Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Korean Cinema News (01/26-02/01, 2012)

NY's Korean Film Festival is back and the KCCUK is holding 12 mini director's retrospectives through 2012 in London, so it's a good time to be a Korean film fan (at least if you live in a major metropolis).  Lots of interviews, including three for Lee Myeung-se, trailers, posters, and box office news this week.  

Don't miss MKC's own feature on How Korean Cinema Fared on 2011's Year-end Lists.


“Should I put the word ‘arrowhead’ in a movie title?” joked a film producer during a recent meeting with the Hankyoreh.  The producer’s company certainly hit their target at the box office.  The follow-up to last year’s hit War of the Arrows, which drew 7.4 million viewers, Unbowed (the Korean title of which translates as Broken Arrow), passed the one million viewer mark just over a week after its debut early this year.  (The Hankyoreh, January 27, 2012)

Kwon Sang-woo Finishes Work on New Action Film with Jackie Chan
Hallyu star Kwon Sang-woo has finished work on the movie 12 Chinese Zodiac Heads with Jackie Chan.  The announcement was made yesterday by the actor’s agency, which also reported that Kwon had returned to Korea just before Lunar New Year.  “Currently, Kwon is taking a well-deserved break and is looking over some movie proposals from China, the United States and other countries,” said a representative from the agency.  (Joong Ang Daily, January 28, 2012)

NYC Happenings: NY Korean Film Festival 2012
Whether it's a full-on retrospective at Japan Society, a centennial celebration of studio giant Nikkatsu, or the annual wackiness of NYAFF, New York is a city never short on cinematic offerings from across East Asia, and that has always included a healthy helping of Korean cinema.  From February 24th - 26th, BAMcinématek and the Korean Society, along with Korean movie giant CJ Entertainment, will be presenting 7 contemporary features, big and small in the 10th edition of the New York Korean Film Festival.  (Twitch, January 30, 2012)

Unbowed, a low-budget South Korean film based on the true story of the so-called “crossbow terror” incident of a college professor, is heating up the local box office, drawing renewed public debate over the 2006 incident.  The movie claimed the No. 2 spot by bringing in more than 1 million viewers at local cinemas as of Wednesday, a week after making a robust debut, the Korean Film Council, a government agency in charge of promoting domestic films, said on Thursday.  (The Korea Herald, January 26, 2012)

Controversial Film on Gangjeong Village Finally Hits Theatres
An independent documentary film titled Jam Docu Gangjeong is finally showing in independent movie theaters 40 days after having been banned by the Korean Film Commission. Pressure from the film industry resulted in the film’s eventual release.  The film was reportedly delayed due to its controversial subject matter and the independent film industry is now calling for a policy reform to prevent the Korean Film Commission from banning films it finds politically objectionable.  (The Hankyoreh, January 26, 2012)

Korean movie and K-Pop stars united together for a new effort against piracy being led by Gaon Chartcalled the '2012 Good Downloader Campaign'.  Actors Ahn Sung Gi, Park Joong Hoon, Lee Min Jung, Jang Hyuk, and music stars Yoon Do Hyun (YB), Kim Yuna (Jaurim), Yunho (TVXQ), Nickhun (2PM), Sohee (Wonder Girls), as well as Sulli (f(x)) banded together for the campaign during a shoot yesterday, sending the message that pirating movies and music is illegal and wrong.  (allkpop, January 30, 2012)

Film of the Year Awards (Korea Film Reporters Association)

The Korea Film Reporters Association feted Korean cinema in its 3rd Film of the Year Awards last night.  Silenced picked up best film, with the director prize going to Kang Hyung-chul for Sunny.  Meanwhile Kim Yun-seok and Tang Wei were best actor and actress for their respective roles in Punch and Late Autumn.   (AsianMediaWiki, January 31, 2012)

Over on the Otherwhere blog, Alua has kindly transcribed the full 2012 programme for the Korean Film Nights at the KCCUK.  12 Korean directors will be featured with 4 films and a Q&A each month.  It's hard not to be incredibly jealous of anyone living in London right now.  (Otherwhere, January 27, 2012)


In one excruciating scene of Kang Je-kyu’s new movie My Way, Soviet soldiers order two war prisoners of different nationalities to fight to the death, but the Korean one refuses to kill his fellow Japanese captive, who he had known as a rival in sports.  Instead, an unlikely alliance begins to form.  The movie is the most expensive ever made in South Korea, a fictionalized account of the real-life story of how a Korean man ended up fighting for the Germans in World War II and being found by American soldiers at the invasion of Normandy.  (The Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2012)

Thanks to her previous films In Between Days and Treeless Mountain, and a none-more-indie cast featuringPaul Dano and Jena Malone, So Yong Kim's latest For Ellen had to be one of the most anticipated films of the Sundance Film Festival. Forming one half of a power couple of indie cinema (with Bradley Rust Gray, director of The Exploding Girl and the upcoming Jack and Diane), it marks her first time working with more established names and proves to be her most accessible project to date.  (indieWire, January 25, 2012)

To the present day, Lee Myung-se is probably best known for his 1999 film Nowhere To Hide which was the first ever Korean film to be released on DVD in the UK.  Born on August 20th, 1957, his first directorial feature film was Gagman in 1989, and in 1991 he won the Best New Director award at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival for My Love My Bride.  Since then, he has gone on to make a number of iconic films, including Duelist (2005) and M (2007) - as visually stunning as they are narratively interesting.  (Hangul Celluloid, January 26, 2012)

For January’s edition the director in question was Lee Myeong-se in conjunction with his 2005 film Duelist.  Presiding over the event was Dr. Daniel Martin who introduced both the film and the director, giving the history and context to Lee Myeong-se’s illustrious career and auteuristic sensibilities.  (Hanguk Yeonghwa, January 27, 2012)

Taekwondo at the Apollo: Lee Myung-se and the Great Safety vs. Cinema Debate
The ‘Year of the 12 Directors’ idea is a wonderful one—what began as a series of film screenings in the Korean Cultural Centre has become, for 2012, a celebratory mini-series of director retrospectives which promises to roll on from now until December.  On Thursday night, we spent three engaging hours in the pleasant company of director Lee Myung-se, whose 1999 action/police procedural Nowhere to Hide officially opened the 12 Directors programme over three weeks ago.  (New Korean Cinema, January 30, 2012)


2 Lines

Russian Coffee



Doomsday Book


(Modern Korean Cinema, January 30, 2012)

South Korean films enjoyed a 22% growth in revenue last year, according to new data from the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).  Nationwide, admissions grew by 8% to 158 million, while box office revenues grew in local currency terms by 7% to ₩1.23 trillion ($1.10 billion).  (Film Business Asia, January 30, 2012)

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

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