Seen in Jeonju

Archive for June, 2011

Traveling.. June 27-July 7

26th June 2011

aucklandI have caught up with a lot of behind-the seen things on this site such as upcoming movies in the ‘Filming/Awaiting Release’ section (left menu) and the list of films released this year (via the tab above marked ‘The 2010s”…not to mention the list of new dvds released in June listed below.  But I am about the fall behind again.  From tomorrow through July 7, I will be in New Zealand, slowly travelling between Auckland and Wellington. I will be posting again from July 8th.

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June 2011 DVD releases

26th June 2011

Up until this month, I had been posting weekly information about the Korean movies being released onto DVD, but I seemed busier with grading and exams than in past semester and I let that slide during the month of June.  To make up for that, here is the entire list of DVDs that were released during the past month. A total 19 movies and dramas are now available including some long awaited films (like I Saw the Devil) and some re-releases of out-of-print movies. 

june 2011 dvds

Come Rain, Come Shine — d. Lee Yoon-gi– starring Im Soo-jeong, Hyeon Bin/  subtitles: Korean and English/ 1-disc/recommended price: 19,800 KRW/  available from June 1.

Ha;l– d. Yoon Yeong-gi– starring Woo Sang-jeon, Jo Yong-joo/subtitles: Korean and English/ 1 disc/ recommended price: 21,900 KRW/ available from June 10.

Boy From Ipanema–d. Kim Gi-hoon– starring Lee Soo-hyeok, Kim Min-ji/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 1 disc/ recommended price: 21,900 KRW/ available from June 10.

Choono– d. Kwak Jeong-hwan– starring Jang Hyeok, Lee Da-hae/ subtitles: English/ 9 discs/ recommended price: 58,500 KRW/ <tv-drama> / available from June 14

Hometown in Heart–d. Yoon Yong-gyu– starring Choi Eun-hee, Yoo Min/ subtitles: English, Korean, Japanese/ 1 disc/ recommended price: 13,800 KRW/ <originally released in 1949>/ available from June 14.

Late Blossom- d. Choo Chang-min– starring Lee Soon-jae, Yoo So-jeong/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 2 discs/ recommended price: 20,500 KRW/ available from June 15

june 2011 dvds2

Coffee House– d. Pyo Min-soo, starring Kang Ji-hwan, Park Shi-hyeon/ subtitles: English/ 6 discs/ recommended price: 69,000 KRW/ <tv drama>/ available from June 15

Bittersweet Life, director’s cut– d. Kim Ji-woon, starring Lee Byeong-heon, Kim Yeong-cheol/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 2 discs/ recommended price: 11,000 KRW/ <re-release>/ available  from June 17

Untold Scandal– d. Lee Jae-yong, starring Bae Yong-joon, Jeon Do-yeon/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 2 discs/ recommeded price: 11,000 KRW/ <re-release>/ available from June 17

Heartbeat– d. Yoon Jae-geun, starring Kim Yoon-jin, Park Hae-il/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 1 disc/recommended price: 19,800 KRW/ available from June 22

Sign– d. Kim Hyeong-shik, starring Park Shin-yang, Kim Ah-joong/ subtitles: English/ 7 discs/ recommended price: 79,000 KRW/ <tv-drama>/ available from June 22

Battlefield Heroes– d. Lee Joon-ik, starring Ryu Seung-ryong, Seon Woo-seon/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 1 disc/ recommended price: 19,800 KRW/ available from June 22

june 2011 dvds3

Children… — d. Lee Gyu-man, starring Park Yong-woo, Seong Dong-il/ subtitles: Korean and English/2 discs/ recommended price: 23,900 KRW/ available from June 24.

City Hall, director’s cut– d. Shin Woo-cheol, starring Kim Seon-ah, Cha Seung-won/ subtitles: English/ 11 discs/ recommended price: 80,000 KRW/<re-release>/ available from June 28

Dream High, director’s cut– d. Lee Eung-bok starring Bae Soo-ji, Ok Taek-yeon/ subtitles: English/ 10 discs/ recommended price: 76,500 KRW/ <available also as vol. 1 & 2, each with 5 discs and each 39,600 KRW>/ available from June 28

Little Pond– d. Lee Sang-woo, starring Moon Seong-geon, Jeon Hye-jin/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 1 disc/ recommended price: 19,800 KRW/ available from June 29

I Saw the Devil– d. Kim Ji-woon, starring Choi Min-shik, Lee Byeong-heon/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 2 discs/ recommended price: 23,900 KRW/ available from June 29

Last Godfather– d. Shim Hyeong-rae, starring Shim Hyeong-rae, Harvey Kaitel/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 1 disc/ recommended price: 22,500 KRW/ <filmed in English>/ available from June 30

Romantic Heaven– d. Jang Jin, starring Kim Soo-ro, Kim Ji-won/ subtitles: Korean and English/ 1 disc/ recommended price: 22,500 KRW/ available from June 30.

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Testimony (1973)

20th June 2011

testimonyThere is really only one word that can be used to describe master director Im Kwon-taeks’s 1973 war film Testimony and that is ‘ponderous.’  It is a case where the topic of the film being too big for the actors and actresses. Their personal stories really do not seem to matter in the big picture and they are overshadowed by the events of the war. The  movie sets out to be told from the perspective of Soon-ah played by Kim Chang-sook.  Living in Seoul at the start of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, Soon-ah does not flee the city ahead of advancing North Korean forces due to her elderly mother being unable to withstand such an arduous journey and the fact that her lover, Lt. Jang (Shil Il-ryong), will be staying to fight.  However, Seoul falls quickly and Soon-ah is arrested and interrogated for her known connection with an southern army officer. Unable… and unwilling… to provide information to her captors, Soon-ah and a number of other prisoners are herded into the back of a small truck and sent to Pyeongyang where they expect they will either be placed in a prison camp or executed upon arrival. Either way, they believe they will never see Seoul again and, in the case of everyone but Soon-ah, they are right.   The truck comes under fire on the north side of the DMZ and the prisoners take the opportunity to escape.  All of them, save the film’s heroinne, are gunned down as they attempt to scatter throughtout the bombed out city the truck had stopped in. Her persuers also killed in a plane strife, Soon-ah is able to escape and begin her long, difficult and dangerous trek homeward.

Up until this point, most of the movie has been told through Soon-ah’s experiences. However, around this time, the narrative loses focus. A voice-over comes out over scenes of war explaining the horrific events and indicating the passage of time.  It is a little jarring and frankly not a very good story-telling technique. We do eventually catch up with Soon-ah again where she meets farmers or the ocassional deserter heading south towards Seoul, but you would never want to travel with her because all of her companions wind up dead. The movie loses focus again as we watch scenes where other refugees attempting to head south and escape the war and communism come up against North Korean forces.  These have little connection to Soon-ah’s story, although she does eventually stumble across the tragic aftermath and scrounges some food from the packs the corpses hold.  Instead, they seem solely designed to depict the North Korean officers as evil.  I suspect this was necessary. 

Back in 1965, director Lee Man-hee was fined and imprisoned by depicting a North Korean soldier as being compassionate in his film The Seven Female POWs.  The South Korean government at the time had very strict anti-communism laws and the humanizing of the soldier was a crime.  Censors during the sixties and seventies even objected if the actor playing a communist soldier was ‘too handsome.’  However, in Testimony, Im Kwon-taek actually goes a long way towards showing pity and humanizing some of the enlisted–or rather–drafted men of the North Korean army and, because of this, I suspect he needed to make the officers and true communists that much more evil to satisfy the censors and to keep himself safe. Im shows many of the soldiers fighting for North Korea as having no choice. They were drafted off the side of the road as they tried to flee or were captured in Seoul and forced to fight. The most touching scene of the film is that of the Seoul baseball player who dies in Soon-ah’s arms. It is not often that old war movies can have an affect on me, but that scene brought tears to my eyes.

Testimony is not on DVD. I watched it on KTV which has been showing Korean War films throughout the month of June.  However, since director Im is one of the most famous names in Korean cinema even today, there is a good chance that it will be released on DVD sometime in the future. When it is, you might want to pick it up and have a look.  Although the movie lacks polish, it is still watchable and has several good moments.

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Korean Box Office: June 17-19

20th June 2011


Well, exams have been graded and the final scores have been calculated and entered. I am now free to work on reviews and indexing films again.  Last week, I treated myself to watching Sunny and I was not disappointed. Like I said here, it is easily the best film I’ve seen this year.  Sunny came in at number two this week–six weeks after it was released– and has consistently been taking in about 17% of the box office totals. It currently has been seen by more than 5 million viewers. The number one film, Kung Fu Panda 2, just barely managed to defend its position in the rankings by just half a percentage point.

Coming this week, there is a fim called My Sassy Girl 2.  However, this is a Chinese film, not a Korean movie.  Green Day looks interesting…it has been in the works for years.  However, I doubt either of these movies will have much of an impact on the box office chart next week.


1.  Green Day (kr)– d. Ahn Jae-hoon, Han Hye-jin–voiced by Park Shin-hye, Song Chang-ui

2. In a Better World (dk)– d. Susanne Bier, starring Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm

3. Kimjongilia (us)– d. N.C. Heikin, starring  Kim Cheol-hwan, Shin Dong-hyeok <documentary>

4. Legend of the Fist (hk)– d. Andrew Lau, starring Donnie Yen, Qi Shu

5. My Sassy Girl 2 (ch)– d. Joe Ma, starring Lynn Hung, Leon Jay Williams

6. Play (kr)– d. Nam Da-jeong, starring Jeong Joon-il, Im Heon-il

7. Pungsangae (kr)– d. Jeon Jae-hong, starring Yoon Gye-sang, Kim Gyu-ri

8. Tomorrow, When the War Began (au)– d. Stuart Beattie, starring Rachel Hurd-Wood, Caitlin Stasey

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Sunny (2011)

19th June 2011

img850Easily the best film I have seen so far this year, Sunny is the right blend of comedy and drama & nostalgia and realism.  Admittedly, the ending threatens to derail the aforementioned realism, but it was so satisfying that I am not going to complain about it. Watching the film last week, I was happily surprised to see that the average age of the audience that attended the screening I was at seemed to be in the mid-forties. This makes it the second film this year that has appealed to, and likely made for, more mature audiences (the first being Late Blossom –formerly listed as simply I Love You). I don’t mean ‘for mature viewers’ as in a porn flick, by mature I mean viewers who have been out of high school for more than 10 years and where looking back at that time is like looking back in history. Although historical events are glanced, such as the clashes between riot police and pro-democracy demonstrators, they have no real meaning or importance in this film as they are the memories of a woman who was a high school student at the time–and she was dealing with issues of more personal importance to her.

The main character of the movie is Na-mi played as an adult by actress Yoo Ho-jeong and as a child by Shim Eun-kyeong.  Shim, who you may remember from 2009’s Possessed, gives an impresive performance–and even gives a nod to Possessed when she pulls trick of pretending to be possessed by a spirit and saying afterwards that she was hungry–similar to her most chilling lines in the 2009 film. Na-mi has just moved to Seoul from Jeonbuk and entered a new school. However, she is finding it hard to fit in between the dialect she spouts and the fashions and would-be sophistication of her classmates. But between the friends she makes and her natural charm, she soon find herself at the heart of her group of friends.

Like when I was in high school, the classes are divided into cliques. Her group of friends call themselves ‘Sunny’ after a popsong that they plan to perform at a school festival. Their rivals are cleverly named Girl’s Generation and Finkl predating the actual singing groups of those names by two decades.  However, no matter how close people are in their school days, time has a way of separating friends.  Now and adult, Na-mi has been reunited with the former leader of their group, Choon-hwa, who charges her friend with finding the rest of their classmates.  Na-mi sets about doing just that and in doing so is able to reconcile some past issues as well as re-examine how she is performing her duties as a wife and mother. 

As I write this, Sunny is still in theaters and may see five million tickets sold this weekend. It is an excellent film and I highly recommend seeing it at the first opportunity!

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Korean Box Office: June 10-12

13th June 2011


Tomorrow is the last day of final exams.  Of course, I still have to grade them but I think I will be able to write a few reviews this week. I have some catching up to do. 


1. Bitch Slap (us)– Rick Jacobson, starring Julia Voth, Erin Cummings

2. Green Lantern (us)– Martin Campbell, starring Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong

3. Hoodwinked, Too (us)– Mike Disa, Korean dubbed version voiced by Lee Shi-yeong, Kim Soo-mi

4. Illusionist (uk/fr)– Sylvain Chomat, voiced by Jean-Claude Donda, Eilidg Rankin

5. Lincoln Lawyer (us)– Bradd Furman, starring Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe

6. Music and Life (hk)– King-Wai Cheung <documentary>

7. Something Borrowed (us)– Luke Greenfield, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin Opening in Korea as Love and Friends

8. Super 8 (us)– J.J. Abrams, starring Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney

9. Triad Election 2 (hk)– Johnnie To, starring Louis Koo, Simon Yam

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Box Office: June 3-5

6th June 2011


Well, I was too busy last week to get any posts up on the site.  And with exams starting this Wednesday, I may still be busy. But everything will be by next week Tuesday and I should be able to get back on track.  This week, Kung Fu Panda 2 was able to hold out against a challenge from the new X-Men film.  Sunny, the number three film, continues to impress and now has more than 4 million viewers. All of these films are likely to slip down a notch or two with the opening of two strong contenders. The first is Scream 4 which seems to be generating a lot of interest. The second is Moby Dick which, although it was only tested on 29 screens this past weekend, managed to capture nearly 12 thousand viewers. While I don’t expect it to do very well in its opening weekend, White has me a little curious. NOT because of the trailer which makes it seem like a standard horror film, but because of the directors. The Kim brothers most frequently do political, short, satirical films (like The Capitalist Manifesto). However, of the smaller releases, I would most likely go to see The Story of My Life if it opens around here since Korean musicals are so rare. Information on these and other films opening this week are listed below.


1. Aejeong Manse (kr)– d. Yang Ik-joon, Bu Ji-yeong, starring Seo Joo-hee, Heo Joon-seok

2. Akunin (jp)– d. Lee Sang-il, starring Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eri Fukatsu

3. Game of Death (us)–  d. Giorgio Sevafini, starring Wesley Snipes, Zoe Bell

4. Kung Fu Masters (ch)– d. Dou Xiao, starring Biao Yuen, Ka-yan Leung

5. Moby Dick (kr)– d. Park In-jo, starring Hwang Jeong-min, Jin Gu

6. Priest (us)– d. Scott Stewart, starring Paul Bettany, Maggie Q

7. Scream 4 (us)– d. Wes Craven, starring Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox

8. Story of My Life (kr)– d. Shin Can-soo, starring Lee Seok-joon, Le Chang-yong

9. White (kr)– d. Kim Gok, Kim Seon, starring Ham Eun-jeong, HwangWoo Seul-hae

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