Top 25 Korean Films - No. 14

The Power of Kangwon Province (Dir. Hong Sangsoo, 1998)

The truth is I could have filled this spot with just about any Hong Sangsoo film. One of the most consistent filmmakers in Korea, viewers tends to either like or dislike his entire catalogue. Like Ozu Yasujiro or Eric Rohmer, to whom he is often compared, Hong’s works recycle themes, stories and characters (and actors), leaving viewers to tease out their own meaning out of the daily minutiae and ever-complicated romantic entanglements among the Korean intelligentsia set.

One of the first Hong films I saw, to this day I am unable to shake the distinct sensation that The Power of Kangwon Province stirred in me. Thick with the redolent feel of high summer, the film is blindingly bright, filled with lush, green mountains, and its soundtrack is abuzz with the whir of cicadas. I arrived in Korea two years ago during summer and was immediately reminded of it. Modern anxieties and urban relationships spill out into the winding paths of the Gangwon Province mountains in this early Hong masterwork.

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