Tuesday, January 24, 2017

31 Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2017

By Pierce Conran

After a stellar 2016, many are keen to see if Korean cinema can muster the same quality lineup in 2017. However, though I've highlighted a few more titles than last year, I'll say right now that this year is unlikely to rival the last, when we were treated to terrific new outings from Kim Jee-woon, Park Chan-woo and Na Hong-jin, among many other outstanding new discoveries.

That said, many interesting films are on the way and a few incoming trends are noticeable. This list is very subjective and omits many films that I'm personally not excited about or may not have heard of. As always, many of the year's best films will surely be independent productions that will remain off my radar until they secure festival premieres.

Some of you may have heard that Lee Chang-dong is making a new film, but I'm sorry to inform you that due to a large production snag, that project that may never come to life, so has been omitted here.

Enjoy and please let me know if I've missed anything and what you're most looking forward to this year!

Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2017

1. Okja
Dir: Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, 2013)
Cast: Ahn Seo-hyun (The Divine Move, 2014), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer, 2013), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, 2014), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, 2007)
Production: Lewis Pictures
Distribution: Netflix
Filming Dates: 2016-04-22 ~ 2016-08-28
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction

Plot: A young girl tries to save her best friend, a large animal named Okja from being kidnapped by a massive corporation.

What to expect: A massive budget and the backing of Netflix have given Bong quite a bit of leeway for his biggest film yet. The film is both in English and Korean and the cast alone is a massive draw.

When can we see it? A global Netflix bow is expected in summer and apparently some markets may get theatrical releases. No word on where or how big those will be. A strong contender for a Cannes premiere.

2. 1987
Dir: Jang Joon-hwan (Save the Green Planet, 2003)
Cast: Ha Jung-woo (The Yellow Sea, 2010), Kim Yun-seok (The Chaser, 2008), Gang Dong-won (The Priests, 2015)
Production: June Film
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: Expected to begin in April
Status: Pre-production
Genre: Drama

Plot: Will focus on the events around the student protests that ended Chun Doo-hwan's military regime in the late 1980s, after a student protester dying during interrogation.

What to expect: Na Hong-jin's favorite duo teams up again for Save the Green Planet director on a very controversial subject that would never have been greenlit prior to the current political scandals in Korea. (btw, the above still is from The Yellow Sea)

When can we see it? Don't mark this one in your diary just yet as there are still a few months to go until filming and the touchy subject matter may be making some investors somewhere skittish.

3. Battleship Island
Dir: Ryoo Seung-wan (Veteran , 2015)
Cast: Hwang Jung-min (Ode to My Father, 2014), Song Joong-ki (A Werewolf Boy, 2012), So Ji-sub (A Company Man, 2012), Lee Jung-hyun (Alice in Earnestland, 2015)
Production: Filmmaker R&K
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-06-17 ~ 2016-12-20
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Action, Drama

Plot: Set during the Japanese colonial era on Hashima Island, a coal mining island using forced labor from Korea and China. 400 Koreans attempt to escape, including a musician trying to protect his daughter, a street brawler and a Korean independence fighter.

What to expect: Action maestro Ryoo has gone from strength over the years, constantly upping his production sizes while keeping his eye on the prize. With what looks like a Korean version of The Great Escape taking place on the Japanese island featured as the villain lair in 007 title Skyfall, he looks to outdo himself. That said, this may skew very commercial (read melodramatic) which the cast seems to indicate. Many popular faces, not a lot of great actors.

When can we see it? Given the size of the production and pedigree of the creatives, it’s a safe bet that this will be CJ’s flagship summer release. Expect a Korean release in late July or early August. A foreign festival bow (Cannes, Locarno, Venice) is not out of the question.

=4. On the Beach at Night Alone 
밤의 해변에서 혼자
Dir: Hong Sang-soo (Right Now, Wrong Then, 2015)
Cast: Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden, 2016), Jung Jae-young (Castaway on the Moon, 2009)
Production: Jeonwonsa Film Co.
Distribution: Finecut
Filming Dates: 2016-02
Status: Completed
Genre: Drama
Plot: An actress wanders around a seaside town, pondering her relationship with a married man.

What to expect: The stars of Right Now, Wrong Then reunite for Hong Sang-soo in a film shot in the Gangneug, a beachside town on the East coast of Korea.

When can we see it? Will premiere in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival.

=4. Claire’s Camera 
20번째 홍상수 작품
Dir: Hong Sang-soo (Right Now, Wrong Then, 2015)
Cast: Isabelle Huppert (Elle, 2016), Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden, 2016)
Production: Jeonwonsa Film Co.
Filming Dates: 2016-05
Status: Completed
Genre: Drama
Plot: Not revealed ahead of filming but seems to feature various characters in Cannes during the Cannes film festival, including a photographer.

What to expect: Hong reunites with Isabelle Huppert and Kim Min-hee and the setting is rather interesting.

When can we see it? With Huppert in the lead and a Cannes background I would be amazed if this didn’t end up on the Croisette. 

=4. Untitled 21st Hong Sang-soo Film 
21번째 홍상수 작품
Dir: Hong Sang-soo (Right Now, Wrong Then, 2015)
Cast: Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden, 2016)
Production: Jeonwonsa Film Co.
Filming Dates: 2017-01
Status: Filming
Genre: Drama
Plot: Not revealed ahead of filming.

What to expect: Director Hong and his muse Kim Min-hee were spotted shooting their fourth collaboration in Central Seoul.

When can we see it? Will 2017 be there when we finally see 3 new Hong Films? If Claire's Camera goes to Cannes and this is locked ahead of the fall festival season (it will be), it could well land in Locarno, Venice and/or Toronto.

7. The King 
더 킹
Dir: Han Jae-rim (The Face Reader, 2013)
Cast: Jung Woo-sung (Asura: The City of Madness, 2016), Jo In-sung (A Dirty Carnival, 2006), Bae Sung-woo (Inside Men, 2016), Ryu Jun-yeol (Socialphobia, 2014)
Production: Filmmaker R&K
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-02-04 ~ 2016-07-03
Status: Completed
Genre: Crime, Drama

Plot: An ambitious young man becomes a prosecutor in the 1990s and enters into a powerful group where he witnesses the highs and lows of power.

What to expect: High production values, a director who assimilates new genres very well and a game cast give The King a lot of potential. The trailer clearly gives off a Wolf of Wall Street vibe and word on the street was the script was very well received by those in the industry. 

When can we see it? Drops in Korea on January 18th, limited stateside release to follow on the 27th.

8. Glass Garden 
Dir: Shin Su-won (Madonna, 2015)
Cast: Moon Geun-young (Love Me Not, 2006), Kim Tae-hoon (Ethics of Anger, 2014), Seo Tae-hwa (Norigae, 2013)
Production: June Film
Distribution: Little Big Pictures
Filming Dates: 2016-05-27 ~ 2016-07-24
Status: Completed
Genre: Mystery, Drama 

Plot: A brilliant artificial blood researcher retreats from the world into her special green house. Meanwhile a novelist caught in a plagiarism scandal uses her as inspiration for a novel

What to expect: While I’ve never a been a fan of Moon Geun-young, I have an enormous amount of faith in director Shin and am very excited to see what she comes up with next.

When can we see it? Print is locked so now we’re waiting to see about a release date. Shin has been to Cannes and Berlin before so if there programming teams like it, we could see it at one of those in the next few months.

9. Taxi Driver
택시 운동사
Dir: Jang Hoon (Rough Cut , 2008)
Cast: Song Kang-ho (The Host, 2006), Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong, 2005), Yu Hae-jin (Veteran, 2015), Ryu Jun-yeol (Socialphobia, 2014)
Production: The Lamp
Distribution: Showbox
Filming Dates: 2016-06-05 ~ 2016-10-24
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Drama

Plot: A taxi driver helps a German reporter cover the infamous Gwangju Massacre in 1980.

What to expect: Jang Hoon has stuck with big films (Secret Reunion, 2010; The Front Line, 2012) since his debut and his latest is certainly a ballsy work. The casting is intriguing and Gwangju is always a touchy subject. I imagine this will fall somewhere in the middle of the mawkish sensationalism of May 18 (2007) and the poignancy of A Petal (1996).

When can we see it? This may well be Showbox’s flagship release of the summer.

10. A Single Rider 
싱글 라이더
Dir: Lee Joo-young (1st film)
Cast: Lee Byung-hun (Inside Men, 2015), Gong Hyo-jin (Crush and Blush, 2008), Ahn So-hee (Train to Busan, 2016)
Production: Perfect Storm Films
Distribution: Warner Bros.
Filming Dates: 2016-03-21 ~ 2016-05-07
Status: Completed
Genre: Drama

Plot: A man involved in a major scandal in Korea suddenly disappears. He visits Australia, where his wife lives with their son.

What to expect: The second Korean film by Warner Bros after The Age of Shadows this is the debut of Lee Joo-young. With a great combination of stars and that backing, surely Lee Joo-young must have provided a very interesting script.

When can we see it? Not long now, film comes out on February 22nd and it may bow very soon at festivals.

11. The Mayor 
Dir: Park In-jae (Moby Dick, 2010)
Cast: Choi Min-sik (Oldboy, 2003), Shim Eun-kyoung (Miss Granny, 2014), Kwak Do-won (The Wailing, 2016)
Production: Palette Pictures
Distribution: Showbox
Filming Dates: 2016-04-28 ~ 2016-08-16
Status: Completed
Genre: Drama

Plot: The mayor of Seoul runs for office for a third term.

What to expect: Choi Min-sik as the mayor of Seoul is running enough to be curious but I’m keen on the most of the cast and enjoyed director Park’s debut Moby Dick more than most.

When can we see it? Perhaps in late spring or early summer.

12. Namhansanseong Fortress 
Dir: Hwang Dong-hyeok (Silenced, 2011)
Cast: Lee Byung-hun (Inside Men, 2015), Kim Yun-seok (The Chaser, 2008), Park Hae-il (War of the Arrows, 2011), Go Soo (The Front Line, 2011), Park Hee-soon (The Suspect, 2013)
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-11-21 ~
Status: Filming
Genre: Period, Action 

Plot: It’s 1636, and the Qing dynasty has attacked the Joseon Kingdom. The King Injo and his retainers hide out in the the mountain fortress city Namhansanseong. One of his men insists they enter into negotiations with their attackers while the other urges him to attack.

What to expect: Beautiful winter and war time period photography from Kim Ji-yong (The Age of Shadows) and a strong mix of leads.

When can we see it? Chuseok at the earliest, but probably later, if not next year.

13. The Mimic
Dir: Huh Jung (Hide and Seek, 2013)
Cast: Yum Jung-ah (A Tale of Two Sisters, 2003), Park Hyuk-kwon (Secret Reunion, 2010)
Production: Dreamcapture
Distribution: Contents Panda (Next Entertainment World)
Filming Dates: 2015-08-04 ~ 2015-11-02
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Thriller, Horror

Plot: A story of the Jangsan Tiger, who mimics human voices to lure them close, and a family affected by the creature.

What to expect: Plot details are scant, but director Huh Jung impressed with his debut Hide and Seek and adding in a mystical element here could bend well with his style. And the more local films with female leads the better, and Yum Jung-ah is someone who deserves more big roles. 

When can we see it? Huh’s last film worked very well in August but I don’t think NEW will release this then. Early summer seems a likelier bet, of course that's what I said last year...

14. Anarchist from Colony
Dir: Lee Joon-ik (The King and the Clown, 2005)
Cast: Lee Je-hoon (The Phantom Detective), Gwon Yool (Worst Woman)
Distribution: Megabox Plus M
Filming Dates: 2016-01-09 ~
Status: Filming
Genre: Drama

Plot: During the Japanese Occupation Era of Korea, a young resistance fighter mounts an anarchist group and plots to assassinate the Crown Prince of Japan.

What to expect: The second low-key Colonial Era resistance drama from Lee Joon-ik following Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet, which is a sturdy act to follow.

When can we see it? Could be ready for the fall or end of year period.

15. Silence 
Dir: Jung Ji-woo (Eungyo, 2012)
Cast: Choi Min-sil (Oldboy, 2003), Park Shin-hye (Miracle in Cell No. 7, 2013), Ryu Jun-yeol (Socialphobia, 2014)
Production: Yong Film
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-10-17 ~
Status: Filming
Genre: Crime, Thriller

Plot: After a financial tycoon’s fiancee is murdered, his daughter becomes the prime suspect when the case goes to trial

What to expect: A remake of the fast-paced Chinese courtroom thriller Silent Witness, this is Jung Ji-woo’s first big release since the Colonial Era misfire Modern Boy (2008) but a much safer bet. Remains to be seen whether is carries the edge of his smaler releases such as Eungyo (2012) and Fourth Place (2015)

When can we see it? Sometime after summer. Could be a Chuseok release in early October but CJ already has a few options for that date.

16. The Customized Play
Dir: Brian Jin (1st Film)
Production: Brians Film
Filming Dates: 2013 ~
Status: In Production
Genre: Animation

Plot: Chun Jaeyoung and Chun Yusun visit an unusual drama company, which produces the customized play for each client. They ask the boss of troupe to make the play for their father, Chun Jongsik having a 70th birthday. The boss creates the customized play having interviews with their father and his acquaintances.

What to expect: This one's been in production for quite a while and I have no idea when it'll be ready so it makes it on the list once again. I've been very curious about Korean animation in recent years and hope this might further the field. It looks absolutely gorgeous (check out the trailer) and I love the tone, detail and imagery. Can't wait to see how it turns out, hopefully this year!

When can we see it? This has now been on the list for a few year, still no closer to knowing when we'll actually see it.

=17. Black Venus
Dir: Yoon Jong-bin (Nameless Gangster, 2012)
Cast: Hwang Jung-min (Veterani, 2015), Lee Sung-min (Broken, 2014), Cho Jin-woong (A Hard Day, 2014)
Production: Moonlight Film, Sanai Pictures
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-01-25 ~
Status: Filming
Genre: Action, Thriller

Plot: Hwang Jung-min plays a South Korean spy who infiltrates the North to gather intelligence on the country's nuclear arms plan in the mid-1990s.

What to expect: One of the bigger films on the horizon and one among many North Korea thrillers on the way. Yoon Jong-bin's last blockbuster was the mixed but enjoyable Kundo: The Age of the Rampant (2014). With so much at stake, this may be a little drier than his previous work.

When can we see it? Could be ready for the end of the year, though quite possible it'll land early in 2018 as well.

=17. Steel Rain
Dir: Yang Woo-suk (The Attorney, 2013)
Cast: Jung Woo-sung (Asura: The City of Madness), Kwak Do-won (The Wailing)
Production: Widus Film
Distribution: Next Entertainment World
Filming Dates: 2015-09-30 ~ 2015-12-20
Status: Pre-Production
Genre: Thriller

Plot: Government operatives from the North and South team up to avert a major geo-political crisis.

What to expect: Yet another North Korea film with major names attached, this one is based on director Yang's own webcomic. The Attorney stuck a major chord with audiences here and this may go down the same way.

When can we see it? I figured this would be out next year, but Next Entertainment World has mentioned that it will be ready for the end of the year.

=17. V.I.P.
Dir: Park Hoon-jung (New World, 2013)
Cast: Jang Dong-gun (Friend, 2001), Kim Myung-min (Deranged, 2012), Lee Jong-suk (Hot Young Bloods, 2014)
Production: Peppermint & Company
Distribution: Warner Brothers Korea
Filming Dates: 2016-10-2 ~ 2017-01-20
Status: Completed
Genre: Action, Noir, Crime, Thriller

Plot: The son of a high-ranking North Korean officer is suspected of being a serial killer. Agents from the North and South, as well as Interpol, work together to track him down.

What to expect: For their third Korean production, after The Age of Shadows and Single Rider, Warner Bros is tackling North Korea. The cast leaves much to be desired, save for a director cameo I'm very much looking forward to, but director Park has been behind some of the more intriguing thrillers in the last few years.

When can we see it? Summer is a possibility, but already looks quite busy, so could be out for the Chuseok holiday in early October.

20. Villainness
Dir: Jung Byeong-gil (Confession of Murder, 2012)
Cast: Kim Ok-bin (Thirst, 2009), Shin Ha-kyun (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, 2002)
Distribution: Next Entertainment World
Filming Dates: 2016-10-16 ~
Status: Filming
Genre: Action, Drama

Plot: A young girl is raised as a killer in the Yanbian province of China. She hides her identity and travels to South Korea where she hopes to lead a quiet life but becomes involved with two mysterious men

What to expect: A female-led action film in the vein of Nikita or Hanna that the distributor is hoping will draw parallels with Mad Max: Fury Road’s Imperator Furiosa. Given Director Jung’s experience in Jung Doo-hong’s Action Film School, there’s reason to be optimistic.

When can we see it? Still filming but NEW has expressed a desire to release this year. Mostly likely to drop in the fall.

21. A Special Lady
소중한 여인
Dir: Lee An-gyu (1st film)
Cast: Kim Hye-su (Coin Locker Girl, 2015), Lee Sun-kyun (A Hard Day, 2014)
Production: Kidari Entertainment
Distribution: Kidari Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-01-28 ~ 2016-04-28
Status: Completed
Genre: Crime, Action

Plot: A former prostitute rises to become the number two in a gangs. However, when her young protege feels over worked doing the gang's dirty business and a prosecutor is roped into handling the syndicate's business dealings, the hidden son of the number two becomes a weakness when his existence is revealed.

What to expect: Kim Hye-su was terrific in Coin Locker Girl (and most of what she's done the last few years for that matter), so having her top of the bill of a crime title is reason enough alone. Lee An-gyu directs for the first time but used to work for Kim Jee-woon. Let's hope the genre master has rubbed off on him.

When can we see it? Depends on a few factors but quite possible in spring or early summer.

22. Along with the Gods (Part 1) 
신과 함께 1
Dir: Kim Yong-hwa (Take Off , 2009)
Cast: Ha Jung-woo (The Yellow Sea, 2010), Cha Tae-hyun (My Sassy Girl, 2001), Ju Ji-hoon (Asura: The City of Madness, 2016), Ma Dong-seok (Train to Busan, 2016)
Production: ReaLies Pictures
Distribution: Lotte Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-05-26 ~
Status: Filming
Genre: Fantasy, Drama

Plot: A man dies and is escorted to the afterlife where he must undergo 7 trials over 49 days. An angel of death becomes involved in human affairs against his directives.

What to expect: Korea’s first simultaneously shot two-part production, Along with the Gods is a mega-budget ($25 million) webcomic adaptation with a sprawling cast. Dexter Studios is sure to provide to topnotch effects for a tale with a strong parallels to A Matter of Life and Death.

When can we see it? Will absolutely come out at some point in the late July-early August corridor.

23. One Day
Dir: Lee Yoon-ki (My Dear Enemy, 2008)
Cast: Chun Woo-hee (The Wailing), Kim Nam-gil (Pandora)
Production: Invent Stone Corp.
Distribution: Opus Pictures
Filming Dates: 2016-04-12 ~ 2016-07-08
Status: Completed
Genre: Melodrama, Romance

Plot: After the death of his wife, an insurance examiner becomes depressed and takes on a new case involving a comatose woman. Yet when he arrives at the hospital he discovers that the woman is awake, but he is the only person who can see her.

What to expect: We're treated to a new Lee Yoon-ki just a year after A Man and a Woman. Though while his work is typically strong, the fantastic element of the narrative makes his latest feel like an attempt to appeal to the mainstream, which means this will likely be more melodramatic than his other work

When can we see it? Shouldn't be long now. Perhaps March of April.

24. The Sheriff in Town
Dir: Kim Hyung-joo (1st Film)
Cast: Lee Sung-min (Broken, 2014), Cho Jin-woong (A Hard Day, 2014)
Production: Sanai Pictures
Distribution: Lotte Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-07-09 ~ 2016-10-15
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Comedy

Plot: A former detective installs himself as the de facto sheriff of his seaside neighborhood and begins to suspect that a new businessman in the area is in fact trafficking drugs.

What to expect: This has the potential to be a fun high-concept comedy-thriller, particularly given its cast, but it could really go either way.

When can we see it? Given's Lotte schedule for 2017, this makes the most sense in late spring of early summer but it could easily be moved back.

25. Warriors of the Dawn
Dir: Jang Yoon-cheol (Marathon, 2005)
Cast: Lee Jung-jae (Assassination, 2015), Yeo Jin-gu (Hwayi: A Monster Boy, 2014)
Production: Realies Pictures
Distribution: 20th Century Fox
Filming Dates: 2016-09-05 ~ 2017-01-10
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Period drama

Plot: During the Joseon Dynasty, the prince remains to defend the kingdom when the King leaves as Japanese forces approach. Meanwhile, civilians are hired to form a proxy army.

What to expect: 20th Century Fox scored big time with The Wailing, but let's not forget that it followed three duds. Realies Pictures makes solid fare though and director Jang is a reliable presence behind the camera.

When can we see it? This is another prime contender for a summer slot, unless Fox decides Chuseok is less crowded.

26. The Tooth and the Nail
이와 손톱
Dir: Jung Sik (Epitaph, 2007)
Cast: Ko Soo (The Front Line, 2011), Kim Ju-hyeok (The Servant, 2010)
Production: Daou Tech Inc.
Distribution: Contents Panda (Next Entertainment World)
Filming Dates: 2015-10 ~ 2016-02
Status: Completed
Genre: Thriller

Plot: In the 1940s, a magician’s wife dies and he investigates the circumstances of her passing, which he does not believe to be suicide.

What to expect: One half of the directing duo of the great Colonial Era horror Epitaph returns with another period film, this time a drama-thriller. It’s also based on a mid-50s whodunit novel by Bill Ballinger, and I’m always curious to see how Korean filmmakers tackle foreign texts, and it often helps them with structure, so very curious to see how this turns out.

When can we see it? Has likely been ready for a while so hopefully in the first half of the year.

27. RV: Resurrected Victims
Dir: Kwak Kyung-taek (Friend, 2001)
Cast: Kim Rae-won (Gangnam Blues), Kim Hae-sook (The Thieves, 2012)
Production: Barunson E& A Corp.
Distribution: Showbox
Filming Dates: 2015-09-30 ~ 2015-12-20
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Plot: Seven years ago, a man saw his mother die in front of him. She returns as an RV (Resurrected Victims), coming back to avenge her unpunished murderer. For her, that means she’s after her own son.

What to expect: Kwak Kyung-taek makes a quick return with his 13th film. A purveyor of predominantly male-centric thrillers, Kwak rarely makes great (or bad) films but last year’s The Classified File was his most mature work to date, so even a slight improvement would bode very well for RV: Resurrected Victims.

When can we see it? Expected this in early summer last year, but perhaps I just got the year wrong.

28. Midnight Runners
Dir: Kim Joo-hwan (Koala, 2012)
Cast: Park Seo-joon (The Chronicles of Evil), Kang Ha-neuk (Dongju: Portrait of a Poet)
Production: Movie Rock
Distribution: Lotte Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2016-11-21 ~
Status: Filming
Genre: Action

Plot: Two police academy students witness a kidnapping and investigate the case.

What to expect: Frankly, on paper this film doesn't strike me as particularly interesting but I was very keen on director Kim's debut Koala so am eager to see what he will achieve with a bigger budget.

When can we see it? Possibly in the fall or toward the end of the year.

29. Night of Seven Years
7년의 밤
Dir: Choo Chang-min (Masquerade, 2012)
Cast: Jang Dong-gun (Friend, 2001), Ryoo Seung-ryong (The Target, 2014), Song Sae-byeok (A Girl at My Door, 2014)
Production: Funch Ball Production
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2015-11-19 ~ 2016-01
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Thriller, Drama

Plot: A man has to deal with the fact that his father is a convicted murderer facing the death penalty. But the father of the victim isn’t satisfied and comes after him as well.

What to expect: Night of Seven Years is based on a popular book and features the more than competent Choo Chang-min at the helm. Jang Dong-gun, particularly following the disaster of No Tears for the Dead (2014), hasn’t had a hit film in ages and his pairing with Ryoo Seung-ryong doesn’t do much to raise expectations, but Song Sae-byeok has proven excellent in darker roles lately, so perhaps he’ll steal the show.

When can we see it? Had expected this last year so shouldn't be too long.

30. Fabricated City
조작된 도시
Dir: Park Kwang-hyun (Welcome to Dongmakgol, 2005)
Cast: Ji Chang-wook (Death Bell 2: A Bloody Camp, 2010), Shim Eun-kyoung (Miss Granny, 2014)
Production: TPS Company
Distribution: CJ Entertainment
Filming Dates: 2015-07-01 ~ 2015-12-29
Status: Post-Production
Genre: Action

Plot: An jobless youth is an ace gamer, but when he’s framed for murder, he needs the help of a hacker to uncover the mystery behind his predicament.

What to expect: It’s now been 12 years (!!!) since modern classic Welcome to Dongmakgol and Park Kwang-hyun is finally back in the saddle. Granted, he’s been trying to set up big budget martial arts drama Kwon Bob for the last few years but I guess something gummed up the works there and he decided to do something in the meantime. Trailer looks slick but film's doesn't look to replicate the charm of his debut.

When can we see it? A bit later than expected but Fabricated City is scheduled for a February release.

31. Lucid Dream
루시드 드림
Dir: Kim Joon-sung 1st Film)
Cast: Seol Kyung-gu (Peppermint Candy, 1999), Ko Soo (The Front Line, 2011)
Production: Road Pictures
Distribution: Contents Panda (Next Entertainment World)
Filming Dates: 2015-04-06 ~ 2015-06-29
Status: Completed
Genre: Thriller

Plot: A man loses his son and a friend suggest he take up lucid dreaming to cope with the grief. Soon, he believes the new technique could help him trace his son’s disappearance.

What to expect: Concept is interesting, but it doesn’t really change the fact that this has another kidnapped/lost child thriller with Seol Kyung-gu, granted at least he isn’t the father here. The trailer is also strongly reminiscent of Inception. We’ll just have to see how debut director Kim Joon-sung acquits himself behind the lens with this one.

When can we see it? Comes out in Korea February 22nd.



Lee Soo-young, director of The Uninvited (2003) returns with a tale of a bankrupt doctor who becomes involved in a case of series murders when a woman's dismembered body is found in a thawing river. (out in March)


Hyun-bin plays a con man after another con man played by Yoo Ji-tae in the first film by Jang Chang-hoon, a long time assistant director for Lee Joon-ik. 

Memoir of a Murderer

A former serial killer with Alzheimer's tries to protect his daughter (actually the child of one of his victims) from her boyfriend, whom he recognizes as another killer. Based on a novel by Kim Yong-ha, but sounds a touch derivative.

Untitled Seongsu Bridge Project

Don't have enough information to rank this one, but talented short filmmaker Kim Bo-ra is gearing up to make an independent film surrounding the Seongsu Bridge collapse in the mid-90s. Very curious to see how this turns out.


Along with the Gods: Part II

Follows Along with the Gods: Part I already described above.

Jinroh: The Wolf Brigade

Kim Jee-woon returns quickly after The Age of Shadows with an adaptation of the terrific Japanese animation. No word on the cast, but Gang Dong-won was rumored to star at one point.

Little Forest

Director Im Soon-rye adapts a Japanese manga about a woman who retreats from to countryside to escape the big city life. The Handmaiden breakout star Kim Tae-ri leads, with Moon So-ri and Ryo Jun-yeol co-starring.


After Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho is preparing another live action film about a man who gains superpowers and tries to protect his daughter. Ryoo Seung-ryong and Shim Eun-kyung are attached to star.

Robot Taekwon V

This isn't quite a reality yet, but apparently Na Hong-jin is keen to do a big-budget live action update of the popular kids TV series Robot Taekwon V, basically the Korean Transformers.

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  1. ont attend cela avec impatience.

  2. You have missed 'the prison' starring Han suk-Kyu
    Also, 'two policemen'
    Starring Sol kyung-gu

    Last time u ignored 'Inside men' and it got the best film award plus lot of best actor award for Lee byung-hun.

    1. Not very excited about THE PRISON, so left that off, and TWO POLICEMEN is not an active project. Not sure if it's completely dead, but definitely not coming any time soon.

      As for INSIDE MEN, that was released in 2015. My last list (which was the first such list I compiled) was for 2016 titles.

    2. Han suk Kyu and Kim Rae won are in the movie which looks intense, one of them will win the best actor award

      'Inside men' wasn't even in your 2015 list but it became huge with one of the best performance in Korean Cinema.

  3. Another prison movies,
    'Robber' starring Sol Kyung-gu
    and 'Commander Kim Chang Soo', also court thriller 'New trial' also known as 'Retrial'.

    1. All of which I considered but decided not to include. But of course I hope they exceed my expectations.

    2. It's down to the battle for 2 veterans whose performance will be one of the best this year playing almost same kind of role in prison movies, either Han Suk-Kyu in 'The Prison' or Sol Kyung-Gu in 'Robber'.

  4. Hmm...'Real' starring Kim So-Hyun seems to be released this year, it looks blockbuster.

  5. You have deleted my post in previous list, what's the use of comment section then? I am a huge fan of Korean Cinema, I know lot of Korean films, even from the 70s, but the only thing I don't know is the language, otherwise I would love to work in the Korean film society, esp. In making older modern films from the 90s to make it on HD version and manage all Korean movies properly.

  6. Forgot to tell u that I am from Nepal, I love Korean Cinema, lot of Korean directors have come to my country and 'The Wailing' ritual scene was also based from Nepal which the director Na Hong-Jin mentioned. Would love more if Korean films explore our culture but it is kind of same, almost related to each other.

  7. If '1987' is in your list which will release next year, then there are other three anticipated films should be mentioned,
    'The Fifth Column' starring Song Kang-Ho, also his another film,
    'Drug King' which might be the remake of HK movie 'Drug War',
    Then there is, 'That's Only My World' starring Lee Byung-Hun.

    1. Apologies if one of your comments didn't make it onto the site in the past. It's not my intention to delete any, some just fall through the cracks in the moderation system.

      REAL is another title that I'm personally not looking forward to.

      1987 is unlikely to come out this year but if production starts quickly it's possible. Regarding the other three, there's no way they'll come out in 2017 and the THE FIFTH COLUMN is another project that isn't currently moving forward.

      Thank you for your comments, I'm always glad to find more people as excited about Korean cinema as I am!

  8. 'Ordinary Person' (Son Hyun Koo),
    'Room 7' (Shin Ha Kyun),
    'Bad Police' (Lee Sun Kyun)

    Not big budget or not masterpiece but
    Sure these movies will be fun ride thrillers

  9. I’m not sure why you say that Battleship Island has many popular faces but not a lot of great actors. Hwang Jung-min (who wasn’t in The Pirates, btw) is one of the best actors of his generation. Lee Jung-hyun has been consistently brilliant from A Petal through Juvenile Offender to Alice in Earnestland. Song Joong-ki may have been in a lot of awful dramas, and not even a single good film, but he has given several critically acclaimed performances (e.g. the young King Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree). I have only seen So Ji-sub in Jang Hoon’s Rough Cut, but he was amazing in that film. Even little Kim Su-an (also in the Battleship cast, according to Wikipedia) is no slouch in the acting stakes.

    My own most anticipated film is The Tooth and the Nail. The novel has a very B-movie noir feel, and I can’t wait to see what Jung Sik does with it to illuminate the colonial era. Not very sure about Ko Soo in the lead role, but I guess Lew Mountain though the first person narrator is not that interesting a character, and it will be the much more capable Park Sung-woong, Moon Sung-gun and Kim Ju-hyeok doing most of the heavy lifting.

  10. I’m not sure why you say that Battleship Island has many popular faces but not a lot of great actors. Hwang Jung-min (who wasn’t in The Pirates, btw) is one of the best actors of his generation. Lee Jung-hyun has been consistently brilliant from A Petal through Juvenile Offender to Alice in Earnestland. Song Joong-ki may have been in a lot of awful dramas, and not even a single good film, but he has given several critically acclaimed performances (e.g. the young King Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree). I have only seen So Ji-sub in Jang Hoon’s Rough Cut, but he was amazing in that film. Even little Kim Su-an (also in the Battleship cast, according to Wikipedia) is no slouch in the acting stakes.

    My own most anticipated film is The Tooth and the Nail. The novel has a very B-movie noir feel, and I can’t wait to see what Jung Sik does with it to illuminate the colonial era. Not very sure about Ko Soo in the lead role, but I guess Lew Mountain though the first person narrator is not that interesting a character, and it will be the much more capable Park Sung-woong, Moon Sung-gun and Kim Ju-hyeok doing most of the heavy lifting.

    1. Thanks for spotting the typo! Must have been leftover from a template.

      I'm not saying the cast is bad, but I do think it skews more towards commerce than quality. There are some great actors but a lot of famous ones, which is not to say bad.

      I'm very curious about THE TOOTH AND THE NAIL and did have it higher on my list last year but it's been finished for a long time which is often (but not always) a red flag.

  11. Hello, I don't know what to think about the movie "Memoirs of a Murderer" because there aren't not very much informations. Are you sure it will be broadcast ? I can't find much news. I read the book and i think it could be a very interesting adaptation, lot of potential...
    (Sorry for my english, I'm french)

    1. Yes, movie is out at some point next month.

  12. Hello, this is a request for update/correction on some movie titles! For the film 공작 (gongjak, numbered 17 on the list), I think Operation or Espionage would be a more apt translation, based on your description. Of course, it could be a pun though I sort of doubt it (unless it's a pun with Peacock--this would be as a wild guess too.)
    Also IMDB shows "A Murderer's Guide to Memorization"(살인자의 기억법) rather than Memoirs of Murder" (whoever made the initial translation did a fancy but sad job...Guess we all loved the 2003 film a lot...).
    Since this is such a cool list, I was hoping more people would be able to check it out through google search. (PS Namhan Fortress is originally based on a running bestseller series by Kim Hoon--I recognize the font haha)

    1. Yes, quite a few titles have changed since this list was first published. I've gone ahead a amended a couple. It seems that 공작 is now called BLACK VENUS and MEMOIRS OF A MURDERER is now singular but basically remains the same. Though I agree, it's a dubious throwback to my favorite Korean film...

  13. Hi,
    Great list, thanks for sharing your experience with these movies i especially loved the review. The movie "Namhansanseong Fortress" very lovely i suggest you watch that one guys.
    Best Regards.

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