Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Korean Cinema News (10/20-10/26, 2011)

Not quite last week's haul but nonetheless a lot of great features and interview (and a comprehensive academic thesis!) this week on a variety of topics.



Director's Cut of War of the Arrows Hits Theaters
An extended version of Korean action film War of the Arrows was released in Korea last thursday.  The new cut features an additional six minutes of footage, primarily in the action sequences.  (10 asia, October 20, 2011)

Filmmaker Im Kwon-taek: Master of Mirrors
At 75, the filmmaker continues to explore new ground.  “I don’t lie in my movies... I simply try to capture what we feel in our everyday lives.”  (The Korea Times, October 20, 2011)

Punch Pushes Actor Into Next Phase of His Career
The new film Punch does not have an exciting story line, a swirling climax nor a vengeful villain at its center.  But it does have the talents of an engaging young actor named Yoo Ah-in, who appears to have lost a bit of his boyish arrogance and is entering a new, more serious phase of his career.  (Joong Ang Daily, October 21, 2011)

A New Era for Asia’s Biggest Film Festival
When a small film festival opened at an outdoor market in Nampo-dong, Busan, during the mid-90s, few expected it to make a mark in the industry amid more prominent competition in Asia.  Back then, the Asian festival circuit was based mostly on two strongholds – the Tokyo International Film Festival, located in the second-biggest film market on the globe, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival, located in the world’s fastest-growing film market.  (Joong Ang Daily, October 21, 2011)

The Original Murder 2 Director in Town!
South Korean filmmaker Na Hong-Jin isn’t a big talker.  Maybe because he doesn’t speak English, and it was his translator who was doing all the chatting.  But uttering the key words ‘Murder 2’, ‘inspired from’ and ‘your debut film The Chaser (2008)’ immediately got us a response in the form of a visible nod.  (Hindustan Times, October 20, 2011)

New Council to Address Monopoly in Domestic Film Industry
A new council has been launched to resolve the issue of monopoly by large companies in the domestic film industry.  (KBS, October 21, 2011)

Korean Talent Agency Cuts IPO Size After Key Star’s Drug Scandal
Korean talent agency YG Entertainment, which manages the popular boy band Big Bang, has cut the size of its planned initial public offering, citing a drug scandal involving a key star as a risk factor.  (Joong Ang Daily, October 21, 2011)

Real-life Poongsan Dogs Deliver Items to Separated Families
The protagonist of Poongsan, a South Korean film released last summer and named after a breed of hunting dog from North Korea, is a person who goes between the two Koreas via China to transport things or people.  (The Dong-a Ilbo, October 21, 2011)

The Yellow Sea Playing at Philadelphia Film Festival
The Yellow Sea: South Korean director Hong-jin Na follows up his explosive debut, The Chaser (2008), with a crime drama about a cabbie who is forced to become a hit man to pay off his wife's debts.  An action film to match any of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters, The Yellow Sea "is a true epic," says Lerman. "It has huge set pieces, huge car chases, and amazing plot twists."  (philly.con, Ocotber 21, 2011)

Song Hye-kyo Returns with New Movie
After vanishing from the public's view for the last three years, actress Song Hye-kyo has returned to the silver screen with A Reason to Live, a story about a woman who forgives a boy for killing her fiancé.  (The Chosun Ilbo, October 22, 2011)

Rooney Mara Says No to Oldboy
Variety's Justin Kroll tweeted yesterday that Mara has passed on the part, so producers will have to keep making their way down the wishlist to land someone opposite Josh Brolin.  (Twitch, October 20, 2011)

Planet of Snail to Compete at Amsterdam Doc Fest
Korea-Japan-Finland documentary Planet of Snail, directed by Yi Seung-Jun, will be in the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) Competition for Feature-Length Documentary.  (KOBIZ, October 23, 2011)

Lee Man-hee classic A Day Off + Mark Morris talk at KCC
Lee Man-hee’s classic film A Day Off (1969) will be screening as part of the London Korean Film Festival this year, with a talk by Dr Mark Morris.  A Day Off is part of the Lee Man-hee DVD box set which might be in your to-watch pile.  This is your opportunity to see it.  The screening and talk is on 11 November at the KCC at 7:30pm. Book your place via [email protected].  (London Korea Links, October 22, 2011)

Lee Seung-gi And Ha Ji-won Receive National Merit Awards
The multi-faceted entertainer Lee Seung-gi along with top actress Ha Ji-won both received national merit recognition at the 48th Savings Day event.  (KBS, October 25, 2011)

Political Ideology and Culture in Film
Movies are one of the most effective media for disseminating and propagating political ideologies to people.  In communist countries where propaganda is imperative, the government controls the movie industry in order to produce and promote movies filled with propaganda.  (The Korea Herald, October 25, 2011)

Museum of Fine Arts Houston to Host Series of Korean Films
The Museum of Fine Art Houston will screen a series of Korean films from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6 at the museum, located at 1001 Bissonnet.  The screenings are part of the museum's Spotlight on World Cinema program, which looks at films from different parts of the world.  The focus of the upcoming program is South Korea and will include The Housemaid, The Day He Arrives, Finding Mr. Destiny, and Secret Sunshine (2007). (, October 24, 2011)

Well Go Takes Korean Oscar Contender, The Front Line
North American rights to South Korea’s entry for Best Foreign Language Oscar consideration, The Front Line have been picked up by Well Go USA Entertainment.  Directed by Jang Hun (Secret Reunion), Well Go plans a January release in major markets.  (indieWIRE, October 25, 2011)

Who's Afraid of Lady Vengeance?
This Halloween, take a break from your chainsaw massacres and nightmares on Elm Street and try some horror with an Asian flavour.  Horror movies from East Asia have a lot going for them.  Aside from offering a glimpse into unique cultural mythologies and traditions, you'll find a greater emphasis on supernatural forces in the real world, compared to western horror, and more fatalism where individual agency is concerned.  (The Vancouver Sun, October 25, 2011)


In this study, See He Han analyzes how recent Korean cinema has responded to the forces of globalization by appropriating these influences both on and off screen. (University of Texas, 2011)


BIFF - Q&A With Director Kang Hyung-Chul & Cast of Sunny
Q&A for Sunny took place after a screening of the movie at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival on October 7, 2011.  Appearing as speakers are (listed in order of picture above) director Kang Hyung-Chul and actresses Kang So-Ra, Jin Hee-Kyung, Yoo Ho-Jeong, Park Jin-Joo, Min Hyo-Rin, Kim Min-Young.  AsianMediaWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.  (Asian Media Wiki, October 7, 2011)

Actress Jeon Do-youn - Part 1
Jeon plays Cha Ha-yeon, a femme fatale con artist who sneers at the world with her beauty and brains until she gets taught her lesson, in movie Countdown.  However, Jeon herself does not live her life so moderately.  Below is a record of her life, in no way moderate, where she pours the energy she will use to feel regret about her past or worry about her future, into what is most current.  (, October 21, 2011)

Q&A for Punch took place after a screening of the movie at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival on October 10, 2011.  Appearing as speaker is the movie's director Lee Han.  AsianMediaWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.  (Asian Media Wiki, October 10, 2011)

Heo Jong-ho, director of Countdown
He has a mere 10 days. Ruthless debt collector Tae Geon-ho (Jung Jae-young) can only survive if he can get a liver transplant from compulsive scam artist Cha Ha-yeon (Jeon Do-youn).  This is the set-up of newcomer Heo Jong-ho’s crime thriller Countdown, a film that made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.  (KOBIZ, October 24, 2011)


Spellbound - ENGLISH


Too Many Villains

(Modern Korean Cinema, October 24, 2011)

Korean Cinema News is a weekly feature which provides wide-ranging news coverage on Korean cinema, including but not limited to: features; festival news; interviews; industry news; trailers; posters; and box office. It appears every Wednesday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Late Blossom (Geu-dae-leul Sa-rang-hab-ni-da) 2011

It’s easy to forget sometimes how rigid the rules can be concerning the technical aspects behind the making of a film.  When done right, everything you see on screen (or hear) is exactly so for a reason.  The rich tapestry of mise-en-scene (basically everything but the dialogue) captures our attention by cleverly drawing us to certain pieces of information.  Through cinematography, sound, production design, costumes, and editing it seeks to tell us a story.  It is the difference between a novel, in which we must imagine all these details, and a film, which seeks to show us a world conceived by its filmmakers.

Beautiful, intimate framing
If you take the time to consider what shots are used in a film, you can see (most of the time) a reason behind their selection.  These little parcels of visual information tell part of the narrative.  There are many choices a director or cinematographer can make when framing a shot and each of these decisions will affect how the story is told.  An example of this is from what angle to frame a character: you can shoot from above, from below, or straight on.  In Late Blossom, which features some exceptional photography, this choice is an important one.  It says a lot about how the film views its characters, the majority of which are senior citizens. 

Shooting from high up makes a person look smaller and can infer that he or she is timid, lacking in confidence, or occupying a lower social strata.  Conversely, low-angle shots make characters look dominant, authoritative, or heroic.  Late Blossom’s principal protagonists are frequently filmed from low angles.  In this instance, the choice is a mark of respect, as the films seeks to venerate its elderly characters.  Here, the formal structure of the film and its choices echoes the rigid framework of a hierarchical society, although perhaps one that steadily shying away from its outmoded confucian values.

Man-suk (Lee Soon-jae) shot from below
At a time for Korea when things are rapidly changing and its film industry manifests the latest trends and embraces the newest fads, Late Blossom is something of an anomaly.  Its focus is on a way of life that is being passed over for  globalized cosmopolitanism.  It is fixated on the present but only because it has allowed the past to be forgottten.  The characters who we follow live in the world’s second largest metropolis, yet they seem alone and abandonned.  The rapidly-evolving society which they inhabit no longer has any space for them, but still they live on, foraging in the modern urban landscape.

Late Blossom follows the lives of four elderly people in a rundown neighbourhood in Seoul.  Kim Man-suk (Lee Soon-jae) delivers milk and crosses Ms. Song (Yoon So-jeong), who scrapes by by selling scrap paper.  They feel something towards one another and gradually seek respite from the loneliness of their lives.  Meanwhile, Jang Kun-bong (Sung Jae-ho) takes care of wife (Kim Soo-mi) who suffers from dementia.

Snow adds depth to some scenes
Rather than follow a plot-based path, the narrative invites us into the lives of its four protagonists as they struggle to live in modern Seoul.  The film is meditative, sweet, and enormously rewarding.  It is also deceptively simple.  One of those examples of something that seems perfectly effortless while in actuality demonstrating an enormous amount of skill, attention to detail, and artistry.

Aside from visual metaphors (such as pathetic fallacy) and social awareness, Late Blossom succeeds in the technical department. It features some of the most wonderful camerawork I’ve seen all year.  While the lensing is clearly beautiful, it is also intelligent, each shot has a purpose and advance our integration into the story.  One particularly pleasing element of the cinematography were the scenes with snow.  As the snowflakes drift across the urban landscape, those that come closest to camera float by as large out-of-focus white dots.  It’s very engrossing and adds a huge amount of depth to the world we are invited to discover.  You may also notice how some of the younger characters are framed looking down on the elders from a high vantage point, as if peering quizzically on those that have laid the foundation for their progress.

Younger characters look down on elders
The film begins as we follow Man-suk on his scooter doing his early morning routine.  The first time we see his face is from behind a gate.  In effect we are spying on him.  Their is a tacit acknowledgment, on the part of the filmmakers, of the scopophilia that we the audience must naturally engage in as we invade the private lives of the protagonists.  Rather than immediately launch into close-ups, for a long time we see everything that unfolds from a distance.  The effect of peering in is reinforced by the landscape of the neighbourhood.  The composition of the shots reflects the sinuous roads and paths as they wind their way up and down hills.  This style of shooting becomes very intimate when we follow the characters through the ordered chaos of their local society. The location is very much a part of the story, it is omnipresent as Man-suk and Ms. Song make their living traveling its streets.

Many themes are explored during the film, mostly examing how society ha changed in its treatment of elders.  In one sequence, Song visits the civic office where Man-suk’s daughter works to register for an identity.  She is excessively grateful and obsequious in towards its young employees, a reminder of a bygone era when an autocratic administration ruled with an iron fist.  Conversely, the youthful staff are pleasantly surprised to be treated so respectfully and reciprocate by expediting her needs.  While this may be a sign of positive change, representing the evolution of authority in modern Korea, it also alludes to the fact that people are often less than gracious when dealing with civil matters in modern society.  You may also notice certain compositions in the film which place younger characters looking down on the elder protagonists from higher vantage points.  They have moved forward, or up, with time and peer down almost quizzically at those who paved the way for them.  What is the difference between respecting authority and respecting your elders?

Kun-bong and his wife, Man-suk and Ms. Song look on
The anchor of the film is its great lead performers.  Lee Soon-jae, Yoon So-jeong, Sung Jae-ho, and Kim Soo-mi are all fantastic.  It is impossible not to feel all their joy, disappointment, and heartache.  It is as if it were your own.  I was completely taken in by Late Blossom, especially by it’s fantastic leads, involving mise-en-scene, and infectious sweetness.  All but the coldest hearts will be melted by it.

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

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

Korean Box Office Update (10/21-10/23, 2011)

Weekend of October 21-23, 2011:

Title Release Date Weekend Total
1 Punch 10/20/11 461,290 584,528
2 Real Steel (us) 10/12/11 453,322 1,485,699
3 Always 10/20/11 268,422 372,552
4 The Client 9/29/11 115,135 2,256,985
5 The Three Musketeers (uk) 10/12/11 99,595 564,313
6 Silenced 9/22/11 80,528 4,544,968
7 Paranormal Activity 3 (us) 10/20/11 49,321 56,590
8 Hit 10/13/11 14,372 84,142
9 Major: Yujo No Winning Shot (jp) 10/20/11 7,085 8,251
10 War of the Arrows Director's Cut 5,256 6,290
- Couples       11/3/11 4,430 6,126
- War of the Arrows       8/10/11 3,810 7,451,344
- Fighting Spirit       10/6/11 2,558 209,104
- Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild       7/27/11 1,359 2,197,866

A Korean film reclaimed the top spot this weekend, but only by a very slim margin.  Once again business gained over last year's comparable frame, going up 50% to 1.59 million admissions.  The Korean market share also saw a healthy increase over last weekend, topping 60%, last year it was 50%.

The number one movie was Punch, which after getting good notices at the Busan International Film Festival and performing well in previews last weekend, opened to a solid 461,290.  Word of mouth will likely be strong, which means it could play well through November.  In recent years, Kim Yun-seok has turned into a massive force at the box office.  One of the few bankable stars remaining in Korea, his most recent features have all gone way past 2 million viewers: The Yellow Sea (2.42 million), Woochi (6.1 million), Running Turtle (3.05 million), and The Chaser (5.07 million). If Punch continues this trend, which it likely will, his streak is not likely to an end any time soon with the release of the much anticipated The Thieves just around the corner.

Coming a very close second this weekend was Real Steel in its sophomore frame with 453,322, down only 25%.  As around the rest of the world, the film seems to be playing well with families.  The Three Musketeers fell 64% for 99,595, it will likely fall far down the chart next weekend.  The only major Hollywood release was Paranormal Activity 3, which despite posting a franchise best opening in the US, opened to a small 49,321, about 30% of what the previous installment.  Major: Yujo No Winning Shot from Japan also opened low on the chart with 7,085.

Always seemed poised for a decent opening considering all the attention it received as BIFF's opening gala presentation and its promising previews last weekend but the negative buzz and critical savaging of the picture as already caught up to it.  It opened to a disappointing 268,422 and will likely exit the Top 10 swiftly.

The Client, which had been holding on to the number 2 spot for three weeks fell to number 4 with a 60% drop.  Its weekend haul of 115, 135 was enough for it clinch the last spot in the yearly top 10.  It may still have enough left in the tank to crawl up two more rungs and unseat Marrying the Mafia IV.

Silenced (aka The Crucible) took another big fall this weekend (67%) as the media attention it had been receiving has died down, it added 80, 528 to its total.  I wonder whether it could still move up to number 3 for the year by topping Detective K's total.

Hit came in at number 8 with 14,372 after seeing two thirds of its theater count slashed. Rounding out the top 10 was the director's cut of War of the Arrows which opened in select locations to 5,256.  The new cut may play wider depending on its performance but I think it is more likely to tour around different locations.

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 21, 2011

Weekly Review Round-up (10/15-10/21, 2011)

This week we have a section dedicated to reviews from the recently wrapped Festival franco-coréen du film in Paris.  All of these are in French (my second language) and special thanks to Kim-Bong-Park, Made in Asie and for their hard work!  Also a number of The Yellow Sea reviews as it opens in the UK & Ireland.


FFCF (Festival franco-coréen du film)

Anti Gas Skin

Bleak Night

Café Noir

Castaway on the Moon, 2009

Cheonggyecheon Medley

(, October 14, 2011)

End of Animal

(, October 13, 2011)

(Made in Asie, October 17, 2011)

Invasion of Alien Bikini

Late Autumn

(Made in Asie, October 18, 2011)

Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild

(Made in Asie, October 13, 2011)



The Code of a Duel

(, October 15, 2011)


(Film Business Asia, October 19, 2011)

From Seoul to Varanasi

(Modern Korean Cinema, October 20, 2011)

(Variety, October 17, 2011 - Subscription Required)

(Modern Korean Cinema, October 18, 2011)

(subtitledonline, October 20, 2011)


(, October 20, 2011)

(Film Business Asia, October 18, 2011)

(Twitch, October 16, 2011)

(Film Business Asia, October 120 2011)

The Yellow Sea


Possessed, 2009
(Kim Bong Park, October 14, 2011)

(Mmegionline, October 18, 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.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Head (He-deu) 2011

One of my favorite Korean films is Save the Green Planet (2003).  More than any other, it blithely disregarded generic compatibility and spliced every conceivable idea, trope, and storyline so effectively that it became a veritable cornucopia of emotion.  It was at times horror, torture porn, thriller, action, romance etc.  But it lead with comedy and  was completely ridiculous but also enormously infectious.  Head follows pretty much the same recipe, it even features Baek Yoon-sik, although this time as the torturer rather than the tortured.  Unfortunately, the elements here do not come together as a whole.  It is a slapdash mishmash of filmic devices, aiming far but often landing wide of the mark.

Baek Yoon-sik in second-rate Save the Green Planet
From what I can piece together, the story revolves around a messenger (Ryoo Deok-hwan) who is delivering cargo, which turns out to be the missing head of a famed scientist (Oh Dal-su) who has committed suicide.  He discovers the head and is soon tracked down and apprehended by Baek Jeong (Baek Yoon-shik), but not before he manages to hide it.  The messenger’s sister is an ambitious reporter stuck doing entertainment news, Baek calls her, tells her he will kill her brother unless she hands over the head.  To relay any more information would be pointless, as I’m really not quite sure what transpired after that point.

This is main problem, it is extremely difficult to fathom what’s going on.  The main thrust of the action, simple as it is, shouldn’t be difficult to follow, alas it is mired by a backstory that is indulgently complicated and not nearly well-enough explained.  At certain points the plot begins to focus before breaking off into new threads and barreling sideways through them.  It is only near the third act when the film starts to take shape.  There are still massive holes in the story but at least it’s made clear by this point that the plot is a mere front and excuse for some offbeat setpieces.

Oh Dal-su vs. Oh Dal-su
A lot of the cast will be recognizable to fans of Korean cinema.  I’ve already mentioned Baek Yoon-sik who, aside from Save the Green Planet, has portrayed some of the industry’s most memorable and odd characters such as his roles in The President’s Last Bang (2005), Tazza: The High Rollers (2006), and the wrestling coach in Like a Virgin (2006).  Oh Dal-su appears as two live characters and a corpse’s head, but only very briefly, understandable considering that he’s appeared in ten films in the last two years, including this year’s Hindsight, Late Blossom, and Detective K, and last year’s Troubleshooter, Foxy Festival, and The Servant.  He seems to relish in the brief time he has on screen, especially in the scene featuring both of his characters.  Joo Jin-mo-I plays the corrupt detective (as he always seems to do) and this is one of his six roles this year, the others being Heartbeat, Children…, The Apprehenders, Quick, and the soon-to-be released Mr. Idol.

The reporter is played by Park Ye-jin who I haven’t seen on screen since 1999’s excellent Memento Mori.  Unlike the seasoned veterans that populate the rest of the film, she does not show a great aptitude for comic timing and she has difficulty conveying her character’s emotions effectively.  Ultimately she just doesn’t seem right for the part.  Playing her brother is the young Ryoo Deok-hwan, previously scene in My Little Bride (2004), Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005), Like a Virgin, and The Quiz Show Scandal (2010).  He does well in his role, despite the fact that he is strapped to a chair for the majority of it.

Park Ye-jin's perplexing performance
The filmmakers seem to be indicating that it is not imperative to follow the minutiae of the story.  However, while the set pieces are each more ridiculous and outrageous than the last and do display some original thought, they lack the cohesion and technical skill necessary to successfully pull them off.  On the whole, the mise-en-scene is not particularly imaginative.  Strangest of all, unlike Save the Green Planet, which it tries so hard to emulate, it forgoes playing with a colourful palate, instead opting for a grey, and rather dull colour scheme.

Director Cho Un was part of the editing team behind Save the Green Planet, which makes a whole lot of sense.  It is also clear that he is an editor, as a lot of tricks are used throughout, often to cover up mistakes in the production.  Being involved in film production myself, I can attest to a prevalent trend among first-time directors and editors turned directors.  Frequently a cinematographer, an assistant director, or sometimes even a producer will express concern over what has been shot: “Is it okay, should we do another?”; “Do we have enough coverage?”; etc.  Invariably the answer is “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it in editing.”  This is never a good idea, as primarily it limits your options but can also force your hand in the editing suite if something is amiss.  In Head, ellipsis, jump cuts, split-screen, and flashy transitions abound.  They are all there to string the incongruous elements together and to patch over what the director was not careful enough to adequately film during principal photography.

Some spirited senior citizens!
Head has its moments, including the old-folks home sequence and the delightfully macabre imagery in the mortuary (like the butcher’s display case of human body parts), but it is best seen as a collection of such moments, rather than a film which aptly integrates them into an engaging story, the way Save the Green Planet did.

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.

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-Coréen 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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