Showing posts with label top 10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label top 10. Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Top 10 Korean Films of 2020

By Pierce Conran

Korean cinema reached its peak in 2020, but, as it turned out, it did so far too early, and the rest of the year… well, I suppose we’ll have to put a big asterisk over it.

Parasite (2019) made history as the first foreign language film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but that now feels like a lifetime ago, as just a fortnight later the Korean film industry almost ground to a halt, with the rest of the world not far behind. The last 10 months have been a slow, never-ending grind, with a global pandemic lapping up against the peninsula in consecutive waves.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Top 10 Korean Films of 2019

By Pierce Conran

You won't find any big surprise at the top of this list, but beyond the obvious choice for best film of the year, the sad truth of the matter is that 2019 was a very poor year for Korean cinema overall. As the industry has tried to course-correct from the blockbuster-heavy lineup of the last year or two, a great number of very watchable but not altogether memorable mid-level films have emerged. It's the same story within the indie industry which has grown stale with a great many competent films appearing at festivals that cycle through the same social themes but precious few among them generating genuine excitement.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Top 15 Korean Films of 2018

By Pierce Conran

Thanks to Lee Chang-dong and a few late year surprises, 2018 saw the Korean film industry churn out enough quality product to merit a strong Top 15 once again, but the truth is that, for the commercial industry at least, the past 12 months have raised a lot of questions regarding the sustainability of the current marketplace.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Top 15 Korean Films of 2017

By Pierce Conran

Following what turned out to be one of the all-time best years of Korean cinema, 2017 had its work cut out for it, and, sure enough, it fell well short of 2016’s benchmark. Yet what could have been a placeholder year was saved by an array of important titles that signalled a changing current in the industry, particularly the mainstream.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 15 Korean Films of 2016

By Pierce Conran

While 2016 has a been a difficult year in many regards, one area where it has excelled has been Korean cinema. With big auteurs returning with some of their best work, younger filmmakers making their presence felt and another new batch of promising indies, the industry has put out its best crop of films in years.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Top 25 Korean Films of All Time

By Pierce Conran

I've thought about doing a list like this for some time but frankly found the task quite daunting. Having seen so many Korean films and there being so many that I love, drawing up a list inevitably meant cutting out a large number of films that I wish could get more recognition. But for our 4th anniversary (it's hard to believe it's been that long) I wanted to do something a little special. It certain did prove to be a difficult task...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Revenge Week: Reader's Top 10 Korean Revenge Films

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013).

We began Revenge Week with the MKC's Top 10 Korean Revenge Films and now as the feature comes to an end, here is the Top 10, as voted by you! Thanks to all who took part and if you leave a comment with your favorites, we may still just include them in the list. ;)

Friday, July 12, 2013


Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013).

If Revenge Week has achieved anything, it's confirmed beyond any doubt just how prevalent the theme of revenge is in Korean cinema. But exactly how many are there? That's a hard question to answer but here's our shot at a list covering every Korean revenge film we could think of.

This list is far from exhaustive and we encourage suggestions to improve it! Let us know what you think is missing in the comments below, on facebook or on twitter.

We also hope to create a user list of the best Korean revenge films this week so please use this a resource and tell us five of your favorites.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Revenge Week: Top 10 Korean Revenge Films

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). 

Korean cinema may not only be a purveyor of revenge fare but there's no denying the country's particular flair for churning out gripping vengeance-fuelled narratives. However, unlike gangster fare or romcoms, revenge films are a little harder to identify, especially when it comes to making a list like this. Outside of a few obvious contenders, it took a lot of ground work and research before even writing a word, as, again and again, I had to keep asking myself "does this count as a revenge film"?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top 10 Korean Films of 2012

2013 has just gotten underway and what better way for MKC to ring in the new year than to reflect on what has simply been a gargantuan year for Korean cinema. The vaunted 10 million admissions club welcomed two new members as The Thieves and Masquerade rode their way into the top three of the all time Korean box office chart. Indeed commercial cinema across the board enjoyed spectacular success as well over 100 million tickets were sold to domestic films at the Korean box office, a first for the industry. As of this writing seven films have crossed 4 million admissions (with an eighth on the way in the form of The Tower). What's more Kim Ki-duk became the first Korean filmmaker to prevail at one of the big three European film festivals as he took home the Golden Lion from Venice for his 18th feature Pieta. Elsewhere on the festival circuit a flurry of Korean films took home big awards, including Juvenile Offender, Barbie, The Weight, Circle Line, and many more.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

500 Articles + Holiday Posting Schedule

Xmas at MKC's HQ ;)
I hope everyone's been enjoying the holidays and as 2012 winds down I just wanted to let you know what to expect on the site during the festivities.

We'll be taking a break on regular posting until shortly after New Year's but in the meantime you can expect some end-of-year wrap-ups such as the year's Top 10 films and news stories. Perhaps even a brief post of my time in Korea six months in to make up for slacking off on the 'Korea Blog' posts.

Remarkably this is the 500th post to appear on MKC so along with season's greetings I'd also like to extend my sincere thanks for allowing the site the grow and continue for so long. With new contributors and more plans for 2013, there's also plenty more to come.

Here's to the next 500!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Udine Far East Film Festival - Final Thoughts, Top 10 and Awards

Ongoing reports on the 14th Udine International Film Festival which Modern Korean Cinema will be covering onsite.

Last week was my first time at the Udine Far East Film Festival and straight off the bat the only negative point I can think of was that I wasn't there earlier to participate in the entire event.  Regardless it was still a packed week during which I saw nearly 30 films, ate some great food and made a lot of new friends.  I look forward to coming back soon but I'm sure it won't be in 2013 as I'll be making my way to Seoul next month.  That said I do hope to meet up with many of the same people later this year at the Busan International Film Festival.

The highlight for me during the week was the opportunity to soak in the 'Darkest Decade' retrospective on 1970s Korean film.  Darcy Paquet did an incredible job to bring these films, in good condition and many with brand new subtitles, to Italy and furthermore his picks were phenomenal, yielding some of the best Korean films I've seen.  It was a pleasure to see rarer Im Kwon-taek, Kim Ki-young and Yu Hyun-mok films as well as to discover the works of Kim So-young, Ha Kil-young and Kim Ho-sun.  I was particularly drawn to the many island dramas which have added new dimensions to an essay I have been planing on rural spaces as a site of horror in Korean cinema.  Darcy's monograph (pictured) is another wonderful resource and a great complement to the retrospective.

Just like last month's Fribourg International Film Festival (which was also covered by MKC) one of the prevailing themes of the festival's program was filmmaking itself.  Romancing in Thin Air (2011), The Woodsman and the Rain (2011), Vulgaria (2012) and The Woman in the Septic Tank (2011) all featured films within a film and each had their own novel take on the industry.  Despite the global glut of awards bestowed on The Artist (2011), and to a lesser extent on Hugo (2011), I'm still finding that the past year's best films that cast an eye on the medium are those that sadly won't be seen by many.  Although considering the cinephile-ready content, perhaps it's just as well that they feature strongly on the festival circuit above all else.

The great thing about the FEFF was its atmosphere: it's accessible, centralized, friendly and a lot of fun.  There was lots of events and special deals in restaurants for anyone attending the festival.  The Teatro Nuovo Giovanni, the single theater of the festival, was a wonderful venue with four levels.  I stayed down in the pit for all of my screenings and I don't think I would have liked to be seated too high up (some seats were above the screen) but the projections were all top notch.  Udine is also a wonderful little town with numerous restaurants, historic architecture, beautiful squares and everyone's favorite, gelato!  I didn't have much opportunity to visit beyond the town's centre but what I saw was very charming.

Anyone interested in Asian cinema should definitely make their way to Udine at some point in the future and if you do, hopefully I'll see you there!

Below are my favorites of the festival and the FEFF 2012 award winners.

Festival Picks

Top 10

1. Iodo (South Korea, 1977) - Day IV
=2. Punch (South Korea, 2011) - Day V
=2. Sunny (South Korea, 2011) - Day I
=2. The Woodsman and the Rain (Japan, 2011) - Day VI
=2. Unbowed (South Korea, 2012) - Day IX
6. Pollen (South Korea, 1972) - Day IV
7. Splendid Outing (South Korea, 1978) - Day VIII
8. One Mile Above (China, 2011) - Day VI
9. The Woman in the Septic Tank (Philippines, 2011) - Day IX
10. Vulgaria (Hong Kong, 2012) - Day VII

14th FEFF Awards

Audience Award

1. Silenced 4.4
2. One Mile Above 4.2
3. The Front Line 4.16

Black Dragon Award

Silenced 4.24

My Movie (Online) Award

Thermae Romae

FEFF Preview
Day IV Report
Day V Report
Day VI Report
Day VII Report
Day VIII Report
Day IX Report
Blind (블라인드, Beulraindeu) 2011
Dangerously Excited (나는 공무원이다, Naneun Gongmoowonida) 2012
Disney, Nostalgia, and Politics in Sunny (써니, Sseo-ni) 2011
Moby Dick (모비딕, Mo-bi-dik) 2011
Penny Pinchers (티끌모아 로맨스, Ti-kkeul-mo-a Ro-maen-seu) 2011
The Front Line (고지전, Gojijeon) 2011
Unbowed (부러진 화살, Bureojin Hwasal) 2012

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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (04/13-04/15, 2012)

Battleship Sinks the Competition

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Battleship (us) 4/11/12 41.80% 673,952 1,195,202 734
2 Architecture 101 3/22/12 15.90% 254,381 2,917,429 450
3 The Scent 4/11/12 15.60% 242,544 396,547 348
4 Untouchable (fr) 3/22/12 5.20% 84,418 1,502,292 242
5 Hunger Games (us) 4/5/12 4.30% 69,271 504,807 323
6 Over My Dead Body 3/29/12 4.20% 67,258 880,154 268
7 Titanic 3D (us) 2/20/98 5.70% 56,092 269,254 159
8 Beauty and the Beast (us) 7/4/92 3.80% 44,552 96,480 220
9 Doomsday Book 4/11/12 1.90% 31,564 73,836 236
10 Wrath of the Titans (us) 3/29/12 0.60% 10,086 883,711 114

The summer season got off to an early start this year as Battleship opened in most global territories, except for the United States.  Things over there kick off in early May with The Avengers and perhaps since Battleship will be playing in its wake when it opens two weeks later, the studio felt it should get a head start in the increasingly relevant international markets.  As such, business was up about 60% year-on-year with 1.6 million tickets sold versus just shy of a million in 2011.  Hollywood competition forced the domestic market share down to 38% which was down significantly from last year's 67%.

Battleship shot into first place with 673,952 and has already accumulated nearly 1.2 million admissions since it opened on Election Day, a holiday in Korea.  While certainly a strong figure it doesn't come close to some of the bigger openings of the past 12 months and will need to battle poor reviews to become a bonafide blockbuster.

In its fourth weekend, local hit Architecture 101 finally dropped a rank as it lost about 45% of its business for a 254,381 frame.  This probably means it has enjoyed the best part of its run and will start to make its exit from theaters in the coming weeks.  Currently it's a stone's throw from the three million mark and may go as far as 3.5.

The major new Korean release of the week was the thriller The Scent, starring Park Hee-soon and Park Si-yeon, which had a so-so start with 242,544.  The only thing that will save it now is very positive word of mouth but I have yet to hear anything about it and more than likely it will fade quickly.

French feelgood hit Untouchable dropped one more spot but lost over 60% of its steam for an 84,418 weekend.  In the meantime it has crossed the 1.5 million admissions mark which is a remarkable feat for a continental European film.

Hunger Games crumbled after its poor opening, sliding three spots and 75% for a lousy 69,271.  Its haul stands at just over half a million admissions and it will disappear fast.

Over My Dead Body lost two thirds of its business as it added 67,258 admissions to its total which could still reach the one million mark.  It will be close but next week's dearth of new openings could give it its chance.

At number seven, the 3D rerelease of Titanic added 56,092 to its bounty while the Disney rerelease of The Beauty and the Beast managed 44,552 in its opening weekend.

The anticipated Kim Jee-woon and Lim Pil-sung directed omnibus Doomsday Book garnered a less than impressive 31,564 during its debut but this should come as no surprise.  Short collections never make a the box office, actually this is a pretty good result in light of that fact.

Rounding out the chart was Wrath of the Titans third weekend where it eked out a minuscule 10,086 after a gargantuan 95% drop.

I'm curious to see what will happen next weekend as there does not seem to be any new wide releases.  Battleship stands a very strong chance of staying in number one but Architecture 101, which is a proven hit, also has a good shot of reclaiming the top spot.  Business will be down overall so holdovers will have a chance to see better returns but this is all just the calm before the storm as summer will really take off on April 26 when both the Hollywood The Avengers and Korean A Muse (Eungyo) see the light of day.


The Korean Box Office Update is a weekly feature which provides detailed analysis of film box office sales over the Friday to Sunday period in Korea. It appears every Sunday evening or Monday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News 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, April 8, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (04/06-04/08, 2012)

Hunger Games Loses Out to Architecture 101 Threepeat

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Architecture 101 3/22/12 29.00% 454,154 2,332,422 555
2 Hunger Games (us) 4/5/12 17.30% 273,598 317,191 511
3 Untouchable (fr) 3/22/12 13.70% 216,085 1,291,048 343
4 Over My Dead Body 3/29/12 12.50% 195,313 704,753 353
5 Wrath of the Titans (us) 3/29/12 10.80% 163,299 836,105 402
6 Titanic 3D (us) 2/20/98 12.10% 119,705 140,050 271
7 Helpless 3/8/12 1.70% 27,076 2,406,861 163
8 Conan (us) 4/5/12 1.20% 18,998 23,947 198
9 Space Dog 3D (ru) 3/22/12 0.30% 4,690 40,910 41
10 The Scent 4/11/12 0.30% 4,479 8,855 11

This past weekend was the first without a major Korean release in some time and also heralded the entry of the year's biggest film to date Hunger Games, which has already accumulated over $400 million worldwide.  Surprisingly, business was down 25% from last weekend, though it was up 50% over last year as 1.5 million tickets were sold.  The Korean market slipped slightly to 45%, the first time it has gone under the 50% threshold since mid-January, though it still bested Hollywood.

The surprise number one was Architecture 101 which claimed its third straight victory with a resounding 454,154 admissions, off a mere 20% despite heavy competition.  With over 2.3 million tickets sold already, the three million mark is all but assured and if it stays competitive it will look to overtake Unbowed's 3.4 million total to become the year's third-highest grossing film.

Hunger Games just posted its third straight win at the US box office but in Korea its result was disappointing as it took only 273,598 admissions and failed to stop the streak of domestic first places finishes which now stands at 11.  With a lot more big releases slated for the next few weeks don't bet on this hanging around either, it will likely take a big tumble next weekend.

Staying strong at number three was the French hit Untouchable which had a very healthy 30% drop for a 216,085 weekend.  It is now well over the one million mark and may have another milestone ahead of it.

Korean comedy Over My Dead Body may not have had a brilliant start but it posted a better-than-expected 195,313 in its sophomore stint as it was off only 35%.  At this rate it should cross the one million mark which will certainly save it some face.  Who knows, maybe word of mouth will settle in.

Wrath of the Titans followed its disappointing start with a huge 70% drop as it fell three places with its 163,299 take.  However it will likely have just enough gas left in the tank to make it over the one million mark.

James Cameron's 1998 megahit Titanic debuted with its 3D makeover to the tune of 119,705.  This result is not as impressive as the brisk business it did in its native market this past weekend but still a decent result for a rerelease.

March hit Helpless is quickly making its way down the chart after a very strong couple of weeks.  It added another 27,076 over the frame and may be gone from the chart next week.  It will likely fall just short of 2.5 million but it has had a great run.

Hollywood remake Conan started its run with a disastrous 18,998.  The film was a big flop when it opened last August in the US and the elapsed time as not been kind.  This will probably be the film's only chart position.

Russian animation Space Dog 3D slowed 60% to 4,690 as it winds up its decent run.  Korean thriller The Scent opened in very limited previews for 4,479 to squeeze into number 10.

Next weekend should be interesting as two Korean films open, the aforementioned The Scent and long time in the making Kim Jee-woon and Lim Pil-sung omnibus feature Doomsday Book.  Also being released will be Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed Hollywood Blockbuster based on the popular game.  Battleship had a premier event in Korea with cast and crew in attendance and will likely launch the summer season (which keeps arriving earlier each year).  It should take first place as I don't think either of the new Korean releases will open to huge figures.  However, if it misses its chance, Architecture 101 probably won't be too far behind.


The Korean Box Office Update is a weekly feature which provides detailed analysis of film box office sales over the Friday to Sunday period in Korea. It appears every Sunday evening or Monday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News 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, April 2, 2012

Fribourg International Film Festival - Final Thoughts, Top 10 and Awards

Ongoing reports on the 26th Fribourg International Film Festival which Modern Korean Cinema will be covering all week.

It's been a long week and after 35 screenings which included nearly 50 films, my time at the festival comes to an end.  As I had mentioned in the preview this was the first time I've been able to attend the festival despite living so nearby.  From what I understand the direction of the FIFF has changed somewhat under the guidance of its new director Thierry Jobin.  I was lucky to speak with him a few times during the week and I appreciated his thought process behind the selections on display at this year's event.

We spoke a little about Korean films and he seems to be just as excited as I am about Bong Joon-ho's upcoming Snow Piercer (which everyone should be)!  I also asked him what his favorite Korean films were and he professed great admiration for Bong and Park Chan-wook, choosing Oldboy (2003), Memories of Murder (2003), Lady Vengeance (2005) and The Host (2006).  In addition, he was particularly excited to be presenting The Raid (2011) as a midnight screening and he plans to expand the midnight section for next year's edition, a commendable decision!

There was a lot on offer at this year's festival, the program was deep and particularly strong.  Typically when you go to a festival, unless you cherry-pick the films that are most likely to impress, you wind up with a mixed bag of films.  The brilliant coexists with the drivel and there's always a number of wild cards which will entrance some and infuriate others.  At this year's FIFF there was very little I didn't enjoy and there was a lot that I outright loved.  There were a number of films I didn't have the chance to see that I was interested in and after experiencing such a wonderful week of cinema it saddens me a little to think of what I may have missed.

A film festival is about the joy of cinema and the beauty of discovery and this is where this event stood apart.  There were many films which celebrated the medium, but in much more intelligent and energizing ways than say the pleasant nostalgia of The Artist (2011) or Hugo (2011).  Films like Cut, Golden Slumbers, Salt and This Is Not a Film (all 2011) were great reminders of why I was there in the first place.  As far as discovering new areas of cinema goes, I will be seeking out the works of Khoo, Labaki, Naderi, Ouedraogo, Panahi and Xiaoshuai and I will be trying to get my hands on more Bangladeshi cinema and, if at all possible, Golden Age Cambodian films.

Below I offer my favorites of the festival and beneath that the festival's press release listing the prize winners of the 26th Fribourg International Film Festival.

As a final word I'd like to offer a big thank you to the festival for hosting such a wonderful event and giving me a press pass to attend it!  Particularly Thierry Jobin for a great program and Gunnar Gilden for all his help with my press queries.

Festival Picks

Top 10

1. Cut (Japan, France, USA, South Korea, Turkey; 2011) - Day V
2. The Raid (Indonesia, 2011) - Day VIII
3. This Is Not a Film (Iran, 2011) - Day VIII
4. Tatsumi (Singapore, 2011) - Day VII
5. Where Do We Go Now? (France, Lebanon, Egypt, Italy; 2011) - Day IV
6. 11 Flowers (China, 2011) - Day I
7. Historias Que So Existem Quando Lembradas (Argentina, Brazil, France; 2011) - Day I
8. Asmaa (Egypt, 2011) - Day VI
9. Honey Pupu (Taiwan, 2011) - Day VII
10. Romance (Switzerland, 2011) - Day VII

26th FIFF Prize Winners (FIFF Press Release)

Never Too Late by Ido Fluk wins 'Regard d’Or' 2012

Israeli-born director Ido Fluk‘s film debut was an International Premiere at FIFF.  Brazilian director Julia Murat won a total of four awards for her first full-length feature film Historias Que Se Existem Quando Lembradas, including the highly endowed Talent Tape Award.  The Egyptian film Asmaa by Amr Salama is the winner of this year’s Audience Award.  The award ceremony took place in Fribourg last night.

Never Too Late, winner of the Grand Prize "Regard d’Or" 2012, is a touching story of a personal quest:  A young man by the name of Hertzel comes back to Israel broke after years abroad and finds work hanging advertising posters.  He drives across the country from north to south in his deceased father’s old Volvo until his journey brings him face to face with himself.  The award "Regard d’Or" is endowed with 30'000 Swiss Francs.

On stage during the ceremony, Ido Fluk declared how touched he was by this award and that his film is not about politics, that it shows different realities:  He pointed out that there are a lot of Israelis like him who want withdrawal from the occupied territories and peace.

The Special Jury Award, worth CHF 10’000 goes to The Last Friday by Yahya Al-Abdallah, a co-production between Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

The Talent Tape Award worth 19'000 CHF was awarded to the producers of Historias Que Se Existem Quando Lembradas, a co-production between Brazil, Argen-tina and France.  The film by director Julia Murat also wins the Exchange Award (Youth Jury), the Don Quijote Award of the International Federation of the Film Societies (FICC Award) as well as the Ecumenical Jury Award.

Taiwanese film Honey Pupu received a special mention by the International Jury, while the film Asmaa by Amr Salama (Egypt) won the audience award.  The International Federation of the Cinematographic Press FIPRESCI awarded the South Korean director Huh Jong-ho for his film Countdown.

The 26th edition of the FIFF, the first under the artistic direction of Thierry Jobin, recorded steady audience numbers: More than 30’000 tickets were issued.  Filmmakers from all over the world found their way to Fribourg.  Panel discussions, evening events and a masterclass with Ivan Passer also generated interest.  Thanks to very successful screenings at local schools and video workshops for multimedia students the festival keeps in touch with future festival generations.

The 27th edition of the Fribourg International Film Festival will take place from March 16 – 23, 2013.
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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top 10 Korean Films of 2010

2010 was a great year for Korean cinema and as here at Modern Korean Cinema I'm going back through Korean film to get a sense of what were the best and most important films through the years.  I'm thrilled to present my top 10 for the year to coincide with the Korean Cinema Blogathon.  I have seen a lot of films from 2010 and the only major omission is Cafe Noir which has yet to find a DVD release, here's hoping there'll be one!

This follows on from January's Top 10 Films of 2011 and I hope to make my way back through to the 90s.

Without further ado, scroll through the top 10 below, followed by some honourable mentions and the year's biggest turkeys:

Intro - 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 - Best of the Rest

Top 10 Lists

Year  20202019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016
2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

2010s (Top 50) - All Time (Top 25)


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

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Top 10 Korean Films of 2011

All in all 2011 was a bit of a disappointing year for Korean cinema, at least as far as commercial cinema was concerned.  On the other hand, independent films continued to build on their success of the last few years.  However, I'm not overly worried about the state of the industry because at the end of the day it doesn't produce a huge amount of films and is more susceptible to the ebbs and flows of projects than a larger filmmaking centre like Hollywood.  In any case, 2012 looks to be a much stronger year for Korean film.

For a while I was getting very worried about what my top 10 for the year would like, a month ago I'd only seen four of the films listed here.  Thankfully a number of more recent releases became available and things suddenly started to look a lot better.  That being said, I've seen about 45 films from last year but there's a lot that I haven't had a chance to see yet so this list will likely look quite different six month down the line, and if I feel so inclined perhaps I'll change it!

In the below links are my top 10 Korean films for 2011, followed by honourable mentions and my bottom 5.  The only criteria I go by to consider a film from 2011 is if it was released in Korea during that calendar year.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Korean Cinema Fared on 2011's Year-end Lists

Top 10 or end-of-year lists are one of my great guilty pleasures.  I know that ultimately they don't really mean very much and are guaranteed to be subjective, arbitrary, and divisive.  Yet I am always eager to discover other people's lists come year's end.  To see how my favorites films fared, to discover some things I may have missed and to generally scrutinize the palaver of this enduring critic's ritual.

I thought it would be fun to see how Korean films did on 2011's lists, if only to see what and how many Korean films generated international attention.  So I went ahead and tracked down every list I could find which featured a Korean film.  I found 70, including 7 which only considered Korean cinema, a pretty solid number which is spread over an impressive array of worldwide broadsheets, film websites, and a panoply of blogs.  I was also surprised to see over 30 films make it onto these diverse lists, a reflection of the depth of Korean cinema, from thrillers, horrors, and action films, all the way to melodramas and a large selection of low-budget indies.

The results of this ranking are in no way supposed to reflect some sort of objective standpoint of the best Korean films of last year.  For one thing, only a handful of films got any decent kind of exposure in the west and they were by and large 2010 releases.  Some of 2011's best films were only featured on a smattering of lists as they have not really been seen outside of Korea.  As I've said this is just a little bit of fun!

The system used for the below ranking is very simple.  1 point for making it onto a top 10 list (or the odd top 11), 2 points for a top 5 finish, and 3 points for taking first place.  The lists are available below, divided into Korean-only and international lists.  If you are aware of anything I've missed by all means let me know either here, on twitter, or by e-mailing me at pierceconran [at] gmail [dot] com.

How Korean Cinema Fared on 2011's Year-end Lists

1. Poetry (53)
2. I Saw the Devil (34)
3. The Yellow Sea (17)
4. Sunny (12)
5. The Day He Arrives (10)
6. The Journals of Musan (9)
7. Bleak Night (8)
8. Silenced (5)
9. Night Fishing (5)
10. Arirang (4)
10. King of Pigs (4)
10. Re-encounter (4)

13. Poongsan (3)
13. Punch (3)
15. Bedevilled (2)
15. Come Rain, Come Shine (2)
15. Dangerously Excited (2)
15. Pong Ddol (2)
15. Quick (2)
15. The Front Line (2)
21. Animal Town (1)
21. Barbie (1)
21. Blind (1)
21. Dooman River (1)
21. Haunters (1)
21. Invasion of Alien Bikini (1)
21. Late Autumn (1)
21. Late Blossom (2)
21. Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild (1)
21. Moby Dick (1)
21. Mother Is a Whore (2)
21. Out of the Cave (1)
21. Romantic Heaven (1)
21. War of the Arrows (1)

Lists of Korean Films

Asia Pacific Arts - Rowena Santos Aquino
Complex - Jaeki Cho - Darcy Paquet
Modern Korean Cinema - Pierce Conran
Seen in Jeonju - Tom Giammarco

Lists Featuring Korean Films

Boston Globe - Wesley Morris
Chicago Reader - Ben Sachs
Chicago Tribune - Michael Phillips
Cineawesome! - Jeff
Cinema Salem - Kereth
Cinema Salem - Peter
Cinetology - Luke
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Clint O'Connor
CNN - Tom Charity
College Times - Aaron Tavena
Culture Mob - Matthew Wayt
Dad's Big Plan - Mr. Sparkles
Film Freak Central - Angelo Muredda
Film Freak Central - Walter Chaw
Film School Rejects - Brian Salisbury
Film School Rejects - Luke Mullen
Film School Rejects - Rob Hunter
Film Threat - Don Lewis
Film Threat - John Wildman
Film Threat - Mark Bell
Film Threat - Noah Lee - Jeremy Kirk
Front Room Cinema - Tom Bielby
Hollywood Hubbub - Frantic Monkey
Hydra Mag - Jose-Luis Moctezuma
indieWire - Anne Thompson
insidepulse - Robert Sutton
Left Field Cinema - M. Dawson
Los Angeles Times - Kenneth Turan
Living in Cinema - Michael Phillips
Miami Herald - Rene Rodriguez
Mile High Cinema - Jason Cangialosi
MSN Movies - Sean Axmaker
NOW Magazine - Radheyan Simonpillai
Palo Alto Online - Susan Tavernetti - Pete Timmermann - Sean Lass
Rich on Film - Rich
Salon - Andrew O'Hehir
Shock Till You Drop - Jeff Alard
Slant - Diego Costa
Slant - Nick Schager
Sounds Like Cinema - Greg Bennett - Alexis Hauk
St. Louis Today - Joe Williams
The Austin Chronicle - Marc Savlov
The Daily Texan - Alex Williams - Matthew Lucas
The Globe and Mail - Liam Lacey and Rick Groen
The Guardian - Peter Bradshaw
The Hollywood Reporter - Todd McCarthy
The Montreal Gazette - T'cha Dunlevy
The New York Times - Manohla Dargis
The Screening Room - Mark Humphreys
Time Out New York - Keith Uhlich
Total Film - Sam Ashurst
Twitch - James Marsh
Twitch - Kwenton Bellette
Wildgrounds - Ki Mun

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).

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