Showing posts with label kofic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kofic. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Korean Cinema News (02/16-02/22, 2012)

It's a very good week to be a Korean cinema fan with numerous big announcements including Classic Korean film channel on YouTube, the release of KOFIC's free 2011 Korean Cinema book and the announcement of the 2012 East Winds Symposium and Festival which I am thrilled to say to say I will be presenting at.  Lots more news, interviews, trailer, posters, and box office as usual.


There’s been a big news story this week for anyone interested in classic Korean cinema: the Korean film Archive (KOFA) have announced a partnership with Google which will deliver a Video On Demand service through YouTube of seventy classic Korean films, ranging from 1949 to 1996 – seven of which will be of HD quality.  The answer to the big question is – yes – all of the films will have English subtitles.  (New Korean Cinema, February 18, 2012)
(Modern Korean Cinema, February 21, 2012)

Every year, the Korean Film Council compiles an exhaustive book on Korean cinema, with analysis of the year and profiles for every film released during that time.  It's a very useful resource and must for any Korean cinema fan, the 2011 edition is available to download for free now!
(KoBiZ, Febraury 2012)


Daisy Entertainment Launches Sales with Taste of Money
South Korean company Daisy Entertainment, better known for their foreign film imports and increasingly visible distribution arm Cinergy, has launched international sales on director Im Sang-soo’s upcoming The Taste of Money.  From the director of Cannes competition film The Housemaid (2010), The Taste of Money stars veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung, who also played a supporting role in the former film.  (KoBiZ, February 9, 2012)

Lotte Announces New Jung Ji-woo Film
Major Korean investor and distributor Lotte Entertainment has announced Happy End (1999) director Jung Ji-woo’s upcoming film Eungyo (working title) at the European Film Market (EFM).  The film is currently in post-production.  Based on Park Bum-shin’s bestselling novel of the same title, Eungyo follows a 70-year-old poet who has an affair with a high school student and is inspired to write a book about her.  However, his best student, jealous of the relationship, steals this work.  The film stars Park Hae-il as the poet.  Park was most recently in War of the Arrows.   (KoBiz, February 10, 2012)

Lotte Sells Arrows in Berlin
South Korea’s Lotte Entertainment has done a raft of deals on Kim Han-min’s period action film War of the Arrows, including to Showgate for Japan.  Starring Park Hae-il as a man out to save his sister and her fiancĂ© from Northern invaders, the film was the biggest domestic film hit in Korea last year.  With 7.46 million admissions, it was second only to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which took 7.79 million admissions.  (KoBiZ, February 14, 2012)

M-Line Launches Doomsday Book at EFM
South Korean film sales company M-Line Distribution has launched pre-sales on science fiction drama Doomsday Book, co-directed by Kim Jee-woon and Yim Pil-sung, according to the Screen International market daily at the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin.  Budgeted at US$5m, is made up of three short stories.  (KoBiZ, February 15, 2012)

Annyeong Mate! Sydney Says Hello, Again, to Cinema on the Park
Every Thursday evening between April and December last year, people lined up on Elizabeth Street in Sydney to see what has been one of the steady driving forces behind the popularity of Korean culture -- movies.  When the Korean Cultural Office launched the inaugural "Cinema on the Park" program last year, organizers just wanted to give the locals a taste of Korea.  After drawing more than 1,000 attendees, the event is back this year, kicking off a season that will last until the end of June.  (The Korea Times, February 17, 2012)

Second Film Preservation Center Due By 2014
South Korea plans to establish a second site for preserving and restoring homegrown films by 2014, since the existing location in Seoul is already overflowing with materials, the national film archive said Friday.  The Korean Film Archive said during a news conference in Seoul that it will construct the second preservation center on land in the publishing town in Paju, some 50 kilometers northwest of Seoul, with a total budget of 33 billion won ($29 million).  (The Korea Herald, February 17, 2012)

Korean Films at Deauville Asian Film Festival
The 14th Deauville Asian Film Festival in France has unveiled their line-up this year to include Jang Hui-cheol’s Beautiful Miss Jin and Jeon Soo-il’s Pink from theRepublic of Korea.  A drama/comedy set around Busan’s busy Dong-rae station, director Jang Hui-cheol’s Beautiful Miss Jin previously debutedat last year’s Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in the Korean Cinema Today – Vision section.  (KoBiZ, February 17, 2012)

My Way to Open Terracotta Far East Film Festival
Terracotta is London's premier celebration of the film and culture of the Far East. With a stunning line-up of films hand-picked from the best of the region, encompassing diverse genres from comedy to drama to horror and everything in between, an unbeatable programme of exclusive cast and crew Q&As, intro's and masterclasses and fabulous public parties the Terracotta Far East Film Festival really does have something for everybody.  (Terracotta Film Festival, February 21, 2012)

Private Equity Funds Invest in Korean Films, Real Estate
Private equity funds have increased their holdings in real estate assets and projects related to the boom of the Korean Wave data showed Tuesday.  According to the Korea Financial Investment Association, the country’s entire fund market estimated at 311.1 trillion won ($276.9 billion), with the share of private equity funds rising fast.  (The Korea Herald, February 21 2012)

The South Korean Film Industry in 2011
Made to support and promote South Korean films, the KOFIC has published this detailed overview of the year 2011*, trying to analyze trends & numbers.  Quite an interesting reading, here are some of the highlights.  (Wildgrounds, February 21, 2012)


Lee Myung-se: Special Q&A Screening

Interview With Critic and Beijing Film Academy Professor Hao Jian
Film critic and Beijing Film Academy professor Hao Jian has written and talked about what he considers the little-known, real start of the Korean Wave in China.  At the International Film Festival Rotterdam while serving on the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) award jury, he spoke to Jean Noh about it and his thoughts on Korea-China cooperation.  (KoBiZ, February 20, 2012)


The Beat Goes On



Introduction to Architecture

Over My Dead Body

Planet of Snail


(Modern Korean Cinema, February 19, 2012)

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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 Korean Film Stories of 2011

I started the weekly Korean Cinema News feature at the beginning of April of this year and over the past nine months it has become more comprehensive, grown more popular, and I hope better.  As pleased as I am with its success more than anything it;s been a thrill to cover the wide-ranging news related to the ever-expanding Korean film industry.  It's been a huge year for Korean film news and in 38 weeks of reporting, Modern Korean Cinema has featured nearly 1000 news items, festival reports, articles, interviews, trailers, posters, and box office analyses.

In considering 2011 as a year in Korean film I decided to work up a top 10 for the year's most important pieces of news.  I've stayed within the exclusive scope of Korean film so major stories that are somewhat related, like the continuing global Hallyu takeover or Kim Jong-il's death, have been omitted.  Each entry is followed by a selection of interesting articles that appeared throughout the year.

As always, if you have any comments or think I've missed something, please get in touch.

Enjoy and Happy New Year from Modern Korean Cinema!

1. Reversal of Fortune at the Korean Box Office

The year's biggest story has been the reversal of fortunes at the Korean box office.  Looking at the slate of films in early 2011 for the year ahead, there were a number of blockbusters well-positioned to end the year on or near the top.  Chief among them were CJ's 3D Imax monster feature Sector 7 and the 30 billion won WWII, pan-Asian blockbuster My Way.  Sector 7 was immediately savaged by critics and audiences alike and was quickly out of theaters.  It may be early days for My Way as it has only been released for a week, but the prognosis at this stage is not good and there is a palpable danger that it will not recoup its enormous production costs.  There were also other blockbusters that failed to meet expectations, like Quick and The Front Line, and a great number of star vehicles that did not manage to draw big crowds, like Hindsight and Countdown.

The vast majority of the year's biggest successes turned out to be mid-level productions that boasted strong scripts with an absence of marquee names which struck a chord with audiences.  Sunny had a decent start but an extraordinary word of mouth effect kept it in the top 3 for 11 consecutive weeks as it powered its way to 7,375,110 admissions.  Other mid-size productions that far exceeded expectations included Detective K, Silenced, and Punch, which all landed around the 5 million mark.  Even more unexpected films crossed the 2 million mark, including Meet the In-laws, Blind, Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild, The Client, and Spellbound.

(The Hollywood Reporter, May 13, 2011)

Rookies Directors on the Rise, Stars Lack Drawing Power
(The Chosun Ilbo, July 8, 2011)

Newcomers Trump Established Names at Korean B.O.
(The Hankyoreh, July 23, 2011)

Sunny Holding its Own Against Summer Titles
(Film Business Asia, June 28, 2011)

A Look Back at the Year's Breakout Films
(, December 15, 2011)

2. The Silenced Controversy

The controversy surrounding the release of Silenced (aka The Crucible/Dogani) probably generated more international press coverage than any other Korean film item this year.  The film was based on a non-fiction book of the same by prominent female writer Gong Ji-young which chronicles the serial abuse of deaf children at a school for the hearing-impaired in Gwangju between 2000-2005.  The perpetrators were put on trial six years ago but received light sentences and some even went back to work in the school.

Following the uproar which ensued after Silenced's release, the school was finally shut down.  After viewing the film, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak called for measures to protect the vulnerable from sexual attack.  The film inspired a wave of anger which was reported in the world's major publications such as The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many more.

(The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2011)

(Joong Ang Daily, October 5, 2011)

(The Dong-a Ilbo, October 1, 2011)

(, October 4, 2011)

(The Economist, October 11, 2011)

(The New York Times, October 17, 2011)

(The Washington Post, October 28, 2011)

3. Korean Animation Has Its Biggest Year

Korean cinema is see as a strong producer of films that span a number of genres and formats.  Animation is one of the few production modes that Korean filmmakers have failed to successfully mine, at least that was the case before 2011.  This year was the dawning of a new era for Korean animation, led by the huge success of local animation Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild.  Many other Korean animated films have found success at festivals this year, such as The HouseKing of PigsEarth Rep Rolling Star, and I'm Sorry.  Korean animators of late have also found enormous success abroad, especially Jennifer Yuh, who directed Kung Fu Panda 2 for Dreamworks, incidentally the film became the second-highest grossing non-Korean film of the year.  

With numerous awards and international sales under its belt, Korean animation is looking strong for the near future.

(Animation Insider, June 3, 2011)

Leafie Set to Revitalize Korean Animation
(, July 8, 2011)

Korean Animation Waddles Into China
(Joong Ang Daily, October 1, 2011)

Korean Animators Face Screen, Financing Barriers
(The Hollywood Reporter, October 11, 2011)

Canada's 108 Media to Distribute Korean Toon Leafie
(animation Magazine, November 28, 2011)

4. CJ Poised for World Domination

CJ Entertainment, Korea's largest studio and head of the country's primary exhibition chain, CGV (CJ-Goldstar-Village Roadshow), has made its aims for the future very clear.  It more or less amounts to world domination as the corporation is:  trying to revolutionize cinema with 4D film screening technology (which adds sensations like smell, fog, and vibrations to enhance cinema viewing);  launching direct distribution in Vietnam and Thailand; producing a $100 million budget Rob Cohen Korean War film; clinching a raft of film presales; engaging in a $110 million Korean entertainment project; and keeping strong ties in Korea as well as helping develop emerging talent by partnering with the Korean Academy of Film Arts.

CJ has not been timid about its ambitions and I'm sure that more plans are in the works.  Its CGV theater in LA is getting more popular as are a lot of its international operations and now that its claws are getting stuck into Hollywood, more people may become familiar with their catchy opening logo before long.

(Film Business Asia, October 13, 2011)

KAFA Partners With CJ E&M and CJ CGV
(KOBIZ, December 19, 2011)

Route One Films Enters $110 Million Korean Entertainment Partnership
(The Hollywood Reporter, December 15, 2011)

Lots of Korean Presales as CJ Readies for Cannes
(Screen Daily, May 11, 2011)

CJ's 4D Cinemas to Launch in Thailand
(Bangkok Post, June 14, 2011)

Rob Cohen to Direct Korean War Film Produced by CJ
(indieWIRE, July 29, 2011)

CJ E&M Harbors Global Ambitions
(Asian Media Journal, August 11, 2011)

5. A New-look BIFF Unveils

The 16th edition of Korea's largest film festival opened with a new name, a magnificent new venue, a new director, and a new image.  Previously called the Pusan International Film Festival, the renamed BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) began on October 6 in the brand new $150 million Busan Cinema Center, designd by Coop Himmelblau of Austria.  More than ever, the event, often dubbed the 'Asian Cannes', was seen as a showcase for the emerging strength of Asian film industries.  The event was a flurry of news beginning with the center and the selling out of the opening film in a record seven seconds.

There was much discussion over the new venue (including rain leaks), the type of films being shown, the sales in the film market, the direction the festival was taking, and more.  Every major entertainment news agency ran multiple pieces on the event.

(The Chosun Ilbo, September 20, 2011)

BIFF's Opening Film Sells Out in Seven Seconds
(, September 27, 2011)

Busan: Fest Maps New Future
(Variety, October 3, 2011)

How a New Cinema Center Could Change the Busan Film Festival
(The Hollywood Reporter, Ocotber 1, 2011)

Busan Festival Takes a Bold Step, But Is Asian Cinema Ready?
(The Japan Times, October 14, 2011)

BIFF Organizers Clash Over Festival Expansion
(The Hankyoreh, October 19, 2011)

A New Era for Asia’s Biggest Film Festival
(Joong Ang Daily, October 21, 2011)

6. Korean Films Find a Foothold in China

Recently Korean films have seen their presence increase dramatically in mainland China as numerous works were sold there and have been breaking records.  The Man From Nowhere had a strong showing earlier this year, despite its 18 certificate.  Sector 7 is currently enjoying the best Chinese release of any Korean film, though it has only been released for a few weeks.  Ha Ji-won's K-Drama Secret Garden was immensely popular in China and she is said has become quite a celebrity in the country.

In other news, Kwon Sang-woo and Song Hye-kyo have signed onto Chinese productions and many below the line technicians have been hired into Chinese film crews.  Chinese action and special effects film crews in particular seemed to be populated by Korean professionals.  It would also seem that president Hu Jintao is Hallyu fan, having had very good things to say about Jewel in the Palace, the landmark 2003 K-Drama.
(Korean Cinema Today, November 1, 2011)

Korean Crews in China
(Korean Cinema Today, November 8, 2011)

Sector 7 Hits Box Office Record in China
(KOBIZ, December 20, 2011)

Local Films Foray Into Chinese Market
(The Korea Times, December 26, 2011)

Sky's the Limit for Kwon Sang-woo as He Targets China, Hollywood
(The Chosun Ilbo, August 31, 2011)

7. Korean Directors Abroad

A number of Korea's most well-known filmmakers have embarked on foreign productions, including:  Park Chan-wook, who recently wrapped Stoker (2012), starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, and Matthew Goode; Kim Jee-woon, who is currently shooting The Last Stand (2013) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rodrigo Santoro, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, and Johnny Knoxville; Bong Joon-ho, who is getting prepped for Snow Piercer (2013) which will shoot in March in Hungary with John Hurt and Song Kang-ho; and Ryoo Seung-wan, who is going to shoot his new spy thriller The Berlin File (2012) in Germany with Han Suk-kyu, Ha Jung-woo, Jeon Ji-hyeon, and Ryoo Seung-beom.

(Korean Cinema Today, November 9, 2011)

8. The Korean Film Council in 2011

As in previous years, the Korean Film Council has been involved in a lot of projects and initiatives designed to promote, improve, and aid the Korean film industry.  It has:  offered rebates for foreign films shooting in Seoul; subsidized labour costs on low-budget films; acted as guarantor for films with overseas potential; invested in contents funds; attempted to stop the illegal circulation of films online; and opened a new independent theater.

(Screen Daily, April 14, 2011)

KOFIC Opens New Independent Film Theater
(KOBIZ, May 6, 2011)

KOFIC's Keys to Industry Development
(KOBIZ, May 6, 2011)

Interview with KOFIC Chairman Kim Eui-suk
(KOBIZ, May 6, 2011)

KOFIC to Offer 25% Rebate for Filming in Korea
(Korean Cinema Today, May 13, 2011)

Mandatory Screening Times Could Be Altered
(The Korea Times, July 21, 2011)

Normalization for Online Film Distribution Demanded by Chungmoro
(, August 2, 2011)

9. The Return of Kim Ki-duk

After abruptly disappearing from the director's chair in 2008 following his film Dream and a lengthy attack against distributors' poor handling of independent features, Kim Ki-duk reappeared seemingly out of thin air early in 2011.  His name first appeared in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes film festival where his new, self-reflexive documentary Arirang won an award.  Shortly after, Poongsan, directed by his latest protege Jung Jai-hong, a film he wrote and produced, opened to positive reviews and a solid performance in domestic theaters.  Then in August, another new Kim Ki-duk film, Amen, opened at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Kim is a controversial figure in Korean cinema who frequently disparages the establishment and has been part of an acrimonious feud with his former protege Jang Hoon whom he believes has sold out.  Both his new films this year have had a strong presence at international film festivals but have been met with mixed reviews.

(The Korea Herald, May 16, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk Picks up Award at Cannes
(Joong Ang Daily, May 23, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk Produced Film Set for June
(The Korea Times, May 26, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk on the Benefits on Low-Budget Filmmaking
(The Korea Times, Junes 14, 2011)

Jang Hoon Explains The Front Line and Tensions with Mentor Kim Ki-duk
(, June 16, 2011)

Kim Ki-duk's Latest to Premiere at San Sebastian
(Film Business Asia, August 17, 2011)

10. Yun Jung-hee's Global Accolades

Yun Jung-hee, who has astounded audiences the world over this year with her wonderful performance in Lee Chang-dong's Poetry, received some significant accolades from various international sources.  Earlier this year she was awarded the French Cultural Order by French culture minister Frederic Mitterand and recently the Los Angeles Film Critics Association deemed her performance in Poetry the best of the year.

(YonHap News Agency, April 6, 2011)

Yun Jung-hee Wins LA Film Critics Award
(KOBIZ, December 13, 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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Korean Cinema News (05/09-05/15, 2011)

With Cannes underway we await with bated breath to see if any Korean films will walk away with some trophies.  For now some industry news to hold us over and this week's box office report.


While Audiences Shrink, Box Office Grows
The box office report for the first quarter of 2010-2011 from the Korean Film Council shows that while audiences have slightly diminished, revenue is up due to varied platforms including 3D showings. 2011 is off to a good start with Korean films clinching 56% of the market while the earning rate is the best it has been in a few years. (KOBIZ, May 9, 2011)

CJ Entertainment has secured a number of sales at the Cannes film marjet.  Chief among them is Tarbosaurus, the dinosaur action film and Sector 7, the 3D underwater monster film.  Also pre-sold was K-pop horror film White: The Melody of the Curse. (Screen Daily, May 11, 2011)

To spur local business by enticing foreign filmmakers, the Korea Film Council has undertaken to launch an incentive program which will offer a 25% rebate on production costs on foreign films with a budget under 3 billion won shot in Korea.  (Korean Cinema Today, May 13, 2011)

The Hollywood Reporter investigates the success of smaller Korean films that are finding niche audiences.  The film also alludes to the depression of Korean film industry.  While very informative be warned, this article is frequently wrong, for example: 'After hitting an all-time low in the mid-2000s', as I recall it this was the peak of Korean cinema.  I was also flabbergasted to find out that Battlefield Heroes cost nearly $80 million to make!  (The Hollywood Reporter, May 13, 2011)

10 Korean Films You Probably Haven't Seen offers up ten films from the 2000s that may not appear on more conventional lists.  Those listed include: A Good Lawyer's Wife (2003), Family Ties (2006), When Romance Meets Destiny (2005), Breathless (2008), and more.  (, May 14, 2011)

In an effort to push into international markets, Fox International Pictures (FIP) has begun making films in local markets.  One example is Na Hong-jin's acclaimed The Yellow Sea which was a success in Korea and is now vying for the Palme d'Or at Cannes.  It is expected to do well at the Cannes film market.  (The Hollywood Reporter, May 15, 2011)


This week Sunny - 2010 took the Box Office crown, commanding the marketplace with over 600,000 admissions.  The Apprehenders took a big hit and came away with 135,000.  Clash of the Families likely spent its last weekend in the Top 10, it has accumulated 2.5 million ticket sales to date.  (, May 15, 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.