Seen in Jeonju

Archive for January, 2013

Korean movies in theaters:2013-1-31

29th January 2013

There are three Korean movies opening for the first weekend in February. The first of these is opening today (January 30th) and has an incredible cast which includes Ha Jeong-woo, Han Seok-gyu, Ryu Seung-beom and Jeon Ji-hyeon! The title of the movie is The Berlin File and it is directed by Ryu Seung-wan.

The second film is a romantic comedy entitled The Etudes of Love by director Lee Yoon-hyeong. It stars Jeong Da-hye and Yeon Je-wook

And then there is the mystery A Fish, starring Lee Jang-hoon and Kim Jeon-bin, directed by Park Hong-min.

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New Korean DVDs 2013: January 27-Feb. 2

26th January 2013

There are a total a five movies being released on DVD this week. They are listed below.

red maria

Both of the movies in the image above are documentaries. The one pictured left is The Forgotten Bag by director Kim Sang-cheol and features Kwon Oh-joong and Lee Hyeon-woo. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: None/ Rating: suitable for all ages/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 70 minutes/ Available: January 29

The second film in that image is Red Maria directed by Kyeong Soon and features ‘Grace’ and ‘Rita’ Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 98 minutes/ Available: January 29

company man

A Company Man was directed by Im Sang-yoon and starred So Ji-seob and Lee Mi-yeon. Number of Discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: suitable for mature audiences/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 96 minutes plus 56 minutes on the second disc/ Available: January 30


Spy stars Kim Myeong-min and Yoo Hae-jin. It was directed by Woo Min-ho. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: suitable for ages 15+/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorophic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 115 minutes plus 82 minutes of extras/ Available: January 30


The last Korean movie on DVD this week is Traffickers starring Im Chang-jeong and Daniel Choi. Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: suitable for mature audiences/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 111 minutes plus 40 minutes of extras/ Available: February 1

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Another’s Nest <1982>

25th January 2013

ANOTHER’S NEST <1982&gt;– directed by Lee Gi-hwan. Starring Kim Mi-sook as Soo-hee , Ha Myeong-joong as Byeong-no and Ahn Seong-ki as Min-wook. Running Time: originally 105 minutes–see below. Originally released on November 20, 1982>

anothers nest Soo-hee wants a baby more than anything in the world. She is not feeling fulfilled as a housewife and has filled her side of the bedroom with baby dolls..the larger of which she knits clothes and booties for. Her husband, Byeong-ho has filled his side of the room with cacti, a symbol of the fact that he is unable to father a child. This unfortunate condition constantly preys on his mind and he searches desperately for a cure through both ordinary channels and the extreme, like drinking fresh snake’s blood. He clearly loves his wife and sympathizes with her desire for a family. He tries to distract her by providing her with anything she clothes, a beautiful, modern apartment.. to no avail. Whenever Soo-hee sees children at play, her mind wanders away and she becomes sullen and distant. This distance is growing into an insurmountable gulf with her husband and Soo-hee is soon seeking attention from men outside of the home…and with one man in particular..Min-wook. The two meet with growing frequency and both start to become careless in keeping their relationship a secret from Byeong-no. One especially close call sends Min-wook out of the window on a tiny ledge some 10 or 12 stories above the ground.

This narrow escape does nothing to diminish Min-wook’s desire to be with Soo-hee and he all but confesses to Byeong-no that he has been sleeping with his wife. Soo-hee, for her part, becomes cold and suspicious towards her husband, creating scenarios in her head in which her jealous husband murders both herself and Min-wook. Then one day, Soo-hee’s prayers are answered when a visit to her doctor confirms that she is pregnant, but when she tells her husband it does not have the desired result. First of all, she is no longer in love with Byeong-no and the thought of raising a child with him no longer interests her. Secondly, it makes Byeong-no very suspicious of his wife’s behavior. Despite all the treatements and tonics he has been trying, Byeong-no knows that he will never be able to father a child and he starts paying closer attention to what his wife is up to. Her late night disappearing act from the home is no longer going unnoticed and Byeong-no eventually learns the truth about his best friend and his wife. Rather than confront the pair, he starts playing mindgames with them like frightening his wife with a box of snakes. His torment of Min-wook is a little more serious when he nearly has him crushed under a hydraulic press they are working on.

Although Soo-hee never learns of her lover’s near-death experience, she begins to fear for both of their lives and makes a plan to run away with Min-wook. In spite of some snags along the way, the pair are able to escape and wind up at a seaside villa. There they passionately confirm their love, blissfully unaware that Byeong-no has located them and is on his way for a final confrontation.

It is hard to stay interested in the film when you begin to really hate the main character. Her treatment of Byeong-no was terrible. I am not saying that it was necessary for her to stay with him especially when it is clear that she no longer loves him, but she had no basis for creating scenarios in her head in which Byeong-no is a vicious killer. Also, her motive for cheating was rather shallow. She is bored. She knits baby clothes for a child whom she doesn’t have and stares out the window at the children playing outside her apartment complex. It is also strongly suggested that sex with Byeong-no is not very satisfying as the rather stubby, malformed cactus he is nursing when we are introduced to him not-so-subtly indicates. So she seeks sexual satisfaction outside of the house. Although she is meeting Min-wook from the very beginning of the film, there is no indication that she knows who he is or his connection with her husband. Their secret meetings are done entirely in pitch blackness from the moment she walks in the door of Min-wook’s home. The only way Min-wook learns more about her is by following her out.

anothers nest still imageOnce the two realize that they are connected through Byeong-no, Min-wook seems to take this as a new and exciting challenge. He flirts with danger by strongly dropping hints to Byeong-no about his relationship with his wife. Prior to that, he often filled in his friend and co-worker on his sexual escapades with a mysterious girl. Later, he convinces himself that Soo-hee needs rescuing from her husband whom we have seen up to that point showing nothing but kindness to Soo-hee. In his mind, Soo-hee moves from being a fantasy sexual adventure to a real-life adventure where he must save the damsel in distress. Does he really love her? Despite what he may say to Soo-hee, I think that he does not. Once she becomes available, the adventure will be over. I think it was telling how distant he was during the final, anti-climatic confrontation in which all of Soo-hee assumptions and fears about her husband and what he is capable of prove to be false. By the end, she is free to go with Min-wook and have their child together, but I wonder how long their relationship will last now that it is not forbidden and dangerous anymore. And that is not just because of Min-wook.. even Soo-hee continues with her coy ‘turn off the lights’ game prior to sex, re-creating the atmosphere of forbidden love when it is no longer necessary.

After watching the film, I read what was written about it on the KMDb. To my surprise, there was an extra sentence that implied Byeong-no kills himself, however this does not happen in the movie. I then did some checking and found that a scene had been removed from the original script in which Byeong-no does indeed kill himself after admitting to himself that Soo-hee and Min-wook are in love and that he has lost his wife forever. The version I saw was apparently from the VHS release which was a full 15 minutes shorter than the theatrical release. I, for one, am glad that was left on the cutting room floor when the video version was made. It makes Byeong-no more sympathetic and courageous and less in need of our pity.

Another’s Nest is not available on DVD. I was able to view this film via HanaTV.

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New Korean Movies in Theaters-2013-01-24

22nd January 2013

We have three new Korean movies opening in theaters for the last weekend of January. Normally movies open on Thursday in Korea, but there have been a couple of films that are getting released today, a day early. One of them is the Spanish/Canadian co-produced horror film Mama, whose trailers have gotten me curious.  The other is the Korean film Miracle in Cell No. 7. <the official English title is not ‘a gift of seven room’ as the Youtube trailer seems to indicate>

Next we have a film that is actually from 2007 and was on the film festival circuit. The poster has the English title Busan Flounder- Redux . This film is likely to have a limited release. Because of the age and nature of the movie, I was unable to find a trailer. However, there is a music video featuring scenes of this film that effectively serve as a trailer.

Finally, there is a documentary entitled Sea of Butterfly which was also screened quite successfully at many film festivals.

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Korean Movies On DVD: January 20-26

19th January 2013

There are four Korean movies being released on DVD this coming week. One is the horror movie Two Moons and the other three are films that have not received releases outside of film festivals and are all products of director Kwon Soon-do.

two moons

Two Moons– directed by Kim Dong-bin and starring Park Han-byeol and Kim Ji-seok.  Number of discs: 1/ Rating: suitable for ages 15+/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 86 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: Januayr 23.

Confession of a Son– documentary directed by Kwon Soon-do.  Number of discs: 1/ Rating: Suitable for all ages/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: 2.0 CH/ Running Time: 51 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 12,000 KRW/ Available: January 24

One Step Forward– directed by Kwon Soon-do starring Jang Dae-shik and Song Hyo-bin.  Number of discs: 1/ Rating: Suitable for ages 12+/ Subtitles: None/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: 2.0 CH/ Running Time: 80 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 15,000KRW/ Available: January 24.

Engaged– directed by Kwon Soon-do and starring Ha Kyeong-hee and Jo Yeong-joo. Number of discs: 2/ Rating: Suitable for mature viewers only/ Subtitles: English/ Format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: 2.0 CH/ Running Time: 68 movies <info about the second disc is not listed in the promo>/ Suggested Retail Price: 20,000 KRW/ Available: January 24

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A Country Affair <1984>

17th January 2013

A Country Affair <1984>– Directed by Kim Eung-cheon. Starring Jo Yong-won , Choi Yoon-seok and Hwang Joon-wook . Running time: 95 minutes. Originally released May 26, 1984.

country affairDue to her mother’s battle with cancer and the need to be near a specialist in that disease, young Shin-ae is uprooted from Seoul and sent far down the peninsula to the island of Eulpo off the coast of Yeosu.  If this move distresses her, one would never know because Shin-ae always shows herself publically to be a bright, positive and confident young lady who seems not to have a care in the world.  Money is certainly not an issue for her or her mother and Shin-ae is always dressed in the best clothes and even has her own autobike that she plans to ride around the island and to her new school. However, she does not start out by making the best impression on her new neighbors, classmates or school adminstrators.  For example, on the boat to Eulpo, she is approached by a man in his thirties who appears to flirt with her. She lies and claims to be a college student and able to smoke or drink if she wishes, only to discover that man is Mr. Han, one of her high school teachers. Another teacher, Ms Kang, takes what seems like a personal dislike of this priviledged young woman. Ms Kang is in charge of morality and life ethics of the students and she finds Shin-ae’s expensive clothes and long hair offensive as well as her frank way of speaking.  And then there is Hoon, the son of Dr. Kim whom Shin-ae and her mother are boarding with for the foreseeable future.  He is about the same age as Shin-ae but finds her casual way of speaking to him offensive and he resents how Shin-ae and her mother get along so well with his father, appearing like a ready-made family while he still misses his deceased mother. 

The problem with Hoon is rather easily solved as he soon finds himself falling in love with Shin-ae.  His father points out that he barely knows the girl and recommends he cool his heels for a while, but the two naturally begin to grow closer and spend some time together.  Shin-ae’s initial lie to Mr. Han is also easily forgiven although her second lie to him is a little more difficult to let slide.  In order to get out of cutting her hair, Shin-ae lies to Ms Kang saying that Mr. Han had allowed her a month’s grace period and that she could get away with having long hair for the time being.  Mr. Han covers for Shin-ae, preventing her lie from being exposed, but that causes resentment to build up in the crowded classroom.  The other girls are regularly inspected by Ms Kang for make-up, hair length, clothes styles and even perfume. The fact that Shin-ae appears to be getting preferentional treatment does not go over well with most of the other students but she does manage to make one close friend.

Shin-ae complicates the issue by growing a little too close to Mr Han.  To apologize for lying, Shin-ae goes to Mr. Han’s room and spends several hours cleaning it while he is out. She brings him flowers, invites him for ice cream and takes long walks on the beach with him.  Inadvertantly, she develops a full-blown crush on her teacher and his responses to her seem to give her hope that her feelings are reciprocated. She believes the only thing keeping them separated is the fact that he is the teacher and she is a student, but that is something that will not be an issue forever.

Meanwhile, the girls in Shin-ae’s class have had quite enough of this teacher’s pet and decide to teach her a lesson. While on a field trip in the hills, one clique of girls attack and overpower Shin-ae who had wandered off on her own after submiting her essay. Armed with a pair of scissors, the bitter girls make short work of Shin-ae’s luxurious locks.  When the teacher finally arrives on the scene, Shin-ae is sobbing alone, her hair butchered and much of it scattered around the forest floor. This is made even more poignant as Shin-ae’s essay is read over the images where she explains there was a reason she was insisting on long hair.. and it was here that I was pleasantly surprised. The movie does give a valid reason–which I will reveal shortly because, let’s face it, this movie will never be released on DVD with English subtitles– and it is one I should have seen coming but never considered. Like her jealous classmates, I had assumed that Shin-ae was hanging on to her long hair out of a combination of vanity and a sense of superiority. I believed that she thought that since she was from Seoul, a far more progressive city than the town of Eulpo, and she was trying to teach the country-folk the new, better ways of living.  Boy, was I wrong about her. The reason that she wanted long hair– and wanted to grow it out for just one more month– is that her mother will be starting chemotherapy soon and she wanted to make a wig for her mother in case she lost her hair in the treatments! 

I was very impressed by that revelation. In short order, her classmates apologize, Mr. Han and Ms Kang convinced not to resign because of this incident and the end of the school term comes. I thought the movie was ending here but was surprised to see that I was only a third of the way through. The script then made it clear that they were going to spend the rest of the movie dealing with the very uncomfortable-to-watch relationship between Shin-ae and Mr. Han.  In reality, it is not so bad. We the viewers know that Mr. Han is in a relationship with Miss Kwon, another teacher at the school, but this fact is unknown to the students. However, what we are shown are Shin-ae’s fantasies about her and Mr. Han. While I know that it may not be uncommon for a young student to have a crush on a teacher, it seems completely wrong to be privilege to these intensely personal feelings for a man that is completely inappropriate for her. And these daydreams are made worse because the older man takes on the role of pursuer of the teenager. 

When Shin-ae finally realizes that Mr. Han has no real interest in her and wil soon marry Miss Kwon, she has an emotional breakdown and collapses unconsious in the wet sand on the shore. How long she lay there is unknown, but we next see her, still unconscious, hooked up to an IV in the hospital fighting for her life against a high fever, with the all-but-forgotton Hoon loyally and hopefully remaining by her bedside, his love for her still strong despite her attraction to someone else. Will she recover? Will Hoon’s unrequited love be rewarded?  Or will she sink from coma into death and leave everyone to mourn the loss of her bright presence?  After the events of the horrible haircut, this whole situation seems tacked on as an afterthought and, in fact, is very anti-climatic. The last thirty minutes of this film manages to lower the overall quality of the script which was relatively well-paced and well thought out in its first hour. Because of that, the movie moves, in my estimation, from being good and easy to watch to rather forgettable and a little dull in its finale.

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Trailers for Korean films opening January 17

15th January 2013

There will be three Korean movies opening in theaters this week. One is a comedy that has been in the works and delayed since 2008. It has the English name of Horny Family and stars Kim Seung-woo and Lee Mi-sook. It was directed by Park Bo-sang. However, I cannot find any trailer to this film nor does it have a website I can direct you to… I don’t expect too much from this film…

So the first trailer I have is for a drama called BED directed by Park Cheol-soo and starring Jang Hyeok-jin and Lee Min-ah.

And then there is the Korean-Chinese-Japanese co-production of Speed Angels directed by Chinese director Jingle Ma and starring Wei Tang and Han Jae-seok.

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Korean DVDs available Jan. 13-19th

13th January 2013

Well– I just got back from vacation and I am really feeling the effects of jetlag.  But I am forcing myself to stay awake until at least 10pm to try to readjust to the time difference. So, I thought this would be a good time to start catching up on some blogging. I will begin with the dvds that are going to be available this week.

international awards short film winners 2

The first three DVDs on the list interest me quite a bit and I may place an order for them tomorrow. They are the International Awards Short Film Winners volumes 1, 2 and 3.  Unfortunately, they are not sold as a set and must be purchased individually. Each volume consists of one disc with three, four or five short films by Korean directors on them. As it is not easy to see short films outside of film festivals <or the INDIEFILM channel if you are in Korea>, this is a great opportunity to view some.  All the films have English subtitles and each DVD has a running time between 70 and 80 minutes.  Each disc has a recommended pricetag of 19,800 KRW and all are available for purchase on January 15th.


This next one is a film that was extremely successful in 2012. The movie is Thieves directed by Choi Dong-hoon and starring Kim Yoon-seok and Kim Hye-soo among many other big-named actors. Number of discs: 3/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 1085:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 135 minutes plus 156 minutes of extras divided between discs 2 and 3/ Recommended Retail Price: 25,300 KRW/Available: January 16th.

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