Seen in Jeonju

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Resilience Screening

21st September 2010

The following was in my email this morning. It may be of interest for those of you in Seoul trying to forget the rain.

Special Chuseok Screening of the
documentary film, “Resilience“,
tomorrow Sept 22 at 2pm!

Time & Date: Wednesday, September 22 at 2:00pm
Location: Cinecode Sonje in Art Sonje Center
(near Gyeongbokgung Palace) Jongro-gu, Seoul
Admission: 7,000 KRW (purchase tickets at door)

For directions and more information visit:

Spread the word.
  Additional screenings of Resilience begin on Sept 30 at Cinecode Sonje.  If these screenings do well, more can be added at other theaters and cities thoughout Korea!

Resilience follows the remarkable journey of Myung-ja as she reconnects with her son after 30 years apart. From their initial reunion on Korean television to subsequent meetings and departures, they attempt to build a relationship amidst family betrayal and the legacy of adoption. But with so many obstacles – language, culture, distance, and unspoken loss – can two strangers find a way to become mother and son?

75 min | Subtitled in Korean and English
Directed by Tammy Chu | contact:

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Park Yong-ha

30th June 2010

park yong-haToday, the Korean film and entertainment world was rocked by yet another shocking suicide, this time by actor/singer Park Yong-ha.  The Associate Press article about his death, written by Kim Hyeong-jin reads as follows:  A popular South Korean actor and singer killed himself Wednesday in distress over career pressures while caring for his terminally ill father, police said, the latest in a string of high-profile suicides in the Asian country. Park Yong-ha, 33, is believed to have “impulsively” hanged himself with the electric cord of his camcorder at his Seoul home hours after he came home intoxicated, Seoul’s Gangnam Police Station said in a statement.“We have determined that it’s obvious he killed himself,” the statement said. No suicide note was found and Park didn’t have medical problems such as depression or money troubles, it said. Police, however, said Park had been under stress because he had to juggle management of his entertainment company and his career while his father was fighting stomach cancer.  “I must be sick instead of you, father. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” the police statement quoted Park as tearfully telling his father before his mother later found the entertainer dead in his room.  Park also told acquaintances earlier this week that his work was “difficult and this kind of life is so hard.”  The actor had been faithfully nursing his 62-year-old father and had been taking sleeping pills due to insomnia, an official at Seoul Metropolitan Agency said, citing Park’s mother.  Park debuted in the late 1990s and starred in the 2002 television drama “Winter Sonata,” which drummed up a following in Japan and Southeast Asia. He held several concerts in Japan and released eight CD albums there. One of his fans was said to be Japan’s former first lady, Akie Abe.  Park’s death was the top news in Japan along with the country’s grueling loss to Paraguay on penalties Tuesday at the World Cup. Some Japanese TV networks had live coverage from Seoul with TV reporters standing in front of Park’s home.  Park’s online fan sites both in South Korea and Japan were paralyzed due to massive traffic. He was supposed to hold 12 concerts across Japan from July 2 to Aug. 22 and the tickets were sold out, according to Japanese record company Pony Canyon Inc.   Park’s body was moved to a Seoul hospital for a three-day mourning period before cremation, Yonhap news agency reported, citing his family.

The above article, for some reason concentrating on his fan reactions in Japan, fails to mention Park’s contributions to movies and especially tv in addition to his albums (9 in all).  His debut was actually in film.  In 1989, when he was just 12 years old, Park appeared in The Island of Women directed by Ha Ryun.  When he was a little older, he had his second role on MBCs Theme Game. This led to steady acting parts throughout the 90s but it wasn’t until the daily drama See and See Again (March 1998-April 1999) that he became a household name.  Also in 1998, he starred in his second film, If It Snows on Christmas, alongside Kim Hyeon-ju.  Between 1999 and 2002 when he had his third film role, Park appeared in seven other tv dramas including the abvoe mentioned Winter Sonata. There was a third film in there called Summer Story, but it was never released in theaters. His fourth movie was a remake of the classic, I Hate You, But Again (there is a confusing number of translations for this title) called simply Again in English. Sometime while appearing in all these tv shows and movies, Park found time to graduate from Jungang University’s department of Performing Arts. His singing career took off during the early part of the 2000s and he returned triumphantly to television with the well-received All In starring Lee Byeong-heon. More recently, Park was in a tv drama called Love Song and was in the thriller Scam in theaters. 

His life was much too short.  

Park Yong-ha:  August 12, 1977-June 30, 2010

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DMZ (1965) now on DVD

17th June 2010

dmzThe Korean Film Archives has been gradually releasing classic films on DVD and this week the drama DMZ was made available. The movie is about a family that becomes separated while attempting to escape from North Korea. Left alone, the two young children attempt to make the dangerous journey on their own in the hopes that they can be reunited with their parents. It was the first and only film for the child stars, Joo Min-ah and Lee Yeong-gwan but they co-starred with some familiar faces of the time including Nam Goong-won, Jo Mi-ryeong and Kim Hee-gab.  The original poster proclaims that this is a ’semi-documentary’ which I am guessing is another word for ‘fiction’ but I will politely reserve judgement until I see it. I just ordered my copy.  The DVD is a single disk with English subtitles, Region 3 and rated for ages 12 and older. The sound is Dolby Digital Mono and it is formated as anamorphic widescreen.  The recommended price is 15,400 KRW, but I just paid  13,800.  The movie was directed by Park Sang-ho who helmed just twenty films between the mid-50s to 1971–most of his film being prior to 1968.  Included on the disk is a 45 minute documentary also directed by Park, though the title and subject of the documentary was not included in the information I read…I guess I will have to wait to see what it is. 

If you are curious about dramas from the 60s..or if you just want to encourage KOFA to release more of them… they you may want to pick this up!

Posted in DVDs: New Releases, News | 2 Comments »

Director Kwak Ji-gyun

29th May 2010

kwak ji-gyunThe movie industry was saddened this week at the apparent suicide of Director Kwak Ji-gyun. Born in Daejeon, Kwak’s real name wa Kwak Jeong-gyun but he altered it slightly after he began working in the film industry following his graduation from the Deparment of Film at the Seoul Arts College. He began working immediately after finishing school as an assistant director for Kim Soo-yong (The Loneliness of the Journey, 1978), Jo Moon-jin (When Sadness Takes Over,1978), Im Kwon-taek (So Close Yet So Far, 1978; Divine Bow, 1979; No Glory, 1979; Tomorrow and Tomorrow, 1979; Mrs. Spectacular, 1980; Tears of the Idol, 1981; Mandara, 1981), Choi Seong-ryong (As Firm As Stone, 1983) and Bae Chang-ho (Deep Blue Night, 1984).

With such mentors, perhaps it is no surprise that when Kwak was finally given a chance to direct his own film, it turned out to be his most successful. A Wanderer in Winter (1986) was Kwak’s debut film and it remains as the movie associated with his name.  He followed this with The Home of Two Women  (1987), Long After That (1989), Wound (1989), Portrait of Youth (1990), The Woman who Wouldn’t Divorce (1992), Rosy Days (1994), Deep Sadness (1997), Plum Blossoms (1998) and Fly High (2006). Several of these are readily available on DVD.

According to his brother, Kwak had been deeply depressed. Fly High failed miserably in the box office–less than 300,000 people saw it in the theaters and he was unable to secure another opportunity to direct. According to news, Kwak was unmarried and seemingly quite lonely. He opted to take his own life through carbon monoxide poisoning and left a short not which, when translated, states:  “I have no work and I am suffering so much.” He left that note with a 100-page autobiography.  He died on May 25, 2010.

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JIFF 2010 Wrap-Up

12th May 2010


Below are the figures from the JIFF Press Center and comments from the juries regarding the films they selected to be honored with the top awards.

1. Festival Summary





29 April – 7 May 2010

(9 days total)

30 April – 8 May 2010

(9 days total)


3.1 Billion KRW

3.59 Billion KRW

Number of Screens



Number of Films Screened

208 films from 48 countries

200 films from 40 countries

Seat Occupancy Rate



Number of Seats (Sold)

?Except Outdoor Screenings and Industry Screenings

80,269 (66,913)

91,222 (70,762)

Number of Press (Foreign Media)

793 (108)

828 (121)

Number of Volunteers



Number of Guests


(Domestic 1,753 / Foreign 120)


(Domestic 1,930 / Foreign 131)


2. Award Winners

1) The 11th JIFF AWARDS (A total of 10 awards given along with trophies)





Woosuk Award


Rusudan Pirveli

International Competition

10,000 USD of Cash Prize

and 5,000 USD of

Production Support Fund

JB bank Award (Special Jury Prize)

<Red Dragonflies>

Liao Jiekai

International Competition

7 million KRW

JJ-ST?R Award

<Passerby #3>

Shin Su-won

Korean Feature Film Competition

10 million KRW

Eastar Jet Award

<Frozen Land>

Kim Tae-yong

Korean Short Film Competition

5 million KRW

Best Director Award

<Hard-Boiled Jesus>

 Jung Young-heon

Korean Short Film Competition

3 million KRW

Special Jury Award

<A Brand New Journey>

Kim Hee-jin

Korean Short Film Competition

2 million KRW



Pepe Diokno

Asian Feature


Audience Critic’s Award

<The Boy from Ipanema>

Kim Kih-hoon

Korean Feature Film Competition

2 million KRW

JIFF Audience Award

<Before the Full Moon>

Seo She-chin

International /Korean Feature Film Competition

Sponsored by SONY

Movie Collage Award

<The Boy from Ipanema>

Kim Kih-hoon

Korean Feature Film Competition


theatre release and

marketing support

sponsored by CJ CGV

International Competition: Woosuk Award / JB bank Award (Special Jury Prize)

(Jury: Philip Cheah, Nacer Khemir, Bae Chang-ho, Lav Diaz, Michael Witt)

 The International Competition was extremely rich, and the jury had great difficulty making a final choice between 4 or 5 of the films. We noted a strong neo-realist, quasi-documentary sensibility running through many of the films, and we ultimately selected 2 films for the prizes in which the power and value of fiction shone through.

 The Woosuk Award for Best Film goes to a subtle evocation of the current political predicament facing the Georgian people expressed through the eyes of a young boy: Susa. We felt the director Rusudan Pirveli successfully coaxed a superb performance from her young main actor, and that this was supported by excellent performances throughout, a powerful sense of place, and a beautifully crafted narrative.

 The JBbank Award (Special Jury Prize) goes to a film that we valued above all for its mysterious evocation of Singapore’s disappearing history – both social and personal – and its gentle depiction of innocence and passing youth: Red Dragonflies. We felt that there were moments in this small, relatively low-budget, non-formulaic film by first time director Liao Jiekai that displayed great sensitivity and promise for the future.

Korean Feature Films Competition: JJ-ST?R Award

(Jury: Kong Rithdee, Cho Young-kag, Eric Sasono)

The films in the Korean Competition show the great diversity of Korean independent cinema. The juries were pleased to be able to see the broad spectrum that ranges from narrative films to experimental documentary and crowd-pleasing stories. We saw tough political issues as well as intimate personal drama, while history and the process of filmmaking itself are also the running themes. It was a challenge for us to judge these diverse streams of thought and aesthetics and after a long discussion we’re pleased to derive at our decision. Passerby #3 has a big heart that keeps throbbing, subtly yet clearly. The film is about the struggle of a filmmaker, but also of a mother, and the unique quality of the film is how we sense that the two roles are sometimes so close to each other. Without resorting to cliché, the director gives us a comedy-drama-musical hybrid that is sad, touching and very true.

Korean Short Films Competition: Eastar Jet Award / Best Director Award / Special Jury Award

(Jury: Riccardo Gelli, Vimukthi Jayasundara, Kim Young-nam)

Through the films in the Korean Short Films Competition, we were able to watch not only the current social problems in the Korean society such as family, love, youth, poverty and the reality of working class, but also the innerscape of people trapped in the problematic situation.

The juries come to select <Frozen Land> of KIM Tae-yong, which successfully portrays the reality nobody wants to see, as the winner of EASTAR JET Award. And the juries select the director of <Hard-Boiled Jesus>, JUNG Young-heon, who proves his directing ability with an excellent photography, as the winner of Best Director Award. Last, we select <A Brand New Journey> of KIM Hee-jin, which successfully captured the emotion of a girl who can’t come a field trip due to poverty with delicately well-rounded details, as the winner of Special Jury Award.

 NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award

(Jury: Seo Hyun-seok, Ranjanee Ratnavibhushana, Sakano Yuka)

It was certainly exciting to see such a wide spectrum of styles and viewpoints, but the level of artistic accomplishments displayed by each work is hardly inspiring.  Although the amount of work and devotion displayed in each film is admirable in general, most films suffer from the lack of originality.  Somewhat derivative and often too compromising, the styles that many emerging directors pursued neither displayed innovation nor questioned the very mechanisms of the cinematic language.

 We selected “Clash” as the most accomplished piece of work based on its daring treatment of its subjects as well as space.  Although the theme of the film could have very easily flattened the film and his approach is vulnerable to clichés indeed, the handling of the camera demonstrates many great potentials of the digital cinema.  Authentic and passionate, “Clash” nearly pushes the parameters of the digital imaging.

Korean Feature Films Competition: Audience Critics’ Award

(Jury: Yang Bit-na, Oh Mi-na, Jeong In-jong, Hyun Sol-ip)

 A total of 8 Korean films in the Korean Feature Film Competition show diverse views and the excellent visual quality and they were good enough to promise a brighter future of Korean cinema. And we could divide the films into two distinguishing categories of films focusing on the innerscape of a person and films examining the social problem.

Among the films, <Metamorphosis> of LEE Sam-chil delivers the feeling of deprivation of the young generation with uniquely employing the first person view. And <Before the Full Moon> of SEO She-chin successfully drew sympathy of the audience by approaching a social issue in a microscopic way.

 It was difficult for us to select just one film because each film has its own significant meaning. After a long discussion, we came to select <The Boy from Ipanema> of KIM Ki-hoon, which examines a new interpretation of time in the melodrama genre with an outstanding visual, as the winner of Audience Critics’ Award 2010.

The director KIM Ki-hoon well expressed a portrait of the youth wavering before the memories of the past and the present, and love and farewell. So, we are looking forward to seeing his next work. Congratulations.

+++++++++++  EDIT ++++++++++++++++++++

I just want to apologize if this post looks strange–on my home computer , which has a very wide monitor, it looks fine. On my office computer, there is an empty space above the photo that I can’t get rid of…

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Castaway on the Moon (2009) receives top prize

4th May 2010


I received the press release shown below in my email this morning and wanted to share it with you. Congratulations to the makers of Castaway on the Moon and to the organizers of the Udine Far East Film Festival who have done an outstanding job in creating a venue for Asian films in Europe.

The Korean masterpiece Castaway On The Moon triumphs at the Audience Awards 2010!

UDINE – A time of success for Far East Film 2010. And if talking about a record-edition is almost a tradition by now, talking about it for twelve consecutive years is truly something else: it really is a record within a record, both on the level of pure success as well as regarding the continuity of the culture and planning.

The figures? Here they are: the Udinese festival, again this year, has surpassed the threshold of 50,000 spectators, between the two venues of Teatro Nuovo and Visionario, gathering a very high number of European and International visitors despite the inconveniences caused by the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökul. Around ten countries were affected: from the United States to Spain, and as far north as Norway.

The figures speak for themselves: the bookshop sold more than 1600 items (amongst books, t-shirts, posters, DVDs), the official website ( attracted a total of 50,000 visitors throughout the month of April and the official fan-page on Facebook ( reached 4400 members.

A record-breaking edition, and not only because of the extraordinary programme formed largely by first-time previews, but also for the excellent quality of it, certified by names and titles already registered in the golden book of new Asian cinema! A cinema that, according to the Audience Award votes, has seen South Korea triumph with Lee Hey-jun’s bizarre masterpiece Castaway On The Moon: almost a  a perfect scoring, as had occurred the previous year with Departures, with a star rating of 4.70 (5 is the highest possible score on the voting card!) They then paid honour to the efforts of Japan and Indonesia, with a high score (4.34 and 4.33) for the second and third-place runners up: Hideo Sakaki’s irresistible Accidental Kidnapper and the poetic The Dreamer from Riri Riza (already the winner of a bronze medal in 2009 for Rainbow Troops). The jury of the accredited Black Dragon voted Castaway On The Moon in at number 1, whilst the readers of, voting directly online, preferred the Japanese Bandage

First in line in the group of major international cinematographical events, Far East Film is a unique festival, away from the inner workings of power and strong in its sole and clear vocation: a passion for the popular culture of the Extreme Orient.

A true celebration of cinema that doesn’t establish hierarchies between the popular and elite showings: from all angles, it finds the support of a very motivated and faithful public made up of journalists, critics, cinema students (an increasing number this year, with the presence of France, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and England), experts, people working in the field, and mostly, those who love the cinematographical dream of the Far East. And already, talk of the thirteenth edition has begun: bring on 2011!

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Remake of Cemetery Under the Moon (1967)

17th April 2010

cemetery under the moonIt was announced this morning that the 1967 film Cemetery Under the Moon will be remade.  This marks the third film from Korea’s Golden Age of movies to see a remake in the works this year. The first of course is The Housemaid opening in theaters in less than a month. The second is Manchu whose earlier incarnations have been called Late Fall in English–the remake seems to be going just a Manchu for now. Regardless of name, it is currently in production. Now Cemetery Under the Moon is getting the remake treatment. Like the other two films listed in this post, Cemetery Under the Moon (sometimes called the Public Cemetery of Wolha) has already been remade once before.  In 1996, Nam Ki-nam gave us his take on the film. Director Nam has been involved in mostly comic children’s films since the late 80s (he is famous for directing the Young-Gu series of films starring Shim Hyeong-rae) and is still involved in that area making ‘Galgali’ movies with former members of Gag Concert–another one is due out this year.  But I am getting off track…

I was very excited when I read about the upcoming remake of the original which was directed by Kwon Cheol-hwi–under I got to the second paragraph.  Then a little bit of doubt eked its way into my joy.  Apparently, this remake will be 3D animation along the lines of Toy Story and Avatar… In fact, one of the three studios contracted for the project is the Seoul-based division of Pixar called Puppetar Studios.

I have to wonder why they would choose to remake Cememtary this way.  The entire film composed of CG seems entirely gratuitous–the story is too simple for this and I think it would, depending on the style of animation, either be overwhelmed by special effects (ala Avatar) or made too childish (ala Toy Story).  I guess I will remain cautiously optimistic and trust that the producers know what they are doing.

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46th Paeksang Art Awards (March 26, 2010)

26th March 2010

paeksang art awards

<Winners listed in bold font>

Grand Prizes:

Production: Haeundae

Acting: Ko Hyeon-jeong (Seondeok Yeowang)

Movie Awards

Best Film:  Haeundae, Secret Reunion, Take Off, Thirst, Mother

Best Director: Yoon Je-gyun (Haeundae), Jang Hoon (Secret Reunion), Kim Yong-hwa (Take Off), Park Chan-ok (Paju), Bong Joon-ho (Mother)

Best New Director: Yang Ik-joon (Breathless), Jeong Ki-hoon (Goodbye Mother), Park Geon-yong (Lifting King Kong), Lee Ho-je (Scam), Park Hee-gon (Insadong Scandal)

Best Actor: Won Bin (Mother), Heo Jeong-woo (Take Off), Kang Dong-won, Jeong Jae-yeong (Castaway on the Moon), Kim Yoon-seok (Running Turtle)

Best Actress: Kim Hye-ja (Mother), Ha Ji-won (Closer to Heaven), Kim Ok-bin (Thirst), Choi Kang-hee (Goodbye Mother), Seo Woo (Paju)

Best New Actor: Yang Ik-joon (Breathless), Lee Min-gi (Haeundae), Kim Mu-yeol (Scam), Kim Ji-seok (Take Off), Yoo Seung-ho (4th Period)

Best New Actress: Jo An (Lifting King Kong), Kang Ye-won (Harmony), Baek Jin-hee (Bandhoobi), Seon Woo-seon (Woochi), Kim Ggot-bi (Breathless)

Best Scenario: Mother, Secret Reunion, Lifting King Kong, Castaway on the Moon, Possessed

Most Popular Actor/Actress (film): Jang Geun-seok (Insadong Scandal), Choi Kang-hee (Goodbye Mother)

Posthumous Award: Baek Sam-ryong (1926-2010)

TV Awards

Best TV Drama: Iris

Best TV Comedy: Highkick 2

Best TV Documentary: Tears of the Amazon

Best TV Director: Ko Dong-seon/Kim Min-shik (Naejoui Yeowang)

Best New TV Director: Yoo Hyeon-gi (Kongbu-ui Shin)

Best TV Actor: Lee Byeong-heon (Iris)

Best TV Actress: Kim Nam-j00 (Najoui Yeowang)

Best New TV Actor: Kim Nam-gil (Seondeok Yeowang)

Best New TV Actress: Hwang Jeong-eum (Highkick 2)

Best Comedian: Park Seong-ho (Gag Concert)

Best Comedienne: Kang Yoo-mi/Ahn Yeong-mi (both Gag Concert) <tied>

Most Popular TV Actor/Actress: Lee Seung-gi (Chanranhan Yoosan), Yoo Na (Cinderella)

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Housemaid Teaser

24th March 2010

 housemaid still


Haven’t seen the trailer yet for the housemaid? Just clink the link below to watch it on Youtube.  This is just the teaser–there is more to come. But internet reports state that this is already the most-watched movie preview.  The movie is due to be released in May, but the exact date has yet to be set.

Housemaid Teaser Trailer

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Save MediAct

13th March 2010

The below was sent to me and, while I usually stay out of politics, I feel it is a worthy cause.  There are only a few days left to sign. Take a look at what has been happening here recently and please sign if you agree with the petition.
Thanks for helping ACT NOW to save MediAct & Independent Media in Korea! approach 1,000 members!

Let’s see if we can lend this same momentum to gather 1,000 signatures on the site to match the petition campaign that is underway in South Korea from now until March 15! Let’s support the 155 independent filmmakers participating in boycott to restore Mediact and IndieSpace and to stop KOFIC’s actions against Seoul Art Cinema and KAFA.

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