Friday, March 9, 2012

Weekly Review Round-up (03/05-03/09, 2012)

Due to the brilliant Korean Cinema Blogthon, this edition of the Weekly Review Round-up is the biggest we've ever had.





(Unseen Films, March 5, 2012)

(Modern Korean Cinema, March 5, 2012)

Bleak Night

(VCinema, March 6, 2012)

(Unseen Films, March 7, 2012)

(Yogi's Movie Consumption Blog, March 8, 2012)

(Flying Guillotine, March 5, 2012)

(VCinema, March 5, 2012)

(Unseen Films, March 8, 2012)

(, March 6, 2012)

(We Eat Lemon, March 7, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, March 5, 2012)

(RebZombie Reviews, March 6, 2012)

(RedZombie Reviews, March 7, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, March 5, 2012)

(The Jeju Weekly, March 4, 2012)

(Modern Korean Cinema, March 8, 2012)

(Life as Fiction, March 7, 2012)

(VCinema, March 8, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, March 4, 2012)

(We Eat Lemon, March 6, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, March 5, 2012)

The Front Line

(KOFFIA Blog, March 6, 2012)

(Unseen Films, March 6, 2012)

(Far East Films, March 6, 2012)


(Unseen Films, March 7, 2012)

Antique, 2008
(We Eat Lemon, March 8, 2012)

(VCinema, March 5, 2012)

Bichunmoo, 2000
(Robot x Robot, March 6, 2012)

Blood Rain, 2005
(Coffee, Coffee and more Coffee, March 8, 2012)

Camel(s), 2002
(VCinema, March 8, 2012)

(Modern Korean Cinema, March 7, 2012)

(Otherwhere, March 6, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, March 6, 2012)

Death Bell, 2008
(Far East Films, March 6, 2012)

Dream, 2008
(VCinema, March 7, 2012)

Green Fish, 1997
(VCinema, March 6, 2012)

Handphone, 2009
(Kimchi Soul, March 7, 2012)

(Unseen Films, March 8, 2012)

(cineAWESOME!, March 5, 2012)

(VCinema, March 8, 2012)

(Planet Chocko Zine, March 6, 2012)

(cineAWESOME!, March 7, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, March 6, 2012)

Oasis, 2002
(cineAWESOME!, March 7, 2012)

Phone, 2002
(VCinema, March 6, 2012)

Pulgasari, 1985
(VCinema, March 5, 2012)

(VCinema, March 7, 2012)

(YAM Magazine, March 5, 2012)

(KOFFIA Blog, March 5, 2012)

(YAM Magazine, March 6, 2012)

Tale of Cinema, 2005

(Planet Chocko Zine, March 7, 2012)

The Chaser, 2008
(cineAWESOME!, March 7, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, March 6, 2012)

(cineAWESOME!, March 5, 2012)

The Isle, 2000
(Oriental Film House March 5, 2012)

(Genkinahito's Blog, March 8, 2012)

(Otherwhere, March 7, 2012)

(Rainy Day Movies, March 5, 2012)

Woochi, 2009
(Orion's Ramblings, March 7, 2012)

Yongasari, 1967
(VCinema, March 5, 2012)

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, March 8, 2012

Chilsu and Mansu (칠수와 만수, Chilsu wa Mansu) 1988

Chil-su and Man-su

Park Kwang-su’s debut feature Chilsu and Mansu came at a pivotal moment in Korean history and was one of the films that propelled the Korean New Wave. South Korea had been in a state of perpetual turmoil for decades and the 1980s were particularly difficult following Park Chung-hee’s assassination in 1979 and the tragic Gwangju massacre of 1980. The country was ruled by General Chun Doo-hwan through a despotic rule until 1987 when social unrest reached a boiling point following the torture and death of a university student. After this event Roh Tae-woo and the Democratic Justice Party were able to assume power through a legal and closely contested election. Park Kwang-su was already an influential member of the Seoul Film Group, which he founded, when he embarked on Chilsu and Mansu. Had the film been made any earlier than 1988 it is doubtful that it would have escaped heavy censorship or even have been made at all. Due to the changing political landscape the film was released in its intended form and is now a staple of the Korean New Wave.

The film features two actors who have endured as marquee names to the present day: Park Joon-hoon who plays Chil-su; and Ahn Sung-ki who portrays Man-su. Park was only just starting out in his career but had already received acclaim for previous roles, especially for his part in Youth sketch of Mimi and Cheolsu (1987), for which he won the best fresh actor award at PaekSang Arts Awards. Ahn on the other hand was a well-known actor who had been active since the tender age of 5 and was even in Kim Ki-young’s classic The Housemaid (1960). During the 1980s he starred in some of Korea’s most notable films, including A Fine, Windy Day (1980), Mandala (1981), and Whale Hunting (1984). They would both go on to star together in the smash hit Two Cops (1993) for which they won accolades at the Grand Bell Awards.

Man-su denied his chance to go abroad

Chil-su and Man-su are billboard painters trying to survive off meager work opportunities. Chil-su desperately tries to hide his status as he pretends to be an art student to Chi-na, a girl of higher status that he tries to court, and he also tells everyone that he will soon be leaving for Miami Beach. Man-su is a reserved man who tries to get as much work as he can, he cold calls prospective employers, even assuming provincial dialects[i] until he can find work, and in his off time he drinks heavily. They are both members of the working class and have been relegated to the fringes of society by no fault of their own. Isolation is what brings this unlikely pair together:

“Chilsu and Mansu links its protagonists by their feelings of alienation, one due to politics, the other due to youthfulness.”[ii]

Man-su lives in the shadow of his father, who is in jail for being a communist sympathizer. Having attended higher learning as a youth, he was given the opportunity to work abroad which would have resulted in his having a respectable career when he returned. However, on inspection of his papers he is denied his chance simply because of the political leanings of his father, which he does not ascribe to. This in effect thrusts him to the working class from which he can no longer escape, except through copious amount of soju.

Chil-su on the other hand is a vibrant character who is sociable and seems able to get by, he dreams of going to the Miami he sees in the colorful billboards he is paid to paint, in effect dreaming of escaping to a place that is fictional and which he has a hand in creating. Numerous times during the film he emulates his favorite Hollywood actors, from James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) to Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972). His whole life is a lie, especially when it comes to Chi-na, the pretty girl of higher status whom he falls for, as he doesn't give her one shred of truth.

Chil-su tries to court Chi-na

Chil-su often goes so far as to costume himself so as to present a false image. He wears a military fatigue t-shirt (after he lies to Man-su about his position in the armed forces) and one adorned with an American flag (a place to which he assures everyone his passage is imminent). He even gets Man-su to play a part in his game as he dresses him up as a Parisian artist and they go to a nice club.

Park also finds other ways to visually link his characters together. They work side by side up in the sky as they paint billboards, largely ignored by society. By the narrative’s end they are so inextricably bound that they travel together on a tandem bike, experiencing the emotional highs and lows together. For example, as they return home for the final time before the climax they cycle along a wide, busy road and the bike twists which brings both of them down together. As they briefly land on their rearends, they see cars anonymously drive by, symbolic of a society which passes them by.

Chilsu and Mansu begins with a civil defense drill and we meet our protagonists separately in shots that are both framed by windows they are stuck behind. Man-su looks out the window forlornly and then up at the sky, a minute later we meet Chil-su, who is asleep on a bus before being woken by the conductor and told top disembark due to the drill. This gives us a clear image of who these characters are, Man-su is aware and jaded while Chil-su is unaware and transient due to his youth.

Man-su looks up at the sky

While the film deftly portrays the plight of two divergent members of the working class and the societal marginalization that binds them together, it is the extended climax, which serves as its greatest asset and the one it is justly revered for. Darcy Paquet states that:

“The sequence seems an appropriate symbolic starting point for the Korean New Wave, which was founded on the notion of giving voice to the oppressed, and which also had its share of confrontations with the state.”[iii]

In this sequence Chil-su and Man-su are taking a break from working on a billboard perched above a tall building. They are sitting atop it, feet dangling and drinking soju. Having given up hope on his dreams of being with Chi-na and moving away to the States, Chil-su confesses all his lies to Man-su who in turn takes all his pent up frustration, stands up, and begins to shout at everyone below. He is not saying very much in particular but people begin to notice and soon the police and military intercedes, since, as Nancy Abelman and Choi Jung-ha note:

“…the social gaze at these workers – a gaze that has posited them as protesters about to throw a Molotov cocktail – politicises them, making social activists of them.”[iv]

The conclusion to the film serves as a harsh indictment of Korea under military rule. Two oppressed individuals who have no intention of protesting or being involved in any social unrest wind up dead and in jail due to a paranoid institution which suppresses, and censors, any activity which could be construed as anti-authoritarian. As Kyung Hyun-kim summarizes:

The audible voice of authority...

“The moment they begin to verbalize their frustrations, in their effort to reconstitute their masculinity, they are found guilty by the state, subject to arrests and even death for a crime no one­­ – including the state – knows exactly how to identify.”[v]

Both Chil-su and Man-su may not have a political agenda as they vent to the world from the top of their billboard but although their words do not signify political protest, Park, having placed them in this circumstance, does politicize them, just as the crowds and authority that gathers below have. In the end, since they are unable to successfully integrate with society, Chil-su and Man-su can no longer attempt to do so and their actions unwittingly take them out of it. Chilsu and Mansu spoke to a generation upon its release and paved the way for further works of the Korean New Wave and many elements of this type of social commentary have survived and are featured in a variety of ways in today’s, admittedly far more commercial, Korean film industry.

[i] Kyung Hyun Kim, The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 145

[ii] David Desser, “Timeless, Bottomless Bad Movies”, in Seoul Searching: Culture and Identity in Contemporary Korean Cinema, ed. Frances Gateward (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2007), 77.

[iii] Darcy Paquet, New Korean Cinema: Breaking the Waves (London: Wallflower Press, 2009), 23.

[iv] Nancy Abelmann and Jung-ah Choi, “’Just Because’: Comedy, Melodrama and Youth Violence in Attack the Gas Station”, in New Korean Cinema, ed. Chi-Yun Shin and Julian Stringer (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2005), 140-141.

[v] Kyung Hyun Kim, The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 151

...vs. the silent voice of the oppressed

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, March 7, 2012

Korean Cinema News (03/01-03/07, 2012)

A very busy week for Korean cinema news with lots of big announcements, but first and foremost we are in the midst of the brilliant Korean Blogathon, the links of which can be found below.

In other news I also had the great fortune of bumping into Bong Joon-ho at London Luton Airport last Thursday on my way to the East Winds Symposium + Festival and he told me he was in town to meet some actors for Snow Piercer.  So things seem to be heating up for that very exciting project which is set to start production in a few weeks.



Outside of Josh Brolin the casting has not come particularly quick or easy for the Spike Lee directed remake of Oldboy.  For the female lead both Rooney Mara and Mia Wasikowska have been offered and rejected the part and Twitch has now learned that the role of Marie has been offered to Elizabeth Olsen.  (Twitch, February 28, 2012)

Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) Expands to Brisbane in 2012
KOFFIA is heading to Brisbane this September, so spread the word!  3 years, 3 cities, 3 times the fun!  No word on the line-up yet, but Sydney can certainly look forward to a full calendar of Korean films in the meantime. The second season of the Korean Cultural Office’s Cinema on the Park has also launched.   (The Reel Bits, February 28, 2012)

Nameless Gangster Emerging as Hottest Korean Movie of the Year
Nameless Gangster has attracted over 4 million spectators in just 26 days of its release, emerging as the first film to sell so many tickets in such a short time this year. It achieved the feat on Monday.  The success of Nameless Gangster is even more notable as it was achieved in February, considered the low season for movies, and is rated R, excluding younger viewers and families.  (The Chosun Ilbo, February 29, 2012)

From the Makers of Chawz Comes New Korean Supernatural Thriller
In The Fortune Tellers, bespectacled cutie Kang Ye-won heads to a remote village where a grand exorcism is about to take place.  Chawz was a bit overly long but it did a great job balancing comedy, pathos, and wild creature sequences so we should expect great things from The Fortune Tellers.  From these pictures, it certainly looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. The film opens in South Korea later this year.  (City on Fire, March 2, 2012)

Gorilla to Play Baseball in Korean Sports Comedy Mr. Go
Filming has already begun for Mr Go 3D, a sports comedy based on a popular manhwa (Korean comic) by Heo Yeong-man - his other works has also been adapted for Le Grand Chef.  The story is about a gorilla from a Chinese circus that is trained to play professional baseball in Korea.  Budgeted at $20 million, the ambitious live action film is being shot in stereoscopic 3-D and will utilize a combination of motion capture performances and digital effects à la Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  (Twitch, March 6, 2012)

So Ji-sub Stars in Korean Hitman Thriller A Company Man
Korean heartthrob So Ji-Sub turned heads around the world with his role in 2008's Rough Cut.  Already a star of television dramas, Rough Cut put So back on the map in Korea after a couple years away while he did his mandatory military service and he has been very selective with his roles since, appearing in big budget TV drama Cain and Abel and Chinese feature Sophie's Revenge.  And soon he will be back on the big screen at home thanks to his lead part in Lim Sang-yoon's A Company Man.  (Twitch, March 6, 2012)

Busan Plans for New Studio Complex
Busan, the South Korean city that is already home to one of Asia's leading film festivals, has moved forward with its plans to build a world-class film studio.  The KOFIC facility would be the second set of new studios to be built in the city, after the Busan Film Commission's on-going redevelopment project.  Late last month the city authorities signed an agreement with the Korean Film Council, (KOFIC) that is expected to see the two bodies jointly finance the new studios.  (Film Business Asia, March 7, 2012)


Quirky New Film Makes the Most of a Hairy Mess
Love Fiction, the new film by Jeon Kye-su, has a quirky element that is generating a buzz on the Internet: armpit hair.  Since before the film’s release on Wednesday, the phrase has become one of the top searches on major Web portals.  But there’s more to this film than that.  The Korea JoongAng Daily recently caught up with Jeon and talked with him about his insightful and unconventional romantic comedy.  (The Joong Ang Daily, March 2, 2012)

Kim Min-hee Anything But Helpless in New Movie Role
Actress Kim Min-hee, who stars in the film Helpless, which is scheduled to be released next Thursday, fell in love with the movie as soon as she read the script.  "I love films about characters with checkered lives, so I thought this role would give me a chance to show what I am capable of as an actress because it fits my style," she said.  (The Chosun Ilbo, March 3, 2012)

Interview with Fox International Production Creative Executive Paul Huh
Will this be a source of new energy for the Korean film industry, or a new era in which it will have to compete with Hollywood’s studio system in making Korean-language films?  Fox International Production (FIP), part of the 20th Century Fox Entertainment group, has declared it is officially entering the Korean film production market.  Dohoon Kim met with FIP’s Korean Creative Executive Paul Huh to talk about their plans. After studying finance in New York, Huh started working in the Korean film industry first at MK Pictures's international sales team and later became a producer.  (KoBiZ, March 6, 2012)


Doomsday Book

Over My Dead Body


(Modern Korean Cinema, March 5, 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. 

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, March 6, 2012

Top 10 Korean Films of 2010

2010 was a great year for Korean cinema and as here at Modern Korean Cinema I'm going back through Korean film to get a sense of what were the best and most important films through the years.  I'm thrilled to present my top 10 for the year to coincide with the Korean Cinema Blogathon.  I have seen a lot of films from 2010 and the only major omission is Cafe Noir which has yet to find a DVD release, here's hoping there'll be one!

This follows on from January's Top 10 Films of 2011 and I hope to make my way back through to the 90s.

Without further ado, scroll through the top 10 below, followed by some honourable mentions and the year's biggest turkeys:

Intro - 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 - Best of the Rest

Top 10 Lists

Year  20202019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016
2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

2010s (Top 50) - All Time (Top 25)


Monday, March 5, 2012

Always (오직 그대만, O-jik Geu-dae-man) 2011

Korea has produced many romance films over the years and if you’ve seen even a few of them you may have noticed that things don’t always end well for the lovers.  Be it a spacio-temporal gap, a terminal disease or a handicap, there almost always seems to be something that separates them.  By force of seeing so many of these films I began to wonder if there might have been something behind this.  The most convincing reason I could come up with was that these separations may have been an allegory for a larger theme of separation that looms over Korea, namely the division of the peninsula.

While by no means a catchall theory, it think it stands up pretty well if you examine a number of the genre’s most famous offerings such as Lee Hyeon-seung's Il Mare (2000) and John H. Lee’s A Moment to Remember (2004).  However as the years wore on and my knowledge of Korean cinema increased, this has become a less satisfactory explanation.  It is quite simplistic and vague and though it can easily be applied to a film it can just as quickly be discredited.  I still think there’s something to it but now I can see that it is just one facet of a broader set of priorities for Korean filmmakers.

Song Il-gon, though not as well known as filmmakers like Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk or Lee Myung-se overseas, is nevertheless one of Korea’s most impressive cineastes.  In a very short time he made Spider Forest (2004), Feather in the Wind (2004) and Magicians (2005), all critically-acclaimed films.  Spider Forest in particular was I film I was very impressed with which straddled a fine line between commerce and art and in the briefest possible terms I would describe it as what a Korean David Lynch film might look like.

Given his prior output, his latest seems like a bit of a departure.  A romance film with a big hallyu star, Always was the opening film of last year’s Busan International Film Festival.  If you didn’t know who was behind it, the film seemed just like any other Korean romance film and sure enough this is the kind of reception it received after it premiered.  Because of its mediocre reviews and its disappointing box office returns I was ready to write the film off but out of respect for Song I decided I’d give it a chance.  I must say I’m very glad that I did, while it did not scale the heights of some of his previous films, it turned out to be a rewarding experience that had more to offer than its generic trappings might imply.

Cheol-min (So Ji-sun) is a former boxer which a shady past who now solemnly works odd jobs to make a living.  Jeong-hwa (Han Jye-hyo) is a telemarketer who lost her sight in a accident and mistakes Cheol-min for someone one day while he’s manning the booth at a parking complex.  Sensing something sweet and sincere in him she frequently visits him, sharing his booth as they watch K-dramas.  Both have suffered trauma and this is alluded to early on.  Their pain and consequent vulnerability makes them sensitive and very well suited to one another.  There is something dark lurking within in Cheol-min which he hasn’t fully been able to hide away while Jeong-hwa has her own complex (typical of handicapped characters in cinema) whereby she is unable to accept help from others.

So far so plain, nothing here really hints at anything more than typical romantic fare.  So the question is:  Is Always Song Il-gon’s attempt to make a commercially viable film?  Given the demographic friendly plot, the presence of major Korean heartthrob So Ji-sub and the film’s big marketing push, the answer would appear to be yes.  But this doesn’t mean the film is devoid of substance.  First of all, the film looks great.  The luminous cinematography is hazy and frequently sun-drenched, which gives off a potent air of nostalgia not to mention romance.  Generally speaking the film is well-made, it is evident that the film is a result of a strong directorial hand.

As far as the leads go I would say that the casting of So Ji-sub works in its favor.  Primarily a K-drama actor, So has also impressed in a few feature roles, namely as the stoic gangster in Jang Hoon-s exceptional Rough Cut (2008).  The strong silent type, a staple character of the romance genre, suits him very well.  He succeeds in bringing both the physicality and vulnerability out of his character.  Han Jye-hyo on the other hand is less impressive.  Early on she is very endearing and gels quite well with So but soon she falls prey to excess as she shrieks her way through the film’s more dramatic moments.

At one point in the film, Cheol-min is engaged in a vicious cage fight.  He is presented as the opponent who faces a superior and notoriously dirty fighter.  What struck me about this scene was its ambivalence:  while outmatched, his opponent doesn’t resort to dirty tricks while he does, and this wins him the fight.  The film cleverly brings the concept of audience alignment into question.  We root for him because he is the protagonist and also because the film shows us, through codes and pieces of information, that he is the good guy while the other fighter is the villain, though we have never seen him before this point.  We take these clues at face value but as Cheol-min begins to brutalize his opponent it becomes clear that our moral compass can be easily duped by emotional manipulation.

The film is not without its faults, which include a very poorly defined antagonist and some clunky Deus Ex Machinas but by and large this is a successful outing for Song who has once again stretched out into new territory.  Always proves to be a fresh bent on an old theme and will likely reward discerning viewers who give the film a chance.  I hope a few more people see it as it would be a shame for it drift away into anonymity.


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 (03/2-03/4, 2012)

Love Fiction and Ha Jung-woo Conquer the Marketplace

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Love Fiction 2/29/12 37.60% 567,529 1,013,532 615
2 This Means War (us) 2/29/12 13.90% 212,387 337,149 351
3 Nameless Gangster 2/2/12 12.90% 194,585 4,399,127 350
4 Howling 2/16/12 6.40% 103,240 1,531,667 372
5 Man on a Ledge (us) 2/22/12 4.50% 70,935 546,532 284
6 Safe House (us) 2/29/12 4.40% 70,148 115,418 291
7 Act of Valor (us) 2/29/12 3.50% 54,371 99,208 222
8 Dancing Queen 1/18/12 3.20% 51,315 3,966,611 220
9 Legends of Valhalla: Thor (ic) 2/9/12 2.50% 42,211 717,099 249
10 Hugo (us) 2/29/12 2.00% 22,400 40,418 85

The dominance of local films shows no signs of abating as yet another high profile Korean release has clinched the top spot.  March is typically a very slow time for theaters but nevertheless over 1.5 million tickets were sold over the past weekend, a 20% increase over last year's similar frame.  Meanwhile Korean films accounted for a very healthy 60% of business which more than doubled last year's result.

As predicted Love Fiction came in strong with a big first place finish as it sold 567,529 tickets and has already accumulated over a million admissions since its release.  Ha Jung-woo has the distinction of starring in two of the chart's top three films and there is no question that he has become a significant draw for as top billing.  Word of mouth seems decent on this pic and it should continue to do some strong business though competition will be very fierce with a number of high profile local and foreign releases opening in the coming weeks.

Hollywood romance-action film This Means War floundered in America so its 212,387 take here comes as a bit of a surprise though it is by no means an exceptional figure.  In any case it won't last as it will likely crumble in its sophomore frame against heavy competition.

Nameless Gangster continues its strong run though it did slow 45% this past week as it wound up with another 194,585.  It has 4.4 million admissions stacked way so far and it may struggle to reach the big 5 million milestone though stands a fighting chance of reaching the mark.  It is certainly the early hit of 2012 and may be some time before another film unseats it at the top of the chart.

Howling meanwhile continues its disappointing performance as it dropped 60% for a 103,240 take.  Word of mouth has been strong for the film but it got lost amidst so many unexpected hits in February.  At this rate it may not even reach the 2 million threshold.  After the failure of last year's Hindsight, could it be that Song Kang-ho's drawing power is fading?

Man on a Ledge crumbled over 70% in its sophomore frame as it added 70,935 tickets to its haul.  Hollywood's Denzel Washington genre pic Safe House failed to find a mark as it opened with 70,148.  Act of Valor, wich surprised in the US last week, didn't find an audience in Korea as it sold only 54,371 tickets during its opening.

Dancing Queen fell 65% as it added 51,315 admissions to its take.  However, it should cross the 4 million mark in a few days and that is a very impressive achievement.

Icelandic animation film Legends of Valhalla: Thor finished with a 42,211 weekend for 9th place while Martin Scorsese's 3D pic Hugo disappointed as it took the 10th spot with a measly 22,400.

Next week there are no less than eight Korean films opening including the highly-anticipated Helpless which is getting some strong reviews.  Meanwhile major Hollywood blockbuster John Carter will also be opening.  I think Helpless will take the crown as the John Carter proprety is not in itself going to be a draw for local audiences.  In any case Korean cinema looks to continue to do well and will likely do strong business throughout March.


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 Sunday evening or 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.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekly Review Round-up (02/25-03/04, 2011)

Terribly for the two-day delay for this week's update, I'm currently in Coventry attending the East Winds Symposium + Film Festival and haven't been able tear myself away!  In any case lots of great pieces this week including many for The Front Line which saw its home market release in the UK this past Monday.

Don't forget this year's Korean Blogathon starts tomorrow and will be mirrored on Modern Korean Cinema here.


(FilmBiz Asia, March 2, 2012)


(Flixist, February 25, 2012)

(, March 3, 2012)

(CriterionCast, February 25, 2012)

(Flixist, February 24, 2012)

(, February 25, 2012)

(Init_Scenes, February 29, 2012)

(Korean Grindhouse, February 26, 2012)

(The One One Four, February 25, 2012)

(Flixist, February 24, 2012)

The Front Line

(, February 24, 2012)

(Init_Scenes, March 3, 2012)

(Seongyong's Private Place, March 2, 2012)

(Seen in Jeonju, March 2, 2012)

War of the Arrows


Champion, 2002
(ROK Drop, February 27, 2012)

Mist, 1967
(Seen in Jeonju, February 25, 2012)

(Korean Grindhouse, March 3, 2012)

The Actresses, 2009

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. 

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