Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Korean Cinema News (12/15-12/21, 2011)

The big news in Korea this week is the death of the leader of the North, Kim Jong-il.  Given that he was a known cinephile I have included a pair of pieces on North Korea.  Besides that there is a lot of news, CJ is making big advances with business deals left and right, the mind boggles at how big a studio it could become.  Some great trailers this week, especially for Howling, by Ha Yu and starring Song Kang-ho, as well as some great one sheets, I need a copy of the Choi Min-sik poster for Nameless Gangster!  Lots of other news, great interviews, and box office as usual.



Korean Film Punch Invited to Berlin Film Festival
Korean film Punch (Wandeukyi) by director Lee Han has been invited to next year's Berlin International Film Festival, the film's local distributor said Thursday.  The movie will be screened in the "Generation" section of the 62nd festival for featuring movies for younger children and teens, CJ Entertainment and Media Co. said.  It marks the second time a Korean film has been invited to the section following the 2006 movie Like a Virgin from director Lee Hae-yeong.   Punch is currently the third highest-grossing Korean film of the year.  (The Korea Times, December 15, 2011)

A Look Back at the Year's Breakout Films
In 2011, Korean films brought attention to the individuals and issues that have otherwise remained unaddressed, underrepresented, or simply unexplored.  While the questions posed by these films varied, provoking responses ranging from angry shock to laughter and sympathy, all called for a collective reconsideration of the social dynamics and relationships that can be found in Korean society today.  (, December 15, 2011)

Korean Mega War Movie Targets Pan-Asian Audience
Kang Je-gyu's new pan-Asian movie My Way premieres on Dec. 22.  Kang, who drew over 10 million spectators with the clunking history epic Taegukgi in 2004, is now hoping for Asia-wide success with the biggest budget and the most ambitious scale in many years.  The cast includes top stars from Korea, China and Japan, such as Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri and Fan Bingbing.  (The Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2011)

Korean Film Week in Budapest
Considering the fact that Hungarian film distributors tend to release only one Korean movie a year, Hungarian viewers have two options to watch contemporary Korean films on the big screen:  the 'Titanic International Film Festival' and the annual 'Korean Film Week', both held in Budapest.  Supported by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Foundation and the Korean Film Council, this year the Embassy of the Republic of Korea has organized the Korean Film Week for the fourth time.  (The Korea Blog, December 15, 2011)

Secrets, Objects Sells to Hong Kong
Korean production company Film Front has announced that Secrets, Objects, directed by Lee Young-mi's film Secrets, Objects has been sold by Korean production company Film Front to Sundream Motion Pictures in Hong Kong. The romantic film features  Jang Seo-hee as a 40-year-old sociology professor preparing a dissertation on extramarital affairs and Jeong Seok-won, a 21-year-old student who enrolls in her seminar.  The film screened at the Moscow International Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival, and the Montreal World Film Festival this year. (KOBIZ, December 15, 2011)

The 6th London Korean Film Festival 2011

A great video summing up the highlights of the recent 6th London Korean Film Festival.  Watching the clip made me quite jealous of everyone at the event, one which I dearly would have liked to attend.  (, December 16, 2011)

John Hurt to Star in Bong Joon-ho's Snow Piercer
Up until now the only confirmed player in Bong Joon-ho's much anticipated global production Snow Piercer has been Song Kang-ho, though it is said that he will only play a small part.  In a recent interview acclaimed and veteran thespian John Hurt has confirmed that he will be joining the production for three months starting in March of next year.  (Gothamist, December 15, 2011)

Chicago Tribune Names Poetry Film of the Year
The accolades keep on rolling in for Poetry.  On Dec. 18, As the Chicago Tribune counted down its 10 best movies of the year on December 18th, Lee Chang-dong's Poetry wound up No. 1, ahead of Moneyball and French movie Copie Conforme, was deemed the best.  The Korean movie singled out by the paper’s movie critic is a tale about an elderly woman who strives to write poetry despite Alzheimer’s and the hardships of the life around her.  The film has also won the award for the best screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.  (Joong Ang Daily, December 20, 2011)

KAFA Partners With CJ E&M and CJ CGV
The Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) has renewed its partnership with leading entertainment media company CJ E&M and its affiliate exhibition company CJ CGV.  In an academic-industry partnership deal signed yesterday (Dec. 14) at the Academy, the three entities agreed to work together to cultivate filmmaking talent that could become the future center of the film industry.  (KOBIZ, December 19, 2011)

Sector 7 Hits Box Office Record in China
Sci-fi thriller Sector 7 is officially the highest grossing Korean film in China, according to South Korean investor/distributor CJ Entertainment.  Released Dec. 6 on approximately 4,000 screens, the sea creature feature took in CNY20 million (US$3.1 million) by Dec. 14.  (KOBIZ, December 20, 2011)

Young North Korean Defectors Produce Short Film in Seoul
A group of young North Korean defectors, aiming to show young South Koreans that they are the same, recently completed shooting a short film in Seoul, said a film producer at With Culture who helped them make the movie.  Choi Ji-hoon met the North Korean defectors in their late teens to early 20s at a film class for students at Durihana International School as part of the company’s volunteering work.  (The Korea Herald, December 14, 2011)

London Korean Film Festival Round-up and Ryu Seung-wan’s The Unjust
London Korea Links runs down the 2011 London Korean Film Festival and especially the work of Ryu Seung-wan.  Ryu has had several of his films released in the UK on DVD, but he is not as well-known to the viewing public as the likes of Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho.  (London Korea Links, December 21, 2011)

New images have been revealed for Song Kang-ho's new film Howling.  The directed by Ha Yu (A Dirty Carnival, 2006; Once Upon a Time in High School, 2004) is a thriller involving spontaneous combustion, excited?  So am I.  (Twitch, December 20, 2011)

The Front Line to Compete at Int'l Film Fest in Palm Springs
The Front Line which has won a flurry of domestic awards and is the Korean pic for the Oscars has been invited to compete at the upcoming Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) next month, according to its official website on Tuesday.  The Front Line will be up against a number of other international pictures for the FIPRESCI award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the 7th annual PSIFF from January 5 to 16 next year.  (, December 20, 2011)

Kim Jong-il: The Cinephile Despot
One of the more surprising facts about Kim Jong-il was his love of cinema. He reportedly owned more than 20,000 videos and DVDs and counted Elizabeth Taylor among his favourite actresses.  "The cinema occupies an important place in the overall development of art and literature. As such it is a powerful ideological weapon for the revolution and construction."  So wrote Kim Jong-il in his 1987 essay The Cinema and Directing.  (BBC, December 19, 2011)

North Korea was no cinematic powerhouse. Though exact numbers are unknown, Variety estimates the annual cinema production of the area was seven to 10 features in the 1970s and 1980s, only four or five in the 1990s, and a mere trickle after 2000.  In the past few years, however, there have been a number of documentaries by outsiders about life behind the Kimchi Curtain, as well as Hollywood and South Korean thrillers about North Korea as a terror state.  (The Globe and Mail, December 20, 2011)

Gov’t is Key to Cinemas’ Success
Film experts from South Korea and the United Kingdom said government support was a key to the success of their cinema industries in an international seminar held Friday in Phu Yen.  The event was part of the 17th Vietnam Film Festival currently taking place in the central province which opened on Thursday evening with the attendance of nearly 1,000 local film professionals.  (, December 18, 2011)

In an interesting piece of synchronicity it appears that Mia Wasikowska may be moving from Oldboy director Park Chan-Wook's English language debut Stoker to Spike Lee's remake of Park's breakout film.  Twitch has learned that Wasikowska has been offered the role of Marie, the female lead of the gritty thriller.  The role was previously offered to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara.  (Twitch, December 16, 2011)

Route One Films Enters $110 Million Korean Entertainment Partnership
Route One Films has entered into a $110 million film and television fund partnership with the South Korean government, CJ E&M, Lotte Entertainment and Sovik Venture Capial to form the Sovik Global Contents Investment Fund – the largest entertainment fund in Korean history.  (The Hollywood Reporter, December 15, 2011)

Song Hye-kyo to Star in Woo’s Film
Popular actress Song Hye-kyo will star in celebrated Chinese director John Woo’s upcoming epic love story film Love and Let Love, according to her local agency.  Song, who recently won the first film award of her acting career for her role as the grieving filmmaker in this year’s somber drama A Reason to Live, will star as a wealthy, driven woman in Shanghai who lives through the end of WWII and Chinese Civil War.  (The Korea Herald, December 20, 2011)

Clive Owen Offered Villain Role Spike Lee's Oldboy
Twitch has learned that the villain role in Oldboy has now been offered to Clive Owen.  Owen and Lee have history, of course, having worked together on Lee's underrated thriller The Inside Man. That the director and star know and like each other is certainly a plus but a much bigger plus is that Owen embodies the perfect blend of sophistication and menace that the part requires along with the sort of charisma needed to go toe to toe with Brolin.  (Twitch, December 16, 2011)
The director Kang Je Kyu who has written the history of Korean movies, said during the interview with News Y (news channel by Yonhap News) on December 15, "I gave my best effort and passion that I have spared for the past seven years while taking a break to produce the movie My Way."  (KBS, December 16, 2011)

Lovable Q&A with Star and Director
Q&A took place after a screening of Lovable at the Dong-Sang Art Hall in Daegu, South Korea (December 3, 2011).  Appearing as speakers are movie director Park Chul-Soon and actress Yoo Hae-Jung, who plays 9-year-old Da-Seul, who lives with her uncle who work as a waiter and her grandfather who works in a dry squid factory.  AsianMediaWiki editor Ki Mun was there and transcribed/translated the session.  (Asian Media Wiki, December 3, 2011)

King of Pigs: Korean Filmmaker Yeun Sang-ho Explores Dark Side
At this fall’s Busan International Film Festival, 33-year-old director Yeun Sang-ho drew attention with his first feature-length project:  an animated, cold-blooded adult tale called The King of Pigs that explores the underside of human nature at an all-boys middle school in Seoul.  The school is a microcosm of society, a harsh environment where there is no escape from constant bullying and violence.  (The Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2011)

Daniel D.H. Park, Director of International Promotion Center
Director of the International Promotion Center at the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), Daniel D.H. Park is looking at his 20th anniversarywith the governmental organization.  He took some time out from his busy year-end schedule to meet with KoBiz and talk about his work supporting and promoting Korean cinema and the Korean film industry and how that is changing.  (KOBIZ, December 19, 2011)


Dancing Queen


Never Ending Story



(Modern Korean Cinema, December 19, 2011)

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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Love and the War (Jeokkwaui Dongchim) 2011

The villagers look on as North Korea invades

Since Korean cinema reemerged at the end of the 1990s one of the most popular topics it has mined has been the division of the peninsula.  Many credit Kang Je-gyu’s Shiri (1999) as the blockbuster that brought about a renaissance in Korean film.  Personally I believe that the industry was already reviving before this but Shiri certainly was the perfect storm that toppled box office records and made the world stand up and take notice.  As well as being the highest-budgeted Korean film up until that point ($8.5 million), Shiri was also a technical spectacle modeled on Hollywood action films which incorporated melodrama, perhaps more importantly, it was focused on North Korea.  A year later, Joint Security Area (2000), Park Chan-wook’s debut and an even more complex view on the relationship between North and South Korea, once again set the box office alight, beating Shiri’s record for Seoul admissions but falling just short on the national level.  The gangster film Friend reached new heights in 2001 and the next two films to break the record came in quick succession in late 2003/early 2004.  The first of these was Kang Woo-suk’s Silmido, telling the story of a group of South Korean convicts being trained to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Il-sung in the late 1960s.  It was the first film to cross the 10 million admissions mark but was overtaken in a matter of weeks by Kang Je-gyu’s follow-up to Shiri, the enormous Korean war blockbuster Taegukgi.  Kang’s film followed brothers of the South Korean army who are eventually separated as one joins the North.

There is no question that the representations of North Korea often translate into box office success but these have changed over time.  2011 has given us a lot of films dealing with the North, more so than usual.  While some have been typical large-scale productions like Jang Hoon's The Front Line there have also been a number of smaller scale films tackling representations of the North from new angles, including Juhn Jai-hong's Poongsan and Park Jung-bum’s independent hit The Journals of Musan.  One film that falls between these two ends of the spectrum is In Love and the War (aka Sleeping With the Enemy), a melodramatic war comedy in the vein of Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005), another enormously successful North Korea-themed blockbuster.

Kim Jung-woong's platoon marches in

A quaint village in the southern part of the Korean peninsula goes about its business during the Korean war.  The locals are preparing for Sul-hee’s (Jung Ryeo-won) wedding when a North Korean military platoon, led by Kim Jung-woong (Kim Ju-hyeok), invades.  Sul-hee’s suitor, a member of the anti-communist youth league, flees with his family during the night.  Jung-woong sees himself as a liberator and the villagers, in order to ensure their safety, kowtow to their oppressors.  Sul-hee is strong-willed and is less gracious in her welcome.

You can guess how the rest of the film plays out which makes the 135 minute running time daunting but normally this kind of narrative succeeds on the basis of its details and characters rather than much originality from the direction that the story and intended moral focus will take.  Welcome to Dongmakgol was very successful with this tactic:  it began with an original and improbable conceit and after having introduced its great characters, it relied on them, good set pieces, and witty humor rather than the story which can only play out in one way.  Sadly, In Love and the War does not feature the same caliber of protagonists and suffers greatly because of its uneven tone.  It’s a war film, a drama, a comedy, and also a romance but rather than blend these elements throughout the narrative, separate scenes distinctly occupy one territory and clash with each other.

Jung Ryeo-won as Sul-hee

Much of the fault lies with the script, from Bae Se-young (Bronze Medalist, 2009; The Recipe, 2010), which, in its attempt to portray conflicting ideologies in a novel way, ends up humanizing, in cloying melodramatic fashion, everyone staying in the village during the occupation, while demonizing all that stand outside its borders.  I understand the need for us to empathize with the principal characters by streamlining the motivations of the antagonizing agents of action but here the paradox of the mutable ideologies of these protagonists versus the draconian dogmas of the outsiders strains credulity to breaking point.  Granted Welcome to Dongmakgol is guilty of this as well but it is less transparent and benefits from much better character progressions as a result of Jang Jin’s fine writing.

Also to blame is Park Keon-hong’s heavy-handed direction.  In his film, Park does not demonstrate a strong knowledge or understanding of film style, the mise-en-scene is only fleshed-out for the overwrought melodramatic peaks of the narrative and this, if anything, serves to undermine them as they seem to belong to a different film.  One of the reasons that Korea has been so successful in blending genres is its frequent ability to forge an exemplary and unified style and atmosphere through film production techniques, that way the oscillating themes, tones, and emotions can exist within the same framework.  Good examples of this include Jang Joon-hwan’s Save the Green Planet (2003) and Bong Joon-ho’s The Host (2006).  This is a trait that In Love and the War is sorely lacking.

Yu Hae-jin, Byun Hee-bong, and Shin Jeong-keun

The strongest point of the film has to be its ensemble cast, filled with veteran bit players and emerging stars.  Kim Ju-hyeok (The Servant, 2010) does well in his role even if he is a little dry but Jung Ryeo-won (Castaway on the Moon, 2009) is excellent as usual, she has gone from strength to strength in her career and I look forward to her being offered meatier parts.  The supporting cast, comprising of Yu Hae-jin (The Unjust; Moss, both 2010), Kim Sang-ho (Moby Dick, 2011), Byun Hee-bong (Memories of Murder, 2003; The Host), and Shin Jeong-keun (Running Turtle, 2009; Blades of Blood, 2010), are all wonderful, even if the script calls on them to overact from time to time.  I only wish this great cast had been given more defined characters and stronger dialogue.

Perhaps In Love and the War is a worthy experiment but as a narrative feature it ultimately fails due in part to its disparate ideas but mainly because it lacks restraint and balance.  However I will say that I was enjoying the film until the third act but at that point the film completely floundered, the climax is beyond absurd and frankly a bit of an embarrassment.  Given the film's anemic performance at the Korean box office, I imagine others felt the same way.

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Korean Box Office Update (12/16-12/18, 2011)

Weekend of December 16-18:

Title Release Date Weekend Total
1 Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (us) 12/15/11 1,079,510 1,305,581
2 Spellbound 12/1/11 313,159 2,028,187
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked (us) 12/15/11 134,916 142,865
4 The Adventures of Tintin (us) 12/7/11 78,342 639,251
5 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I (us) 11/30/11 61,730 1,397,968
6 Arthur Christmas (us) 11/25/11 34,536 571,281
7 The Perfect Game 12/21/11 32,364 45,958
8 Punch 10/20/11 24,895 5,300,134
9 SIU 11/24/11 11,568 1,102,645
10 The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall (uk) 12/15/11 5,350 6,193
- The Final Blow 12/7/11 2,323 56,846
- The Life of a Woman (1968) 1,748 2,551
- My Way 12/21/11 1,192 7,145
- Ryang-kang-do: Merry Christmas, North! 11/17/11 468 9,329
- Amen 12/8/11 360 969

Domestic business took a big hit this past weekend as Korean films were mostly shut out by Hollywood competition.  It was a similar story last year when the seventh Harry Potter film combined with other American fare to shut local movies out.  Admissions were down slightly year-on-year (1.85 versus 1.8 million) as was the Korean market share (22% versus 26%) but it was close and next weekend will no doubt see a big bounce for local products as we wrap up the year.

Tom Cruise's publicity tour of the peninsula seems to have paid off as his new installment in the Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol, had an enormous 1,079,510 opening weekend.  This accounted for 60% of all business through the three days.  Reviews are positive but competition will be very fierce next weekend when it is likely to cede its crown but perhaps the Christmas frame will be big enough to allow to retain much of its business.

Last week's surprise No. 1 Spellbound, which had increased over an already strong start, lost a little under half its business in its third weekend, no doubt succumbing to foreign competition.  It has already banked over two million admissions and will still eek out a little more but the three million looks to be out of reach.

Hollywood took the next four spots, starting with the new Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel, subtitled Chip-wrecked, which underperformed, just as it did the US.  Its 134,916 take was below its predecessor.  The Adventures of Tintin crumbled over 80% and was left with 78,342.  The new Twilight lost a similar amount, falling to 61,730.  Arthur Christmas, the third Hollywood kids film in the top 6, receded 70% for 34,536. 

Korean baseball pic The Perfect Game scored 32,364 in previews ahead of next weeks opening.  Punch saw another decline that brought it down to 24,895 and now has 5,300,134 admissions to date.  SIU lost 90% of its business as it added 11,568 during its last round in the top 10.  Rounding out the chart was The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall, a UK production of the famed musical.

Outside the top 10:  The Final Blow added 2,323 to its haul; 1968 film The Life of a Woman was rereleased and sold 1,748 tickets; My Way filled 1,192 seats in very limited previews; Documentary Ryang-kang-do: Merry Christmas, North! added 468 to its run; and Kim Ki-duk's Amen sold 360 tickets in limited engagements, he claims that there will be no further exhibitions for the film, nor will it become available on DVD, we'll see...

Next Week:  Kang Je-gyu's enormous pan-asian WWII blockbuster My Way looks set to pulverize the box office and coudl set some record numbers.  Also opening will be The Perfect Game which had strong previews this week.  Should be quite a weekend!

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, December 16, 2011

Weekly Review Round-up (12/10-12/16, 2011)

30 new reviews this week including a great write-up on Hong Sang-soo's latest from The New Yorker and a series of reviews on Kim Ki-duk's from the Rainy Day Movies blog where Connor McMorran is hosting a fantastic Kim Ki-duk Week.




(Shu-Izmz, December 11, 2011)

(Variety, December 14, 2011)

(Beyond Hollywood, December 12, 2011)

(Pinoy Movie Blog, December 16, 2011)

I Saw the Devil

(The Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2011)

(Modern Korean Cinema, December 11, 2011)


(Twitch, December 13, 2011)

(The New Yorker, December 15, 2011)

(City on Fire, December 10, 2011)

(Inti_Scenes, December 14, 2011)

(Init_Scenes, December 16, 2011)

(Wildgrounds, December 13, 2011)


(Rainy Day Movies, December 14, 2011)

Bad Guy, 2001
(Rainy Day Movies, December 13, 2011)

Beat, 1997
(Modern Korean Cinema, December 9, 2011)

(Modern Korean Cinema, December 9, 2011)

(The Non-Review, December 9, 2011)

Green Fish, 1997
(Modern Korean Cinema, December 11, 2011)

No. 3, 1997
(Modern Korean Cinema, December 10, 2011)

(Rainy Day Movies, December 15, 2011)

(Rainy Day Movies, December 16, 2011)

(Rainy Day Movies, December 15, 2011)

The Isle, 2000
(Rainy Day Movies, December 12, 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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Korean Cinema News (12/08-12/14, 2011)

This week's Korean Cinema News features some casting and festival items as well as a number of substantive features and profiles.  I've revamped the look again as I'm hoping to make the weekly update more interactive, let me know your thoughts or if there are any problems with the new design!

Ryoo Seung-wan's next film, the ten billion won project Berlin has added star Jeon Ji-yeon to its cast.  She will play an interpreter at the North Korean Embassy as well as the wife of Ha Jeong-woo's character, a spy who is shunned by North Korea.  Berlin will also star Han Seok-Kyu, Ryoo Seung-beom, and many more.  (, December 11, 2011)

Pop-opera Star Bocelli to Sing Title Song for My Way
Famed vocalist Andrea Bocelli is set to record the theme song for the upcoming movie My Way.  He will perform "To Find My Way", composed by musical director Lee Dong-joon, whose previous work includes Taegeukgi and IRIS.  (, December 8, 2011)

Catch the 2010 Korean A Better Tomorrow Remake on Netflix Instant
Last year, director Song Hae-sung remade John Woo’s classic A Better Tomorrow (1986), not only did he have Woo's consent but he was also an executive producer.   Recently the film was released on blu-ray and DVD from distributor Well Go USA, but it is now streaming on Netflix Instant in HD.  (City on Fire, December 8, 2011)

Lee Yoon-ki is a humanist.  The refusal by this South Korean director to suggest otherwise can quite understandably be argued as a limitation.  Since narrative films often rely on audience identification, a movie that empathizes with a repressed character and stresses a need for self-expression often doesn’t make for very challenging contemporary cinema.

Korean Film Downunder 2: "Interest & Availability"
Following on from my look at distributions link to genre, I had believed the fact that the level of interest in Korean film in Australia was where it was at due to what was available to people.  Generally films released and readily talked about fit into the crime thriller or horror genres, and this can of course only have limited appeal as its marginalising the audience.  But as stated over at the KOFFIA blog Hungry for Drama, we have seen that comedies and dramas have been some of the favourite films at the festival.  So why hasn't there been a crossover between those that love Korean dramas into watching Korean films?  (Tully's Recall, December 7, 2011)

Lee Sun-mi Wins Woman in Film of the Year
The Woman in Film of the Year Award was designed to encourage and support woman who demonstrate “the most excellent activities of the year.”  This year producer Lee Sun-mi is the 2011 won the award for her work on Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow.  Other prize winners included: actresses Song Hye-kyo and Choi Ji-hee, director Han Hye-jin, and producer Um Joo-yeong.  (KOBIZ, December 14, 2011)

Yun Jung-hee was honored with a Best Actress award at the 37th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) Awards for her performance in Poetry.  The film was directed by Lee Chang-dong and stars Yun as a old lady who lives with her grandson and details the changes she goes through after a terrible event occurs.  (KOBIZ, December 13, 2011)

Top Issues in the 2011 Korean Film Industry
From sleeper hits to leading directors shooting abroad, society-changing films and game-changing moves, 2011 has been a surprising year for the Korean film industry.  South Korea’s box office in 2011 had integrity.  Films emerged that were more ambitious than ever with large-scale budgets and marketing campaigns to fit, but cinema-goers were not taken in by it all.  (Korean Cinema Today, December 7, 2011)

The 37th Seoul Independent Film Festival Opens
The 37th Seoul Independent Film Festival (SIFF) opened yesterday with Myselves, a documentary project film shot by actresses Boo Ji-young, Kim Kkot-bee, Yang Eun-yong, and Seo Young-ju.  The festival runs Dec. 8 – 16 at the CGV Apgujeong multiplex in Seoul.  All four actresses were on hand at the opening ceremony along with filmmakers such as Yang Ik-june.  (KOBIZ, December 9, 2011)

Bittersweet Life: Korean Cinema's Secret Popularity in the UK
Ask any cine-literate film-goer, critic, blogger, or tweeter in the UK about Korean cinema and you’ll be greeted with an enthusiastic response.  They will talk of the Hallyu period of the past decade, a wealth of some of the most creative and interesting film-making in the world.  They will speak with passion about Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk and Bong Joon-ho.  (Korean Cinema Today, November 29, 2011)
After six months of shooting around the world, in location such as Macau, Hong Kong, Busan, and Seoul, Choi Dong-hoon's highly anticipated fourth feature finally wrapped production on December 7 at the W Seoul – Walkerhill Hotel.  The Thieves stars Kim Yun-seok, Kim Hye-soo, Lee Jung-jae, Jeon Ji-hyun, and POh Dal-su.  (KOBIZ, December 9, 2011)

Virtual Hallyu: Korean Cinema of the Global Era
Kyung Hyun Kim’s Virtual Hallyu seeks to redress what the author sees as an imbalance in recent English-language surveys of Korean cinema.  As Kim, an Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of California, Irvine, points out, the few works available in English – such as Jinhee Choi’s recent The South Korean Film Renaissance – generally assess the Korean film industry and other external aspects of Korea’s film boom of the mid-1990s and early-2000s.  That is, they explore the how and why of the rapid expansion of Korean films in the domestic marketplace and the rise in stature of the filmmakers and the industry abroad.  (Cineaste, December 2011)

Last month, Gerwin Tamsma made his annual visit to Seoul in search of new films for the next International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).  In between screenings, meetings, and an impromptu dinner he kindly threw for festival alumni, the friendly, outspoken programmer met with Jean Noh for a quick interview.  (Korean Cinema Today, December 7, 2011)

Park Jung-bum Recalls Making of The Journals of Musan
Clad in blue jeans and a grey hoodie, director Park Jung-bum looks nothing like the North Korean defector he played in his award-sweeping feature debut, The Journals of Musan.  He no longer has the character’s bowl-cut, nor does he have that sluggish gait.  (The Korea Herald, December 12, 2011)

South Korean Cinema Hoarding Artist Yearns for 'Good Old Days'
Hoarding artist Paek Chun-tae's 40-year career painting cinema billboards came to an early end in the 2000s, but his work is now featured in an exhibition that will run through the end of this month.  Like many other hoarding artists, he lost his job in the 2000s as many old-style movie theaters were driven out by multiplex cinemas.  (Yonhap News, December 8, 2011)


Nameless Gangster





(Modern Korean Cinema, December 12, 2011)

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