Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Korean Cinema News (10/13-10/19, 2011)

This week is Modern Korean Cinema's largest edition of the Korean Cinema News update.  A whopping 64 articles were culled for many sources and include coverage of the recently wrapped Busan Film Festival, the 48th Daejong Film Awards (by yours truly), major news articles on the continuing Silenced scandal, eight interviews and Q&As, and a host of new trailers and posters.



Toronto Reel Asian Int Film Festival Unveils Lineup
Rotterdam Tiger Award winners Journals of Musan, by South Korean director Park Jung-Bum has been booked into the Toronto festival include Rotterdam Tiger Award winners Journals of Musan.  (The Hollywood Reporter, October 12, 2011)

Finecut Does a Raft of Sales in Busan, Mipcom
Seoul-based sales company Finecut has announced its recent deals done at the Asian Film Market and Mipcom which include the animation Leafie selling to Portugal, Russia and Indonesia.  (KOBIZ, October 13, 2011)

Storm, Life and Poonsang head to Rome
A trio of Asian films have been selected for the main competition at the International Rome Film Festival (27 Oct – 4 Nov 2011), and the festival has a wide scattering of Asia-Pacific titles through its many different sections.  In main competition are Gu Changwei's Love for Life, Juhn Jai-hong's Poongsan, and Fred Schepisi's The Eye of the Storm.  (Film Business Asia, October 13, 2011)

Won Bin’s The Man From Nowhere is This Month’s Most Popular Movie on Hulu
Many of you have probably heard about or seen Won Bin’s epic 2010 action-drama movie, The Man From Nowhere.  The film has won numerous awards in Korea, such as Best Actor, Best New Actress, Most Popular, Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, and much more.  (allkpop, October 12, 2011)

Hawaii International Film Festival Kicks Off With Korea's Oscar Submission
This year’s opening night film is the Korean submission for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Language film The Front Line.  It will screen at 8 p.m. on Thurs., Oct. 13 at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theatres & IMAX.  (Hawai'i Magazine, October 12, 2011)

Silent For Too Long
For some years, South Korea has punched far above its weight in the film industry.  Directors here, however, tend to lament the fact that the Korean flicks that do well with Western audiences tend to be of the more extreme variety, such as the admittedly excellent Oldboy (2003), or anything by Kim Ki-duk.  (The Economist, October 11, 2011)

CJ Launches Direct Distribution in Vietnam
CJ E&M Pictures, part of CJ E&M Corp, has begun direct distribution of its own film titles in Vietnam, the fourth territory where the South Korean giant self-distributes theatrically.  Released last week (7 Oct), motor bike action comedy Quick was the first title to be handled under the new arrangement.  (Film Business Asia, October 13, 2011)

South Korean Film Shooting at Briarcliff High School
Films trucks are back at Briarcliff High School on North Druid Hills Road, but it's not MTV's Teen Wolf this time around.  A South Korean film production is currently shooting at the shuttered school for part of this week, DeKalb County School System spokeswoman Joye Burton said.  The movie is called Papa.  (Patch, October 12, 2011)

Korea Contents Fund Showcase at Busan
At the 16thBusan International Film Festival (BIFF) and the 6th Asian Film Market, fund managers presented a variety of options for filmmakers at the Korea Contents Fund Showcase yesterday.  BIFF Festival Director LEE Yong Kwan opened the event with a message of welcome and thanks.  (KOBIZ, October 12, 2011)

BEXCO effect for Asia Film Market?
Asian Film Market 2011 showed distinct growth this year with its relocation to BEXCO.  Opening on October 10, the number of participants increased 39% from last year and the number of sales booths jumped 67%. As of the second day, there were 1,100 registrants, up from 789 the year before.  “This year, the number of market screenings increased from 47 to 64, with 60 films on show up from 39 in six theaters as opposed to four,” said Art Film Market organizers.  (KOBIZ, October 12, 2011)

Busan Festival Takes a Bold Step, But Is Asian Cinema Ready?
"Change" was the key word at this year's Busan International Film Festival, and not just because the organizers finally succumbed to the host South Korean port city's request to change the name from "Pusan."  Lee Yong Kwan took over as festival director from founder Kim Dong Ho, who is credited with turning BIFF into Asia's biggest and most important film festival.  But the main news was the opening of the Busan Cinema Center, a huge facility that has been in the works for more than a decade.  (The Japan Times, October 14, 2011)

Korean Film Festival Shows Asia’s Big-Budget Dreams
For a glimpse of where South Korea’s movie industry is headed, one only need wander through the new home of the country’s biggest film festival.  The sprawling Busan Cinema Center – which government officials describe as “beautiful,” “grand” and a “masterpiece” – is a testament to the country’s ambitions.  (The Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2011)

New Look Busan Film Festival Draws to a Close
The Busan International Film Festival drew to a close on Thursday, with the 2011 edition featuring numerous firsts, but leaving question marks about the festival’s direction going forward.  This year marked the inauguration of the new $150-million Busan Cinema Center, designed by Austrian architects Coop Himmelblau, a dedicated facility that will serve as the festival’s permanent home.  (The Hollywood Reporter, October 13, 2011)

Busan Film Festival Highlights Politics, Pizzazz
Asia's most renowned film festival drew to a close in the South Korean port city of Busan on Friday, with films from new directors in Iran and the Philippines capturing its main prizes in an affirmation of the event's focus on emerging Asian talent.  (Reuters, October 14, 2011)

The Serious Side of Song Hye-kyo
For Song Hye-kyo, the days of the romantic roles may be a thing of the past – for now.  The 28-year-old beauty spoke yesterday at a press conference for her role in director Lee Jeong-hyang's A Reason to Live, where she portray's a hurt woman questioned between the right and wrongs of capital punishment after losing her fiance.  (Busan Haps, October 10, 2011)

Korean War Still Haunts SKorea's Top Filmmaker
The Korean War ended nearly 60 years ago, but it still haunts South Korea's most celebrated filmmaker.  Speaking in an interview Friday on the sidelines of the Busan International Film Festival, Im Kwon-taek said he did not imagine he would be so successful when he was a boy selling combat boots on the streets of Busan while the city was besieged by North Korean forces in a 1950 attack.  (, October 7, 2011)

Asian Film Market Closes With Record Results
The 6th Asian Film Market 2011 closed last night after four days at its new venue, the BEXCO (the Busan Exhibition Convention Center).  The market combined sales companies and BIFCOM locations and post-production services this year and saw an increase of 113% in exhibitors’ booths and 38% more participants than last year.  (KOBIZ, October 14, 2011)

Why South Korea's Action Movies Blow Hollywood Out of the Yellow Sea
These may seem golden times for the action movie. An only slightly embalmed-looking Arnold Schwarzenegger is merrily tweeting from the Bulgarian set of The Expendables 2, while his co-star Bruce Willis has announced a return to the fray with a fifth Die Hard.  Or perhaps that all strikes you as a little short-termist.  However much fun is had in the meantime, it can't be a sign of good health for any genre to become so reliant on men who have clearly, to use the cinematically correct parlance, got too old for this shit.  (The Guardian, October 14, 2011)

Asian Filmmakers Explore New Forms of Collaboration
Bustling with thousands of press, cinephiles and film aficionados, the port city of Busan turned into a place promoting the latest collaborative film projects of many Asian production companies during the 16th Busan International Film Festival during the past week.  First on the list was Yang Gui Fei, a joint production including Korea, China and Japan.  Produced by the state-run China Film Group Corporation, Korean filmmaker Kwak Jae-yong, famous for his 2001 hit My Sassy Girl, is at the helm of the 18-billion-won ($1.5 million) film.  (Joong Ang Daily, October 14, 2011)
Asia's top film festival drew to a close on Friday after nine days packed with screenings that left audiences enthused over the future of the region?s movie industry.  The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) rolled out the red carpet to a cast of A-list stars and showcased more than 300 productions from all over the world – but it has been the local films that have left cinema-goers buzzing.  (AFP, October 14, 2011)

Asia's Top Film Festival Troubled by Rain Leaks
Organizers of Asia's top film festival vowed that its closing ceremony would still go ahead Friday despite rainwater leaking into the lavish new multiplex that has been the showpiece for this year's event.  Rainwater poured from at least a dozen cracks Friday in the Busan Cinema Center, a $156-million theater that has hosted the Busan International Film Festival since last week – worrying movie fans and prompting organizers to express regret and convene an emergency meeting.  (Bloomberg Businessweek, October 14, 2011)

Eduardo Noriega Is Villain in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Last Stand
Arnold Schwarzenegger has had to face some menacing villains in his time.  Who can forget the unstoppable and unrelenting Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the ultimate all seeing evil Gabriel Byrne as The Devil in End of Days, the madness of the Christmas Day shopping spree in Jingle All The Way, or even a clone of himself in The Sixth Day?  (Whatculture!, October 13, 2011)

Seduced by Choked, Asia’s Busan Film Festival Transforms
For the past sixteen years, the Pusan International Film Festival has often featured fireworks on its opening nights.  This year, however, was a little different.  The multicolored lights flashing over the heads of audience members were still impressive, but they were electronic, a vast LED light-show that ushered in a year of change for Asia’s largest film event, which concluded with the world premiere of Harada Masato’s Chronicle of my Mother.  (indieWIRE, October 14, 2011)

Authority and Power in Korean Cinema
The representation of authority in modern Korean cinema has me perplexed.  The power and agency public organisations should hold is lacking, with institutions being portrayed as weak, incompetent, and unprofessional.  This is not a judgement but rather an observation that recent films such as The Crucible and Poongsan have confirmed.  Political corruption, police incompetence, and individual responsibility seems to be some of strongest themes running through contemporary Korean cinema.  (, October 15, 2011)

Films to Strengthen Local Asian Communities
The San Diego Asian Film Festival was created with one mission in mind: to foster better understanding of the different cultures within the Asian community.  With the festival’s 12th year beginning next week, the mission remains the same as San Diegans continue to learn.  (Patch, October 14, 2011)

Na Hong-jin a Judge For the 13th Mumbai Film Festival
Na-Hong Jin, who received numerous awards and acclaim for his films The Chaser (2008) and The Yellow Sea (2010), is on the jury for the 13th Mumbai Film Festival.  (, October 14, 2011)

In Pusan, a Heroine, a Villain, and 23,000 Extras
It’s about a woman alone on a crane in a naval construction site, in Pusan, since the 6th of January.  We’re in October and she’s still up there.  Meaning she lived on that crane, 35 meters high, during 8 months, without electricity (at least until July, to be confirmed now) including in the awfully freezing winter and the amazingly rainy summer.  For what ?  (Timeless, bottomless, September 30, 2011)

Film Underscores Koreans' Growing Anger Over Sex Crimes
At an appeals court in the southwestern city of Gwangju in 2006, a school official was convicted of raping a 13-year-old deaf girl and sentenced to one year in prison.  When the verdict came, an outraged middle-aged man, also deaf, let out an incomprehensible cry from the galley, signaling frantically with sign language.  (The New York Times, October 17, 2011)

On BIFF 2011 Menu: Films About Monsters and Men Who Love Men
This year’s Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) yet again offered cineastes a diverse menu of films. Bulletin Entertainment had the privilege of watching some of these and we present here reviews of those we found most interesting.  (Manila Bulletin, October 17, 2011)

Breaking Up Is Not So Very Hard to Do... If Done Online
25-year-old Tu Weiming specializes in acting as a "break-up" agent.  In other words, he is paid by one half of a couple to tell the other that the relationship is over.  Tu launched his business in November last year after watching the Korean film Sad Movie (2005), in which the hero plays the same role.  (China Daily, October 17, 2011)

48th Daejong Film Awards
The Daejong film awards are the oldest and most prestigious film industry awards in Korea.  They are essentially the Korean oscars and they will soon be celebrating their 50th edition.   Just like the Oscars, they feature musical performances, celebrity presenters, and a host of other similarities. (Modern Korean Cinema, October 17, 2011)

Ex-Teacher Accuses Dogani School of Murdering Students
A former teacher at a special school for the deaf, which has been criticized over a sexual assault and rape scandal, claimed two students there were abused to death and buried secretly about 50 years ago.  The revelation comes amid public anger against repeated rapes and sexual harassment by school staffers on students after the film Dogani, titled The Crucible in English, based on the true story, was released recently.  (The Korea Times, October 17, 2011)

Johnny Knoxville and Forest Whitaker Join Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kim Ji-woon's The Last Stand
The world has become a much stranger place with word that Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker and Luis Guzman have joined the cast of Kim Ji-woon's Arnold Schwarzenegger led picture The Last Stand.  (Twitch, October 17, 2011)

Denver Film Festival, Focus On A National Cinema: South Korea
Though still a stranger to the multiplexes and only an occasional visitor to arthouses, South Korean cinema is (and has been for decades) a staple in film festivals around the world.  And while what we get here in the States tends toward the outrageous (The Host, 2006; The Good, The Bad, The Weird, 2008; I Saw the Devil, 2010), the industry is wildly diverse.  (, October 2011)

South Korean Films Claim Narrow B.O. Win
Local and foreign films largely tied at the South Korean box office in the first nine months of the year, representing a significant improvement for Korea's home grown movies at the expense of imported titles.  (Film Business Asia, October 11, 2011)

Watch Films from the Paris Korean Film Festival for Free
Since 2006, the Paris Korean Film Festival (Festival Franco-CorĂ©en du Film which ran through October 18) has screened a wide variety of Korean films in the Latin Quarter of the City of Light.  This year, the Festival and MUBI are presenting a generous sampling of 17 films you can now watch for free. (, October 11, 2011)

The Golden Age of Korean Cinema & the Legend of Shin Film
A biography of Korean director and studio head Shin Sang-ok, who worked both sides of the peninsula's north-south divide.  (Variety, October 17, 2011)

Korea's Finecut Sells Poongsan and Leafie
Korean animated feature Leafie and the Kim Ki-duk-produced Poongsan reaped a fine harvest for Seoul-based sales agent Finecut at the Asian Film Market in Busan and MIPCOM in Cannes.  (The Hollywood Reporter, October 17, 2011)

Schwarzenegger Starts Shooting New Film, The Last Stand
Lionsgate says Korean director Kim Jee-Woon began shooting his new action flick The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Monday.  The announcement was made by Lionsgate's Motion Picture Group President Joe Drake and President of Production Michael Paseornek.  (, October 17, 2011)

Actress Im Soo Jung Joins Bae Yong Joon's Key East Entertainment
Another acting heavyweight joins the top stars in Bae Yong Joon’s management agency, Key East Entertainment.  It was reported that actress Im Soo Jung, most recently seen in the Cannes entry Come Rain, Come Shine with Hyun Bin has signed with Key East.  Im Soo Jung was formerly under the management of Sidus HQ.  (soompi, October 17, 2011)

Korean Films Top Sitges Festival
Director Na Hong-jin was named best director for his action-thriller The Yellow Sea (2010) in the official competition section and the team of brothers Park Chan-wook and Park Chan-kyong was awarded best motion picture for their fantasy-horror film Night Fishing in the Noves Visions category. Director Ryoo Seung-wan’s The Unjust (2010) won the best motion picture award in a category recognizing movies produced in Asia and director Oh Sung-yoon’s animated film Leafie received an award for best Sitgest family film in the Gertie Award category for animation.  (Joong Ang Daily, October 18, 2011)

South Korean Sex Crime Movie Highlights Nation’s Anger
In 2006, four teachers and administrators at a South Korean school for the deaf were convicted of raping or sexually molesting at least eight students, ages 7 to 22.  Due to the country's lenient sentencing for sexual abuse, only two of the four officials served jail time.  The case received limited attention at the time, but a new film based on the story has helped to fuel the nation's growing outrage.  (Jezebel, October 18, 2011)

The Daejong Film Awards
Often referred to as ‘The Korean Oscars’, the 48th Daejong Film Awards were held in at the Sejong Center in Seoul on Monday the 18th.  As usual, the red carpet was rolled out for the stars and for their fashionable entrances.  Here are pictures of the actors, actresses, and couples that attended.  (Hanguk Yeonghwa, October 18, 2011)

S.Korea Writer Hopes Hit Film Brings Legal Changes
The South Korean author of a novel turned box-office hit about teachers who sexually abused disabled students has vowed to fight to the end to change what she says are outdated and weak sex crime laws.  (, October 19, 2011)

BIFF Organizers Clash Over Festival Expansion
“It started with Oh In-hye’s revealing outfit and ended with an embarrassing leak.”  This was the curt assessment offered by a film company president on the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), which wrapped up last Friday.  The subject of the lament was a variety of construction problems, including leaking rainwater on the last day at the exclusive Outdoor Theatre in Busan’s Haeundae neighborhood, which poured cold water, so to speak, on the 2011 festival’s fine selection of films.  (The Hankyoreh, October 19, 2011)

Korean Director Lee Chang-dong Gets Major Drama From Thwarted Lives
South Korea boasts the most interesting film scene in the world right now, and part of the reason it’s so interesting is that, on the surface, it’s not that interesting.  That is, there is no particular stylistic flash or groundbreaking type of work or new school of cinema you can attribute to the nation’s filmmakers.  (Baltimore City Paper, October 19, 2011)

Press conference for A Reason To Live took place at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival on October 8, 2011.  Appearing as speakers are director Lee Jeong-Hyang, actress Song Hye-Kyo, and actress Nam Ji-Hyun.  AsianMediaWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.  (Asian Media Wiki, October 8, 2011)

Kim Kkobbi (Interview) – Flowerain Is My Middle Name
Kim Kkobbi, the actress & star of many varied films such as Ghost Theatre (2006), Breathless (2008), Jealousy Is My Middle Name (2002), and the forthcoming release, Ashamed talks to Mini Mini Movie.  (Mini Mini Movie, October 15, 2011)

Meet the Taekwondo Family in Prachya Pinkaew's The Kick
If your not fluent in the Korean language, then you'll miss out on what the cast of Prachya Pinkaew's martial arts comedy The Kick is talking about in terms of their individual role.  Don't worry because atleast there is some footage of Taekwondo action goodness to keep the uninitiated happy.  (Twitch, October 14, 2011 - Korean)

Listening to Korean Cinema: The VCinema Show
The VCinema Show is a well established podcast, which has recently released its thirty-fifth episode.  An accessible mixture of chat and opinion along with a strong knowledge of their subjects, a typical episode of the podcast focuses on one specific film which is discussed in terms of background, cast and crew, and country of origin.  The VCinema podcast manages to cover a mix of titles from across Asia that you may of heard of, alongside titles that you possibly won’t.  (New Korean Cinema, October 16, 2011)

BIFF: King of Pigs Q&A
Q&A for The King of the Pigs took place after a screening of the movie at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival on October 14, 2011.  Appearing as speakers are actor Yang Ik-Jun, actress Kim Kkobbi and director Yeun Sang-Ho.  AsianMediaWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.  (Asian Media Wiki, October 14, 2011)

Interview With Actor So Ji-sub
Korean entertainment news purveyor 10 asia conducts an interview with So Ji-sub, star of Always, which recently opened the Busan International Film Festival and will open wide this week.  (10 asia, October 17, 2011)

Forgiveness Should Not Be Forced: Lee Jeong-hyang
Director talks about issues of capital punishment and domestic violence in her upcoming film.  She made a highly successful debut with a charming romantic comedy in the late 1990s, and enjoyed another box-office home run with a heart-warming tale of a grandmother and a grandson in 2002.  (The Korea Times, October 16, 2011)

An interview from enewsworld with Punch star Park Hyo-joo.  The film opens wide this week in Korea.  (enewsworld, October 17, 2011)



Teacher and the Devils


(Modern Korean Cinema, October 17, 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. 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Little Black Dress (Mai Beulraek Minideureseu) 2011

I missed out on a chance to see Little Black Dress earlier this year in March when it was playing at the CGV cinemas in Los Angeles.  It wasn’t a question of missed opportunities and previous engagements, it just didn’t appeal to me.  Considering that it is a no-holds-barred chick flick this is understandable.  For most men, what springs to mind when thinking of ‘chick flicks’, is a bevy of wretched romcoms.  Romance films are often considered chick flicks but I can’t say that I agree with that as a catch-all term.  ‘Bad’ romance films are chick flicks, rather, they are bad chick flicks, because there are plenty of good films aimed at women.

At the Jewelry store
However, Hollywood frequently makes films that are squarely aimed at the female demographic and, just like they splatter the screen with blood, guts, and naked women to draw in men, chick flicks highlight some of the worst female stereotypes and are nebulous, shallow, and consumerist orgies which belie the industry’s misogynistic nature.  Romance, when done well, as often is the case with Korean cinema, is universally appealing.  Though it is probably fair to say that it still weighs towards the fairer sex. Little Black Dress, very much like its Hollywood counterparts, is crass, consumerist, shallow, and directionless. However, it is also quite enjoyable.

Against my better judgment and my natural instincts, viewing Little Black Dress was a surprisingly pleasant experience.  The question is why? After the first ten minutes I had the impression that I was in for a long ride.  The pettiness and the brand worshipping were enough to severely put me off.  It was also impossible for me to feel any sympathy for these four pretty privileged girls as they struggled through their wearisome daily trials.  It was like Sex and the City (a very good show) without the wit, which in effect made it like Entourage (a not so good show that I nevertheless stuck with through to the end).  In fact it is very much like the latter, vain, narcissistic fluff that is never engaging but always watchable.

After a night out
So what happened after those first ten minutes?  How did I begin to enjoy the film?  Did a story kick in?  Was there a monumental event that occurred?  Did the two-tone caricatures blossom into characters?  No.  I suppose you could say that I got used to it.  It showed me exactly what it was with its opening salvo, and therefore it limited my expectations.  What it also did, however, was get the worst stuff out of the way at the start: the ditzy-ness, the consumerism, etc.  So when things did start to happen, as prosaic as they were, it was a marked improvement.  

This reminds me of a similar strategy employed by Shortbus (2007), a little-seen American indie film that may be one of the best of the last decade.  Director John Cameron Mitchell wove together a stunning opening sequence consisting of three parallel-edited scenes, each more shocking than the last, featuring onscreen ejaculation, auto-fellatio, and more.  The purpose of that was to thoroughly plunge viewers into the deep end, so that they were able to appreciate the rest of the film in its emotional context, rather than the graphic sexual acts it depicted on screen.  This was a very clever move that enabled people with latent homophobia to move past their prejudices and appreciate the film on its significant artistic merits.  It was a deliberate move and while what I’ve described in Little Black Dress may have been accidental, it seemed to achieve the same effect.

Friend's success vs. mother's expectations
There isn’t very much going on as far as the story is concerned but I suppose it could be seem as a higher-strata, but much lower brow spin on Take Care of My Cat (2001), as it features four girlfriends who have just graduated from University and are not quite sure what happens next.  Naturally some progress quicker than others and splinters begin to form in the foursome.  The film follows the four protagonists, some more closely than others, as they try get by and get ahead, all the while wrestling with their parents and their own expectations for young adult life in Seoul.

The glossy look of the film suits it as it is very well shot with vibrant colours and strong composition throughout attractive locations.  It also makes it look like a commercial sometimes and this serves to highlight the frivolity of the narrative, this is also emphasized when one of the characters, the lazy, pretty, party girl who has never had to work in her life, winds up on billboards and tv ads as a jeans model.  The film revels in aesthetics and is always pleasing to look at, significant attention is paid to the costumes and they are also important parts of the narrative, as the title implies.  Costumes and appearance are very important to the characters, besides the friend who becomes a model and subsequently a K-Drama actress, another friend is also trying to land roles but she is so ashamed of her rejections that she tells her friends that she is no longer pursuing that career.

At the clothes store
I can’t say that Little Black Dress is for everyone, it is a light film with little substance.  Perhaps I was in a slightly less cynical and more forgiving mood than usual but to me the film was an easy watch and intermittently rewarding, as I am also in my mid-20s and a little uncertain of where my life’s path will lead.

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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Monday, October 17, 2011

48th Daejong Film Awards

The Daejong film awards are the oldest and most prestigious film industry awards in Korea.  They are essentially the Korean oscars and they will soon be celebrating their 50th edition.  Just like the Oscars, they feature musical performances, celebrity presenters, and a host of other similarities.

Tonight the ceremony for the 48th Daejong film awards took place in Seoul.  A very even field battled it out this year as many films walked away with multiple awards and there was no outright champion of the event.  That said, while the films represented in this year's nominations were more-or-less all worthy contenders, they did not compare favorably to the stellar lineups of years past.  Last year's big winner was Lee Chang-dong's formidable Poetry,  while Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil and newcomer Jang Cheol-su's Bedevilled were among the other films that ranked high on the nominations list.

This year, the most nominated films were (wins in parentheses):

The Front Line - 12 (4)
The Yellow Sea - 11 (2)
Sunny - 9 (2)
War of the Arrows - 8 (4)
Blind - 7 (2)
The Unjust - 7 (0)
Hindsight - 5 (0)
Late Autumn - 4 (1)
Hello Ghost - 4 (0)
Late Blossom - 4 (0)
Detective K - 3 (1)
Moby Dick - 3 (0)
Poongsan - 3 (0)
The Last Blossom - 3 (0)
Bleak Night - 2 (2)

The six most nominated films were all big performers at the box office, each scored over two million admissions.  Currently I have only seen seven of the films listed above but it does seem like a poorer than usual roster.  As excited as I am to see The Front Line, War of the Arrows, Sunny, and Blind, I am not expecting them to make significant impressions on me like other Korean films have, but I hope I am wrong!

That said, this year's films are all solid and I am especially happy that Ryoo Seung-wan's brilliant The Unjust wound up with 7 nominations, although it is unfortunate that it wasn't able to bag a single win.  I thought it would pick up Best Screenplay at the very least but this went to Blind.  

I was also happy to see that  Late Blossom score 4 nominations even if it didn't win anything.  Personally I think it should have been nominated for Best Cinematography which  is always a great category for Korean film.  So far I've only seen one of the nominees so I'm exited to how the rest look, including winner The Front Line.

I was surprised that neither Quick nor the much-Ballyhooed Sector 7 managed to score nominations for Best Visual Effects.  The films were not well-received but by all accounts the effects were very impressive. War of the Arrows ended up taking the prize.

The biggest successes of the night were the big blockbusters The Front Line and War of the Arrows with 4 wins each, including Best Film for the former.  That result was not surprising as it is also the Korean selection for next year's Oscars.

In the face of some pretty stiff competition, Kang Hyung-chul won Best Director for the small but wildly popular Sunny, which also won Best Editing.

The acting categories all went to different films this year. Best Actor and Actress went to Park Hae-il for War of the Arrows and Kim Ha-neul for Blind, while Jo Sung-ha and Shim Eun-kyun walked away which the Supporting Actor/Actress prizes for The Yellow Sea and Romantic Heaven.

Bleak Night, which has very well-received critically but failed to draw much of an audience in Korea, was a big success tonight, winning its two nominations for Best New Director (Yoon Sung-hyun) and Best New Actor (Lee Je-hun, also nominated for The Front Line).  Meanwhile, best New Actress went to Moon Chae-won for War of the Arrows.

Best Production and Best Lighting went to The Front Line, Best Song went to Late Autumn, Best Costume Design went to The Yellow Sea, Best Art Design went to Detective K, and Best Sound Effects went to War of the Arrows.

Won Bin, who won last year's Best Actor for his role in The Man From Nowhere, was the recipient of the  Popularity Award.  This year's Lifetime Achievement Award went to actor Lee Dae-Geun.

Special thanks to Asian Media Wiki, which live-tweeted the results.

48th Daejong Film Awards Winners and Nominees:

Best Film
Winner:The Front Line
The Front Line
The Unjust
War of the Arrows
The Yellow Sea

Best Director
Kang Hyung-chul (Sunny)
Jang Hun (The Front Line)
Kim Tae-yong (Late Autumn)
Ryoo Seung-wan (The Unjust)
Kang Hyung-chul (Sunny)
Na Hong-jin (The Yellow Sea)

Best Actor
Park Hae-il (War of the Arrows)
Kim Yun-seok (The Yellow Sea)
Ryoo Seung-beom (The Unjust)
Park Hae-il (War of the Arrows)
Yoon Kye-sang (Poongsan)
Lee Soon-jae (Late Blossom)
Cha Tae-hyun (Hello Ghost)

Best Actress
Kim Ha-neul (Blind)
Kim Ha-neul (Blind)
Kim Hye-soo (Villain and Widow)
Bae Jong-ok (The Last Blossom)
Yun So-jeong (Late Blossom)
Choi Gang-hee (Petty Romance)

Best Supporting Actor
Jo Sung-ha (The Yellow Sea)
Ko Chang-seok (The Showdown)
Kim Sang-ho (Moby Dick)
Ryoo Seung-ryong (The Front Line)
Yu Hae-jin (The Unjust)
Jo Sung-ha (The Yellow Sea)
Jo Hie-bong (Blind)

Best Supporting Actress
Shim Eun-kyung (Romantic Heaven)
Kim Soo-mi (Late Blossom)
Kim Ji-young (The Last Blossom)
Seo Young-hee (The Last Blossom)
Shim Eun-kyung (Romantic Heaven)
Jang Yeong-nam (Hello Ghost)
Cheon Woo-hee (Sunny)

Best New Director
Yoon Sung-hyun (Bleak Night)
Kim Sung-hoon (Ryang-kang-do: Merry Christmas, North!)
Kim Young-tak (Hello Ghost)
Min Yong-keun (Re-encounter)
Park In-je (Moby Dick)
Yoon Sung-hyun (Bleak Night)

Best New Actor
Lee Je-hoon (Bleak Night)
Kim Hwan-young (Ryang-kang-do: Merry Christmas, North!)
Yoo Yeon-seok (Re-encounter)
Lee Je-hoon (The Front Line)
Lee Je-hoon (Bleak Night)
Jang Ki-beom (GLove)

Best New Actress
Moon Chae-won (War of the Arrows)
Kang So-ra (Sunny)
Moon Chae-won (War of the Arrows)
Baek Jin-hee (Foxy Festival)
Shin Se-kyung (Hindsight)
You Da-in (Re-encounter)

Best Screenplay
Choi Min-suk (Blind)
The Unjust
The Front Line
Hello Ghost

Best Cinematography
The Front Line (Joo Woo-hyung)
The Front Line
Late Autumn
War of the Arrows
The Yellow Sea

Best Lighting
The Front Line (Kim Min-jae)
The Front Line
The Yellow Sea

Best Production
The Front Line (Lee Woo-jung)
The Front Line
Moby Dick
The Unjust

Best Editing
Sunny (Nam Na-young)
The Front Line
The Unjust
The Yellow Sea

Best Music
Winner: Late Autumn (Woo & Choi Young-rak)
Late Blossom
Romantic Heaven
Late Autumn

Best Art Design
Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow (Chae Gyung-sun)
Late Autumn
Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow
War of the Arrows
The Yellow Sea

Best Costume Design
The Yellow Sea (Chae Kyung-hwa)
Nominees:The Front Line
Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow
War of the Arrows
The Yellow Sea

Best Visual Effects
War of the Arrows (Han Young-woo)
The Front Line
Romantic Heaven
War of the Arrows
The Yellow Sea

Best Sound Effects
War of the Arrows (Choi Tae-young)
The Front Line
Detective K: Secret Of Virtuous Widow
War of the Arrows
The Yellow Sea

Popularity Award
Won Bin

Lifetime Achievement Award
Lee Dae-geun (actor)

Korean Box Office Update (10/14-10/16, 2011)

Weekend of October 14-16, 2011:

Title Release Date Weekend Total
1 Real Steel (us) 10/12/11 590,043 789,230
2 The Client 9/29/11 282,910 2,013,874
3 The Three Musketeers (uk) 10/12/11 258,299 376,220
4 Silenced 9/22/11 235,977 4,331,176
5 Punch 10/20/11 56,116 65,408
6 Always 10/20/11 45,687 46,606
7 Fighting Spirit 10/6/11 29,617 192,831
8 Hit 10/13/11 21,284 29,041
9 War of the Arrows 8/10/11 19,810 7,430,360
10 Countdown 9/29/11 10,324 461,704
- Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild 27/7/11 1,300 2,195,700
- The Day He Arrives 8/9/11 510 42,983
- Ordinary Days 29/9/11 98 1,517
- Scars 13/10/11 81 132

After 11 weekends with a Korean release claiming the top spot at the box office, this week's usurper is Real Steel, Hollywood's new blockbuster which played well in previews last week.  This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise as there was no major Korean release this week and also given the fact that the year's other robot themed tentpole release is Korea's top grosser of the year (Transformers 3 with 7,790,426).

The Client clung to the number two spot for its third straight week with a 282,910 take.  This represents a drop slightly over 40% and puts into doubt whether it can join the 3 million club as it has only just cracked the two million mark.

Silenced (aka The Crucible) took another big tumble (52%) as its mass media exposure begins to fade.  It took 235,977 this weekend and dropped three places.  It had already crossed the four million mark before the weekend but its chances of cracking five look precarious, especially if it keeps suffering such steep falls.

Punch and Always were next at 56,116 and 45,687 respectively as they played in previews.  These are both strong figures for the recent Busan Film Fest features.  They open wide next week and will likely battle it out for first place.  Kim Sang-jin's Fighting Spirit took a big 70% dive after its lackluster opening.  It added 29,617 for a 192,831 total, a disappointing result and this may drop out of the top 10 as early as next week.

Hit, a new film starring Han Jae-suk also had a limited opening this past weekend but its 21,284 admissions does not bode well for its chances.  War of the Arrows added 19,810 admissions to its massive total which now stands at 7,430,360.  Finally Countdown crumbled again with 10,324 tickets sold.

This weekend's take amounted to 1.58 million tickets, a healthy increase over both last weekend (22.5%) and last year's comparable frame (50%).  The bad news is that that increase benefited a major Hollywood release.  Despite having 8 of the top 10 spots, this weekend's Korean market share was only 45%, down a little from last years's 55% but a lot from the last two weekend's 87% and 81%.  Somewhat ironic given that Busan just wrapped up. However the festival's releases will soon be inundating theaters and will likely post strong numbers.

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 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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Weekly Review Round-up (10/08-10/14, 2011)

A number of reviews covering a wide array of films coming in from the just wrapped-up Busan International Film Festival, although not quite as many as I would have thought. I imagine that given how Asia-centric the festival was this year, not too many English-language publications sent a critic. Also a few reviews from this year's Sitges Film Festival this week.


(Blog About Everything, October 6, 2011)


(The Hollywood Reporter, October 8, 2011)

(The Hollywood Reporter, October 11, 2011)

(Variety, October 13, 2011 - Subscription Required)

(Pop Matters, October 6, 2011)


(The Hollywood Reporter, October 11, 2011)

End of Animal

(The Hollywood Reporter, October 11, 2011)

(Modern Korean Cinema, October 12, 2011)

(Hangul Celluloid, October 10, 2011)

(, October 8, 2011)


(Twitch, October 12, 2011)

(The Hollywood Reporter, October 10, 2011)

(Modern Korean Cinema, October 9, 2011)

(East Asia, October 3, 2011 - French)

(Twitch, October 7, 2011)

The Yellow Sea

(Japan Cinema, October 5, 2011)


Black Hair, 1964
(New Korean Cinema, October 8, 2011)

(Kim Bong Park, October 13, 2011 0 French)

(dramabeans, October 11, 2011)

The Weekly Review Round-up is a weekly feature which brings together all available reviews of Korean films in the English language (and sometimes French) that have recently appeared on the internet. It is by no means a comprehensive feature and additions are welcome (email pierceconran [at] gmail [dot] com). It appears every Friday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News, and the Korean Box Office UpdateReviews 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.