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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

KOFA Treasures: Kim Soo-yong's The Seaside Village (갯마을, Gaenmaeul) 1965

Ongoing series on classic Korean film recently made available for free and with English subtitles on Youtube courtesy of the Korean Film Archive.

During this year's 14th Udine Far Easy Film Festival I had the great privilege and pleasure of attending Darcy Paquet’s 1970s Korean cinema retrospective. As it turns out, among the ten features presented, some of my favorites were island dramas.  The three that were programmed (Iodo, 1977; Splendid Outing, 1978; and The Divine Bow, 1979) were fascinating works that were both quasi-horrors and compelling films about women, which highlighted their marginalized roles in society.  Characters in these films, especially women, were either transplanted to remote fishing islands, which for them became sites of horror, or grew up there without ever leaving, any attempts at escape doomed from the outset.

Kim Soo-young was behind Splendid Outing, a film that shares an enormous amount in common with Bedevilled (2010), to the point where it would not surprise me if it was actually the blueprint for Jang Chul-soo’s incendiary film. However, long before that, Kim made The Seaside Village, a stunning and deeply textured work from 1960s Korean cinema, which dabbles in some taboos that would likely not have been tolerated by the government at the time.

Friday, November 16, 2012

WKR: Current Korean Hits, LKFF and Classic Film Reviews (11/10-11/16, 2012)

Lots of reviews in from the LKFF and more than classic films reviewed than usual, thanks in large part to a big new update on


(Hanguk Yeonghwa, November 12, 2012)

(Screen Daily, November 9, 2012)

(oriental nightmares, November 12, 2012)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BIFF 2012 Interview: A Chat With Fatal's First-time Director Lee Donku

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

One of the most talked-about films this year at the Busan International Film Festival was the low-budget debute feature Fatal, which screened as part of the event's signature 'New Currents' competition. A section reserved for first or sophomore features from Asian filmmakers which has discovered such respected works as The Journals of Musan (2011) and Bleak Night (2011).

Fatal's Lee Donku took some time out of his busy festival schedule to sit down and talk with Modern Korean Cinema.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meaningful Stillness: The Quiet Pursuit of Happiness in Jang Kun-jae's Sleepless Night - Part II

Part V of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

For Sleepless Night, Jang and his tiny cast and crew lived in close quarters for the duration of the film’s short production. Eating meals and sleeping together in the director’s apartment, which served as the main location of the film, they also shared their thoughts and worries. Their marriages, as well as the minutiae of their daily lives, became a part of the filmmaking process. I can only imagine, but it must have made for a very special experience for those involved, especially given the result on screen.

The film is exceedingly relatable and highly personal. The character’s thoughts are almost never a mystery, despite frequently sparse dialogue. Much of this is down to the splendid performances of the two leads but it is also part of the fabric of the film. For me, these silences that dot the narrative are examples of ‘meaningful stillness.’ They feel important, as though a statement is being made: however nothing is forced upon us. Perhaps they merely exist, like fleeting moments that just happened to be caught on camera: but they feature no action. It could be that these lulls derive their meaning purely from the context afforded by prior scenes: yet they are not in the least bit contrived.

KCN: Weinstein Co. Picks up Snowpiercer, Interviews Galore and Much More (11/08-11/14, 2012)

Lots of news this week, some of its relating to the London Korean Film Festival and its spectacular closing. Save the Green Planet director Jang Joon-hwan finally returns with a new project, Berlin makes a big Korea selection, Pieta wins awards and many interviews to boot, most notably from Paul Quinn whose been a very busy bee over at Hangul Celluloid!



Kim Yun-seok to Star in New Jang Joon-hwan Film
Korea's most bankable star Kim Yun-seok is set to star in the sophomore feature by Jang Joon-hwan whose sensational debut Save the Green Planet (2003) rocked the international film stage upon its release. It'll be a decade separating his two films by the time this is released and while people have been wondering why he has stepped away for so long, though he he did directed a short in 2010's Camilia omnibus and is well-known as actress Moon So-ri's husband, there is not doubt that many are thrilled to see his return to the big screen.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sleepless Night Production Stills

Part IV of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

Director Jang Kun-jae very kindly provided MKC with the following production stills taken during the shoot of his latest film Sleepless Night. A few were used for our interview with him but they are all so good that I felt I should share them all with you. You can get a real sense for how intimate the filming was, a feeling that really seeps into the finished product.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

KBO: A Werewolf Boy Chews Up the Competition (11/09-11/11, 2012)

A Werewolf Boy Chews Up the Competition

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 A Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 51.70% 1,333,425 3,603,599 855
2 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 23.80% 567,631 725,877 548
3 Skyfall (us/uk) 10/26/12 8.90% 222,312 2,119,922 350
4 Masquerade 9/13/12 6.90% 174,674 11,734,840 317
5 Upside Down (us) 11/8/12 3.70% 93,968 126,282 308
6 Now Is Good (uk) 11/8/12 1.10% 26,495 34,742 142
7 Jungle Emperor Leo (jp) 11/8/12 0.90% 25,189 25,725 159
8 Perfect Number 10/18/12 0.90% 22,622 1,534,523 192
9 Argo (us) 10/31/12 0.60% 14,519 128,393 121
10 Brave (us) 9/27/12 0.40% 9,711 1,222,736 58

Meaningful Stillness: The Quiet Pursuit of Happiness in Jang Kun-jae's Sleepless Night - Part I

Part III of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

Each person’s individual journey in life is an ever-changing narrative, subject to the faintest tinkering. Our goals are equally malleable targets: a few change from year to year, others switch throughout the course of a day. Some of our dreams are dearly cherished: we hold onto them throughout our lives, yet these too are subject to change. The details within our ambitions vary over time as we accumulate new experiences: they shift to fit our evolving personalities. Though we, along with our thoughts and desires, are in perpetual flux, there could be one thing we collectively and unswervingly aspire to. We all want to be happy.

Though an outwardly simple notion, happiness is a truly complex idea that is utterly different for each and every person. Purely subjective, one person’s joy can equate to another’s misery. Yet there are things that we aspire to as a society in order to achieve some greater collective contentment. South Korea offers a very interesting example of this as it has leapt forward with its booming economy. At the risk of sounding a bit absolute, generally speaking happiness was hard to come by for many decades in Korean society as it struggled with the separation of its peninsula, a disruptive war and successive authoritarian regimes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Interview: Jang Kun-jae Talks Sleepless Night

Part II of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

Following his debut Eighteen's successful run on the international festival circuit in 2009, the highlight of which was a grand prize win as part of Vancouver's Tigers & Dragons section, Jang Kun-jae has proven that he is no fluke with his sophomore feature. Sleepless Night debuted in Jeonju where it picked a pair of prizes, including the top Korean film prize and audience award before hitting the road for what is likely to be a lengthy festival run.

MKC was able to catch up Jang during the Busan Film Fest.

How do you feel about Sleepless Night's positive reception?

The public’s response is of course very important to me, especially as a director who did not have the opportunity to release my films in a commercial way. Therefore, the more people who enjoy my film in festivals, the better the film’s chance to become available for the general public.

As with my last film, I hope that the positive response will help for my next project. Hopefully we can find more financing and have the opportunity to cast better actors and actresses.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Reveals Korean-Heavy Program

The Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) is coming back for its 16th edition, which will run November 12-28 in Tallinn, Estonia. Originally a showcase for Nordic film, PÖFF has grown to become one of Europe's largest and most varied film festivals, and of late they have been very kind to Korean cinema, with 2012 proving to be no exception.

Jeon Kyu-hwan's The Weight, which won the Queer Lion Award earlier this year at the Venice International Film Festival and has also screened at the Busan International Film Festival and Sitges Film Festival, will take part in PÖFF's 'EurAsia' competition section, which last year awarded its main prize to Ahn Hui's A Simple Life. Jeon's first three films, the trilogy comprising of Mozart Town (2008), Animal Town (2009) and Dance Town (2010), all previously screened at Black Nights.

WKR: LKFF, More BIFF and In Another Country's US Bow (11/03-11/09, 2012)

Reviews are still trickling in from Busan along with a wealth content from the currently underway London Korean Film Festival. Also of note is the release of In Another Country in the US


(Film Business Asia, November 7, 2012)

(Variety, November 5, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, November 8, 2012)

(Variety, November 3, 2012)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Love Story Abruptly Ended: Eighteen (회오리 바람, Hwiori Baram) 2009

Part I of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

By Rex Baylon

The beauty and innocence of young love might be the greatest hoax perpetuated by the mainstream media. A couple walking hand in hand together while surrounded on all sides by a bucolic setting, two lovers sitting in a warm cozy diner with a straw in each of their mouths while they share a milkshake, or the hustle and bustle of a crowded noisy street muted by two lovestruck individuals stealing a kiss or embrace. The young and not so young are fed these cliché images to the point that artists can’t help but regurgitate them back to their respective audiences. The romanticism that was first born from the mind of Goethe has mutated into the “Hallmark moment”, sappy, sentimental, and dangerous. At it’s most idealistic, young love offers a safe haven for youths who’ve experienced the joy and elation of caring and feeling protective over someone other than themselves, but at its worst it can be an easy excuse for self-absorbed and destructive behavior.

In Jang Kun-jae’s debut, Eighteen (Hwioribaram, 2009), these two distinctive poles are examined through a very familiar story of young love that ought not to be. Yet, unlike many Korean romantic melodramas this is not a linear narrative charting a relationship from meet-cute to break-up. In fact, it begins months after the break-up. It is a post-mortem love story told mainly through flashback, blending cinema-verite with splashes of magic realism. The young couple in the film are normal run-of-the mill Korean teenagers: they’re attached to their smartphones, they’ve got school and parents badgering them about college, and their idea of the future doesn’t stretch any further than a few months. There is nothing distinctive about their lives or personality.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

KCN: AFM Sales, London and Paris K-Film Fests and More BO Records (11/01-11/07, 2012)

More box office records broken and films sold at the American Film Market while both Paris and London stage their annual Korean film festivals.


7th Paris Korean Film Festival Opens
Paris, which had its hottest summer this year, is once again experiencing the heat of Korean films this fall as the 7th Paris Korean Film Festival unfolds. The event opened on October 30th and Masquerade, the opening film, was sold out with other screenings also proving very popular. Q and A sessions following screenings are helping to satisfy the audience's curiosity and the event is fulfilling the role of bridging the cultural gap between the two nations. (KoBiz, November 6, 2012)

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Good Rain Knows (호우시절, Howoo shijeol) 2009

By Rex Baylon

What do you do when a filmmaker you respect and champion begins to make works that you dislike? Do you unabashedly support it and ignore the work’s inherent flaws? Do you ignore the work, pretend to suffer from cinephilic amnesia and hope that the offending film will fall through the cracks of time and be mercifully forgotten? Or do you finally sit down and deal with the fact that people, no less filmmakers, are imperfect artisans and that although our initial response to their work may have been unabashed excitement, it must be tempered and we must attempt to look at each new work free from the distractions of the past.

Having begun life as part of a three-part omnibus film entitled Chengdu, I Love You (2009) with contributions by Chinese filmmaker Cu Jian and Hong Kong auteur Fruit Chan. Hur Jin-ho’s A Good Rain Knows (2009) evolved out of that project and became its own feature. Being a Pan-Asian production Hur cast Korean superstar Jung Woo-sung, fresh off the production of Kim Jee-won’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008), to play the poet-turned-businessman Park Dong-ha and Mainland Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, who worked on the controversial Lu Chuan picture City of Life and Death (2009) that same year, was cast as May, Dong-ha’s melancholic love interest.

KBO: Werewolf Boy Opens Big, Masquerade All-time No. 5 (11/02-11/04, 2012)

Werewolf Boy Opens Big, Masquerade All-time No. 5

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 48.70% 1,030,285 1,294,479 707
2 Skyfall (us/uk) 10/26/12 22.80% 459,005 1,694,359 581
3 Masquerade 9/13/12 13.10% 272,736 11,418,849 404
4 Perfect Number 10/18/12 5.30% 108,248 1,462,108 316
5 Argo (us) 10/31/12 2.70% 56,647 79,989 238
6 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 2.60% 49,809 59,519 214
7 Brave (us) 9/27/12 1.00% 23,145 1,211,560 106
8 Almost Che 10/25/12 1.00% 21,287 215,887 195
9 The Peach Tree 10/31/12 0.70% 13,980 24,048 201
10 Savages (us) 10/31/12 0.40% 8,340 13,278 171

Friday, November 2, 2012

WKR: Im Kwon-taek London Retro and More From Busan (10/27-11/02, 2012)

Though it ended almost three weeks ago, the pace of reviews coming in from this year's Busan International Film Festival has yet to let up. Additionally, a comprehensive Im Kwon-taek retrospective is currently taking place in London with Eastern Kicks leading the charge on the review front.


(Variety, October 29, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, October 28, 2012)

(The Hollywood Reporter, October 31, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, October 29, 2012)