Showing posts with label koffia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label koffia. Show all posts

Thursday, September 11, 2014

KOFFIA 2014 Review: THE DINNER Offers Too Many Cold Servings

By Hieu Chau

Creating a compelling domestic family drama is never an easy task mainly due to the stories these films have to tell. The narrative of a family drama is almost never about something new but it definitely takes a certain type of filmmaker to be able to evoke something profound and invigorating out of typically ordinary circumstances. Director Kim Dong-hyun tries his hardest to be that type of filmmaker with his latest family drama, The Dinner, but unfortunately lacks the astute direction and strong scripting that a poised filmmaker such as Japan's Hirokazu Koreeda possesses.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

KOFFIA 2014 Review: Fashion, Feminism and Film Collide in NORA NOH

By Hieu Chau

Fashion has always played a huge part in shaping films despite the fact that costuming is easily one of the most overlooked aspects in film discussions. On a textual level, fashion informs character - one can tell a whole story about a person simply based on costume choices. And this can easily apply to people in reality as well. Then there’s the effect fashion has outside of the film on a cultural and aesthetic level, where audiences seek to emulate and recreate the looks of the stars they see on screen.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

News: Korean Film Festival in Australia 2014 Lineup Announced!

By Hieu Chau

The Korean Film Festival in Australia returns for its fifth year, bringing with it a slate of the country’s must-see films from the past year. KOFFIA will be touring across six cities this year, and the festival will kick off in Sydney on August 31st and finish up in Adelaide in late September.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

KOFFIA 2012: Disney, Nostalgia, and Politics in Sunny (써니, Sseo-ni) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

Delve into any well-balanced childhood and you’re sure to find a candy store: our ephemeral youth’s source of confectionary delights and perpetual euphoria. During my childhood I had a particularly aggressive sweet tooth and the easiest way to motivate my obedience or to inspire my eternal adoration was to drag me into a store full of sweets. I grew older and these gave way to popcorn as I found myself gazing up at the silver screen, the candy store of my adulthood. Between these two worlds lies a transition and at the forefront of it, an enduring symbol that came both before and will likely remain long after. I speak of Disney, the dream factory that is also the world’s most powerful media conglomerate. It is a kaleidoscopic candy store that titillates our senses beyond our sweet-craving taste buds. It is also calculating, cloying and devious but I seek not to denigrate its brilliant success, merely to point out what makes it so infectious: formula.

Just like the chemicals that bind together to delight our youthful, undeveloped palates in the candy store, the Walt Disney Company applies a rigid, time-tested formula to all of its products. The formula has many permutations and its application is effectuated, for film and animation, through themes, morals and standards, but also by way of a carefully constructed mise-en-scene. When done right, as it often is by Disney and even more frequently by its subsidiary Pixar, the result is clear: a good film that is guaranteed a solid ROI.

Monday, August 27, 2012

KOFFIA 2012: The Front Line (고지전, Gojijeon) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

Before getting into a discussion about Jang Hoon’s much-ballyhooed new feature The Front Line, I feel that I should mention that over the years I have had a troubled relationship with war films.  I have seen all kinds, from different eras, different countries, detailing different fights, and espousing all sorts of different points of view.  On a cold Sunday afternoon, there isn’t a whole lot that can beat a repeat viewing of seminal classics like David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai (1956), John Sturges’ The Great Escape (1963), or Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17 (1953).  Those are actually all POW (Prisoner of War) films but there is a great wealth of others that I can always return to, including: Masaki Kobayashi’s The Human Condition trilogy (1959-1961), Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp (1956) and Fires on the Plain (1959), Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) or HBO’s 10-part mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).

When the elements fall into place, a good war film is one of the most engaging types of entertainment across any medium but that correct balance is a difficult thing to achieve.  War films differ from other genres as they are naturally rooted in spectacle, feature little to no romance or indeed female protagonists, and must frequently sacrifice characters on the battlefield.  What’s more, rather than following a personal trajectory, the main thrust of the narrative is often consumed by a story far greater than the leads that we are to bond with on screen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

KOFFIA 2012: The Client (의뢰인, Eui-roi-in) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

There are few things more satisfying than a well-performed and thoughtfully structured courtroom drama. I for one have pleasantly idled away many a Sunday afternoon whisked away into the heady wood-paneled halls of justice. The beauty of legal dramas or thrillers is that by way of their conceit they are already confined, for the most part, to one location and as viewers we accept this fact. More than most genres, with courtroom films we largely know what we’re getting ourselves into.

So what makes these films so popular when they are so constrained by their design? Their narratives typically do not require the presence of too many characters and often eschew subplots which may otherwise seem contrived. This makes them quite lean and generally pretty easy to follow and be drawn in by. For the most part the stories will be determined by the answer to one question: will the case be won or lost? But the most engaging thing about courtroom dramas is the bitter contest of right vs. wrong. We are compelled to deliberate over the evidence and arguments presented by both sides (though we are often led by the filmmaker’s guiding hand) which in effect means that our viewing experience sees us living vicariously through the jury represented on screen. Some of the genre’s best examples are fully aware of this fact and use it to their advantage, such as the slippery and claustrophobic moralizing of Twelve Angry Men (1956).

KOFFIA 2012: The Day He Arrives (북촌 방향, Book-chon Bang-hyang) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

As far as the critical discourse of Korean cinema goes, few filmmakers have a more commanding presence than Hong Sang-soo, whose flowing narratives often feel like chapters in the same grand story.  In a sense, his body of work reminds me of some of the 19th century’s most prolific French writers, such as Honoré de Balzac and Émile Zola whose main outputs consisted of The Human Comedy and the Rougon-Macquart cycles, which consisted of 91 and 20 volumes respectively.  In these exceedingly rich opuses, the French wordsmiths crafted dense worlds, which mirrored the societies they lived in and repeated the same themes and concerns through similar stories and with large casts of revolving characters.

Hong’s output is much less concerned with the high-flown dramatics of the far-reaching stories of these previously mentioned collections.  Indeed his films, especially for an uninitiated viewer, offer a vague semblance of banality and rarely fall into the trap of narrative twists or plot contrivances, choosing to focus on the everyday rather than the extremes of life.  What he shares with Balzac and Zola is a keen interest in realism.  For the French writers this style was labeled naturalism and often explored social injustice and the inescapable force of heredity in the shaping of human characters.  While Hong’s films do not share those specific traits, they do exhibit a similarly acute infatuation with repetition.  People make the same choices and mistakes over and over again.  It’s a funny thing about reviews of Hong’s work but more than most other filmmakers, his whole career tends to be put under the microscope, likely because his films so resemble one another. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

KOFFIA 2012: Bleak Night (파수꾼, Pa-soo-ggoon) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

It’s amazing to witness what can be done with little resources and in 2011, a year filled with high-falutin, hollow, and very disappointing blockbusters, there were many films that did just that. One in particular managed to do the most with the least. The Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) has been training some of the peninsula’s best talent since the 1980s, including Bong Joon-ho, Im Sang-soo, and Kim Tae-gyun, and these days, as it produces four feature-length projects per year, it looks set to develop an even larger pool of talent. Not long ago I discussed the importance of Korean film schools in a piece on the Korean National University of Arts (K’Arts) short Metamorpheses. The technical competence of Korean films is due in no small part to the high quality film academies in the country and this becomes only more evident now that the student-produced shorts and features from these institutions gain wider exposure.

Bleak Night is one of KAFA’s student features and going into the film it’s hard to say that knowing this didn’t completely change the way I looked at it. I’m generally not a fan of student films and not just because of low production values and a lack of experience.  Oftentimes they are pretentious, lazy, and/or cocky and rather than being diamonds in the rough, they are frequently vanity projects from people who either don’t have what it takes or have no intention of trying to make a career out of filmmaking. Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, this is the purpose that film societies at college universities serve and the world is all the better for it, however I would rather not subject myself to these less than enticing offerings. I also speak from experience, as I too was one of these cocky student filmmakers in my Dublin salad days.

Friday, August 24, 2012

WKR: The Thieves, R2B and KOFFIA 2012 (08/18-08/24, 2012)

A number of reviews for new Korean films The Thieves and R2B: Return to Base and lots of coverage for the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia, which is currently taking place.


R2B: Return to Base

The Thieves

KOFFIA 2012: King of Pigs (돼지의 왕, Dwaejiui Wang) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

(by Peter Gutiérrez)

I’m not sure what the current cultural status of bullying in is South Korea these days – are public policy steps being taken to curtail it, as is the case here in the U.S.? – but certainly anyone who has followed Korean cinema knows that it has provided the thematic backbone to films which cut across several genres. I’m a bit partial to A Bloody Aria (Won Shin-yeon, 2006), and Yeun Sang-ho’s The King of Pigs shares something of its beyond-bleak tone and emotionally raw approach. Just don’t look for any of the former’s dark humor: Yuen has crafted that rare film that effectively plunges head-first into the abyss and never really allows the audience to come up for air, let alone laughs.

So don’t expect a slow and “tasteful” build to the film’s often unforgettable moments of psychological and physical violence. Right away we see our point-of-view character Kyung-Min experience a form of workplace bullying… and then immediately turn around and take out his feelings of shame and powerlessness on his wife in a dynamic that strongly recalls that of James Joyce’s classic Dubliners short story “Counterparts.” But can all of his present-tense troubles really account for the way that Kyung-Min seems to be so haunted? This question is soon answered as he meets up with middle school classmate Jong-Suk for the first time in years, and it becomes clear to us that something happened back in their early adolescence that shaped both men… something that neither seems eager to discuss directly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

KOFFIA 2012: Metamorpheses (변신이야기, 2011) and the Impact of Film Schools on Korean Cinema

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

One of the aspects of Korean cinema which strikes people the most once they become acquainted with it, is the highly sophisticated level of the production values.  From a technical standpoint, Korean films are often on par or even above their Hollywood counterparts:  cinematography, sound, production design, editing, and even special effects are deftly handled with skill and care.  Wondering how this is the case for a national industry that had been until relatively recently a marginal one is a worthwhile question.  The answer therein lies in examining how a cultural and economic climate fostered this type of change.

During the intense state-driven globalization of a newly democratized Korea in the 1990s, which was known as seghewha, the cultural sector was heavily promoted.  With the creation of a few different motion picture laws that, among other things, provided tax breaks for investment in the film industry, the chaebol, which were large corporations such as Daewoo and Samsung, got involved in film production.  Just as you would modernize any other industry, the film industry’s production standards had to be quickly brought up to speed due in large part to the chaebol’s injection of significant amounts of capital.  However, it wasn’t just money that led to today’s technical proficiency.  I would argue that perhaps more than anything, it was the education of a skilled below-the-line workforce that contributed to the phenomenon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

KOFFIA 2012: War of the Arrows (최종병기 활, Choi-jong-byeong-gi Hwal) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (previously published).

It’s about time I threw my hat into the ring and chimed in on War of the Arrows, the top-grossing Korean film of 2011, which has met with positive reactions from all over the globe.  Early in 2011, if you were familiar with the big films that were scheduled to come out throughout the year, you could be forgiven for expecting Sector 7 and The Front Line to dominate the charts during the summer months.  In the end the former was a cataclysmic failure, likely because it was a terrible film, and the latter fell below expectations, it was a decent film but perhaps a little thin to play well given its subject matter.  One film you may not have noticed, I know I didn’t, was War of the Arrows, a straightforward period action film with mid-level stars and no pretense about it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) Preview

MKC is a proud Media Partner of the 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA).

The premiere showcase for Korean cinema down under is returning for its third edition next week with what promises to be an even bigger event following last year's already very impressive gains. The 3rd KOFFIA will showcase 20 features and 13 shorts in three different cities. It begins on August 22-28 in Sydney before moving on to Melbourne (September 8-12) and will finish up in Brisbane (September 27-30).

Opening the festival will the hugely popular and critically-acclaimed period blockbuster War of the Arrows. In the same vein, the heartwarming runaway hit Sunny will close out the proceedings with director Kang Hyeong-cheol in attendance.

Both of those are featured in the 'Panorama' section which also includes recents commercial and critical hits such as the wonderful geriatric romance Late Blossom, Im Sang-soo's blistering The Taste of Money, Jang Hoon's Korean War epic The Front Line, Hong Sang-soo's Isabelle Huppert vehicle In Another Country and Hong's The Day He Arrives. Besides 'Panorama', there are another 5 sections to choose from this year: 'Modern Classics', 'Animation', 'Documentary', 'K'Mystery' and 'K-Comedy'.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The 2012 Korean Cinema Blogathon

The Korean Cinema Blogathon will be back for its much anticipated 2nd edition from March 5-11.  This year the home base for the event will be last year's co-host cineAWESOME! while New Korean Cinema will be mirroring all of the links on its site.

In order to maximize the exposure of the already very popular Blogathon, a few sites have been brought in to the mix to act as hosts to all of the event's links.  Modern Korean Cinema is very proud to count itself among this group, along with Hangul Celluloid, KOFFIA, and VCinema.

Last year's Blogathon was the reason that MKC really got going, so I'm extremely excited to see it roll around again especially as this edition promises to be even better than the first!

Make sure to drop in come March 5th and don't be shy about submitting your own review, top 10, or article, this is what the Korean Cinema Blogathon is all about!  It's a fantastic way to share thoughts, discover great sites, and meet new people.

Check out the original press release after the jump for more information:

Following last years successful Korean Blogathon (thanks to everyone who joined us!) New Korean Cinema and cineAWESOME! will be hosting the event again this year from 5th to the 11th March.

What’s the Korean Blogathon?

It’s a way to try to encourage as many people – including YOU! – to share and discover opinions and ideas about Korean cinema. It’s open to anyone – wherever you are around the world and whichever language you speak.

For one week we try to encourage as many people as possible to get involved writing about Korean cinema. Anything you want. Over the course of the seven days this kicks up some really interesting posts – and, most importantly, people are able to read what you’ve written and discover films and ideas that they’ve never come across before, maybe learn a little about Korean film history, or maybe even discover websites and blogs they were previously unaware of.

Ideas for blog posts might include reviews, top tens, opinions on favorite directors / actors / genres, whatever you want – it just needs to be related to Korean cinema in some way. Last year we had fifty blogs participate, generating one hundred and fifty posts!

Check out the links for last years event here. This year the event will be hosted by cineAWESOME! and mirrored at New Korean Cinema.

All you need to do to join us is to write a post – or as many posts as you want over the seven days – on your blog or website during the week of 5th to the 11th of March then send an e-mail to [email protected] with your link to and we’ll post a link to you from the site. You can also post your own links on our Facebook page or we will do it for you, and we’ll Tweet links to your posts throughout the week: the Twitter tag for the week will be #koreablog.

If you want to use one of our ‘Korean Blogathon 2012’ banners they can be downloaded from here

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Korean Cinema News (08/22-08/28, 2011)


KOFFIA began last Thursday and ended last night for the Sydney portion of its run. It will start up again in Melbourne on September 10. Below are plenty of reports and videos from the festival to keep you occupied in the meantime.


Sector 7 Fades Away
After less than a month in theaters, the much-ballyhooed 3D blockbuster Sector 7 will disappear from multiplexes with its meagre takings. (, August 28, 2011)

Secret Sunshine: A Cinema of Lucidity
Dennis Lim's essay from last week's Criterion Release of Lee Chang-dong's Secret Sunshine (2007). (, August 2011)

Busan Film Festival and the Emergence of Asian Cinema
The increasing links between Hollywood and China have been a big source of film industry news in Asia this week, but there's been some pretty big news coming out of South Korea too, as it starts to gear up for the region's most prestigious festival. (The Independent, August 26, 2011)

Kim Tae-hee Takes on TV Role in Japan
Last Thursday, Kim Tae-hee's Agency announced that she will take the lead role in Fuji TV's new romantic comedy, tentatively titled Me and My Star's 99 Days. (The Chosun Ilbo, August 26, 20110)

Kim Jee-woon's The Last Stand Will Begin Principal Photography in October
Director Kim Ji-woon's Hollywood debut and Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback The Last Stand is set to start shooting this October in New Mexico. (, August 25, 2011)

The Front Line Selected as Korean Oscar Contender
South Korea has selected The Front Line as its national contender for the foreign-language Academy Award. Directed by Jang Hoon the film is a war-is-hell treatment of the Korean War that takes as its focus a complicated skirmish for a hill in 1953. (Film Business Asia, August 24, 2011)

The Yellow Sea Scores US Release
Fox International, the arm of the studio that deals with overseas releases, will give Na Hong-jin’s The Yellow Sea stateside releases, although no date is set as of yet. (indieWIRE, August 24, 2011)

Sunny Ends its Run at No. 11 on All Time Chart
Following a long run in theaters Sunny has finished at 11th place on the alltime Korean box office chart with 7.44 million admissions. (, August 24, 2011)

Busan Announces Competition Lineup
The Busan International Film Festival has announced its main competition lineup for this year's edition. Included in the Asian lineup are two Korean films, from Kim Joong-hyun and Stanley Park. (Film Business Asia, August 24, 2011)

Hindsight Premieres Music Video
Shin Se-kyeong, star of Hindsight, stars in a music video being release in anticipation of the film's imminent release. (Asian Media Wiki, August 24, 2011)

How Will Marrying the Mafia IV Fare?
Given the enormous success of its predecessors, will Marrying the Mafia IV reaps similar rewards? (, August 24, 2011)

An Examination of Hong Sang-soo's Body of Work
Over on Little White Lies, Yusef Sayed takes a look at the films of Hong Sang-soo. (Little White Lies, August 23, 2011)

Pathfinder to Release 5 Korean Movies on DVD in US/Canada
Five critically-acclaimed Korean films will finally find their way to the North American home video market courtesy of Pathfinder Pictures. The titles include: The King and the Clown (2005), I'm a Cyborg but That's Okay (2006), The Servant, The Recipe, and Magic. (Asian Pop Shock August 22, 2011)

Korean TV Station Tussles Start Afresh
After the political maneuvering which led to the creation of new TV stations that have yet to start operations, tensions are growing now that the first effects of these nascent entities are rippling through the industry. (The Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2011)


Lim Woo-seung Talks About His New Film
Director Lim Woo-seung opens up about filmmaking with the release of his sophomore film Scars. (The Korea Herald, August 24, 2011)

Ryoo Seung-wan at KOFFIA Press Conference
As the Korean Film Festival in Australia opened last week, Ryoo Seung-wan discussed his films The Unjust and No Blood No Tears (2002), both screening. (Inside Film, August 24, 2011)

IFFR Sitdown with Lee Chang-dong
A wondeful and in depth interview with Lee Chang-dong, during his stop at the International Film
Festival Rotterdam. (Twitch Film, August 22, 2011)


Quick (eng subs)


Arrow Scores for a Third Straight Weekend

Arrow had another big weekend adding 706,000 for a total 4.4 million admissions to date. Both Blind and Leafie held well with 257,000 and 137,000 respectively, they will likely cross the 2 million mark shortly. (, August 28, 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. 

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Unjust (Bu-dang-geo-rae) 2010

(Opening film for KOFFIA 2011)

Ryoo Seung-wan is already a popular and respected filmmaker who has pleased fanboys (The City of Violence, 2006) and critics alike (Crying Fist, 2005), but with his new film The Unjust, he has elevated himself to a new level, from which he can now comfortably tower over the majority of his peers. Principally known for his exceptional action sequences and choreography, Ryoo is a technical wizard who has the ability to inject vitality into just about any subject. What he has done here is namely to use his strengths in action filmmaking and apply those techniques laterally into different elements of the film. While The Unjust may be a film about cops and murder, there is much less action than you would imagine from Ryoo, although it is to his credit that it never feels that way.

Hwang Jeong-min and Yu Hae-jin
With a blistering pace, a cool head, and intense focus Ryoo has fashioned a film that has successfully built on its most accomplished predecessors. It feels like a Korean and slightly more stylized version of a New Hollywood film from the 1970s. In particular I’m reminded of Serpico (1973) and The French Connection (1971) but also many others. The paranoia from that era’s conspiracy thrillers and the composed, organized, and yet organic framing and juxtaposition of those tempered filmmakers like Sydney Lumet and Billy Friedkin’s mise-en-scene, are all on evident display in this simultaneously old school and progressive masterclass of filmmaking.

The Unjust is probably the most richly conceived film to come out of Korea in 2010, although The Yellow Sea comes in as a close second. The busy, cluttered, and yet highly precise production design is more than amply matched by the constantly angled cinematography which is so richly composed and sequenced to highlight the  proliferate characters in all their physical and psychological states. In essence mirroring the deliberately convoluted and tense narrative, the mise-en-scene is dense and mesmerizing. The sound is exceptionally well-crafted and carefully orchestrated with the tight editing, and some key sequences employ parallel editing while also taking advantage of the intense and powerful music, especially the recurring, sinister horns.

Ryoo Seung-beom
The story involves a great number of characters but at the heart of the plot there is a stoic and gruff police captain Cheol-gi (Hwang Jeong-min) who has been passed over for promotion one too many times, Joo-yang a young prosecutor (Ryoo Seung-beom), ruthlessly ambitious in his profession but conflicted by his frequently compromised ethics, and Jang, a cagey gangster (Yu Hae-jin) who wears a suit and pretends to inhabit the business world despite being more comfortable stabbing someone in the back with his knife. The narrative begins with the manhunt for the killer of a young girl which has a lot at stake for the police department. Its conflict arises from the higher-ups enlisting of Cheol-gi to cover up a death and make a conviction stick to a patsy while Jang harbors ambitions to take down his rival who has Joo-yang in his pocket. As the story gets more complicated they get more entangled together.

My primary misgiving with The Unjust is that like a great number of the New Hollywood filmmakers, Ryoo Seung-wan doesn’t seem to have strong or relatable female characters in most of his work. The film is a prime example of a male-driven thriller that makes no effort to portray the opposite gender. In one sense this is sort of a blessing in disguise as all the males and therefore all the protagonists in this narrative are shown to be corrupt, ruthless, and/or motivated purely by personal gain. Moral fiber figures in some of the characters ideals but this veneer is swiftly peeled away to show the moral turpitude of everyone associated with the system and then some.

Film noir
The main theme of the day is police corruption which is something that is so frequent and dare-I-say blasé in modern Korean film that the proposition could potentially seem a little risky. I don’t know if it has ever been so pronounced and vociferous though, everyone is a very dark shade of grey in this film and the corruption is so all-consuming, depraved, and simply conducted that it kind of takes your breath away.

The performances are among the cast’s best, the script (from I Saw the Devil scribe Park Hoon-jung) is tight and menacing, the sparse choreography by Jeong Doo-hong will blow your socks off, and Ryoo’s expert and thrilling direction will keep you on the edge of your seats all throughout. This film noir is one of the best Korean movies of the last few years and I suggest that you don’t miss it!

Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-up, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (GMT+1).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Korean Cinema News (08/15-08/21, 2011)


More KOFFIA news this week including the MKC preview of the event which is set to kick off on the 24th in Sydney.


Lots of festival news, especially regarding the once-again prolific Kim Ki-duk.

Montreal World Film Festival to Feature Two Korean Films
At this year's Montreal World Film Festival, two Korean films will be screened. They are Dance Town and Secrets, Objects. The MWFF is a good opportunity for people to see Korean films if they did not get a chance to at Fantasia, the screenings of which frequently sell out. (Montreal Gazette, August 13, 2011)

Busan Announces Selection for 30-Film Project
The Asina Project Market has selected 30 films for the Busan International Film Festival's Pusan Promotion Plan. Projects include the new Park Jung-bum and Park Chan-kyong films. (Film Business Asia, August 17, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk's Latest to Premiere at San Sebastian
Amen, a new film by Kim Ki-duk will get its world premiere at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. The film was shot in Europe and depicts the mysterious journey of a young Korean girl and her meetings with a man on her trail. (Film Business Asia, August 17, 2011)

Info Gleaned From The Host's DVD Commentary Track
34 nuggests of information taken from the DVD commentary track to The Host (2006) with director Bong Joon-ho and revered critic Tony Rayns. (Film School Rejects, August 17, 2011)

Busan Fest Moves to New Location
The Busan Cinema Center, which will house the Busan International Film Festival, has nearly finished construction and is scheduled to open its doors on Sep.29, a week before the festival begins. (Joong Ang Daily, August 17, 2011)

Arirang Picks Up Grand Prix at New Horizons Film Fest
This yea'r s New Horizon Film Festival has awarded Kim Ki-duk's latest film Arirang its Grand Prize. The film beat out 11 other competitors at the Polish festival. (The Chosun Ilbo, August 18, 2011)

Blind Announced for Fantastic Fest in Austin
The second wave of the Fantastic Fest, which will take place in Austin, TX during September 22-29, will include the US premier of current Korean hit Blind. (Fantastic Fest, August 18, 2011)

Arirang to Screen at CinDi
The Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival welcomes Kim Ki-duk's latest oeuvre Arirang to its lineup as a surprise screening. This film the film's Korean premiere. (Film Business Asia, August 18, 2011)

The Servant to Be Revived as Mini-Series
Last year's phenomenal The Servant will breath life again as a mini-series on Korean TV. Director Kim Dae-woo was involved in the writing process. The show will air in 4 episodes and air in October of next year. (Asian Media Wiki, August 2011)

My Wife Is a Gangster Gets Chinese Remake
The immensely popular My Wife Is a Gangster trilogy is set to be remade as a film in China. The film's production is in the early stages and will likely not begin shooting until next year. (Asian Media Wiki, August 2011)


Conversation With Korean-Brazilian Director Iara Lee
An interview with the Korean-Brazilian Director Iara Lee, whose new film Cultures of Resistance will screen at the EBS International Documentary Festival in Seoul. (10 Magazine, August 17, 2011)

Interview of Cast and Crew of Ashamed
A view interview of the cast and crew of Ashamed, including director Kim Soo-hyun and stars Kim Hyo-jina and Kim KKot-Bi. Video is in Korean with no subtitles. (, August 20, 2011)



Arrow Stays Strong in Second Week
Despite some competition from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Arrow had a confident second weekend where it dropped less than 15% for 894,000 admissions and 3.1 million overall, surpassing all of the summer's other blockbusters. Blind and Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild also held very well for 338,000 and 168,000 and 1.35 and 1.69 million total, respectively. Meanwhile Quick just managed to cross over the 3 million mark as it wraps up its run while The Front Line may fall just short of that mark. (, August 21, 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. 

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Dare Miss KOFFIA 2011!

If you are fan of Korean cinema but have not heard of the brilliant and imminent Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA), surely you must be living under some sort of internet-repelling rock. I want to take a little bit of time to explain in plain terms why you should know about it, why you should be very exited about it, and, as it follows, why you be remiss to miss this wonderful celebration of the ingenuity, versatility, beauty, explosiveness, and awe-inspiring power of the South Korean film industry.
Jang Cheol-soo's Bedevilled
I make no secret and certainly no apologies for my zealous love of this national cinema. I've spent my entire life watching films from across the globe spanning time immemorial, or at least since the Lumieres Brothers, Thomas Edison, or Louis Le Prince, depending on what you believe, changed and enriched our lives forever. I have witnessed; the wondrous and striking early treasures of 1920s and 30s cinema from the US, Weimar Germany, Communist Russia, and many more; the bold and majestic glory of 1940s Hollywood and the heart-rending honesty of Italian Neorealism; the triumphant and poetic genius of 1950s Japanese cinema; the witty, cool, and powerful French Cinema of the 60s; the progressive confidence of 1970s Hollywood and New German Cinema; and the infinitely versatile and too many to name global cinemas of the 1980s, 90s, and new millenium. So much to love, so much to inspire, so much to revere. Yet none more so than an industry that has been plugging away at full steam for over a decade and show no signs of letting up. For me cinema as an industry has never been so complete as it has in the hands of the globalized, revitalized, and ferociously competent Korean cineastes of the modern era.
Kim Tae-kyun's A Barefoot Dream
It's a rather lofty endorsement and not one that I expect all to ascribe to, but no matter what your tastes, if you are a lover of cinema then more or less by default, you should be a lover of Korean film. Those Korean films that have penetrated into the Western consciousness have been unquestionable successes, films like Oldboy (2003), Memories of Murder (2003), A Bittersweet Life (2005), and The Host (2006). However, they only hint at the depth of the industry from which they emanated. Dig a little deeper and you will finds some of the world's greatest art films, romantic comedies, horrors, action films, thrillers, melodramas, and so, so, so much more. For this reason and more I urge you to take a look at KOFFIA 2011.
Hong Sang-soo's Oki's Movie
This year's expanded edition of KOFFIA demonstrates why Korean cinema demands and deserves your attention. The event, which takes place in Sydney August 24-29 and then moves to Melbourne for September 10-13, is split into a variety of categories that cater to your preference in cinema, including: Crime and Punishment, Bloody Friday, Ride the Dream, Extraordinary Ordinary Families, Indie Cinema, Brothers Divided and Masters and Students.
Lee Jeong-beom's The Man From Nowhere
The festival's most well-known offerings are a dizzying display of modern cinematic technique, impeccable storytelling, and thoughtful creativity. Ryu Seung-wan's The Unjust, Lee Jeong-beom's The Man From Nowhere, and Jang Cheol-soo's Bedevilled are three out of the most well-known Korean films from 2010 to western audiences and for good reason. Looking beyond these hardboiled thrillers you will find: some of last year's most lauded arthouse films, including Hong Sang-soo's Oki's Movie and Park Jung-bum's The Journals of Musan; as well as emotional and well-crafted inspirational films such as Kim Tae-kyun's A Barefoot Dream. Beyond last year's films the festival will also present an eclectic mix of past but still recent Korean movies that you may not have had a chance to see on the big screen, like: Park Chan-wook's Joint Security Area (2000), Ryu Seung-wan's No Blood No Tears (2002), and Han Jae-rim's The Show Must Go On (2007). These and many more promise great things for one of the world's most exiting yearly exhibitions of Asian film. Don't you dare miss out!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Korean Cinema News (08/08-08/14, 2011)

Modern Korean Cinema is a proud media partner of the Korean Film Festival in Australia which will get underway on August 24th in Sydney until the 29th and then move on to Melbourne where it will take unspool from the 10th to the 13th. Many excellent films will be screened including: The Man From Nowhere; Bedevilled; The Unjust; The Journals of Musan; The Show Must Go On (2007); Oki's Movie; and Secret Reunion. Some special guests will also be making an appearance including director Ryoo Seung-wan and producer Kang Hye-jung. If you in the area or can make it there be sure not to miss what is shaping up to be an exceptional celebration of Korean cinema!

The Korean Film Festival of Australia will feature films by many luminaries of the Korean film industry. Below are profiles they have put together for some of the festival favorites:

Martin Cleary of New Korean Cinema, another media partner of KOFFIA, gives us an overview of the festival and its films in a series of features.


A Primer on Korean Cinema

Paul Quinn of Hangul Celluloid gives us an overview of the appeal of Korean cinema for Pelter Magazine. (Pelter Mag, August 8, 2011)

Outcry as KBS Airs First Lesbian Drama
Due to the fact that it contained content relating to same-sex couples, a new KBS drama called Daughters of Club Bilitis had viewers up in arms. (, August 8, 2011)

Miss Conspirator Halts Filming
Due to the poor health of director Jung Bum-Sik, as of August 12, 2011 filming for Miss Conspirator was halted. (Asian Media Wiki, August 12, 2011)

Gone With the Wind Casts Cha Tae-hyun
Gone With The Wind, a historical comedy centered around thieves who attempt to steal ice from an ice house, has cast Cha Tae-hyun and will begin filming in September. (Asian Media Wiki, August 12, 2011)

Korean Shortlist For Academy Awards Announced
Poongsan, Sunny, The Yellow Sea, The Front Line, Hanji and The Day He Arrives have been shortlisted for Korea's submission into next year's academy awards. (Hancinema, August 11, 2011)

Korea's Invasion of Alien Bikini
A profile of director Young-Doo Oh’s Invasion of Alien Bikini which will be premiering later this months. Blending the comic science fiction of Save the Green Planet (2003) with the bondage creepiness of a film like Audition (2001), Oh’s film has the potential to be another in the storied line of Korean films where weirdness defies classification. (Asian Movie Pulse, August 11, 2011)

CJ E&M Harbors Global Ambitions
CJ executives are seeking to double CJ E&M's size by 2015, with overseas markets potentially contributing 30-40% of revenue, compared with about 10% today. (Asian Media Journal, August 11, 2011)

The Man From Nowhere to Be Released by Toei in Japan
As the Japanese major Toei announced that it was returning to foreign acquisitions, it stated that The Man From Nowhere would be its first release. (Screen Daily, August 11, 2011)

Quick to Open in US & Canada
Motorcycle summer blockbuster Quick which has been doing well in general release in Korea will open in select theaters in the US and Canada later this month. (, August 10, 20110)

Arirang and Night Fishing Screening at HKSIFF
The Hong Kong Summer International Film Festival will screen Kim Ki-duk's Arirang and Park Chan-wook's iPhone short Night Fishing. The festival runs for two weeks and got underway August 9. (, August 8, 2011)

Lee Jang-ho to Head New Film Organization
Veteran filmmaker and head of the Seoul Film Commission Lee Jang-ho was elected as the first head of Film Korea, a new organisation which aims to promote Korea as a location for foreign productions as well as converge the separate sectors of film, TV drama, manhwa (manga), animation and gaming. (Screen Daily, August 12, 2011)

Ryoo Seung-beom Thanks Fans for Fantasia Award
A video response from Ryoo Seung-beom after learning that he won the best actor award at Fantasia for his role in his brother's film The Unjust. (, August 8, 2011)

Asia Cinema Fund Backs Wide Array of Films
The Busan International Film Festival's Asia Cinema Fund has announced the diverse slate of films it has supported, which includes the Venice Film Festival-bound Cut. (Film Business Asia, August 9, 2011)

Korean Wave Hits Toronto
Cindy Zimmer offers her thoughts on the emergence of Korean culture in Toronto, having moved back there after living in Korea. (Life's An Adventure 2, August 9, 2011)

EDIF to Screen Wide Range of Documentaries
The EBS (Educational Broadcasting System) International Documentary Festival (EDIF), which celebrates non-fiction film, will get underway on August 19, screening 51 films from 29 nations on TV and in theatres. (The Korea Herald, August 10, 2011)


Radio Interview with KOFFIA's Kieran Tully

Kieran Tully, marketing director of KOFFIA, discusses the upcoming festival on SBS radio Australia. (, August 9, 2011)

Sit-down with Action Star Ha Ji-won
The star of summer blockbuster Sector 7 talks about 3D, her image as an action star and her love for melodramas and romance. (, August 8, 2011)



Arrow Impresses While Sector 7 Flounders

Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon got off to a strong start with 967,000 admissions while Sector 7 saw most of audience disappear in its second weekend after it wound up with 246,000, down nearly 80% from last week. Quick and The Front Line also tapered off relatively quickly and scored 190,000 and 126,000 spectators, at this rate 3 million is the final threshold that both of these releases can hope for. Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild remained strong with 233,000 while Ghastly almost disappeared in its second week with 5,000 (a 90% drop) and may not even reach 100,000. After the huge success of Sunny, which opened in early May, there has not been another breakout hit, three recent blockbusters have been unable to break out big numbers but perhaps Arrow, which has garnered good reviews, will hold out for some big figures. (, August 14, 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. 

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Korean Cinema News (08/01-08/07, 2011)

A large amount of trailers this week and lots of news to boot, including a number of box office milestones.


The Unjust Picks Up Award at Fantasia
Scribe Park Joon-hung won the best screenplay award for The Unjust at the close of the 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival which also featured a master class with award-winning director Ryoo Seung-wan. (, August 7, 2011)

South Korean Cinema Overview
Korean cinema is once again making waves on the international scene and Richard Gray briefly brings us through its evolution and where it currently stands. (Tresspass Magazine, August 7, 2011)

Fashion Trends in Ten Korean Films
An examination of ten korean films that display forward-thinking or versatile fashion sense. (, August 7, 2011)

Video Review of Terracotta Far East Film Festival
A video recap of this year's Terracotta Far East Film Festival which featured a number of Korean films and a special guest appearance by Breathless (2009) star Kim Khobbi. (, August 6, 2011)

The Rise of Korean B-Movie
With the recent polarization of big-budget and independent cinema in Korea, B-Movies are now also gaining favor. Invasion of Alien Bikini, which was shot for less than $5,000 is leading the fray. (Joong Ang Daily, August 5, 2011)

Rain and Richard Gere to Collaborate on Project
Rain met with Richard Gere last week and announced on Twitter that they would be collaborating on an upcoming project. The results will likely not be seen for over three years as Rain must complete his compulsory military service. (, August 5, 2011)

Leafie Breaks Animation Box Office Record
After attracting 500,000 spectators in 8 days, Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild is now officially the quickest selling animation in Korean history. (The Chosun Ilbo, August 4, 2011)

Sector 7 Bursts Out of the Gate
Summer blockbuster Sector 7 got off to a strong start with 230,000 viewers on its first day. It has benefited from the buzz of being the first Korean 3D action film. (, August 4, 2011)

Nicole Kidman Boards Park Chan-wook's Stoker
Park Chan-wook's hollywood debut Stoker is quickly assembling its high profile cast and the latest addition is screen siren Nicole Kidman. (, August 4, 2011)

Arirang Confirmed for TIFF
Kim Ki-duk's new film Arirang, which premiered at Cannes earlier this year, has been confirmed in the masters section of this year's Toronto International Film Festival. (indieWIRE, August 3, 2011)

Korean Indie Animation Fest to Present in Australia
In the lead to KOFFIA 2011, the Indie-Anifest will present a special showcase of independent animation from Korea on August 16th. (, August 3, 2011)

Normalization for Online Film Distribution Demanded by Chungmoro
On July 27, 108 companies and organizations, led by the Korean Film Council announced the Declaration for the Normalization for Online Film Distribution. The declaration calls for putting a stop to the illegal circulation of films online. (, August 2, 2011)

Hollywood DMZ Movie in Pre-Production
CJ has partnered with Di Bonaventura Pictures to produce a multi-million dollar blockbuster about Korea's De-Militarized Zone (DMZ). (, August 2, 2011)

New Casting Announcements for Stoker
More casting news for Park Chan-wook's Stoker as Alden Ehrenreich joins the feature. (Variety, August 1, 2011)

The Thieves Completes Location Shoot in Macau
Choi Dong-hoon's fourth feature has wrapped up its location filming in Macau. The Thieves, which stars Kim Yoon-seok, Gianna Jun, Kim Hye-soo, Lee Jeong-jae and Oh Dal-suis set to be released in the summer of 2012. (Film Business Asia, August 1, 2011)

Hollywood Studios Funding and Producing Asian Films
Recently, various Asian films have been partially funded or produced by Hollywood studios. They include Na Hong-jin's The Yellow Sea. (Wildgrounds, August 1, 2011)

Indian Marial Artist to Train in Korea
Salman Khan will be training in martial arts in Korea for his upcoming film Kick, which wil be shot on the peninsula. (, August 1, 2011)


PiFan Q&A for Invasion of Alien Bikini

Transcription of a Q&A session following a screening of Invasion of Alien Bikini at this year's PiFan. (Asian Media Wiki, August 1, 2011)


Lots of trailers this week for upcoming Korean films and various touring independent films.

Ghastly (clip, no dialogue) 

Winter Smells


Sector 7 Posts Cracks 1 Million in Opening Weekend
As expected Sector 7 dominated the box office with an opening of 1.154 million admissions. Quick and The Front Line dipped slightly from last week and are in great shape with 368,000 and 329,000 respectively. With 250,000 Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild is edging closer to its 1.5 million break-even point, currently stands at 880,000. Horror film Ghastly opened poorly with just over 50,000 while Sunny begins to wind up its run with 25,000 in its first week out of the top 10. (, August 7, 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. 

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.