Seen in Jeonju

Archive for October, 2010

Index of 1972: 1-15

16th October 2010

Here are the first fifteen films produced in Korea in 1972. Back when I took the photos for these from the newpaper stacks in the basement of the university library, my old camera was on its last legs. I have since bought a new one, but some of the images may not be very clear, so for that I apologize.  Just click the thumbnail to see the full-sized image. They can also be accessed by director through the tab at the top of the page marked “Movies of the 70s”

72-001, 72-002, 72-003, 72-004, 72-005, 72-006, 72-007, 72-008, 72-009, 72-010, 72-011,72-012, 72-013, 72-014, 72-015

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Korean Box Office: Oct. 8-10

11th October 2010




1. End Call (jp)– d. Kiyoshi Yamamoto, starring Yuria Haga, Asami Usuda

2. Ha:l (kr)– d. Yoon Yong-jin, starring Woo Sang-jeon, Jo Yong-joo

3. I, Giovanni (it)– d. Carlos Saura, starring Lorenzo Balducci, Lino Guanciale

4. Midnight FM (kr)– d. Kim Sang-man, starring Soo Ae, Yoo Ji-tae

5. Reign of Assassins (ch/us/hk)– d. John Woo, starring Jeong Woo-seong, Michelle Yeoh

6. 22 Bullets (fr)– d. Richard Berry, starring Jean Reno, Kad Merad

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Dear Soldier (1944)

10th October 2010

dear soldierNot too long ago, I had written a short review of Military Train (1938) and three years earlier, Angels on the Street (1941).  Both of these films were made expressly to to promote the policies of the Japan and in both of those movies, the points promoting the views of the office of the Governor General were, for the most part, delivered subtly. Both of those films had a typical story with a plot that moved along and a crisis to be solved. There were characters that we could identify and care about. Dear Soldier is not like those other films at all. It was made in 1944. Japanese rule was at its strictest–Korean language was forbidden, resources from Korea, including human resources, were being used to fight the Pacific War. What started out as a volunteer system for gathering soldiers on the peninsula, as seen in the film Volunteer (1941) soon turned to conscription. However, Dear Soldier does not feature a plot that advances. Time passes for the characters but we actually learn remarkably little about them. They are Everymen and are supposed to exemplify how young men and their families should deal with the draft. By 1944, Japan was in desperate straits and the war was not going well. The general in the film announces that these first draftees whom we watch will be the first of untold thousands from the peninsula. There was certainly a desire to make the process of conscription and training seem as pleasant as possible.

The movie pulls out all the stops and makes joining the Japanese military appealing. Vats of rice are shown being prepared for the soldiers. Chicken and meat are prepared on shelves in industrial-sized ovens. The recruits are given more snacks and cookies than they can eat. The importance of food shoul not be under estimated. It was in short supply in the later days of Japanese rule. In fact, the same director who made this film, Bang Han-joon, made another that same year, The Story of Big Whales, which was to convince people that the whalin/fishing industry was not in trouble and their hungry days would soon be over. Seeing so much food supplied to the recruits must have made the idea of being forced to join the army somewhat better for at least a few young men.

The basic training and boot camp, as depicted in this movie, seemed very comfortable, more like a vacation than training. Characters express at several points in the film that the army is more like a family than job. In fact, characters show absolutely no concern for their true families. One recruit’s wife gives birth to his daughter. Does he ask for a leave of absence? No, even when it is suggested he simply says “Don’t make a big deal out of it. Let’s do the laundry.” He has no need to worry. His wife reported that she is fine. The families of the soldiers are equally guilty of a lack of concern. One set of parents go to visit their son, but are content to just meet his sergeant because “Meeting his superior is even better than meeting <their son>.” 

One of the reasons families, in particular mothers, do not worry about their sons and vice-versa is that they have received personalized letters from the Governor General telling them to be proud of their sons as they serve Japan. This is apparently quite an honor and the families all gush on about how they now have a relationship with the top members of of the government. Of course, this would be a useful thing, but my first thought was that this was a form letter that some clerk stamped with an official seal and filled without the Governor General ever seeing them…

The movie focuses on two young men, Jenki Hiramatsu and Eichi Yatsumoto. Wait–those aren’t Korean names? Why are they being drafted from Choseon?  Make no mistake, they are Koreans. One of the changes that had occurred in the three years since Volunteer (where the main character was named Choon-ho) was that Koreans were now being required to take Japanese names. We saw in Angels on the Street that characters were sporting names like Mary and John and even in Radio Dayz, depicting life in Korea during the 1930s,the main characters were called Lloyd and Marie. However, families were required to take Japanese names and even Korean language was discouraged. One fact that I failed to mention about this film is that it was filmed entirely in Japanese. There was no more onscreen Korean and children at this point were being taught exclusively Japanese language in schools.

Dear Soldier cannot be considered an entertaining movie. Nor does it give us a chance to glimpse what life was like in Korea in the last days of Japanese rule. What we know must be inferred by what is not being said. For example, at one point the general tells the new recuits that “In the army, their is no discrimination.”  There was, in fact, discrimination against Koreans in this time period even as they were being exposed to the idea that Korea and Japan was, and always had been, one nation. It was, however, an interesting film and a strangely fascinating example of movies as propaganda.

By this point in time, Japan was fully in control of the film industry and had turned it into a virtual propaganda machine. Director Bang was supportive of this situation and the idea of Korea and Japan being unified. He stated in an interview regarding the control that “It is natural that the film industry in this situation (wartime) be controlled and united (with that of Japan) and it is also most urgent for the technical development of film.” It is true that Japan did develop many areas of society. Unfortunately, it did not benefit the majority of the Korean people until Japan was forced to leave at the end of World War II and left behind what they had built.

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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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DVD Releases: October 10-16

9th October 2010

This week, two Korean films from earlier this year are being released onto DVD, Barefoot Dream and On the Pitch. Neither of these films had much success in the box office at the time of their release. I was among the vast majority of people who did not go to see them. However, I might be interested in picking up Barefoot Dream.

barefoot dream

BAREFOOT DREAM:  A feel-good family film in which Kim Won-kwang (played by Park Hee-soon) goes to East Timor and coaches a soccer team of children who cannot even afford to buy shoes for the game. Number of Discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean & English/ Rating: All ages/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby 5.1/ Running Time: 121 min + 107 min of extras/ Special Features: Optional commentary by director Kim Tae-geun and actors Park Hee-soon and Ko Chang-seok, Disc Two has chapters entitled East Timor’s Dream, Hiroshima, Kickoff, Meeting the Barefoot Dream in East Timor, Entry, Stills and Trailer/ Recommended Price: 23,100 KRW/ Availble for Purchase: October 15.

on the pitchON THE PITCH: Perhaps this movie was a victim of horrible timing,. It was released in May of this year, shortly after the sinking of the South Korean vessel, The Cheonan, and just days after evidence was found that the ship was sunk by a torpedo, presumably from a North Korean sub.  Nobody was interested in watching a comedy about North Korean soldiers posted along the DMZ developing a sense of patriotism for South Korea through the 2002 World Cup.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean & English/ Rating: Ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo/ Region Code: 3/ Running Time: 113 min/ Recommended Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available for Purchase: October 15.

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Korean Box Office: October 1-3

4th October 2010


Cyrano Agency stays at the top of the charts for a second week in a row.  The only new films to make an impact were the Korean comedy Banga? Banga! and the American film Eat, Pray, Love.  I was a little disappointed that Salinui Kang failed to secure a decent release–only 14 screens.  I thought the film looked interesting, but with less than 1100 people paying to see it last weekend, I may have to wait for the DVD…

The new movies being released this week  are listed below.


1.Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (ch/hk)– d. Hark Tsui, starring Andy Lau, Tony Leung Ka Tai

2. Godfather: Part 2 (us- yes the 1974 movie)– d. Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino, Robert Duvall

3. Letters to Juliet (us)– d. Gary Winick, starring Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan

4. Star of Hope (kr)– d. Lee Hong-seok <documentary>

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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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DVD Releases: October 3-9

3rd October 2010

Since the success of Old Partner last year and the interest in such movies as Daytime Drinking and Fly Penguin, Korean indie films have been getting easier to see in theater and find on DVD. All of the DVDs being released this week fit into the category of Independent Films and may be worth checking out.

one night standFirst up is ONE NIGHT STAND, an omnibus featuring directors Min Yong=geun, Jang Hoon, and Lee Yoo-rim.  In the first story, a man watches the couple next door each night even as he is being watched by the woman in the apartment across the street. The second story features a man sexually frustrated by his cold wife finding himself attracted to his friend’s girlfriend and who becomes irrationally angry when he sees another couple having sex. The third story has a foreign film critic, in Korea for a film festival, falling for the person who scrubs his back in a spa. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: English & Korean/ Rating: Ages 18+ /Format: 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/Running Time: 98 minutes/ Special Features: Commentary by director Jang Hoon & three short films–one from each director, trailer/ Recommended Price: 25,300 KRW/ Available: October 7.

neighbor zombieTHE NEIGHBOR ZOMBIE.  When I had watched and reviewed this film a few months ago, I was not particularly kind. That was because I was expecting something different. Do not buy this film if you are a fan of horror looking for a zombie plague in Seoul. While that does happen, the films is more of a social commentary than a horror movie. Some of the sequences in this omnibus are well done and some have good ideas–like the aftermath– but the small budget hinders this movie and I don’t feel it reached its full potential. I will see it again and I believe going into it with a different set of expectations will improve my viewing experience. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: English & Korean/ Rating: Ages 15+ / Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Region Code: 3/ Running Time: 89 minutes/ Recommended Price: 19,800 KRW/ Available: October 7

pink rabbitPINK RABBIT. I remember when this movie was released but don’t know very much about this film. It;s classified as a comic/drama which may be why I didn’t pay too much attention to it when it in theaters– I rarely watch comedies. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean & English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Region Code: all regions/ running time: 95 minutes/ Recommended Price: 19,800 KRW/ Available: October 7

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Index of 1971: 196-203

2nd October 2010

It was a very busy week. The program I have been organizing since last summer that will allow 20 students of my university to study in the US for the winter for free has started. This week I interviewed 90 students interested in taking part in it and have to cut 50 of them. The remaining forty will undergo a two month course and interview process and a final selection will be made later. But that kept me too busy to do much blogging this week.  However, I will try to catch up now–the ‘Films Awaiting Release’ section was updated as was the ‘My DVD’ list. This post will also complete the films produced in Korea in 1971. As always, click the thumbnails to view the full sized image. Movie data can also be accessed by director through the tab at the top of the page marked ‘Movies of the 70s’.  Next up: 1972!

1971-196, 1971-197, 1971-198, 1971-199, 1971-200, 1971-201, 1971-202, 1971-203

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