Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Korean Cinema News (12/29, 2010 - 01/04, 2011)

As 2012 gets underway there are many top 10 lists floating around, I was planning to include them all here but there are so many that I will only include a few and I will do a separate post on them a little later this month.  Plenty of other news this weeks, with some features, interview, and trailers to boot.


The Year in Film: 2011 Brought Large Successes from Low-Budget Movies
It was another tough year for the film industry.  According to the Korean Film Council, 136 Korean films and 278 foreign films were released as of late November, but just a few of them became box office hits and a handful of them were remembered by the audience.  The most expensive film flopped, and the least-anticipated film became a sleeper hit of the year.  (Joong Ang Daily, December 30, 2011)

Jo In-seong Comes Back With Cold
Having finished his military duty, Jo In-seong is currently in the final stages of negotiating terms and conditions for a new project.  Cold is the first movie in nine years by director Kim Seong-su, who directed There is No Sun (1999), Beat (1997), Musa (2001) and 2003's Please Teach Me English.  Kim Seong-su had been making One-Armed Warrior, a Hong Kong co-production . Cold is going to be produced by Jo In-Seong and Sidus HQ.  It is about a man and a woman who look for the host of the virus that is fatally spreading.  (, December 29, 2011)

Spotlight on Indie Films
The Korean film industry was more diverse than ever before.  Amid an array of high-budget blockbuster films, a couple of Korean independent films achieved the10,000-audience mark, a figure compared to 1 million viewers for commercial films.  The rise of independent films started with Re-encounter in February.  (Joon Ang Daily, December 29, 2011)

Best of 2011: Korean Films
It has been a year of great debuts, be it in terms of format or first-time narrative feature helmers, coming from both the more established generation of filmmakers that emerged in the mid-1990s and those that represent the newest crop of interesting filmmakers to watch.  There were also surprising domestic box-office hits for small films this year.  Not small in terms of output or inferiority, but rather in blockbuster terms: low-key works that unlocked just as many – if not more – emotional keys and engaged the spectator in subtle and surprising ways.  (Asia Pacific Arts, December 28, 2011)

In a larger feature on 3D movie sand Hollywood, there was a quote from Choo Sang-sok, the director of Persimmon 3D:  “Budget doesn’t matter, it is story that matters in cinema and its the same when you are using 3D.”  After the high profile failure of Sector 7, perhaps Korean filmmakers could make a name for themselves by revolutionizing smaller-scale use of the de rigueur technology?  (The Malaysian Insider, December 27, 2011)

In its annual evaluation of the year's best and worst in film, the Austin Film Critics Association has seen fit to award Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil with the Best Foreign Film Prize.  In addition, the revenge pic also landed at No. 8 on their top 10 list for the year.  (Film School Rejects, December 28, 2011)

My Way to Open in Japan
Kang Je-gyu’s World War II drama My Way is due to open in theaters in Japan on January 14, 2012.  Leading Korean distributor CJ E&M says the film will be released on 300 screens.  Starring Jang Dong-gun and Odagiri Joe with a strong supporting cast which includes Chinese star Fan Bingbing and Korea’s Kim In-kwon, the film is Korea’s most expensive – made for US$25 million.  Although My Way has been doing less business than expected in Korea, the film has so far taken in more than 1.17 million admissions for co-distributors CJ E&M and SK Planet. (KoBiz, December 30, 2011)

Arirang Invited to Kuestendorf Film Festival
Kim Ki-du's comeback film Arirang will be playing at yet another film festival, this time invited to screen at the Kuestendorf Film Festival in Serbia.  (AFP, December 28, 2011)

Major South Korean exhibition chain and affiliate of major Korean distribution company Lotte Entertainment, Lotte Cinema is opening its fourth theater in Vietnam on Dec. 31.  The new five-screen multiplex will be in Hanoi, with 848 seats and 3D projection.  Lotte Cinema has been in the Vietnamese exhibition sector since 2008 when it acquired the Diamond Cinema Joint Venture Company (DMC).  (KoBiz, December 30, 2011)

Who's the Busiest Actor of 2012?
Who is going to be the busiest actress or actor in 2012?  Looking at the movies that are being released or are planning to go into production this year, we can see several names that appear often.  (, January 2, 2012)

Martin Cleary over at New Korean Cinema is fielding questions on Korean film!  (New Korean Cinema, December 30, 2011)

Korea’s My Way Going to Berlin Film Fest
In a move that may come as a bit of a surprise given it's lukewarm reception from audiences and critics in its native Korea, Jang Je-gyu's mega WWII blockbuster My Way, starring Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, and Fan Binbin, will be featured as one of Berlin International Film Festival’s Panorama sidebars this year, the film’s distributor said Wednesday.  (The Korea Herald, January 4, 2012)

Director Kim Jee-woon comes back with The Fall of Humanity
A lot of news items have flown around the internet claiming that Kim Jee-woon is returning to Korea to film The Fall of Humanity, citing an piece by  However the article is very unclear and from what I understand the film, wich is an omnibus comprising on short by Kim and two by Yim Pil-seong began filming in 2006 and was halted for financial reasons.  Not much else is known but since the release is slated for February/March, I can't imagine that Kim is heading back to shoot his segment.  (, January 2, 2012)

Korean Film Fiesta Dazzles Lagosians
The second Korea Film Festival in Nigeria was held recently in Lagos, with a refreshing experience for the Nigerian movie lovers who thronged the venue.  Korean films have benefited tremendously from the emergence of youthful, talented film directors, as well as the liberalization of the market, leading Hallyuwood to occupy a large percentage of the Korean domestic market and ever-increasing export.  (The Daily Sun, December 29, 2011)

South Korea’s leading film and entertainment magazine Cine21 has picked Hong Sang-soo’s The Day He Arrives as the Best Film of 2011. In their annual survey, the magazine with its 33 journalists and critics also picked Hong as the Best Director of the Year.  The magazine lauded The Day He Arrives as “a singular experience of time and space and memory”.  (KoBiz, January 3, 2012)

Over at, Darcy Paquet has offered up his top 10 for the year which by his admissions is very weighted towards low-budget fare this year.  This seems to be the consensus as independent films were strong this year but commercial fare was weaker than in other years.  (, January 3, 2012)


Director Explores Childhood Betrayal
For anyone who has seen Park Chul-soon’s feature debut Lovable, a moving portrait of a young girl with Savant syndrome, it wouldn’t be surprising to discover the director full of playfulness.  The 28-year-old’s debut, which won the best screenplay prize at Persons with Disabilities Film Festival this year, is filled with childhood desires and imaginative adventures.  (The Korea Herald, December 26, 2011)

Michelle Son, Managing Director of M-Line Distribution
Heading up international sales company M-Line Distribution as Managing Director, Michelle Son has in a few short years positioned the company to handle a bulk of deals including foreign remake deals for major local titles.  She spoke with KoBiz over the phone about looking beyond feature films for exciting audiovisual content and the importance of facilitating international co-productions.  (KoBiz, December 29, 2011)


Nameless Gangster



Korean Films Outdone By Hollywood as 2012 Gets Underway
(Modern Korean Cinema, January 2, 2011)
We have seen Korean cinema succeed both locally and internationally this year, but which foreign films made it big in Korea in 2011?  Besides the few international films from Asia and Europe it has been Hollywood that has dominated Korea's consumption of foreign films.  War of the Arrows stood out as Korea's highest grossing domestic film of the year but even that was trumped by over 400,000 admissions to the third Transformers film.  (, December 31, 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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