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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Korean Cinema News (12/15-12/21, 2011)

The big news in Korea this week is the death of the leader of the North, Kim Jong-il.  Given that he was a known cinephile I have included a pair of pieces on North Korea.  Besides that there is a lot of news, CJ is making big advances with business deals left and right, the mind boggles at how big a studio it could become.  Some great trailers this week, especially for Howling, by Ha Yu and starring Song Kang-ho, as well as some great one sheets, I need a copy of the Choi Min-sik poster for Nameless Gangster!  Lots of other news, great interviews, and box office as usual.



Korean Film Punch Invited to Berlin Film Festival
Korean film Punch (Wandeukyi) by director Lee Han has been invited to next year's Berlin International Film Festival, the film's local distributor said Thursday.  The movie will be screened in the "Generation" section of the 62nd festival for featuring movies for younger children and teens, CJ Entertainment and Media Co. said.  It marks the second time a Korean film has been invited to the section following the 2006 movie Like a Virgin from director Lee Hae-yeong.   Punch is currently the third highest-grossing Korean film of the year.  (The Korea Times, December 15, 2011)

A Look Back at the Year's Breakout Films
In 2011, Korean films brought attention to the individuals and issues that have otherwise remained unaddressed, underrepresented, or simply unexplored.  While the questions posed by these films varied, provoking responses ranging from angry shock to laughter and sympathy, all called for a collective reconsideration of the social dynamics and relationships that can be found in Korean society today.  (, December 15, 2011)

Korean Mega War Movie Targets Pan-Asian Audience
Kang Je-gyu's new pan-Asian movie My Way premieres on Dec. 22.  Kang, who drew over 10 million spectators with the clunking history epic Taegukgi in 2004, is now hoping for Asia-wide success with the biggest budget and the most ambitious scale in many years.  The cast includes top stars from Korea, China and Japan, such as Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri and Fan Bingbing.  (The Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2011)

Korean Film Week in Budapest
Considering the fact that Hungarian film distributors tend to release only one Korean movie a year, Hungarian viewers have two options to watch contemporary Korean films on the big screen:  the 'Titanic International Film Festival' and the annual 'Korean Film Week', both held in Budapest.  Supported by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Foundation and the Korean Film Council, this year the Embassy of the Republic of Korea has organized the Korean Film Week for the fourth time.  (The Korea Blog, December 15, 2011)

Secrets, Objects Sells to Hong Kong
Korean production company Film Front has announced that Secrets, Objects, directed by Lee Young-mi's film Secrets, Objects has been sold by Korean production company Film Front to Sundream Motion Pictures in Hong Kong. The romantic film features  Jang Seo-hee as a 40-year-old sociology professor preparing a dissertation on extramarital affairs and Jeong Seok-won, a 21-year-old student who enrolls in her seminar.  The film screened at the Moscow International Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival, and the Montreal World Film Festival this year. (KOBIZ, December 15, 2011)

The 6th London Korean Film Festival 2011

A great video summing up the highlights of the recent 6th London Korean Film Festival.  Watching the clip made me quite jealous of everyone at the event, one which I dearly would have liked to attend.  (, December 16, 2011)

John Hurt to Star in Bong Joon-ho's Snow Piercer
Up until now the only confirmed player in Bong Joon-ho's much anticipated global production Snow Piercer has been Song Kang-ho, though it is said that he will only play a small part.  In a recent interview acclaimed and veteran thespian John Hurt has confirmed that he will be joining the production for three months starting in March of next year.  (Gothamist, December 15, 2011)

Chicago Tribune Names Poetry Film of the Year
The accolades keep on rolling in for Poetry.  On Dec. 18, As the Chicago Tribune counted down its 10 best movies of the year on December 18th, Lee Chang-dong's Poetry wound up No. 1, ahead of Moneyball and French movie Copie Conforme, was deemed the best.  The Korean movie singled out by the paper’s movie critic is a tale about an elderly woman who strives to write poetry despite Alzheimer’s and the hardships of the life around her.  The film has also won the award for the best screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.  (Joong Ang Daily, December 20, 2011)

KAFA Partners With CJ E&M and CJ CGV
The Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) has renewed its partnership with leading entertainment media company CJ E&M and its affiliate exhibition company CJ CGV.  In an academic-industry partnership deal signed yesterday (Dec. 14) at the Academy, the three entities agreed to work together to cultivate filmmaking talent that could become the future center of the film industry.  (KOBIZ, December 19, 2011)

Sector 7 Hits Box Office Record in China
Sci-fi thriller Sector 7 is officially the highest grossing Korean film in China, according to South Korean investor/distributor CJ Entertainment.  Released Dec. 6 on approximately 4,000 screens, the sea creature feature took in CNY20 million (US$3.1 million) by Dec. 14.  (KOBIZ, December 20, 2011)

Young North Korean Defectors Produce Short Film in Seoul
A group of young North Korean defectors, aiming to show young South Koreans that they are the same, recently completed shooting a short film in Seoul, said a film producer at With Culture who helped them make the movie.  Choi Ji-hoon met the North Korean defectors in their late teens to early 20s at a film class for students at Durihana International School as part of the company’s volunteering work.  (The Korea Herald, December 14, 2011)

London Korean Film Festival Round-up and Ryu Seung-wan’s The Unjust
London Korea Links runs down the 2011 London Korean Film Festival and especially the work of Ryu Seung-wan.  Ryu has had several of his films released in the UK on DVD, but he is not as well-known to the viewing public as the likes of Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho.  (London Korea Links, December 21, 2011)

New images have been revealed for Song Kang-ho's new film Howling.  The directed by Ha Yu (A Dirty Carnival, 2006; Once Upon a Time in High School, 2004) is a thriller involving spontaneous combustion, excited?  So am I.  (Twitch, December 20, 2011)

The Front Line to Compete at Int'l Film Fest in Palm Springs
The Front Line which has won a flurry of domestic awards and is the Korean pic for the Oscars has been invited to compete at the upcoming Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) next month, according to its official website on Tuesday.  The Front Line will be up against a number of other international pictures for the FIPRESCI award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the 7th annual PSIFF from January 5 to 16 next year.  (, December 20, 2011)

Kim Jong-il: The Cinephile Despot
One of the more surprising facts about Kim Jong-il was his love of cinema. He reportedly owned more than 20,000 videos and DVDs and counted Elizabeth Taylor among his favourite actresses.  "The cinema occupies an important place in the overall development of art and literature. As such it is a powerful ideological weapon for the revolution and construction."  So wrote Kim Jong-il in his 1987 essay The Cinema and Directing.  (BBC, December 19, 2011)

North Korea was no cinematic powerhouse. Though exact numbers are unknown, Variety estimates the annual cinema production of the area was seven to 10 features in the 1970s and 1980s, only four or five in the 1990s, and a mere trickle after 2000.  In the past few years, however, there have been a number of documentaries by outsiders about life behind the Kimchi Curtain, as well as Hollywood and South Korean thrillers about North Korea as a terror state.  (The Globe and Mail, December 20, 2011)

Gov’t is Key to Cinemas’ Success
Film experts from South Korea and the United Kingdom said government support was a key to the success of their cinema industries in an international seminar held Friday in Phu Yen.  The event was part of the 17th Vietnam Film Festival currently taking place in the central province which opened on Thursday evening with the attendance of nearly 1,000 local film professionals.  (, December 18, 2011)

In an interesting piece of synchronicity it appears that Mia Wasikowska may be moving from Oldboy director Park Chan-Wook's English language debut Stoker to Spike Lee's remake of Park's breakout film.  Twitch has learned that Wasikowska has been offered the role of Marie, the female lead of the gritty thriller.  The role was previously offered to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara.  (Twitch, December 16, 2011)

Route One Films Enters $110 Million Korean Entertainment Partnership
Route One Films has entered into a $110 million film and television fund partnership with the South Korean government, CJ E&M, Lotte Entertainment and Sovik Venture Capial to form the Sovik Global Contents Investment Fund – the largest entertainment fund in Korean history.  (The Hollywood Reporter, December 15, 2011)

Song Hye-kyo to Star in Woo’s Film
Popular actress Song Hye-kyo will star in celebrated Chinese director John Woo’s upcoming epic love story film Love and Let Love, according to her local agency.  Song, who recently won the first film award of her acting career for her role as the grieving filmmaker in this year’s somber drama A Reason to Live, will star as a wealthy, driven woman in Shanghai who lives through the end of WWII and Chinese Civil War.  (The Korea Herald, December 20, 2011)

Clive Owen Offered Villain Role Spike Lee's Oldboy
Twitch has learned that the villain role in Oldboy has now been offered to Clive Owen.  Owen and Lee have history, of course, having worked together on Lee's underrated thriller The Inside Man. That the director and star know and like each other is certainly a plus but a much bigger plus is that Owen embodies the perfect blend of sophistication and menace that the part requires along with the sort of charisma needed to go toe to toe with Brolin.  (Twitch, December 16, 2011)
The director Kang Je Kyu who has written the history of Korean movies, said during the interview with News Y (news channel by Yonhap News) on December 15, "I gave my best effort and passion that I have spared for the past seven years while taking a break to produce the movie My Way."  (KBS, December 16, 2011)

Lovable Q&A with Star and Director
Q&A took place after a screening of Lovable at the Dong-Sang Art Hall in Daegu, South Korea (December 3, 2011).  Appearing as speakers are movie director Park Chul-Soon and actress Yoo Hae-Jung, who plays 9-year-old Da-Seul, who lives with her uncle who work as a waiter and her grandfather who works in a dry squid factory.  AsianMediaWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.  (Asian Media Wiki, December 3, 2011)

King of Pigs: Korean Filmmaker Yeun Sang-ho Explores Dark Side
At this fall’s Busan International Film Festival, 33-year-old director Yeun Sang-ho drew attention with his first feature-length project:  an animated, cold-blooded adult tale called The King of Pigs that explores the underside of human nature at an all-boys middle school in Seoul.  The school is a microcosm of society, a harsh environment where there is no escape from constant bullying and violence.  (The Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2011)

Daniel D.H. Park, Director of International Promotion Center
Director of the International Promotion Center at the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), Daniel D.H. Park is looking at his 20th anniversarywith the governmental organization.  He took some time out from his busy year-end schedule to meet with KoBiz and talk about his work supporting and promoting Korean cinema and the Korean film industry and how that is changing.  (KOBIZ, December 19, 2011)


Dancing Queen


Never Ending Story



(Modern Korean Cinema, December 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. 

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