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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Korean Cinema News (01/19-01/25, 2012)

More casting news for Snow Piercer this week as Jamie Bell and John Hurt are added (though MKC originally reported the latter a few weeks ago).  A number of great features this week including one from VCinema (a site to which I contribute).  Another big piece of news is the status of Korean films at the local box office which broke the 50% mark last year, more on this in the box office section.  Finally a new section detailing Upcoming Releases of Korean films (which can be found in the above tabs) has been added to MKC and will be updated regularly.

The Celluloid Traveler: In Search of The Host on the Han River
The Han River splits the city of Seoul neatly in two. North of the river lies the city’s past: huge, stately palaces; winding neighborhoods full of handsome hanok (traditional Korean houses); and monolithic gates that mark where defensive walls once stood.  South of the Han is Seoul’s future: Yeoido, the financial center of Korea; endless high-rise apartment buildings marching through what just a few decades ago was sleepy farm land; and some of the most expensive real estate on the peninsula.  The Han River is where Seoul’s ten million plus inhabitants go to unwind on a weekend afternoon, taking advantage of the myriads of parks and recreational facilities that line its banks.  It’s also where Bong Joon-Ho set some of the key scenes in his 2006 film The Host.  (VCinema, January 24, 2012)

Bleak Blockbusters
Korea had a bad 20th century.  First Japan occupied the country, then Allied forces occupied it, then a war ripped it in half, then North Korea became a dictatorship, then South Korea experienced a coup followed by a decade of military rule, followed by another decade of martial law, followed by the assassination of the president, another coup, another military regime, and, finally, in 1987, a return to constitutional government.  (Slate, January 18, 2012)

Jamie Bell in Talks to Join Bong Joon-ho's Snow Piercer
Well, well. Bong Joon-ho's upcoming post apocalyptic feature Snow Piercer is shaping up to have quite a cast.  We've known for a long time that Bong regular Song Kang-ho would have a part and just days ago came word that Chris Evans was in talks to join the adaptation of French graphic novel Le Transperceneige.   And now here come two more, with Variety reporting that both Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell are in talks for the picture as well.  (Twitch, January 18, 2012)

Kelly Masterson Shining up the Snow Piercer
Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is all you need to punch up and polish a script, and that's exactly what's happening when it comes to the latest film from the makers of The Host (2006), Snow Piercer.  According to Variety, the flick will now get a rewrite before it goes into production this spring.  Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) scribe Kelly Masterson is doing the rewrite of the film that stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, and Jamie Bell.  (Dread Central, January 18, 2012)

Jeonju Digital Project 2012 Trio Announced
The 13thJeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) has announced the three directors for this year’s Jeonju Digital Project short film omnibus. Raya Martin, one of the most prominent young filmmakers of the Pinoy cinema renaissance, Vimukthi Jayasundara, “a visionary poet” of contemporary Sri Lankan cinema, and Ying Liang, one of the most promising directors on the Chinese digital independent filmmaking scene.  (KoBiz, January 20, 2012)

Rotterdam Lab to Welcome Four Korean Producers
The International Film Festival Rotterdam has announced the final 78 young film producers who will take part in the 12th edition of the Rotterdam Lab at CineMart to include four Korean producers.  These are Dahci Ma of Real Black Chicken Film, Lee Young-mi of Film Front, Dave Kim of Rainbow Factory and Han  Sunhee of BOL Pictures.  Started in 2000, the Jeonju Digital Project is an annual production by the festival which gives KW50 million (about US $44,000) each to three directors to make short films.  (KoBiZ, January 19, 2012)

Udine Plans 70s Korean Film Showcase
The 14th Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy has announced a retrospective of South Korean cinema entitled “The Darkest Decade: Korean Filmmakers in the 1970s”.  Curated by Korean cinema expert Darcy Paquet (who is also a frequent writer on the KoBiz site and Contributing Editor to Korean Cinema Today), the retrospective will feature ten films that have yet to be screened in the West.   (KoBiz, January 19, 2012)

Four Korean nominations at the Asian Film Awards
The 6th Asian Film Awards has announced nominations in 14 categories including one for Park Hae-il, the star of period action thriller War of the Arrows, and three nominations for South Korea’s Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film submission The Front Line.   (KoBiZ, January 18, 2012)

Smartphones Help Directors Look at Films from New Angles
It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s accessible.  Welcome to smartphone-filmmaking, which has become the new trend for both amateur and professional filmmakers in the past year.  The trend – which started about a year ago upon the domestic release of Apple’s iPhone 4 and its local carrier KT’s aggressive-creative promotion of the products – is becoming even bigger as more capital and talents are getting involved.  (The Korea Herald, January 20, 2012)

Goo Hye Sun's Short Length Film You to Premiere in Russia
The actress Goo Hye Sun’s short length film You will premiere in Russia.  The film was given an invitation to show at the Moscow “Korean Short Film Special Showing Event” that will be held from January 19-22.  The group that runs the event “Cool Connections Art Group” is planning to introduce Korean films to Russia. Out of the event if a film is chosen, it will also be shown in 5 different Russian cities.  (, January 18, 2012)

John Hurt Joins Snow Piercer
Bong Joon-ho's train-set thriller Snow Piercer continues to gain momentum with news that legendary English actor John Hurt has joined the cast that already includes Captain America: The First Avenger star Chris Evans and internationally heralded chameleon Tilda Swinton.  (Cinema Blend, January 23, 2012)

Movie Sheds Light on Distrust in Judiciary
The release of a new movie that is based on a “crossbow terror” case in 2007, in which a judge was attacked by a professor, is causing controversy among the general public and the judiciary here.  (The Korea Times, January 20, 2012)


Spotlighting South Korean Cinema
Kyung Hyun Kim spent his childhood in Indonesia and the Middle East due to the career demands of his father, a petroleum engineer for a South Korean oil company. He turned to movies at an early age to escape the stress of frequent moves and new schools.  “I think because of their unfamiliarity with American culture, my parents let me watch a lot of movies that weren’t made for children,” says Kim, a UC Irvine associate professor of East Asian languages & literatures and film & media studies.  (, January 2012)

2012 Sundance Filmmakers: Kangmin Kim
Hyphen continues its interviews with the Asian American filmmakers attending this year's Sundance film festival. Kangmin Kim, like Andrew Ahn, is also a CalArts grad.  While Ahn's interest is in social realist cinema, Kangmin's interest occupies the completely opposite end of the cinematic spectrum -- stop motion animation.  (Hyphen Magazine, January 20, 2012)


Choked (eng sub)

Tarbosaurus 3D (eng subs)



(Modern Korean Cinema, January 22, 2012)

Local-made films grabbed more than half of the South Korean box office last year, the first time in six years.  According to preliminary data from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, South Korean films enjoyed a market share of 51.9% in 2011, up from 46.5% the previous year.  (Film Business Asia, January 23 2012)

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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