Friday, May 22, 2015

New Korean Films: Disobeying Civil Servants (2015 Week 19)

The Chronicles of Evil
(악의 연대기)

By Fabien Schneider

Detective Choi has been decorated with a president’s mention, one of the most prestigious awards that a police officer could have. But on the way back from a celebratory party with his coworkers, he gets physical with a taxi driver and eventually kills him by accident. Thinking of his newly-found prestige, he decides to hide the body and cover the crime. But on the next day, the very same body is found hanging from a crane in front of Choi’s police station. He now has to investigate his own crime, while trying to know who is trying to make him fall.

If this pitch rings a bell, it’s not just an impression. Baring a few differences this is the same pitch as one of our favorite films of last year, A Hard Day. The trailer of this film doesn’t even try to hide this fact, in the contrary it even states that both films share the same production team. The main difference is that this one seems to take itself more seriously. And the result seems to be quite effective, since it’s currently attracting more movie-goers than US blockbuster Mad Max while also gaining average to positive reviews from local journalists. This is only the sophomore production by Director Baek Woon-hak, twelve years after his debut film Tube (2003). This is another showcase role for Son Hyun-joo, after Hide and Seek (2013), which apparently has left a good impression on Korean audiences. Ma Dong-seok and Daniel Choi completes the main cast. With CJ Entertainement behind the project, distribution will be obviously massive and should fill every multiplex.

The Disobeying Teachers
(명령불복종 교사)

Every year in October on the same day, students at the end of their respective cycles have to take a national achievement exam in order to rank among all the other students of the country. But in 2008, some teachers in Seoul decided to write a letter to their students’ parents to notice them of the effects that this test has on the students and that they would allow students to go instead on a field study depending of the parents’ wishes. But on the day of the exam, these teachers got dismissed by the Education Ministry of Seoul and the students were forced to take the test. This documentary follows the teachers’ fight to get her voice heard and to get their jobs back.

This documentary is a very local affair and would understandably be less interesting for an international audience, but I think it’s a very positive thing to see more and more documentaries tackling divisive subjects, something that can hardly be found in the traditional press like TV stations and newspapers. Director Seo Dong-il had been working in telecommunication for many years before converting to the documentaries in the mid-2000s. With this film, he received an award last year at the Seoul Independent Film Festival, but only got average reviews from the critics. It will be available in a few theaters in Seoul and a some other cities.

Watch here the trailer in Korean.

New Korean Films is a weekly feature which provide an in-depth look at new local releases in Korea. For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time). Reviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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