Monday, December 31, 2012

KBO: The Tower Rises to First in Powerful Xmas Weekend (12/28-12/30, 2013)

The Tower Rises to First in Powerful Xmas Weekend

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Tower 12/25/12 30.70% 873,155 1,694,650 617
2 Les Miserables (uk/us) 12/19/12 26.70% 751,684 2,955,910 621
3 Love 911 12/19/12 13.00% 370,787 1,596,902 427
4 The Hobbit (us) 12/13/12 8.40% 204,958 2,533,231 383
5 Marrying the Mafia 5 12/19/12 5.00% 144,316 961,275 338
6 Wreck-It Ralph (us) 12/13/12 3.90% 113,083 570,142 320
7 Niko 2: Little Brother (de) 12/25/12 3.20% 95,513 207,057 284
8 Zambezi (us) 12/25/12 3.00% 86,922 205,150 273
9 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 2.20% 57,345 1,767,310 157
10 Pokemon (jp) 12/19/12 0.70% 38,781 316,515 164

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

500 Articles + Holiday Posting Schedule

Xmas at MKC's HQ ;)
I hope everyone's been enjoying the holidays and as 2012 winds down I just wanted to let you know what to expect on the site during the festivities.

We'll be taking a break on regular posting until shortly after New Year's but in the meantime you can expect some end-of-year wrap-ups such as the year's Top 10 films and news stories. Perhaps even a brief post of my time in Korea six months in to make up for slacking off on the 'Korea Blog' posts.

Remarkably this is the 500th post to appear on MKC so along with season's greetings I'd also like to extend my sincere thanks for allowing the site the grow and continue for so long. With new contributors and more plans for 2013, there's also plenty more to come.

Here's to the next 500!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

KBO: Les Miserables Tunes Into First Place (12/21-12/23, 2012)

Les Miserables Tunes Into First Place

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Les Miserables (uk/us) 12/19/12 30.80% 788,836 1,265,703 670
2 Love 911 12/19/12 16.00% 416,818 703,159 426
3 The Hobbit (us) 12/13/12 17.40% 396,913 1,988,600 585
4 Marrying the Mafia 5 12/19/12 12.00% 312,681 528,802 447
5 Wreck-It Ralph (us) 12/13/12 5.70% 148,804 289,468 361
6 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 5.70% 134,911 1,584,404 245
7 26 Years 11/29/12 4.20% 110,130 2,874,679 293
8 Pokemon (jp) 12/19/12 1.90% 93,510 191,011 273
9 Pokemon (jp) 12/19/12 1.40% 79,331 159,450 227
10 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 1.70% 48,584 1,001,379 175

Friday, December 21, 2012

WKR: Jiseul, Masquerade and Melo Lead the Pack (12/15-12/21, 2012)

With Christmas upon us things are slowly winding down on the review front but still plenty to check out this week.


(Film Business Asia, December 15, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, December 17, 2012)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

KCN: Korean Cinema to Invade Berlin and Rotterdam (12/13-12/19, 2012)

Numerous festival announcements this week as Korean films pick up more prizes at international film festivals and a number of prestigious events gorge on Korean cinema.

In addition to everything below, a few more fresh festival selections lacking full writeups:

Jiseul, Sleepless Night, The Russian Novel and Sunshine Boys heading to the Rotterdam International

Behind the Camera and Jury to officially take part in Berlin's Panorama section


Berlin Invites Pluto to Generation Section
Next February’s Berlin International Film Festival is taking shape as a major discovery grounds for Korean cinema as a fourth Korean film has been invited to the prestigious event. Shin Su-won’s Pluto, one of the most talked about films at this year’s Busan International Film Festival, will have its international premiere during Berlin’s Generation programme. (KoBiz, December 18, 2012)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Whose Lie is it Anyway: Ad-lib Night (아주 특별한 손님, Aju Teukbyeolhan Sonnim) 2006

Part of Rex Baylon's ongoing feature on director Lee Yoon-ki.

The expectations placed upon us by our family can be emotionally and mentally crippling. Parents have no way to predict how there actions, no matter how well intentioned they are, will scar their kids, and children are ultimately at the mercy of circumstances outside their control or understanding. Because of this the relationship between parents and children seem to always suffer from some form of dysfunction. Be it from things said in anger or things left unsaid one doesn’t leave childhood without some scarring.

Opening on a bright summer day in Seoul, Lee Yoon-ki’s third feature Ad–lib Night (Aju Teukbyeolhan Sonnim, 2006) begins with two men arguing over the facial features of a woman standing innocently across from them. Watching them stare at her one can’t help thinking of the innumerable scenes in film of men and boys spying on women. Are they playboys, predators, or harmless peeping Toms? We soon get our answer as the two men corner the woman and begin having a conversation with her media res. They call her Myung-eun and we discover that they knew each other since grade school. She rebuffs their attempts to get close though and corrects their assumption that she is Myung-eun.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

KBO: The Hobbit Stands Tall at No.1 (12/14-12/16, 2012)

The Hobbit Stands Tall at No.1

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 The Hobbit (us) 12/13/12 45.20% 921,177 1,080,351 1,028
2 26 Years 11/29/12 17.10% 409,708 2,557,122 474
3 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 15.90% 353,277 1,223,873 420
4 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 6.70% 165,984 899,826 361
5 Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 4.10% 102,475 372,017 233
6 One Day (us) 12/13/12 3.50% 79,190 102,936 236
7 Power Rangers (jp) 11/29/12 1.90% 48,317 63,041 229
8 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 1.00% 22,544 2,720,064 114
9 Masquerade 9/13/12 0.90% 20,635 12,274,047 88
10 Wreck-it Ralph (us) 12/13/12 0.80% 19,179 33,623 118

Friday, December 14, 2012

WKR: Confession of Murder, Pieta and More (12/08-12/14, 2012)

A trove of past Korean films reviewed in this week's roundup, along with a pair of writeups on Kim Ki-duk's Pieta and more.


(Modern Korean Cinema, December 13, 2012)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Confession of Murder (내가 살인범이다, Naega Salinbeomida) 2012

The sound of torrential rain beating down during a pitch black night can be heard along with the heavy footfalls of boots stamping on the wet ground. The atmosphere is pregnant with a sense of unease; menace and frustration linger in the air. A weary and despondent detective chases after a despicable man: a monster with the blood of young women on his hands. But the lawman’s pursuit will prove fruitless, as this faceless ghost will vanish into thin air and into the forgotten recesses of history.

Such a passage could easily describe any number of narratives that have cropped up in all kinds of mediums across the world. As far as Korean cinema is concerned, it quickly brings to mind a handful of powerful works whose import cannot be dismissed in any serious consideration of the nation’s cinematic output. Chief among them is Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (2003), a transcendent genre piece that captured the anxiety and trauma of an entire nation and which is for many, including myself, the single greatest work that the country has ever produced. Another would be Na Hong-jin’s blistering The Chaser (2008), which deliberately trampled over every generic convention it could find and forged a new direction for one of the world’s most dynamic film industries in the process.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

KCN: New Projects from Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon and Hong Sang-soo (12/06-12/12, 2012)

Lots of new projects or details of upcoming films announced this week, including the latest on Park Chan-wook, Hong Sang-soo and Kim Jee-woon's cinematic endeavors. The first teaser for Ryoo Seung-wan hotly anticipated spy thriller The Berlin File was also released today.


Kim Jee-woon Plans Live Action Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Get ready for something spectacular. Korea's Kim Jee-woon - soon to make his English language debut with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring The Last Stand - has big plans for his next Korean film and it's something that should leave anime fans very, very happy. (Twitch, December 11, 2012)

Director Hong Sangsoo’s Next Film Gets 19 Rating
Director Hong Sangsoo’s next film, Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, was given the 19 or above rating on December 6. The film finished shooting this past spring and is in the post production stage, awaiting a release date. The film stars Lee Sun-kyun who appeared in Hong Lost in the Mountains and Oki’s Movie. This will be the actor’s third collaboration with Hong. (KoBiz, December 11, 2012)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Love in the Time of Debt: My Dear Enemy (멋진 하루, Meotjin Haru) 2008

Part of Rex Baylon's ongoing feature on director Lee Yoon-ki.

To speak about love in a contemporary real world setting and ignore the logistics of survival has been the bane of the romance genre. In order to sidestep these problems filmmakers in the past have either focused their eye to the upstairs-downstairs drama of the 1% or offered up sentimental stories of shopgirls being wooed by nebbish young suitors. Modern day romantic comedies haven’t fared any better since most are concerned with merely finding one’s true love and quickly fading out once our two lovers are finally together. The romance genre’s evolution through the years has ignored the economics of love in favor of offering up quirky characters in contrived situations.

In Lee Yoon-ki’s My Dear Enemy money is the impetus for the two ex-lovers reuniting and the reason why they spend the entire day together. Instead of cloying attempts to tell a story about two people falling in love again while draped on all sides by a scenic urban backdrop we get tense scenes where petty grudges are rehashed and even the happier moments of the past are remembered through a cloudy veneer of regret and nostalgia. Far from offering up an affected view of modern day relationships My Dear Enemy is a realistic character study of the ways that hate and love are used to mask one’s insecurities, it’s a travelogue, a visual and aural document, of Seoul at the cusp of a worldwide economic recession, and a charming romantic comedy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

KBO: 26 Years Steady at No.1 (12/07-12/09, 2012)

26 Years Steady at No.1

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 26 Years 11/29/12 31.10% 606,877 1,815,877 610
2 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 25.40% 473,527 565,557 553
3 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 13.60% 258,352 677,900 430
4 Werewolf Boy (Director's Cut) 10/31/12 8.10% 164,554 183,029 278
5 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (us) 11/15/12 5.20% 104,602 2,578,609 305
6 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 5.10% 95,262 2,648,477 281
7 Tone Deaf Clinic 11/29/12 2.00% 42,000 303,714 212
8 Masquerade 9/13/12 1.60% 32,353 12,227,303 97
9 Don't Cry Mommy 11/22/12 1.30% 26,550 956,740 201
10 Judge Dredd (us) 12/6/12 1.40% 26,402 34,731 184

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BIFF 2012: Tumbleweed (창수, Chang-su) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 17th Busan International Film Festival.

The gangster film, a genre that has found its way into just about every national film industry on the planet, is no stranger to Korean cinema. While the country has produced its fair share of compelling gangland sagas, stretching from the 1997 trio of Beat, No . 3, and Green Fish to more glossy and baroque undertakings such as A Dirty Carnival (2006) and this year’s Nameless Gangster, some of the most memorable films have been those that have been filtered through the prism of Korea’s filmmaking mainstay, the melodrama. Romance and gangsters have been combined to great effect in films such as Kim Jee-woon’s A Bittersweet Life (2005) but some of the most surprising examples have featured criminals at the bottom end of the pecking order.

Song Sae-heun’s Failan (2001) featured Choi Min-sik as a hapless thug who develops feelings for his shame immigrant wife (Cecilia Chung) following her death. The film did away with the gloss and style we often associate with gangster films and instead focused on a bizarre relationship which in many ways acted as a path of redemption for Choi’s character. Similarly, Yang Ik-june’s Breathless (2009) followed a gruff and violent money collector in a rundown neighborhood who develops an odd friendship with a high school girl (played by Kim Kkottbi) that could become his salvation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

KCN: Sundance Welcomes Korean Filmmakers, More Awards and Classic Korean Film (11/29-12/05, 2012)

More festival selections and awards this week, a lot of news relating to Park Chan-wook projects in the US and a raft of reviews as the new Korean Cinema Today webzine goes live (which yours truly contributed to).


The Weight Wins Best Director at India Film Fest
Following a Best Director win last week at the Tallin Black Nights Film Festival, Jeon Kyu-hwan has once again struck gold (or rather silver) as his new feature The Weight earned him a Silver Peacock award for best director at the International Film Festival of India. The award came with a cash prize of INR 1.5 million (USD 27,600). Meanwhile, local film Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan picked up the Golden Peacock for best film. The 43rd IFFI, which ran from November 20th to 30th, screened around 300 films. (KoBiz, December 4, 2012)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Miss Conspirator (미쓰 GO, Misseu Go) 2012

By Rex Baylon

Being an avid fan of anything, be it a film, a band, or an author’s work, comes at a price; a gnawing hunger to consume our drug regardless of the social, mental, and financial toll it might take. Aside from that overwhelming desire there is also a parallel drive to feel something new for a work that we have poured our heads and hearts wholeheartedly into. This soon breeds insular personalities who operate in a fantasy world where in our mind’s eye we hear Philip Glass's score from the Qatsi trilogy being played as we engage in the most banal of rituals like writing an e-mail or waiting for the bus.

For agoraphobic Chun Soo-roo (Ko Hyeon-jeong) her world is the heightened reality of the crime genre. A dual world of cops and robbers, heists, capers, and double and triple crosses, where money switches hands faster than henchmen switch sides. A farewell goodbye to a friend at the airport becomes the elaborate setup for a great story. However menacing serial killers and rabid gangsters do not populate these dark alleyways. Instead, director Park Chul-kwan borrows more from Ocean's Eleven (The original Sinatra version as well as the Soderbergh remakes) and Catch Me If You Can (2002) than from gritty crime dramas like The Yellow Sea (2010) or Nameless Gangster (2012). From the inspired faux-retro Saul Bass-inspired title sequences to the klezmer heavy score Miss Conspirator (2012) is a movie built firmly on the clichés of suspense pictures. Of course as any student of the genre knows there is no better master of suspense then Alfred Hitchcock, who invented the grammar of suspense for film.

Monday, December 3, 2012

KBO: The Controversial 26 Years Shoots to the Top (11/30-12/02, 2012)

The Controversial 26 Years Shoots to the Top

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 26 Years 11/29/12 32.80% 663,704 803,186 609
2 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 15.00% 277,161 361,738 472
3 Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 12.80% 265,304 6,519,784 415
4 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (us) 11/15/12 10.70% 220,160 2,390,761 351
5 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 9.10% 176,703 2,471,307 315
6 Don't Cry Mommy 11/22/12 6.60% 136,890 883,290 339
7 Tone Deaf Clinic 11/29/12 5.90% 127,304 206,344 361
8 Masquerade 9/13/12 2.50% 54,186 12,167,317 128
9 National Security 11/22/12 1.50% 31,110 305,802 216
10 Trouble With the Curve (us) 11/29/12 0.50% 11,261 17,225 129

Friday, November 30, 2012

WKR: Eungyo, Taste of Money and LeeSong Hee-il in the Spotlight (11/24-11/30, 2012)

A number of current releases covered this week, including three films by LeeSong Hee-il as well as writeups the LKFF selection Eungyo, the recently-released Taste of Money, and a pair of favorable reviews from Variety's Maggie Lee.


(Variety, November 25, 2012)

Interview: Director Kong Quee-hyun (U.F.O.) Discusses Stress and Student Life in Korea

Kong Quee-hyun directed his debut U.F.O. last year. His film premiered at the Pucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and following a run in Korean theaters earlier this year, the young filmmaker is now getting ready for his next project.

He took the time to talk to MKC about student life in Korea and the realities of low-budget filmmaking in the local industry.

U.F.O. originally featured at last year’s PiFan (Pucheon International Fantastic Film Festival) and was eventually released in Korea this May. How did Indiestory, your distributor, come aboard?

I won the CGV movie collage award at the Cinema Digital Seoul film festival, which was the film’s second event. This is a $10,000 cash prize to support the distribution of an independent film. Indiestory saw the film and expressed their interest then which is how they became involved.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

KCN: Festivals Awards and Invitations Glut (12/22-12/28, 2012)

Festival awards for Korean cineastes dominate the news this week as well as the further high profile selections during what has been a banner year for every sector of the Korean film industry.


Fatal Invited to Berlin International Film Festival
Lee Don-ku’s Fatal has officially been invited to the Berlin International Film Festival. Fatal, which debuted in the ‘New Currents’ section of the 17th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), was invited to the ‘Panorama’ section of the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, which is going to take place in February 7th to 17th next year. (KoBiz, November 28, 2012)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

White Night (백야, Baekya) 2012

South Korea’s rapid development over the past 20 years has been nothing short of an economic miracle but, though there’s no denying how far it’s come, not every element of society has progressed at the same breakneck pace. Various elements, particularly as they relate to social change, have stubbornly lagged behind. One such facet is the acceptance of homosexuality. As gay marriage is slowly becoming a part of daily life in various countries in the western world, gay rights are progressing haltingly in Korea. Given the nation’s advances in other areas, this, along with other social problems, seems a little incongruous when compared with the modern image projected through the nation’s media.

Through the prism of a highly developed film industry such as Korea’s, this divide seems that much more vivid. LeeSong Hee-il, Korea’s first openly gay filmmaker, has been busily working away on short films for quite some time but earlier this year he finally unveiled his sophomore feature White Night at the Jeonju International Film Festival, coming six years after his very well-received debut No Regrets

Monday, November 26, 2012

KBO: A Werewolf Boy Claims 4th Win During Crowded Weekend (11/23-11/25, 2012)

A Werewolf Boy Claims 4th Win During Crowded Weekend

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 24.80% 550,880 6,015,700 595
2 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (us) 11/15/12 21.50% 468,965 1,940,783 536
3 Don't Cry Mommy 11/22/12 19.20% 425,916 538,138 444
4 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 15.10% 310,819 2,109,450 382
5 National Security 11/22/12 6.90% 147,759 188,020 310
6 Masquerade 9/13/12 2.80% 62,631 12,064,506 166
7 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 2.80% 50,523 56,850 197
8 Iron Bag Man 11/22/12 1.20% 26,250 42,208 119
9 Tone Deaf Clinic 11/29/12 1.20% 25,876 42,251 203
10 Skyfall (us/uk) 10/26/12 1.10% 23,232 2,349,440 122

Friday, November 23, 2012

BIFF 2012 Interview: Stepping Behind the Lens - Yu Ji-tae Discusses His New Career Path

Part of MKC's coverage of the 17th Busan International Film Festival.

One of Korea's most recognizable faces, actor Yu Ji-tae has been at the forefront of the Korean film industry since its renaissance in the late 1990s. He first made a splash in Kim Sang-jin's anarchic Attack the Gas Station (1999). Following his romantic roles in Ditto (2000) and Hur Jin-ho's One Fine Spring Day, Yu switched gears to play the villain in Park Chan-wook's seminal Oldboy (2003), elevating his visibility to a global level along the way.

Though still an active actor, over the last few years Yu has also forged a path for himself as a short filmmaker. At this year's Busan International Film Festival he finally unveiled his acclaimed debut feature Mai Ratima. He kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with MKC about his new role behind the camera and the state of independent filmmaking in Korea.

And yes, he is quite tall...

WKR: New Indie Releases Take Center Stage (11/17-11/23, 2012)

Juvenile Offender and National Security were both released and reviewed this week while Rain's R2B: Return to Base and The Thieves get a few writeups in this week's Weekly Korean Reviews update.


(Modern Korean Cinema, November 20, 2012)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

KCN: Korean Films Sell 100 Million Tickets in 2012 + New Footage for The Host 2 (11/15-11/21, 2012)

Korean film industry hits yet another major milestone in 2012 while some footage for the long-awaited sequel to The Host (2006) drops out of nowhere. However, outside of these items and a number of small festival tidbits, it wasn't a big week for Korean film news.


First Horrific Footage for The Host 2
No beating around the bush here! A clip of the long-awaited Korean horror flick The Host 2 goes straight for the jugular with the hungry creature wrecking havoc upon an unsuspecting family, tearing up on a moving truck, and then chasing two innocent children for a quick snack. Oh my, I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of these kids when the shit hits the fan. (Twitch, November 20, 2012)

Korean Films Draw Over 100 Million Viewers This Year
Korean movies have drawn over 100 million viewers in 2012. The Korean Film Council on Monday said the number of people watching Korean films this year totaled 99.61 million as of Sunday. "Since at least 200,000 people on average watch Korean movies on a weekday, the 100-million mark will be reached on Tuesday," a council spokesman said. (The Chosun Ilbo, November 20, 2012)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BIFF 2012: El Condor Pasa (콘돌은 날아간다, Kondoleun Nalaganda) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 17th Busan International Film Festival.

A regular staple at the Busan Film Festival, Jeon Soo-il is a local filmmaker whose body of work has steadily brought him acclaim and accolades from around the world. He is not as famous as some of the more prominent arthouse Korean filmmakers but nonetheless he is an important figure from Korea’s independent film scene.

Now on his seventh feature, Jeon Soo-il’s style, which has always been unique but malleable, has of late, become more concrete. Last year’s Pink (also a Busan Film Festival selection) was a small breakthrough for him, earning him more recognition than his previous works. Though not an easy film (none of his works are), Pink was much more accessible, due in large part to the careful and gorgeous visual aesthetic through which he carved his narrative. With its muted, earthy color palette, and deliberate compositions, which emphasized the distance between the story’s various protagonists, his film, despite its frequent silences and stillness, teemed with life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

KBO: Werewolf Boy Fights Off Twilight For Third Win (11/16-11/18, 2012)

Werewolf Boy Fights Off Twilight For Third Win

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 34.40% 901,842 5,093,692 678
2 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (us) 11/15/12 34.60% 880,700 1,080,756 665
3 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 17.20% 416,119 1,538,341 388
4 Code Name: Jackal 11/15/12 4.10% 109,017 141,284 301
5 Masquerade 9/13/12 3.80% 98,383 11,933,678 283
6 Skyfall (us/uk) 10/26/12 2.70% 69,181 2,285,115 239
7 Sinister (us) 11/15/12 1.10% 26,386 33,809 183
8 Upside Down (us) 11/8/12 0.40% 11,328 169,384 107
9 Jungle Emperor Leo (jp) 11/8/12 0.30% 9,984 38,984 56
10 Brave (us) 9/27/12 0.20% 5,424 1,228,682 34