Seen in Jeonju

Archive for May, 2011

DVD Releases: May 29-June 4

29th May 2011

We are now down to the last full week of the semester.  Hopefully, I will be able to post more often than I have been recently.  But in the meantime, I can muddle through the swamp of work I have to do and post what I can here.  This coming week, we have two DVDs being released, the film Come Rain, Come Shine starring Im Soo-jeong and Hyeon Bin and the tv drama Chuno which is probably my favorite recent drama (despite having the WORST child actor in the history of television…).

come rain

COME RAIN, COME SHINE– directed by Lee Yoon-ki, starring Im Soo-jeong and Hyeon Bin.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 105 minutes/ Recommended Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: June 1

CHUNO– starring Jang Hyeok, Lee Da-hae, Oh Ji-ho, Lee Jong-hyeok  Number of discs: 9/ Subtitles: English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo/ Running Time: 1920 minutes/ Special features include Chuno’s History, Commentary, Interviews and Filming/ Region Code: 3,4,5,6/ Recommended Price: 66,000 KRW/ Available: June 2

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Box Office May 20-22

25th May 2011


This post is a little late.  As I mentioned over the weekend, things are very busy with school at the moment.  But I was eventually able to look at the box office totals and I was surprised by what I saw. No, not by the film that was number one, that was pretty much expected, just as I expect Pirates of the Caribbean to be booted out in favor of Kung Fu Panda this coming weekend. I was instead surprised by how many screens Pirates opened on. Over 1000 screens! I think that is a first in Korean cinema.  Also the top two movies took home more than 85% of the box office earnings! The movies opening this week are listed below, but between the Panda, Pirates and Sunny, I wonder if there is any room left for the rest…


1. Collector (us)- d. Marcus Dunstan, starring Josh Stewart, Michael Burke

2. Copa Cabana (fr)– d. Marc Fitoussi, starring Isabelle Huppert, Lolita Chammah

3. Head (kr)– d. Jo Woon, starring Park Ye-jin, Baek Yoon-shik

4. Kung Fu Panda 2 (us)- d. Jennifer Yuh, voiced by Jack Black, Angelina Jolie

5. Mianhae, Gomaweo (kr)– d. Song Il-gon, Im Soon-rye, et. al, starring Kim Ji-ho, Seo Tae-hwa

6. Two Cops (ch)– d. Feng Cheng, starring Wei Tang, Chao Deng

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DVD Releases: May 22-28

22nd May 2011

With the semester down to the last two weeks of classes and final exams approaching, I found I had no time to post last week. I half-watched Rebirth (1969) and My Right to Ravage Myself (2003), but I can’t really write anything about them. I was correcting essays at the same time and the contents of the movies didn’t really sink in.  I have to finish checking those papers today, as I want to hand them back to the students first period tomorrow…but I want to get the coming DVD releases posted.  There are two movies and two classic dramas being released this week. We’ll start with the dramas.

men over flowers

MEN OVER FLOWERS — starring Lee Min-ho, Kim Beom and Ku Hye-seon.  Number of Discs: 9/ Subtitles: English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Region Codes: 3,4,5,6/ Recommended Price: 66,000 KRW/ Available: May 25

AUTUMN TALE– starring Song Seung-hyeon, Song Hye-gyo, Won Bin.  Number of Discs: 6/ Subtitles: English/ Rating: All ages/ Format: 4:3 standard/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 surround/ Region Code: 1,3/ Recommended Price: 99,000 KRW/Available: May 25

glovebravo jazzGLOVE– Directed by Kang Woo-seok, starring Jeong Jae-yeong, Jo Jin-woong, Kang Shin-il.  Number of Discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: All ages/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 144min (movie), 88 min (extras)/ Recommended Price: 27,500 KRW/ Available: May 26  BRAVO JAZZ LIFE– Directed by Nam Moo-seong, starring Lee Pan-geun, Lee Dong-gi, Park Seong-yeon  Number of Discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: All ages/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorohic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 105 minutes/ Recommended Price: 25,300 KRW  Available: May 26

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Korean Box Office: May 13-15

16th May 2011


Sunny, which climbed to number one last week when it officially opened, not only remained at the top but also increased its percentage of box office take. This may be partially due to the increase in the number of screens it played on but also because of  the fact that word of mouth reviews have been quite favorable. Source Code also held its place at number 2, while Officer of the Year and Thor reversed places from last week, winding up at three and four respectively. However, although it experienced upward movement on the box office chart, Officer of the Year actually lost percentage of  the box office take-this week being in the single digits.

This coming weeks sees the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean 4.  The first Pirates film did very well in Korea, but the series has done progressively worse with each new release. I only got through about 10 or 20 minutes of the third film of the series… I turned it off somewhere around the scene where the parrot and monkey operate the canon to shoot pirates from Singapore (?) or somewhere.  I expect the fourth installment to have a big impact on the box office the first weekend.. but we will have to wait to see if it has staying power. In case you don’t want to watch a movie based on a theme-park ride, the rest of the films being released this week are listed below.


1. Alamar (mx)– d. Pedro Gonsalez-Rubio, starring Jorje Machado, Natan Pablomini

2. Flowers (jp)– d. Norihiro Koizumi starring Yu Aoi, Ryoko Hirosue

3. Hwechori (kr)– d. Park Gwang-soo starring Ahn Nae-sang, Jin Ji-hee <English title pending>

4. Inside Job (us)– d. Charles Ferguson <documentary>

5. Lost Bladesman (ch)– d. Alan Mak, starring Donnie Yen, Andy On

6. My One and Only (us)– d. Richard Locraine starring Renee Zellweger, Logan Lerman

7. Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (us)– d. Rob Marshall, starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz

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DVD Releases: May 15-21

14th May 2011

This coming week, we have two Korean movies and one drama becoming available on DVD.


First up is JJAKPAE, an MBC drama which began airing in February of this year and continues until now. The DVD is Volume 1 and contains the first 16 episodes.  Directed by Im Tae-woo, Jjakpae stars Cheon Jeong-myeong and Han Ji-hye.  Number of dics: 6/ Subtitles: English/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Region Code: 3/ Recommended Price: 77,000 KRW/ Available: May 17

yellow sea

Next, we have YELLOW SEA, the director’s edition.  The theatrical version was released onto DVD back on April 13th. Unfortunately, according to the promotional material, neither edition has English subtitles, which I find very surprising seeing how well received Na Hong-jin’s first film, The Chaser, was in the overseas market. I was waiting for this edition before purchasing the movie, so I will know soon whether or not that was merely an omission on the part of the person who put together the promo list.  A limited number of customers who purchase this will receive a booklet containing the movie script. Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean/ Rating: ages 18+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 139 minutes (first disc), 122 minutes (extras on second disc)/ Recommended Price: 23,100 KRW/ Available: May 18

unjustOne of the more successful films from 2010, THE UNJUST is directed by Ryu Seung-won and stars Hwang Jeong-min and Ryu Seung-beom. Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean & English/ Rating: 18+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 119 minutes (disc 1), 120 minutes (second disc)/ Recommended Price: 27,500 KRW/ Available: May 19

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Index of the 70s: Hong Pa

11th May 2011

Below are the plates of the remaining five movies needed to complete director Hong Pa’s filmography during the 1970s.  And, because the blog can fit three on each row, I included the sole remaining film of Ahn Hyeon-cheol at the end to balance things out.  Click to see the full sized image. These and the other movies of the decade can be viewed by clicking the tab marked ‘the 70s’ at the top of the page.

hongpa1974monyeo, hongpa1975bushandswamp, hongpa1977wherewill, hongpa1978fire, hongpa1979suddenflame, yongmoon hogaek

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The World Without Mom 1 & 2 (1977)

10th May 2011

world without mother

Over the weekend, I happened to catch Lee Won-se’s The World Without Mom on KTV. I enjoyed the movie very much and, knowing that I had the DVD set which contained not only that movie, but the sequel as well, I decided that is what I would watch on the upcoming holiday which I knew from the weather forecasts would be a good day to stay home as we were going to be hit with heavy rains that will last throughout the week.

The World Without Mom is based on a diary by Kim Yeong-chool and that is indeed the name of the main character. He is a young student, approximately ten years old living in a southern coastal village where the main industry is salt farms. He lives with his father, mother and two younger brothers; Yeong-moon who is about 7 and Yeong-ho who is an infant. They are happy, but life is hard for the family and, as the title suggests, the mother exits the world early from, as Yeong-chool put it, ‘overwork.’ 

Her death leaves the small family devestated. Yeong-chool’s father turns to alcohol to assuage his grief, but it is not enough and he slowly loses his grip on reality and becomes mentally unstable. Afraid to leave Yeong-ho at home or at work with his father, Yeong-chool starts taking his youngest brother to school with him, making him the butt of cruel jokes by his classmates. His teachers, however, are more understanding and soon all the students come to respect Yeong-chool. His father becomes more unstable and, after attacking a man and nearly killing him, he is institutionalized, leaving his young sons on their own.

Yeong-chool tries his best to keep his family together as both his mother and father urged him to do, but there are many problems. The salt farm owns his house, and as his father is no longer working harvesting salt, it seems likely they will wind up on the streets. Well-meaning neighbors try to help, but Yeong-chool is too proud to fully take advantage of what they could offer. The villagers worry about the children and make arrangements for their welfare. Two of the children are set to be adopted while another will be sent to an orphanage. This does not sit well with Yeong-chool who knows they are not orphans. He decides he will fight to keep his family together. Yeong-moon comes to the same conclusion and runs away from the orphanage. The first movie ends with the brothers meeting again on the road outside their home. Their futures are uncertain, but at least they are together.

The World Without Mom 2, made and released the same year as part 1, picks up right where the other left film left off after a short recap.  The children are told by the owner of the salt farm that they can continue to live in the house and wait for their father to return from the hospital.  They receive food aid from the government and bags of rice from the villagers. Yeong-chool takes on full responsibility as parent, taking care of his younger brothers and becoming responsible for budgeting their meager savings. He receives some money from publishing his diary and a lot of donations are made to him and his family, but he misunderstands and refuses the money as he does not want people to think he is a beggar.  When it is revealed that his father’s hospital bill is late, he stops school to work harvesting seafood from the mudflats. And when his father escapes from the mental hospital, it is responsible Yeong-chool who makes the call to report his location.

However, things finally start looking up when the father does make a full recovery and is released from the hospital. He works hard for his family and the children are all happy that things are back to normal.  But the well-meaning neighbors once again interfere and tell the father that he cannot raise the children on his own and needs to remarry. They even know the perfect woman, a recent divorcee who cannot bear children but wants desperately to have a family. Yeong-chool is all for it and believes his mother would feel the same. Yeong-moon, who has been acting out all through the film, is not so sure…especially when the woman who will be his stepmother comes between him and his father with whom he is very close.

Both films are heavy on the drama and strive to make the viewer cry, and the way they go about this makes them feel a little dated. However, they are very enjoyable films and there is a lot to be said in their favor. The strongest points come from the acting of the two elder brothers Yeong-chool and Yeong-moon.  The former was played by Kim Jae-seong and the latter by Lee Kyeong-tae. Neither of these two continued in acting after the 70s but it was certainly not because of their performances here. They are naturals in the parts and the interaction between them, especially in the second film, is very believable. There are also some very artistic shots with the director highlighting the bleakness of the landscape while making it quite beautiful at the same time.

world without mom 3: festival of chicks

world without mom 3: festival of chicks

Their story did not end there. There is a third chapter called The World Without a Mom 3: Festival of Chicks made by director Lee Won-se in 1978.  However, it is not included in the DVD set nor have I seen it on tv. Just reading about it, I can tell that it does seem to differ from the first two quite a bit. For one thing, the title does not make sense as they now have a mother and father who love them and takes care of them. This in itself removes the feeling of tragedy from the film. Also, the family moves out of the village and into a larger town or small city taking advantage of low-income housing provided by the government. It does not seem to have Yeong-chool as the central figure as in the first two films. Rather it is Yeong-moon who learns at his new school that he has a passion for baseball but his talent does not match. He tries out for the team and winds up as a bat boy. The film apparently is his struggle to find the confidence and drive to succeed in his dreams… not at all the same as their previous two films where they fought to keep their family together and struggled to survive on their own.

If you can track down the DVDs of the first two films which were released together by Dreamix in 2006 with English subtitles, I highly recommend you do so. I liked these enough that if the third film ever becomes available, I will be picking that up as well.

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Korean Box Office: May 6-8

9th May 2011


Last week both Sunny and Officer of the Year (listed at that time as Chepowang) received test openings and had nearly identical numbers. But this weekend there was a clear winner as Sunny took nearly 25% of the box office totals– twice as much as Officer of the Year Source Code also did fairly well, booting Thor down to the third tier. (I had been thinking about seeing Thor as I used to like the character from comic books– but after I report I had on it today, I will wait until its on tv to see it).  This week, the only Korean movies opening in theaters are documentaries, meaning that they will have limited screenings and no large impact on the box office. The only film that might is Chinese Ghost Story. I have fond memories of the original film and I hope the remake is good.  Information about this week’s films is listed below after the image.


1. BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (th)– d. Panna Rittikrai, starring Chatcapal Apichart, Kittisak Outchit

2. BEOBJEONG SEUNIMUI UIJA (kr)– d. Im Seong-goo <documenatry, not yet assigned English title>

3. CHINESE GHOST STORY (ch)– d. Wilson Yib, starring Yifei Liu, Louis Koo

4. NO NAME STARS (kr)– d. Kim Tae-il, starring Yang Dong-nam, Yang In-hwa <documentary>

5.  REDLINE (jp)– d. Takeshi Koike, voiced by Takuya Kmura, Yu Aoi

6. SEX AND ZEN 3D (hk)– d. Christopher Sun Lab Key, starring Saori Hara, Tony Ho

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DVD Releases: May 8-14

8th May 2011

This week four movies will be released on DVD–and all of them are things I want to have.


SHOWDOWN– directed by Park Hoon-jeong and starring Park Hee-soon and Jin Goo.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean & English/ Rating: ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Region Code: 3/ Running Time: 111 minutes + 18 minutes of extras/ Recommended Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: May 11

detective k

DETECTIVE K– directed by Kim Seok-yoon starring Kim Myeong-jin and Oh Dal-soo. Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean & English/ Rating: ages 12+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital: 5.1/ Region Code: 3/ Special Features: Commentary on first disc, extras on second disc/ Recommended Price: 23,100 KRW/ Available: May 11


HERO– directed by Kim Hong-ik, starring Kim Hyeong-gyu and Lee Da-in.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles:  Korean & English/ Rating: Ages 15+/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 109 minutes/ Recommended Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: May 13

GOODBYE, PYEONGYANG– <documentary> directed by Yang Yeong-hee, starring Yang Kong-seon and Kang Jeong-hee.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean/ Format: 4:3 full screen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 81 minutes/ Region code: 3/ Recommended Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: May 13

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Foolish Game (2004)

3rd May 2011

foolish gameThis past Sunday, I made a discovery. After almost twelve years of watching Gag Concert every Sunday night, I suddenly realized that I was tired of it. The show started back in 1999 and I loved it at the time, although over the years it has had high and low points. Maybe it is this current batch of comedians and it will improve in a few months again when they move on but, right now, I don’t want to see it. Instead, I wandered into my DVD room to pick a movie to watch.  There are many that I have not seen yet and, after browsing around, I pulled Plastic Tree off the shelf. I had been meaning to watch that for a while…since 2003 actually. But as I started to go, the bright green spine of another DVD case filed nearby Plastic Tree caught my eye.  It belonged to Foolish Game which I also had not seen. The color looked so bright and enticing, especially compared with the dull, light tan of the cover of Plastic Tree. Poor Plastic Tree wound up back on the shelf and I walked out of the room with Foolish Game

Dropping the disc into the DVD player, I settled down to watch the film. I was quickly introduced to Hyeon-tae and his friends, Jae-cheol and Gu-bon, and their respective girlfriends, Mi-yeong and Hye-ryeon. Although the only unattached member of the group, Hyeon-tae does not seem or feel like a fifth wheel and he gets along with everyone. The role of odd-man out, or in this case–the odd-woman out, goes to Hye-ryeon who is far less gregarious and seems a little uncomfortable in group situations. But she must go along with the others as her boyfriend, Gu-bon, is the heart of the group and the glue that holds them together.

Even though he is not part of a couple, Hyeon-tae does not lack female companionship. He is something of a ladies man, able to pick up a date at the drop of a hat. So he is a little surprised that there is one woman he meets who shows absolutely no interest in him. Her name is Hee-jae and they first meet face-to-face when she double parks behind him in a parking lot. Unable to move his car, Hyeon-tae calls the number on the windshield for her to come and move it. That brief encounter with the distant woman is not enough for him and Hyeon-tae soon finds himself calling her again for a date. Oddly, we see Hee-jae dragging her key across the surface of her own car leaving a long white scratch in the black paint…

The mystery of Hee-jae deepens. She quickly cuts short her first date with Hyeon-tae. Promising to meet him at a movie theater, she keeps her word but goes there two hours earlier and watches the movie alone–meeting him outside the theater after the show, leaving Hyeon-tae out the price of two movie tickets. I was really wondering why Hyeon-tae kept trying to meet her– even I was losing interest in her. But then she does something interesting.  Heading to her apartment complex after one of her abbreviated dates with Hyeon-tae, Hee-jae goes to collect her mail. She pulls it out of her mailbox when the voice of the apartment security guard behind her asks, “Excuse me, Miss. Which apartment do you live in?”  The sound of his voice terrifies Hee-jae who takes off running before he can finish his sentence. He gives chase, but she hides outside, panting for breath and clutching the mail to her chest. We now suspect that perhaps her strange behavior with Hyeon-tae is not so much out of disinterest, but because she is hiding something.

During the floundering start to Hyeon-tae’s romance, his friends lives continue. They go to work, study at language academies, drink and talk about their common passion– mountain climbing. Hye-ryeon does not join in on these conversations but sits patiently through them. Jae-cheol also joins in less and his body language is making it clear that his affections are changing from his girlfriend to Hye-ryeon. The five friends finally pick a time where they can all meet and go to Chiri Mountain for a few days. Hyeon-tae invites Hee-jae who, although she has no plans, lies and says that she is busy and will not attend. But that trip to Chiri Mountain changes everything. Tragedy strikes and one of the group is killed.  Not only is the entire group dynamic turned upside down, but there seems like there could be a connection between what happened and Hee-jae.

Sometimes when I watch romances, I think to myself that it was too long. However, that was not the case here. In fact, I think with a little better writing and by filling in the many time gaps—especially near the end of the film– this plot could well be turned into a 14-week tv drama. The three gratuitous sex scenes would have to be cut out, but that would not be a loss. These were among the least passionate sex scenes I have ever watched. There is just no chemistry between the participants–and I think I have to blame actor Lee Dong-gyu for this because he was the common thread in all of those scenes. The director is also to blame as his use of a static camera gave these scenes the feeling of being shot by a security camera.

Outside of their poorly done sex scenes, the acting was rather good–much better than a standard tv romance. The dialog also was realistic and the interaction between the friends was believable. However, when it was released in theaters, this movie failed and it has fallen into the category of forgotten films like the movie I reviewed last week. I think the reason for this, besides the lack of well-known actors, is because the movie does not go far enough in any one direction to attract a certain kind of moviegoer.  The budding romance between the two leads is not cute enough to pull in anyone interested in romantic-comedies. The rating of ‘ages 18+’ assigned to this film because of brief nudity (non-frontal) and sex eliminated quite a few potential viewers unnecessarily. The attempt at art that the director tossed into the film–namely the approximately one minute where the contrast on the film is turned up making everything either bright white or black– was interesting but poorly thought out and nowhere near enough to make this movie interesting to those who like experimental movies like are scene at film festivals.  In short, the movie falls through the cracks, which is a shame– a little tweaking one way or the other in the editing process would have made this film more memorable.

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