Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Korean Films: The Quest For Independence (2013 Week 28)

Big Good

Hyeong-geun is nearly 20 years old and has just finished his college entrance exams, but now he is looking for independence. While his mother is travelling, he’s entrusted to keep their apartment in order for a few weeks, but instead takes the opportunity to offer for rent a room adjacent to his mother's store. With his friends, a writer, a musician and a university student, they encounter many candidates while seeking an apartment for themselves .

Director Ryu Hyung-kun is making ​​his debut as a director, but has been seen many times as an actor in some other independent productions, mostly short films such as Five is Too Many (2005) or a part entitled Penny Lover in Show Me the Money (2009). The movie does not seem to have impressed the critics, however it received an award in the last edition of the Seoul Independent Film Festival, and was selected in many other independent festivals of Korea.

Watch the Korean trailer here.

Kong's Family

After four years in jail, Jang Baek-ho has finally been released from prison only to find out that his bank account is five million Won lighter, money he needed to open a noodle shop and lead a regular life. Furious, he goes in search of his wife and three children to understand what happened to the money, and discovers along the way the secret that destroyed their family.

The Korean title of the film is a pun between "kongnamu" meaning the flour soybean used to make noodles, and the Korean word for "family". As you can see, translated, this makes for a particularly obscure international title. The director Nam Gi-ung started brightly with a film frequently cited as one of the flagships of independent Korean cinema, Teenage Hooker Girl Became a Killer Machine in Daehakro (2000), before continuing with more accessible productions which never really managed to capture the attention of a large audience. The leading role, played by Kim Byeong-ok, will be a familiar face to fans of the Korean thriller, mainly playing crooks in films like Old Boy (2003), President's Last Bang (2005), No Mercy for the Rude (2006), but also more recently New World (2012) and Cold Eyes (2013). This independent film has been distributed on the sly in a few independent cinemas, and for once, and it is rare enough to be appreciated, the public share the same opinion as the critics: this film is to be avoided!

Watch the Korean trailer here.


A student is found dead behind his high school. One of his comrades is quickly suspected by investigators, his phone having been found next to the body. This student was trying desperately to fit into a very restricted club composed of the best students of the school, whose president was the victim.

If you have a good memory and have been following us for the past year, you'll probably remember that MKC has already talked a few times about this film, even including it in last year’s top 10. Presented for the first time last year at the Busan International Film Festival, then this year in Berlin and Edinburgh, it has been critically acclaimed every time. This is apparently a new success for the director Shin Su-won, who had made her debut in 2009 with the very good Passerby #3. Playing the lead role, Lee Da-wit is an actor many will recognize from Romance Joe (2011), but it’s Kim Kkobbi who is the most easily recognizable face as she is the rising star of independent cinema. She was first discovered in Ghost Theater (2006) but is best remembered for her performance in Breathless (2008). The film has a surprisingly wide distribution, reaching almost all regions of the country through the network of independent cinemas.

Watch the Korean trailer here, read Pierce Conran's review or Connor McMorran's one.

Superfish - An Endless Adventure
(슈퍼피쉬 - 끝없는 여정)

For over a million years, the "man catches fish" story has been a popular trope in history. What are the different fishing techniques? What relationship do men and women around the world have with fish and how do they maintain it? The film travels from Laos to Mali to answer these questions.

This documentary follows the trend by many South Korean stations to give many of their programs a theatrical release to take advantage of the more prestigious technologies of cinema. Produced by the public broadcaster KBS, a particularly emphasis was placed in stating the fact that it has been awarded at the Houston festival and that it features spectacular images that are now even more appreciable in 3D. So, as any documentary, don’t expect it to be widely distributed, though it can be found in a few multiplexes.

Watch the Korean trailer here.

New Korean Films is a weekly feature which provide an in-depth look at new local releases in Korea. For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time). Reviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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