Seen in Jeonju

Archive for February, 2011

Korean Cinema Blogathon

28th February 2011

blogathon

Inspired by the Japanese Blogathon run by the WildGrounds website for the last two years (see here: http://bit.ly/ht0Jxe), 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: http://on.fb.me/hdCT5L) 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: http://db.tt/Q9OOiWJ

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

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Korean Box Office: Feb. 25-27

28th February 2011

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Although it put in an excellent showing, the critically acclaimed Black Swan failed to dislodge the mystery Children… from the number one spot.  The latter film managed to nearly double its box office tallies over the course of the week inching it closer to 1.5 million viewers. However, it seems unlikely that Children… will overtake the historic comedy Detective K in terms of numbers of movie-goers paying to see it. Even as it starts its slow slide down the box office chart, Detective K has sold nearly 4 and a half million tickets since it opened at the end of January.   Late Autumn, starring Hyeon Bin,  dropped even faster, moving from number two last week to number 6 but if you are a fan of Hyeon Bin you have nothing to worry about. He will be starring in a new film opening this week called Come Rain, Come Shine. Information about this and the other new movies are listed below.

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1. ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (us)– d. George Nolfi, starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt www.controller2011.co.kr <opening in Korea as Controller>

2. BLEAK NIGHT (kr)– d. Yoon Seong-hyeon, starring Lee Je-hoon, Seo Joon-yeong

3. COME RAIN, COME SHINE (kr)– d. Lee Yoon-gi, starring Im Soo-jeong, Hyeon Bin www.saranghanda.co.kr 

4. GOODBYE, PYEONGYANG (kr)– d. Yang Yeong-hee, starring Yang Seon-hwa, Yang Geon-hwa <documentary>

5. RANGO (us)– d. Gore Verbinski, voiced by Johnny Depp, Ilsa Fisher www.rango2011.co.kr

6. REMEMBER ME (us)– d. Allen Coulter, starring Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin www.remember-me.co.kr

7. 13 BELOVED  (th)– d. Chutiat Sakveerakul, starring Krissada Terrence, Achita Sikamana

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DVD Releases: Feb. 27-March 5

26th February 2011

February is over already? That means that the winter break is also over and classs will begin at the university this week… Wednesday to be exact. The first week of the first semester is always busy as the new freshman try to settle into university life. But while I may be busy, I will make time to order the new movie being released this coming week. The Haunters (formerly listed as Choin) will be released in two different region 3 versions–a 2-disc and a 3-disc set.

haunters

The Haunters– director: Kim Min-seok, starring Kang Dong-won and Go Su. Number of Discs: 2 or 3/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Surround 5.1/ Special Features: Optional commentary by director Kim, producer Song Dae-chan and actors Kang and Go, Disc 2: Extras such as pre-production, making and a strong focus on the movie’s special effects, Disc 3: OST (not available on the two disc set)/Running Time: (movie only) 116 min./Recommended Price: 25,300 KRW (3-disc), 23,100 KRW (2-disc)/ Availbe: March 4

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Index of 1973: 76-90

25th February 2011

Here are the next 15 films produced in Korea in 1973. Click the thumbnail to see the full sized image. By clicking the tab marked ‘the 1970s’ at the top of the page, you can see all the films listed by director.

73-076, 73-077, 73-078, 73-079, 73-080, 73-081, 73-082, 73-083, 73-084, 73-085, 73-086, 73-087, 73-088, 73-089, 73-090

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Children… (2011)

22nd February 2011

lposter041916-k7The other day, I had the chance to watch director Lee Gyu-man’s latest film, Children..., which is currently ranked at number one in the box office. It is based on the heart-wrenching true story of the “Frog Boys” of Daegu. The five children lived in a village outside the city and, one warm day in March of 1991, set off to the nearby mountainside to catch frogs. They never returned. The frantic parents tried to get the police to investigate right away, but the authorities were convinced that this was simply a case of runaway children and that they would be back in a day or two. They never returned. Months later, thousands of police were set on the mountain to search for clues as to what may have happened but nothing turned up. The parents took their pleas for the boys’ return to the airways where their story captured the heart, mind and sometimes imagination of the nation. Various theories both plausible and ridiculous abounded– The boys ran away, they were kidnapped by North Korea, they were murdered, they fell in the lake and drown, they were abducted by aliens were– These were just some of the theories that people came up with.  For eleven years the parents waited for any news of their missing sons. Then in September 2004, the remains of the children were found in the woods on the same mountainside the children said they were visiting. At first police said it seemed likely that the boys got lost and froze to death during the night, but a few days later, after sending the exhumed evidence to forensics, they had to admit they were wrong. Two of the skulls bore large holes and one had strange indentations made from an as yet unidentified instrument. Their clothes were tied into knots and bullet casings were found in the shallow, makeshift grave. More theories arose about the children meeting a psychopath in the woods or the theory of the accidental shooting and subsequent murder by a panicked hunter at the nearby sports-hunting preserve who may have mistaken one of the children for a deer. However, the investigation had reached a dead end. Korea has a statute of limitation on major crimes and in 2006 it ran out on the case. Even if the killer were found at this point, he or she could not be prosecuted.

Those are the facts of the case but how about the movie?  In my opinion, where the film sticks closely with the facts of the disappearance, it is very effective and gripping. However, in the latter portion of the film, director Lee chooses to go with the sensational and moves away from facts to give us a suspect who is possibly a seriel killer. Here the film flounders  before once again finding its footing at the very end once again with the funeral of the children.

A6103-00The focus of the movie is not the children who have disappeared before the opening credits finish rolling. Nor is it on the parents and their desperate search to find their kids. Those themes were dealt with in the 1992 film Come Back Frog Boys (pictured right) which was made at a time when the children were still thought to have run away from home and it was hoped that it would help entice them to return. Instead, the focus of Children… is on career-driven documentary maker Kang Ji-seung who is in the hopes of making a comeback after being disgraced for rigging an award-winning documentary. He goes to Daegu where he meets an equally ambitious professor who hopes to make a name for himself by solving the crime where police failed. The professor’s theory, which seems to have quite a bit of compelling evidence behind it, takes the pair in a direction that the police were reluctant to investigate. 

The director chose to have several jumps in time in this film as it moves from 1991 to 1996 to 2002 to several years after that. Most of the time jumps are clearly labeled onscreen, but the last one relies on us guessing the age of Kang’s daughter who appears to have aged about 6 years.  While some people may feel that he does not cover enough details because of these jumps, I found them perfectly acceptable due to the amount of time that was necessary to cover the story he wanted told. His choice of actors was also good especially the parents of the missing boy, Jong-ho. They were played by Seong Ji-roo and Kim Yeo-jin and both of them manage to bring a mix of tragedy to their roles without making the characters overwraught and a sense of additional mystery behind them.  As I mentioned early though, Director Lee does stray away from facts by first ignoring some of the evidence found with the bodies (the bullet casings) and later by giving us a suspect that never existed in real life.

These omissions and additions make Children… a work of fiction rather than a semi-documentary film.  You should definitely take the time to see this atmospheric work although I do warn you that you will probably wind up leaving the theater a little depressed. Below I have provided portions of news articles published at the time of the events related to the case to give more background on the story.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++ From the Korea Times, Sept. 28, 2002

Remains of 5 Missing Boys Found After 11 Years in Taegu–Human remains, presumed to be those of the so-called “frog boys” who disappeared eleven years ago in Taegu, were found yesterday at a mountain near the scene of where they went missing, police said yesterday.  The remains were found on the side of Mt. Waryong in Taegu by a local resident named Choi, 55, who was gathering acorns in the area at 11:30 a.m.  Police investigations revealed five sets of remains buried about 30 cm below the ground, along with a dozen pieces of clothing and five pairs of children’s shoes.“The shoes found near the bodies appear to be identical to the ones reported to have been worn by the children at the time of their disappearence…”

+++++++++++from the Korea Times, Sept. 29/30, 2002

Hole in skull raises suspected murder of boys—(Sept. 29) Police yesterday were continuing to investigate the deaths of five boys whose remains were found last week in Taegu, eleven years after the boys went missing. They are focusing their investigations on whether foul play was involved in the deaths of the five boys, who disappeared after leaving their homes to catch frogs on nearby Mt. Waryong on March 26, 1991. Their remains were found by a resident Thursday on the very mountain the boys had ventured out to that day. Police investigations have found two holes were punched in one of the boys’ skulls, while the back of the cranium has a large hole in it. (Sept. 30)–Police and forensic experts said yesterday they found a hole and a sunken mark in one of the five skulls discovered at a site in western Daegu last week. The skulls are believed to be those of five elementary schoolboys reported missing at the scene 11 years ago. The new discovery raised the possibility that the boys might have been killed.  Rebutting an initial police report that the boys died from cold weather at the site, the boys’ families claimed the hole and the mark attest to their murders. They alleged the murder scenario is backed by the fact that the boy’s recovered sleeves and pants were tied and bullets casings were found nearby…

+++++++++++++++ From the Chosun Ilbo, March 26, 2004

 2004032661016_1 “Frog Boys” Laid to Rest as Anguished Parents Demand Justice–A funeral ceremony for five schoolboys who went missing in 1991 after going out to catch frogs, was held at Kyungbuk National University Hospital on Friday. Anguished cries from family and friends of the ??Frog Boys?? were heard as Lim Hee-su, president of Seongseo Elementary School, addressed the gathering. The remains of Woo Chul-won, Cho Ho-yeon, Kim Yeong-kyun, Park Chan-in and Kim Jong-shik were not discovered until 2002, 11 years after they vanished.”How depressing it must be for these parents to treasure their dead children in their hearts,?? said Na Ju-bong, president of the Citizens”  Gathering in Search for Missing Children Nationwide. “The rest of us must prevent this from ever happening again.” The remains of the boys were brought to their old school in three funeral carriages decorated with yellow flowers. All 1,800 Seongseo Elementary School students prayed silently while five representatives holding the portraits of the boys walked around the school grounds. The families of the victims then pledged to find the perpetrator and make him apologize and pay for the crime.

+++++++++++++++++from the Korea Herald, March 2, 2006

Unsolved murders may escape prosecution—Time is running out for authorities to bring to justice the killer of five children murdered in Daegu 15 years ago because the statute of limitations for the mysterious case expires on March 26. In 1991, five elementary school boys, dubbed the “frog boys,” were reported missing after venturing into the mountains to catch frogs.  The parents of the boys spent a fortune searching for their children throughout the country. Rumors saying that the children were abducted by North Korea or even taken by extra terrestrials were also spread.  The long-unresolved case almost disappeared from the public`s memory, but in 2002, the remains of the five boys were found in a hillside by a hiker.  A forensic team from Kyungpook National University in Daegu concluded that the children were murdered, but so far, has not found any evidence explaining how they were killed.  The high-profile criminal case has been shrouded in mystery for 15 years despite the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of police and other investigation personnel. In August 2005, Rep. Moon Byung-ho of the ruling Uri Party submitted a bill which, if approved by the National Assembly, will lengthen the limitation from the current 15 years to 20 years. “The purpose of the statute of limitation is to prevent unfair trials caused by lack of evidence of crime after some time. But now that the development of technology such as DNA tests makes it possible to accumulate proof even after a long period, it is natural to extend the statute of limitations,” Moon said.

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Korean Box Office: Feb. 18-20

20th February 2011

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Children (listed last week as Aideul) landed at number one in what turned out to be a rather poor weekend attendence-wise for films in general. This was the first weekend of real spring weather which was really needed after this winter–especially for the poor people living in the eastern provinces of Korea who were buried under snow. I will give my opinion on Children later this week–possibly tomorrow. Late Autumn, starring popular talent Hyeon Bin, landed in the number two position.  Detective K remained strong and now has gathered more than 4 million viewers since it opened at the end of last month. Last week, I listed a film Geudaereul Saranghabnida.  KOFIC has assigned it the title I Love You but has indicated that this is a working title implying that it could change at some point in the future. It has not yet assigned an English title to Hyeoltoo, listed below as opening next week. I expect that movie to challenge Children for the number one position next week–but my money is on Children coming out on top again. Black Swan is also opening. While I don’t think it will dominate the box office next week, I have heard good things about it and I am interested in seeing it.

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1. ALPHA AND OMEGA (us)– d. Ben Gluk, voiced by Jason Long, Hayden Panettiere www.alphaomega3d.co.kr

2. BLACK SWAN (us)– d. Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman, Mike Kunis www.blackswan2011.co.kr

3. HYEOLTOO (kr)– d. Park Hoon-jeong, starring Park Hee-soon, Jin Gu www.showdown2011.co.kr

4. I AM NUMBER 4 (us)– d. D.J. Caruso, starring Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron http://i-am-no4.co.kr

5. MAP OF THE SOUNDS OF TOKYO (es)– d. Isabel Coixet, starring Rinko Kikuchi

6. MECHANIC (us)– d. Simon West, starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster www.mechanic.co.kr

7. SON OF BABYLON (iraq)– d. Mohamed Al Daradji, starring Yasser Talib, Shazda Hussein

8. SUPERNOVA (us)– d. Anthony Fenkhauser, starring Brian Krause, Heather McComb <opening is Korea as 2012: Supernova>

9. TRUE GRIT (us)– d. Ethan Coen, starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon www.thebravemovie.co.kr <opeing in Korea as The Brave>

10. YUGIOH THE MOVIE (jp)– d. Kenichi Takeshita www.yugio-movie.co.kr

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DVD Releases: Feb. 20-26

20th February 2011

Last week I left out one of the movies being released at the end of the week (Feb. 18), so I have included it here. So this week, the list includes three movies and a drama being released onto DVD…oh, and the Blu-Ray version of The Man From Nowhere will be released as well and will go for a recommended price of 33,000KRW. The DVD version was released last week (my copy arrived last Friday!)

foxy festival

Foxy Festival (above left)– This is the movie I forgot to include on last week’s list. Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: ages 18+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby surround 5.1/ Special Features: Commentary A by d. Lee Hae-yeong, actors Shin Ha-gyun, Uhm Ji-won, Baek Jin-hee; Commentary B by Lee Hae-yeong and production staff/Disc 2 contains Production, Music Video, Deleted Scenes etc/ Running time: 109 min/ Recommended Price: 23,100 KRW/ Available: February 18

Dong-ja’s Commotion–d. Nam Gi-nam, starring Jeong Jong-cheol, Park Joon-hyeong. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: None/ Rating: all ages/ Format: 16:9 widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 85 min/ Recommended Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: February 22

midnight fm dvd

Midnight FM– d. Kim Sang-man, starring Soo Ae, Yoo Ji-tae  Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: ages 18+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby digital 5.1/ Special Features: Second disc has 9o minutes of extras/ Running time: 106 min/ Recommended Price: 25,300 KRW/ Available: February 25

god of study

God of Study– KBS Drama directed by Yoo Hyeon-gi, starring Kim Soo-ro, Bae Doo-na, Oh Yoon-ah, Ko Ah-seong  Number of discs: 7/ Subtitles: English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 16:9 widescreen/ Audio: Dolby digital 2.0/ Special Features: in addition to the 16 episodes that made up the drama, there are 110 minutes of extras/ Recommended Price 88,000 KRW/ Available: February 24

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Index of 1973: 61-75

19th February 2011

Here are the next 15 films of released in Korea in 1973. Click to see the full image. These can also be viewed by director via the tabs at the top of the page marked ‘the 1970s.’ 

73-061, 73-062, 73-063, 73-064, 73-065, 73-066, 73-067, 73-068,73-069, 73-070, 73-071, 73-072, 73-073, 73-074, 73-075

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Index of the 2000s: Ahn Byeong-gi

18th February 2011

ahnbyeonggiAhn Byeong-gi was born on November 5, 1966.  He graduated from the Seoul Fine Arts Institute where he majored in Film. He first worked in film under director Jeong Jin-yeong on such films as The Life of the Hollywood Kid (1994) and Naked Being (1998).  He debuted with Nightmare, but is best known to date for Phone. Ahn does not limit himself to directing. He wrote the screenplays for many of his films and he is the Executive Director of Toilet Pictures. Although he has directed only horror during the 2000s, he is currently working on a film listed as a drama about the Avian Flu with a working title of “Gamgi” (meaning ‘A Cold’)

 

2000-001, phone, bunshinsaba, apt

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Nineteen (2009)

14th February 2011

19Most people living in Korea are aware of the band, Big Bang. Debuting in 2007 with an album nobody really remembers, the soared to the top of the charts with their second album, Remember. Despite not yet releasing another full album since then (one will be released this year) the members have remained at the height of popularity. Even I know all of their names and I haven’t been able to say that about a singing group since Shinhwa and Finkl broke up. They have accomplished this high degree of recognition by putting out solo albums, appearing on television variety shows, making commercials and advertisments and, in some cases, acting in dramas and movies. Iris was one of the most-watched dramas in Korea when it aired in 2009 starring celebrity powerhouses Lee Byeong-heon and Kim Tae-hee. Big Bang member TOP (real name Choi Seung-hyeon) was featured alongside them. The following year, in 2010, TOP would have the lead role in the film 71: Into the Fire outshining vetran actors Kwon Sang-woo and Cha Seung-won. However, between those two very visible productions was a smaller, quieter film starring the Big Bang singer that came and went without much fanfare. Nineteen opened in a limitd number of theaters in November, 2009. Not only did it star TOP in the leading role, but co-starred his fellow Big Bang member Seung-ri (real name Lee Seung-hyeon).  Seung-ri frequently appears as a celebrity guest on game or talk shows, had a supporting role in the film On the Way Home and, like TOP, has released some solo singing projects. He has also found time to appear in two stage musicals– The Shower (based on a classic Korean love story) and Shouting.

I, along with most of the nation, did not see this movie in the theater. Frankly, I did not think it would have much cinematic value and was simply another way to showcase stars who were in danger of being overexposed despite their likability. However, this just goes prove the old saying ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ correct. Nineteen was actually quite enjoyable, remeniscent of the Korean road movie/coming of age stories often seen in the late ’80s or early ’90s but not often seen today. Although the theme of self-discovery is common–almost a cliche in this genre–the movie is updated for today’s generation and does not seem as cliche or preachy as it could have. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that I enjoyed the film for what it was.

The movie features three people in their late teens. One, Jeong-hoon (TOP), has started college but is unhappy there and really does not seem to have direction in his life. He frequently skips classes to work at his part-time job where at least he feels useful. His family seemingly does not take much interest in him and his sister who attends a prestigious university goes so far as to look down on him. Min-seo (Seung-ri) has the reverse problem. His wealthy family has extremely high expectations of him and his mother dotes on him to the point of smothering. He is not attending a university yet because low marks on the entrance exam kept him out of the schools his parents wanted him to enter, so he is restudying for the tests. Eun-hyeong (Heo Yi-jae) has no chance to attend college. She dropped out of school at 16 in order to work to pay for her mother’s hospital bills. As the sole source of income for herself and her mother, Eun-hyeong has developed a tough exterior that has crossed the line into abbrassiveness. When we first meet her, she has just been fired from her position as a hairdresser’s assistant because she talked back to her boss after leaving work without permission. These three would seem to have nothing in common except that are linked by a mutual acquaintance, Yeong-ae (Shin Min-hee).

Yeong-ae works at the same PC Cafe as Jeong-hoon and the two are friendly but not really friends. At least that is what Jeong-hoon always thought until Yeong-ae asks him out on a date after work. Confused, he accepts her proposal which eventually leads to trouble. Eun-hyeong knows Yeong-ae from school and the two possibly were friendly at one time. However, that was the past. Eun-hyeong has been trying to avoid Yeong-ae’s frequent telephone calls and, when they do meet, get into an arguement about money. Yeong-ae needs money so she can get a part in an upcoming drama. She is required to take acting classes before she can have the role. She knows that Eun-hyeong is alwasys working and assumes that she has money to give her. Min-seo isn’t on speaking terms with Yeong-ae, but he is a customer at the PC Cafe. In fact, Yeong-ae is the only reason he goes there. He takes pictures of her when she is not looking…in the cafe, on the street, getting into a car. Although he claims it is harmless and it is probably because he lacks the courage to actually talk to her, Min-seo comes off as more than a little creepy. All three characters become suspects when Yeong-ae turns up murdered the day after her arguement with Eun-hyeong and her date with Jeong-hoon.

The three escape police custody and wind up travelling together in their efforts to avoid arrest. We learn a lot about the characters as they reflect on their lives and are forced to be independent and responsible for just themselves for the first time in their lives. The time provides them with insights of what they lack in character and how to be better people. This theme is the focus of the movie. The movie is NOT a mystery. Although we the viewer have a good idea of who killed Yeong-ae within the first 10 minutes of the movie, the characters are not trying to figure that out. They are just trying to perserve their own freedom.

The rating of the film is for ages 12 and up, but I had to wonder about that a little. I suppose that rating was given so the younger fans of Big Bang could see the film, but some of the plot threads seemed a little heavy for a 12 year-old like the fact that it is revealed Yeong-ae is sleeping with men to get money for her class. I guess twelve year olds are a little different than when I was a kid…

In any case, I enjoyed the movie as a film about self-discovery and in its portrayal of today’s youth. It is available on DVD and I would recommend seeing it.

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