Seen in Jeonju

Archive for May, 2012

Trailers for New Movies Opening May 17th

15th May 2012

This week we have two Korean films opening this week. The first trailer if for the film Taste of Money..and what a trailer it is. This film has definitely caught my interest for the opulence of the sets. But not only that, the cast is quite good with such talents as Kim Kang-woo, Baek Yoon-shik, Yoon Yeo-jeong and Kim Hyo-jin, and the director is Im Sang-soo.

The other Korean film is All About My Wife, directed by Min Gyu-dong and starring Im Soo-jeong and Lee Seon-gyun.

For me, the choice is easy as to which movie I will see…

There are nine other movies that will be opening in theaters this week as well: First Grader (uk), Eep (netherlands), Melancholia (denmark), Cold Light of Day (us), Francesco and the Pope (germany), The Future (germany), Trash (spain), Erotibot (Japan), The Raid (indonesia)

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Korean Box Office: May 11th-13th

14th May 2012


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New DVDs: May 13-18th

13th May 2012

declaration of foolsThis coming week will see the release of two Korean films on DVD for the first time. One is the classic film Declaration of Fools, which I am ordering tomorrow–can’t wait to see it. The other film is called Sweet Fish from 2010 which I know very little about. Unfortunately, both of these DVDs are not subtitled. THe ‘Masterpiece Collection’ which Declaration of Fools is a part of, are never subtitled. I am not sure why Sweet Fish was released without subs but it may be because the powers that be presumed a lack of interest among international viewers. At the time of its theatrical release, Sweet Fish was shown on a just one screen in Seoul for a week and had a single screening in Gwangju. A total of 1,944 people have seen this film. If you buy it you will be part of a very exclusive club. I, for one, am going to pass for now.

Declaration of Fools (1983)– directed by Lee Jang-ho, starring Kim Myeong-gon and Lee Bo-hee. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: None/ Rating: for ages 18+/ Format: 4:3 full screen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 97 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 16,500 KRW/ Available: May 15th.

Sweet Fish (2010)– directed by Park Gab-jong, starring Lee Chang-ho and Hong Ye-na. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: None/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 93 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: May 17th

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Sleeping Beauty (2007)

12th May 2012

347854The cover of this DVD proudly proclaims Director Lee Han-na as “the female Kim Ki-duk” though I would debate whether that is a good claim to make or not. The early works of Kim Ki-duk are well-crafted, thought-provoking albeit disturbing, stories. However, his later works have, in my opinion, been self-absorbed and lacking fresh ideas.  Which Kim Ki-duk was Lee Han-na channelling?  I am happy to report that the answer is neither. Comparing her to another director is unfair to her and Sleeping Beauty should be judged as a work on its own, not placing it in a shadow of another set of films. I really have no idea why promoters would make the claim of Lee being a female Kim Ki-duk at all..especially in hangul.  They could not possibly think saying that would sell more DVDs… the movies of Mr. Kim is not popular at all here in Korea. Perhaps writing that tag in English would have been more productive as Kim Ki-duk is very well respected in Europe and North America.

Sleeping Beauty is an omnibus tied together with a common thread of incest. Not exactly a topic for light film viewing and probably why the DVD has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it several months ago. It seemed like the kind of film I would have to be in a certain mood to watch. Well, I finally gave it a try today and, while some situations are to watch, the movie is quite good.  It manages to navigate a trecherous road and presents its subject matter without ever appearing lurid. In fact, the most shocking subject matter and situations potentially offensive to the viewing audience happen entirely within our imaginations and not splashed across the screen.  They are set up well so there is no mistake as to what is happening/going to happen, but you see nothing.  In retrospect, I don’t recall there even being any nudity within the film… a fact you would never know by looking at the poster.. The only visual that felt gratuitous and completely unnecessary is a brief two-minute scene introducing the film where a woman pleasures herself in her sleep while her phone rings annoyingly in the background.  I was unimpressed by this and could only think “Cut that out and answer the damn phone!” However, this scene also feels like it was tacked on as it has nothing to do with the common thread in the film and the character involved has nothing to do with any of the three chapters of the movie.

Yes there are three chapters. Sleeping Beauty is an omnibus. The first story is called Cousin about two pre-teens mirroring the past mistakes of their parents. Through the parents’ lives we are able to see what is in store for these two.  I was very impressed by the acting in this part of the film ..especially of the adult characters. Their subtle eye movements and body language speak volumes.. much more than their words say.  The second is called Hibernation in which a struggling farmer takes care of her father who is in the advanced stages of dementia. His single moment (?) of lucidity is shocking and infuriating at the same time with his simple words of “I win” but subsequent events make it useless for the main character to feel the anger for long. This was the hardest of the three segments to watch. Finally, there is Sleeping Princess, the story of a young Chinese girl ‘adopted’ into a Korean family in the countryside when her mother goes to marry a man in Busan. The first night she is made to sleep with her new ‘father’ who is more than twice her age and has a grandson the same age as she. He is abusive and uncarrying, but also dangerously jealous of the growing friendship between the two young people.

I am avoiding writing details about the movie because it is something that you should track down and see for yourself. I was, however, very satisfied at the conclusion. The movie had made me think and evoked an emotional response.. two things I require from a film. The subject matter may be very disturbing, but I strongly recommend Sleeping Beauty for mature viewers.

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Index of Korean Films, 1970s: Kim Eung-cheon part 1

11th May 2012

Although Kim Eung-cheon had been directing films since the late 50s, he hit his stride in the 70s with his ‘high-teen’ dramas, second only perhaps to Director Seok Rae-myeong.  I was hoping to post all of his films this week, however I was only able to finish creating plates for a little more than half of his movies from this decade. I will post info on the rest of his films next week.

kimeungcheon1974 jinasletter, kimeungcheon1975 girlsgraduatingschool, kimeungcheon1975 promise, kimeungcheon1975 trueloveforwife, kimeungcheon1976 greenlove, kimeungcheon1976 letstalkaboutyouth, kimeungcheon1976 prayerofagirl, kimeungcheon1977 firstsnow, kimeungcheon1977 highschoolchamp, kimeungcheon1977 weddingday, kimeungcheon1977 whenwegrowup, kimeungcheon1978 missyangsadventure

To see the full-sized plates, just click the thumbnails and expand. You can also search through the directors of the 70s by clicking the tab at the top of this page marked ‘the 1970s.’  Oh, I am also including the lone film of this decade from Director Kim Dae-hee. We’ll be seeing more from him when I get to the 1960s…

kimdaehee1974 crashlandingofyouth

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The Independent, June 6th, 1896

9th May 2012

Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 27 from Saturday, June 6, 1896. In this issue: The war between the Independent (progressives) and the Minister of Educuation (conservatives) begins in earnest! Also, a mudang predicts disasterous years ahead for Korea that only she can stop and stone-throwing children cause property damage! <<Reminder:  All opinions expressed in the newspaper are the views of the editors of The Independent. They do not reflect the opinions of this website and are reproduced here for the sole purpose of providing historical context>>



The Minister of Education, Sin Ki Sun, has memorialized the Throne to the effect that the adoption of foreign clothes by the soldiers, policemen and Government students and the cutting of the hair is the first step toward making them barbarians; that the use of the unmun (hangul) and the adoption of the western calendar is the first step toward throwing off the yoke of China, that the new regulations for the Cabinet, giving them freedom to discuss public matters, deprives His Majesty of some of his power and encourages the freedom and liberty of the people. These were things contemplated by the former traitorous Cabinet.  He has been appointed Minister of Education but he cannot perform the duties of the office so long as the students have their hair cut and wear foreign clothes. The use of the unmun is the act of a beast and is like going into the fire with powder, and is the beginning of the destruction of the government and the venerable Chinese classics. He therefore hopes His Majesty will dismiss him from the Cabinet.

We are sincerely glad the Minister has thus delivered his opinion. Nothing could have been better for the country; for, as the mouth-piece of the conservative party, he has put hinself and his following into such an extreme situation that they must be discredited before the Korean Government and people. In this memorial he completely disarms himself and his party. The “yoke of China” forsooth!  It is refreshing; the best joke of the season. Let someone tell the venerable Minister that Yuan no longer brow-beats the Korean ministery and court, that China herself is tottering to her fall, that the boasted Chinese classics which  have striven for three thousand years to elevate Korea have only plunged her deeper and deeper into the mire. Let someone tell him that Korea can no more go back to ten years ago than he can go back to his swaddling clothes. He must have been asleep these last two years not to see the impossibility of his proposition. It will be a glad day for Korea when the generation which hob-a-nobbed with the sometime Chinese “resident” and his fellows is dead and gone. He thinks that discussion of public questions by the Cabinet infringes upon the Royal pregogative, and wants to go back to the time when the King, hedged about and kept in ignorance of the actual state of things, was at the mercy of anyone who could by hook or crook gain his ear. In other words a return to an utterly corrupt and corrupting form of Government.  He wants, again, to make the provinces the prey on which officials of the capital shall fatten. He wants to make the government, again, a field for personal exploitation, for indirection and intrigue. This is what his memorial means and what everyone knows it means. It should call down upon itself the scorn and ridicule of the world for its utter lack of knowledge of the actual state of things today and the needs of the country.  We sincerely hope his request will be granted and that he will retire to some quiet place and watch the evolution of his country which he has vainly tried to obstruct.

Brief Notice

Lieut. Yu Sung Won reports that he has dispersed 600 insurgents in Jin Chon districts.

Capt. Kim Hong Kwon reports that the insurgents in Chun Chon surrendered themselves to him and promised to go back to their homes in peace and begged for mercy. This having been granted a large number of the insurgents have disbanded.

The supreme court of Seoul has begun to receive the civil cases of law suits, but the common Seoul court still rejects them. We hope the latter will follow the example of the former.

The Governor of Tong Nai reports the Province of Tong Nai has no force to resist the insurgents that may come in there any day from the neighboring districts so he has established a company of forty soldiers for emergencies.

A sorceress named Han, who pretends to reprent the Great Spirit of Tai Kak Mountain in Kok San, has established herself in Mo-Hwa-Kwon. She claimed that this great Spirit told her Korea will have nine years’ drought and eight years’ war, but if the Government should pay her $6000, she will intercede with the Spirit to prevent the coming evils. The police arrested her a few days ago and she is now in jail awaiting trial.

Three hundred soldiers used to form a company of pioneers, but lately the company has been abolished and the man are now distributed among the infantry regiments.

A Policeman made disturbance without cause in Bong A-Dari outside the little West gate while he was on duty. He was promptly discharged.

Col. Yi Kyem Chai reports that Lieut. Wo Nam Kiu had an engagement with the insurgents on the 15th of May.  The latter lost twelve and two were taken prisoner.  The Colonel further reports that Capt. Yi Eui Sup captured the Chief of the insurgents Kwon Chong Ok in An Dong.  During the engagement the insurgents lost eighty and fourteen were taken prisoner. The Governement troops did not sustain any injury.  After the crushing defeat in Ye Chon and An Dong the insurgents in Kyeng Ju and neighboring districts dispersed immediately.

Magistrate of Chi Pyeng reports that a company of Seoul soldiers routed the insurgents in Che Chon, but they reunited in Ye Ju and now they number eight thousand.  The chief of this band is Myung Il Ho who is a man of some ability and influence in these places, hence he compels the law-abiding citizens to join his gang and so far he has had great success.

Some urchins and toughs of Seoul often congregate on the top of the city gates or walls and from there they throw stones down upon the houses and people below. Lately quite a number of houses under the walls have sustained damage by these missiles. It is a matter the Police ought to look after.

The mudangs of Seoul and the vicinity have been pretty well suppressed lately, and we congratulate the authorities on the faithful manner in which the law has been enforced.  Now, we suggest that the blind fortune-tellers and ‘blind devil chasers’ have a dose of the same medicine. They are just as bad, as if not worse, than Mudangs, and as a rule they play a larger game of deception among the poor people.

Col Nienstead of the Army is taking steps to organize a thorough system of business methods in the Pay Department, and he looks after the properties in general that belong to the War Office. A day or so ago one of the Independent staff had the pleasure of accompanying the inquisitive Colonel in his inspection tour among the sentries in front of the Russian Legation and other points in Chong Dong. The Colonel’s smile disappeared from his face when he found the guards didnot carry proper cartridges for their guns. They carry Remmington rifles but some of the cartridges they had were for Mauser rifles. That was not all, when he found another sentry standing there who did not have any cartridges at all, the Colonel muttered something under his breath that sounded like irun, chemi.

We are glad to learn that Pai ChaiSchool is making steady growth. The daily attendence of the students is now over one hundred. They all seem to be very much interested in the weekly lecture which Dr. Jaisohn delivers ever Thursday in the school.

Captain Sarnow, commander of the German Cruiser Arcona and two officers arrived in Seoul Thursday.

To the Editor of the Independent:  Sir– We are common citizens of the commonwealth and probably haveno business to say anything  concerning the affairs of state orcriticise the opinions of the Cabinet officers, but we consider the Independent to be the friend of the country at large; hence we venture to say a fwe words in regard to the memorial that has been sent to His Majesty, our gracious Sovereign by the Minister of Education, Sin Ki Sun.  He does not seem to know the present state of things at home and abroad. We think he has been with the “righteous army” or Tong Haks or “looters” so long that he has absorbed their ideas.  He wants Chinese classics instead of our own unmun, and he desires to use the Chinese calendar in place of the Gregorian. It is true that the Gregorian calendar is not our own, but it isused by all civilized countries of the world and each country can claim it herwon when it is printed in the language of the country. The Chinese calendar is written in Chinese and there is a great significance in the use of it. It is the custom in China that all dependent countries or tributaries must use the calendar which is given to a vassl King by the Emperor of China.  One of the conditions of the treaty between Korea and China 335 years ago was that Korea must send an ambassador to Peking every year to get the calendar from the Chinese court. It was considered a mark of  vassalage. By the help of God we threw off the shameful name of Chinese dependency and our Sovereign has become the equal of any Emperor or King of te world. At this time every patriotic citizen of our country ought to lend a hand in forming a progressive and independent Government. But the new Minister of Education memorialized the Throne to the effect that Korea must give up everything that may tend to make her a progressive and independent nation, and take up everything Chinese.  We consider that a man holding such an opinion would not be ofmuch benefit to the present Government. Your truly, Citizens of Chemulpo.

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8th May 2012

Out of the sixteen movies opening this coming Thursday, two of them are Korean films, Strangers and Dure Sori Story

Strangers is directed by Choi Yong-seok and stars Han Soo-yeon and Yeo Hyeon-soo.  The trailer below has peaked my interest and it seems to be my style of film. While I do not expect it to impact the box office, it looks like my style film and I really want to see it.

Dure Sori Story seems to have a plot similar to any number of movies where a group of mismatched students come together to eventually form a successful music group (Korean films Zzang and Spring Blossoms jumo to mind…) the traditional nature of the music my make this appealing, especially to those unfamilar with that style of song.

As mentioned above, there are 14 other movies opening this week.. and a surprising number of these come from the Netherlands. Here’s what else will be in theaters: Saint (netherlands), Venus in Furs (netherlands), Lulu (netherlands), Meat (netherlands), Letters to Father Jacob (finland), The Seventh Seal (sweden), Micmacs (fr), Assault (fr), Dangerous Method (uk), The Divide (us/germany), Colorful (japan), Usagi Drop (japan) and Dark Shadows (us), and Like Dandelion Dust (us)

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Korean Box Office: May 4-6th

7th May 2012


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Korean Movies on DVD: May 6-12th

5th May 2012


This week there are three films being released onto DVD, one animated film and two classic films directed by Im Kwon-taek.  The first movie pictured above is The Five Magic Letters, an animated feature released in theaters back in the summer of 2010 when it was seen by less than 130,000 people.  It was directed by Yoon Yeong-gi and voiced by Jeong Seon-hye and Park Shin-hee. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for all ages/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 85 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 25,300 KRW*/ Available: May 8th.   * Watch for lower prices. The suggested retail price on this film is merely what the promo material suggests. The site I usually shop at has this movie listed at less than have the figure listed above.

Evergreen– a film from 1978 directed by Im Kwon-taek and starring Kim Hee-ra and Han Hye-sook.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: None/ Rating: for all ages/ Format: 4:3 widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono/ Running Time: 115 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 16,500 KRW/ Available: May 8th.

Gilsodom– the other classic Im Kwon-taek film being released this week, this one from 1985. It stars Kim Ji-mi and Shin Seong-il.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: None/ Rating: for ages 12+/ Format: 4:3 widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono/ Running Time: 105 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 16,500 KRW/ Available: May 8th.  Just a quick comment.. the name of this film has been spelled many different ways in English over the years including. It is listed as Kilsoddeum onKOFIC’s site Gilsoddeum, Gilsotteum, Gilsottum, Kilsotteum, ect.  I selected the spelling that appeared on the original posters. I mention this however because the box cover of the DVD has it spelled in a new.. and rather bizarre, way… Gisodom.  Forgetting the ‘L’ is obviously a typing error that was not caught before going to print.

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Bae Doo-Na Interview

4th May 2012

One of my students at Woosuk University, Kim Han-eol, told me that he would like to develop his translation skills. He asked that I give him material to translate and wondered if I would go over it with him, helping him with grammar and vocabulary choices. Of course, I was happy to do that and directed him to entertainment news section of Daum.  I told him he could pick any article there and he selected an interview with actress Bae Doo-na written by Jo Jeong-Won, “Issue Reporter” of Daum Entertainment, published online April 30, 2012.  I think he did a great job on the translation and asked his permission to post the edited work here. He agreed.

Bae Doo-na is currently in theaters in the film As One.  It is the story of the first time South and North Korea united their athletes to particiapte in an international event. The Korean title of this film is simply ‘Korea‘ which is what the unified team was called but the English name was changed to As One since most non-Koreans take Korea to refer to South Korea. In the movie, Bae plays the North Korean table tennis athlete Lee Boon-hee.  What follows is the translation of the article:


20120430092410332“When the filming started, I became Lee Boon-hee and I could feel my heart race. Now I am gradually getting out of her shadow.”  The movie she is referring to is called As One (directed by Moon Hyeon-seong) and is based on the true story of the first union of North and South Korea when their table tennis teams worked together for 46 days under the name ‘Korea.’

During the matches, the North Korean player Lee Boon-hee had the image of being cold-blooded and fearless in the midst of a game. The coach of the team, Hyeon Jeong-hwa described her as a conceited person.  On the day of this interview in a cafe in Seoul, my first impression of Bae Doo-na was that she was unapproachable. Was this the influence of playing the role of Lee Boon-hee? As we spoke, that gradually faded and a warm personality and delightful energy emerged from her.

Lee Boon-hee rarely expresses her feelings in the story even when provoked by opponents. She merely responds with her own poker face and continues with her work. In this, there are some similarities between Bae Doo-na and Lee Boon-hee. However, Bae’s offscreen life is that of a purely brilliant woman and Lee Boon-hee may very well be that way as well. “I wonder what others, besides my family and friends, will think of the movie. My parents and friends cried like I did when they saw it. How was the movie?” she asked me.

In response to her question, I said, “I thought that your natural character was perfectly suited for playing that character as you two seem alike.” She was shocked by my answer and showed her gratitude.

“It is a pleasure to hear that the character and I are alike rather than I did a good job acting. I had been wondering what Lee Boon-hee would think if she had a chance to watch this film.”

The hardest thing about the role was the emotions that overwhelmed Bae. As soon as the cameras started rolling, she completely transformed into Lee Boon-hee.

It was hard for me to hold back my tears in the last scene. I was expected to overcome the situation but I could not stop shedding tears. My body was out of my control and I was nauseous. I was mad at myself and it was horrible to endure. It is a scene that is supposed to be funny when the coach argues and gets a red card, however I could not stop crying and I resented myself for it.”

As One does not manipulate the audience into feeling sorrowful. It promotes an emotional response naturally and honestly. As Bae is also naturally honest with her emotions, it was hard for her to hide them.

“When I was in my 20’s,  I thought after each film that I would be myself again after filming wrapped up. It was like that when I finished making Air Doll (2012).  But after winding up As One, it was difficult for me to start my next film, Cloud Atlas. I cannot fully shake the image of Lee Boon-hee. I want to slow down.”

I proposed that in order to refresh herself that we order some sweet chocolates from the cafe and which I know she enjoys. But the image of Lee Boon-hee remains with her.

The movie As One has the power to immerse the audience into the film. The strength of the film lies in the fact that it is based on a true story.

“As I watched the film, I should have been watching my performance without any other thoughts, but I was fascinated by the movie. It was hard for me to look at it objectively after playing Lee Boon-hee. Audiences are going to like this film because the strong impression it will leave. They will find the last scenes really inspirational.”

Bae Doo-na is not beautiful in this film. For much of the film, her face is soaked in sweat and she did not like to wear make-up in this role.

“Actually, I don’t care for cosmetics. Even now I’m not wearing much. I hate to wear full make-up. And I will certainly not wear make-up if the story I am filming requires me to depict a real character. As an actress, unless I am on a public stage or need to look refreshed, I do not enjoy it.” (laughs)

Reflecting her real life onscreen… that is a common theme for both Bae Doo-na and Lee Boon-hee.

There was a rumor stating that the reason Bae was selected for this film was because she learned table tennis in elementary school, but when asked, the answer turned out to be “No.”

“As you know, I am right-handed and Lee Boon-hee was left-handed. For the basic moves, it was possible to use my right hand, but I had to learn to use my left hand and it was the first time I had to do anything like this. I had never used my left hand and for the harder moves, my strength was insufficient. My swings were unnatural and problems arose because my left hand was not strong enough and when I hit with my right hand, I was too strong.  I had to practice a lot before filming.”

When I asked Bae Doo-na what was the most difficult thing about making this film, she pondered the question and put deep meaning into her answer. “I have no regrets after making this film but I will think of As One whenever I face hardship. Table tennis requires a lot of energy even though it seems liek there are not many moves.”

As One will open on May 3rd. Bae Doo-na is preparing for her busy interview schedule in the coming days.

“After it premiered, the response has been very positive and we are optomistic that this film will do well.”

Barking Dogs Never Bite inspired her as an actress twelve years ago. In other words, it was her turning point. “After a decade, it is time for a new turning point. As One could provide the motivation for one.”

Finally, I asked her if she thought about getting married and if she has a boyfriend, and she laughed in response.

“In the past, I had to hide my emotions. But I don’t have to do that anymore. I am not interested in getting married, but I wouldn’t mind going out once in a while.”

It has been 14 years since Bae Doo-na debuted as an actress. In that time, she as accumulated an impressive filmography. We have no doubt that, as always, she is going to shine in As One

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