Seen in Jeonju

Archive for the 'News' Category

Far East Film Festival 14

18th January 2012


The Far East Film Festival is held annually in the city of Udine, Italy not far from Venice. I was fortunate enough to attend a few years back and it was an enjoyable and memorable experience.  This morning I received an email from the festival Press Office about the 14th Far East Film Festival which will be held from April 20th to the 28th. It seems, in addition to many other plans, this years festival will be focusing on Korean films of the 1970s. Quoting the press release:

Udine, however, will not only be giving its attention to contemporary Asia but will also be looking at its past, through the study of 10 films unseen in the West, from one of the darkest periods (yet culturally one of the richest) in the history of South Korea: the Seventies. Entitled The Darkest Decade: Korean Filmmakers in the 1970s, this valuable retrospective, authored by Darcy Paquet, will show us how despite the difficult political and social environment, equally repressive and characterized by ferocious censorship, and notwithstanding the careers of several talented directors being abruptly suspended (Lee Jang-ho was arrested in 1975 for using marijuana, and banned from making films until the assassination of President Park Chung Hee; Shin Sang-ok had his license to make films revoked by the government in 1975, and was subsequently kidnapped and taken to North Korea), several directors managed to remain active throughout the 1970s, and produced some of their most memorable works in this period.

The Darkest Decade is a celebration of their achievements, and an opportunity to tell, for the first time outside of the confines of South Korea, the story of their struggles.”

There is no word yet as to which films will be shown but it sounds like it will be very interesting, particularly if they select some of the more obscure works not already on DVD. I am especially interested as I have been working on indexing the films produced in Korea during the 1970s and there are many I would love to have the opportunity to see. More information will be posted on the festival in the coming months.

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The Independent: Introduction

26th November 2011


When you think about English newspapers in Korea, names like The Korea Times, The Korea Herald or the Joongang Daily probably leap to mind if you live in Korea. After all, they are the largest English newspapers in the country. In fact, a quick trip over to The Korea Times website reveals that they are the oldest English daily newspaper in Korea. It might surprise you to learn that they started publiction back in 1950. It might also surprise you to learn that, while the Korea Times is the oldest daily English paper, it is not the oldest English newspaper in Korea. That honor goes to The Independent.

The Independent started publication on April 7th, 1896 in conjuction with the start of the Dokrib Shinmun, the first newspaper written in Korean rather than Chinese. Both of these papers were started and edited by Dr. Seo (Phillip Jaisohn) Jae-pil. Born in South Jeolla Province, Dr. Seo was educated in America, graduating from the Columbian Medical College in Washington DC in 1892. He married Josephine Armstrong, the daughter of George Buchanan Armstrong, founder of the US Railway Mail Service. The pair moved to Seoul in 1895, a place, as you will see, very different than what we know today. Inspired by an English Missionary monthly magazine that started in March of that year called the Korean Repository, the visionary Seo realized the usefulness of having news available to the international community and to the masses and he founded The Independent and the Dokrib Shinmun. He shared editing duties with a Mr. H.G. Appenzeller. The newspaper was published three times a week; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and sold for either 10 cents an issue or $1.30 a year. 

So what does this have to do with Korean movies? I think I have mentioned how I dig through old newspapers in the library to find images of old movies for the plates I am making in the Korean film index I am working on. At one point I had found a few issues of the Independent and thought that it might have a report about when the first movie was shown in Korea. The first public screening is generally recognized as 1903, but there are reports of private screenings as early as 1897. I have now been able to locate all of the original run of the Independent which starts in 1896 and continues for several years. I do not know if I will find what I am looking for, but I have found many other interesting things.. a report of the first phonograph in Pyeongyang, the origins of the trains, the poisoning of the king’s coffee, a murder mystery and trial among the foreign community, the meltdown of the Minister of Education and the growing insurgency.

I want to share these articles in full with readers once a week. They often a fascinating look at history unfolding from the perspective of the foreign residents in Seoul who manage to keep a stiff upper lip throughout the growing chaos of the times. The early editions of the paper are simply one page and I will be able to reproduce it in full editing out only the list of government appointments and dismissals.  I do want to stress however, opinions of the newspaper articles written 120+ years ago are NOT mine. In fact, I am more than a little horrified by some of what is printed and what the newspaper was promoting such as the witchhunt against the shamans and fortunetellers and the terms used to define certain classes and races living in Seoul. I will add a short explanation at the end where I can and comments and analysis are welcome.

I plan to make this a mid-week feature, but I will post the Volume 1, Issue 1 later this weekend.

(I need to somehow find The Korean Repository — The Independent mentions it has art and society pages which might reveal something about the early showing of films)

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The 32nd Blue Dragon Awards

25th November 2011

The thrity-second Blue Dragon movie awards are underway as I type this.  Below are the list of winners in the order they appear in the broadcast. I listed all the nominees and gave the winner a gold star under her or his image.

Best New Actor:

blue dragon new actor

Best New Actress:

blue dragon new actress

Best New Director:

blue dragon new director

Best Supporting Actor:

blue dragon supporting actor

Best Supporting Actress:

blue dragon supporting actress

Best Director:

blue dragons best director

Best Actor:

blue dragon best actor

Best Actress:

blue dragon best actress

Best Film:

blue dragons best film

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The 48th Daejong Film Awards

19th October 2011

best film Frontline48 Grand Bell Movie AwardsThis past Monday, the 48th Daejong (which means Grand Bell) Film Festival was held in Seoul. Not really a film festival at all, it is actually an awards show akin to the Academy Awards, giving out prizes to the best domestic films.  Winning the grand prize for ‘Best Film’ was the epic war movie pictured right, Frontline. It faced some stiff competition though from Unjust, Sunny, War of the Arrows and Yellow Sea. But, although Frontline won first place, it’s director, Jang Hoon, did not win the title of Best Director.  Instead, that went to the director of Sunny, Kim Hyeong-cheol.  The award for Best New Director went to Yoon Seong-hyeon for his film Bleak Night. Actor Won Bin one the “Toyota Most Popular” Award and veteran actor Lee Dae-geun was given a lifetime achievement award.  Actually, the night was filled with veteran actors and actress being nominated for prizes, which was nice to see. Below the nominees and the winners for the best/supporting and new actors and actresses.  Let’s start with the ladies…

best new actress

The prize for Best New Actress went to Moon Chae-won for her role in War of the Arrows which is still in theaters as of this writing.  Personally, I might have gone with Kim So-ra in this case for Sunny but I really have to wonder how Shin Se-kyeong made this list.  She was in the film Hindsight which is not a film I recommend…

best supporting actress

The Award for Best Supporting Actress went to Shim Eun-kyeong for Romantic Heaven.  I have to take their word for that as I have not yet seen this movie.  She must have done an excellent job because the other actresses were all quite good in their parts, especially Kim Soo-mi in Late Blossoms and Kim Ji-yeong in The Last Blossom. (that is not a typo– they are different films with similar titles).

best actress

The Grand Bell Movie Awards declared Kim Ha-neul the Best Actress for her part in Blind. Also nominated for the prize were Bae Jong-ok (The Last Blossom), Kim Hye-soo (Villain and Widow), Choi Kang-hee (Petty Romance) and Yoon So-jeong (Late Blossoms).

best new actor

Now for the men.  The award for Best New Actor went to Lee Je-hoon for his work in the movie Bleak Night… as opposed to his work in Frontline which earned him a second nomination.  Jang Gi-beom was on the list for Glove, Yoo Yeon-seok for Re-Encounter and Kim Hwan-yeong for Ryangkangdo: Merry Christmas, North! which, to the best of my knowledge has not yet opened in theaters outside of film festivals. Maybe closer to the holidays?

best supporting actor

The trophy for Best Supporting Actor was awarded to Jo Seong-ha for the action/thriller Yellow Sea. I admit that movie has grown on me and deserves to be looked at without comparing it to the director’s previous film (Chaser).  Yoo Hae-jin is also a very talented actor and I would not have minded if he had won this prize as well.

best actor

Finally, Park Hae-il won the prize for Best Actor due to War of the Arrows.  (I am very happy they changed the English title from Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon that KOFIC had originally listed on its website).  Lee Soon-jae was nominated for his work in Late Blossom, former G.O.D. member Yoon Gye-sang was listed for Poongsan, Cha Tae-hyeon for Hello, Ghost and Kim Yoon-seok for Yellow Sea.

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New DVD Releases: Oct. 2-8

30th September 2011

no dvd

Well, there are no Korean movies being released on DVD this week.  But that’s ok. As compensation we have the Busan International Film Festival opening on the 6th!  BIFF (formerly PIFF– the festival finally caught up with the change made to the spelling of the city’s name, a change made more than a decade ago) runs for 9 days from the 6th of October to the 9th. It is one of the premiere film festivals in all of Asia.. and one of the best attended.  If you are in Korea you have no excuse not to head down there and check it out..and when not watching movies or movie stars, you can hang out on the beautiful Haeundae Beach not far from the screening venues.  But plan ahead and buy your tickets early! Movies have a tendency to sell out quickly there.

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Korean Cinema Blogathon

28th February 2011


Inspired by the Japanese Blogathon run by the WildGrounds website for the last two years (see here:, New Korean Cinema and cineAWESOME! have decided to steal been inspired by the idea and are joining forces to create our own Korean Blogathon in the hope that we can encourage you – yes, you! – to share and discover opinions and ideas about Korean cinema. It’s open to anyone – wherever you are around the world and whichever language you speak.

We’re hoping that for one week – 7th to the 13th March – we can encourage as many people as possible to get involved writing about Korean cinema. Hopefully over the week this will kick up some really interesting posts – and most importantly that people will discover films and ideas that they’ve never come across before, maybe learn a little about Korean film history, or maybe even discover websites and blogs they were previously unaware of.

Ideas for blog posts might include reviews, top tens, opinions on favourite directors / actors / genres, whatever you want – it just needs to be related to Korean cinema in some way.

All you need to do is to write a post – or as many posts as you want over the seven days – on your blog or website and then send an e-mail with your link to blogathon [at] newkoreancinema [dot] com and we’ll post a link to you from the site. You can also post your own links on our Facebook page (which is here: or we will do it for you, and we’ll Tweet links to your posts throughout the week: Twitter tag for the week will be #koreablog. If you want to use one of our ‘Korean Blogathon 2011? banner they can be downloaded from here:

So don’t forget: 7th to the 13th March is the Korean Blogathon. Get involved!

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Twist Kim passes away

30th November 2010

twist kimIt’s not often that I have time to post during the week when the semester is coming to an end, but I felt that this was important enough for me to take time off from other work to mention. Twist Kim, a staple character actor of the sixties and early 70s passed away today at the age of 74. The cause of death was a stroke.  Twist Kim was born Kim Han-seob in 1936 in the southern city of Busan. He debuted in 1962 in a small role in the film The Man From Tokyo.  Two years later, he was paired with Shin Seong-il in the classic film Barefoot Youth and was launched to stardom. His career wound down about a decade later, although he made sporadic appearances in movies up until 1999 and starred in a short film Dancing Cop, Twist Kim in 2001. 

Twist Kim earned his nickname because of his skill at dancing the twist which he displays in several of his movies. Kim was able to easily switch between playing a tough, lowlife to lovable comic-relief characters. Although I recently complained about his comedy style in the film Father and Sons (his ‘eye-dancing’ scenes were really not funny), I loved the way he acted in films like Barefoot Youth and Early Rain.

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31st Blue Dragon Film Awards

26th November 2010

secret reunionThe 31st Blue Dragon Film Awards was held earlier tonight. The results are as follows:   BEST FILM:  Secret Reunion (pictured right)*****  BEST DIRECTOR: Kang Woo-seok (Moss)*****  BEST ACTOR:  Jeong Jae-yeong (Moss)*****  BEST ACTRESS: <tie> Yoon Jeong-hee (Poetry) & Soo Ae (Midnight FM)*****  BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Yoo Hae-jin (Moss)*****  BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Yoon Yeo-jeong (Housemaid)*****   BEST NEW ACTOR: Choi Seung-hyeon/T.O.P (71: Into the Fire)***** BEST NEW ACTRESS: Lee Min-jeong (Cyrano Agency)*****  BEST NEW DIRECTOR: Kim Kwang-shik (My Dear Desperado)***** BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lee Mo-ge (I Saw the Devil) *****  BEST LIGHTING: Oh Seung-cheol (I Saw the Devil)*****  BEST EFFECTS: Park Jeong-ryul (fight co-ordinator- Man From Nowhere)*****  BEST MUSIC: Mok (I Saw the Devil)*****  BEST ART DIRECTOR: Lee Ha-joon (Housemaid)*****  BEST SCREENWRITER: Kim Hyeon-seok (Cyrano Agency)*****  MOST POPULAR PERFORMERS: Won Bin, Son Ye-jin, Choi Seung-hyeon/T.O.P, Jo Ye-jeong

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Korean Movie Stamp Series

9th October 2010

Have you ever paid much attention to the small announcements written on your calendars? I don’t usually.  You might glance at it once and see something like ‘July 10th: Kidney Stone Awaremess Day” or something like that.  The calendar I on the end table in my living room is not much different. Glancing at it now, I see October 2nd was ‘Senior Citizen Day.’  But earlier tonight I saw something written on it that caught my attention. It says under October 27th that the Korean Movie Stamp Series will be released that day. Seeing as this particular calendar was picked up for free at the local post office, it is not surprising that it has stamp news. What was surprising to me was written under the announcement. It says ? ?? ?? which means it is the fourth in a set. What?  Why didn’t I know about the others? When were they released? And can I still get my hands on them?  I don’t collect stamps, but these just seem like something I might like to have. A quick look at the search engines Daum and Naver revealed some information and images of the earlier released sets. What I found is listed below the image…

korean movie stamp series

The image above is from the first series released back in 2007. It consists of stills from four films made during the Occupied Era. Arirang (1926), Ownerless Ferryboat (1932), Looking For Love (1926) and The Story of Chunhyang (1923).  Set Two featured films of the 50s/60s: Mother and the Houseguest (1961), Coachman (1961),  Wedding Day (1956) and Seaside Village (1965). Set Three is four films from the 70s–Yalgae: High School Joker (1976), March of Fools (1975), Winter Woman (1977) and Hometown of the Stars (1974). It would stand to reason that the next set would contain films of the 80s, but that decade is being skipped. Reading information when the first set was released back in 2007, it was apparently planned that this next round would be the 80s, 2011 would feature films of the 90s and 2012 would have images from more recent films. But that plan has been scrapped. One theory I read suggested that this was because of the upcoming G20 meeting. They wanted images on the stamps that might be familiar to visitors or stills of films that would be easily available for viewing. Therefore, October 27 will feature images from six films, Shiri, Taegukgi, Take Off, Seopyeonje and two others that I can’t see well (the image I have seen is quite small…one might be a still from Oldboy, and I can’t make out the other at all)  I will update this when I know for sure.

I plan to go to the post office Monday afternoon to ask about these and to see if I can order the other three sets as well…

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15th Pusan International Film Festival

3rd October 2010

pusan 2010The 15th Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) will open this week and tickets have gone on sale online. Opening night is sold out, but there are still plenty of more films to see as well as a chance to catch the opening movie later in the week. This year, PIFF features and short films from around the world as well as special sections highlighting Korean new releases and classic films. This year, tickets are not only available on the festival grounds and online, but also through smart phones, at all GS25 Marts in Korea, and at Busan Bank ATMs. The opening film is the Hong Kong/Chinese film Under the Hawthorn Tree directed by Zhang Yimou.  Zhang has recently been directing big budget action films like Hero and House of the Flying Daggers but is returning to his roots with a more thoughtful film of innocence of first love set in the era of the cultural revolution. The closing film is  a Korean/Japanese/Thai co-production called Camellia which features three directors– Wisit Sasantieng,  Isao Yukisada, Jang Jun-hwan– telling very different love stories set in Busan.  Below are the other sections from the PIFF program as listed on its website:  Gala Presentation (9 films, 9 countries), A Window on Asian Cinema (56 films, 24 countries), New Currents (13 films, 11 countries), Korean Cinema Today (22 films), Korean Cinema Retrospective (10 films), World Cinema (75 films, 37 countries), Wide Angle (66 films, 25 counties), Open Films (7 films, 8 countries–one is a co-production), Flash Foward (11 films, 11 countries), Special Focus (25 films, 12 countries)– Special Focus Sections are divided into A) Kurdish Cinema B) Spanish Masterpieces from the Franco Regime C) Czech Film Now D) Tribute to the Late Kwak Ji-kyun, and finally the Midnight Passion section (12 films, 11 countries).

Details of the festival, the screening schedule and information on each film, can be seen at the PIFF official English-language website:



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