Kwon Sang-woo is currently filmin Repeat, I Love You with Cecilia Cheung in China and will next be seen in Jackie Chan's Chinese Zodiac. (The Washington Post, May 27, 2011)

Seven Films to Get You Well Versed in Korean Cinema presents seven films that should get you well acquainted with Korean cinema. The list spans from 1999-2006 and includes, multiplex (The Host, 2006), arthouse (Peppermint Candy, 1999), and cult fare (Oldboy, 2003). (, May 28, 2011)

Next Hollywood Role for Lee Byung-hun
Lee Byung-hun is set to reprise his role in the sequel to G.I. Joe (2009) which will begin filming later this year. (, May 29 2011)

New 3DTV Breakthrough from LG
Korea's electronics manufacturer LG is set to heighten the 3-dimensional home entertainment experience with a new innovation which does not require the purchase of bulky and expensive 3D glasses. (Inquirer Technology, May 29, 2011)


A couple of new trailers this week, sadly with no subtitles. Quick doesn't really need them however.

Hoichori (no subs)

Quick (no subs)


Kung Fu Panda Knocks Out the Competition
The weekend was won by Kung Fu Panda 2 which amassed an enormous 1.5 million admissions, no doubt spurred by the fact that it was directed by Korean-American Jennifer Yuh. Pirates 4 saw half its loot disappear in its sophomore stint at the Korean box office but still managed nearly 600,000 admissions, it has 2.4 million to date. Meanwhile, Sunny didn't let up with nearly half a million tickets sold, bringing its total close to 3.5 million. Head opened small with 33,000 admissions and all other local fare was relegated to the bottom of the chart. (, May 29, 2011)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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.