Seen in Jeonju

Korean Films in Theaters 2013; week 44

27th October 2013


Days of Wrath


GREEN CHAIR 2013- Love Conceptually

NORA NOH –documentary

20131030 no breathing, 20131030 days of wrath, 20131030 love skill, 20131031 green chair 2013

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Index of the 1970s: Director Lee Seong-min

27th October 2013

Director Lee Seong-min was born on November 6, 1944. After graduating from the Department of Performing Arts at Joongang University, Lee began work immediately as an assistant director working under a variety of directors including Lee Seong-goo and Park No-shik. He debuted as a full director in 1976. Although not a prolific director, Lee continued to make movies on and off until the early 1990s. In the 1970s, he has four films to his name. To see the films of other directors from this decade, click the tab marked ‘The 1970s’ at the top of the page. (Soon there will be a 1970s B added to the top menu. I have added the maximum amount of links to the THE 1970s– I cannot enter that page to edit anymore. So 1970s B will include films, starting with information on Lee Seong-goo’s posted last weekend, that do not yet have links attached to them. Other decades, except the 1960s, have fewer films than the seventies, so I don’t expect I will have to do this for each ten-year period)

leeseongmin1976 wild forest, leeseongmin1976 season of love, leeseongmin1978 two minus three, leeseongmin1978 shouting flag

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Imagination Series-Tribeca Film Festival

26th October 2013

I was recently contacted about whether I would like to share the following about the Imagination Series film competition.I thought it might be something that film lovers would be interested in and copied the email I received below. And you can vote by visiting their Facebook page:

• Four filmmakers have already won the chance to have their script made into a film • Now the public can vote for a fifth film by visiting
LONDON, October 24, 2013 – BOMBAY SAPPHIRE, in association with Tribeca Film Festival, have today announced four winners of the Imagination Series film competition.
But the voting isn’t over just yet: now they’re giving members of the general public the chance to vote for the fifth and final film treatment to be selected. Film lovers can have their say and cast their vote by visiting, with the winning film announced on 14 November 2013. By way of thanks, 1 entrant will be picked at random to win an all expenses paid, VIP trip to New York City during the Tribeca Film Festival.

The five shortlisted entries are:
• Karen Pessina, Italy – ‘Tea Time’ is a thriller involving two men who pull over with a flat tire. When they seek help at a nearby house, an old lady offers them tea and muffins. One suddenly drops dead after eating a poisoned muffin. His partner is reunited with the old lady.

• Allyson Morgan, USA – ‘Need for Speed (Dating)’ is a comedy about two friends that attend a speed dating event. They face a gaggle of unsavory guys one after the other and begin to think that all hope is gone. Fate intervenes and they each find a great match somewhat closer to home.

• Giles Borg, UK – ‘The Search’ is a drama about a man who fears he’s the last man left on earth. He employs an old computer terminal, BOB, to scan CCTV footage for other signs of life. BOB finds other humans but, being lonely himself, does not tell John, who leaves, hopeless.

• Effie Woods, UK – ‘Cutie Pie’ is a comedy about a man, Peter, who returns home to find he has been bought an adorable kitten by Maggie. Peter wants Maggie to return it when the kitten destroys the house. Despite their efforts to shake off the little monster, it continues to haunt them.

• Hiroshi Momose, Japan – ‘The Value of Freedom’ is an animation set in the zoo. Two birds look out through bars at the sky beyond. One bird enlists help to escape the confines of the cage. Choosing to fly off into the unknown, the other bird chooses to stay, reassured by what it knows.

Five of the most imaginative illustrators and design collectives have been selected to create bespoke movie posters for each of the shortlisted scripts. James White (Tea Time), Studio MUTI (The Value Of Freeodm), Joe Wilson (The Search), Andrew Archer (Cutie Pie) and ilovedust (Need For Speed (Dating) have all used their unique styles to bring the treatments to life.

Bombay Sapphire and Geoffrey Fletcher assembled a cross section of imaginative heavy weights from the world of film to judge the entries, which featured Academy Award winning actor, Adrien Brody; producer, Ross Katz; Naomi Foner; actor, Peter Facinelli; and senior curator at Vimeo, Sam Morrill, who between them selected nine films for their originality and imagination.
Academy Award winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher commented on the competition: “At a time when it’s difficult for new voices and creative visions to find funding and broad exposure, Bombay Sapphire is providing a platform and launch pad for new stories to be told on screen. We hope the films we create inspire audiences and are as resonate as they are imaginative.”

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New DVDs

22nd October 2013

It has been more than a year since I purchased some new DVDs for my collection. The biggest reason for this is because I can see many movies, both new and old, via my internet TV provider. While I have not missed buying the newest releases, there have been numerous older films appearing on DVD that I wanted to get my hands on and that BTV did not carry. When the Kim Kee-duk Collection came out this month, I could not resist any longer. I ordered it…along with a dozen or so other DVDs I had my eye on but resisted buying over the past few months. Here is a picture of what arrived in my office Monday afternoon:
new dvds

At the top we have the Kim Kee-duk Collection which consists of The Five Marines (1961), which I think I reviewed on this site this past spring as it was on EBS TV, Barefoot Youth (1964)– which I already owned as a separate DVD but I can donate that copy to the school or give to a friend– North and South (1965), a movie that I saw long ago on television and loved, and Horse-Year Bride (1968) which I have never seen.
The second row primarily consists of the three volumes of a set called The International Awards Short Film Winners (various years). I love short films and I will be excited to view them. Next to them is March of Fools (1975), a film that has been a long time coming to DVD– However, don’t get your hopes up. This DVD has no subtitles.
What DOES have subs are three of the four DVDs in the next row. Tosuni: The Birth of Happiness (1963) received the royal treatment from the Korean FIlm Archives. They included a book explaining about the film and the state of Korean cinema in relation to the government at the time the film was made. Next to it, is the unsubtitled Come Down to a Lower Place (1982) followed by Come to Me (1996) and Rehearsal (1995). I was happy to see both of these films again. At one point I had them on VHS but gave them all up when I switched to DVDs. I have no memory of the stories despite writing about them on the original message boards. I had got my start writing about Korean movies by posting on the forums about pre-Shiri films and these were among the films I introduced.
The final row consists first of Blazing Sun (1986)– no subs- and then the Im Kwon-taek Collection (Wangsimni-1976, Genealogy-1978, Jagko-1980, and Mandala-1981). I had held off buying Im’s collection but now seemed as good a time as any. Finally there is Maria and the Inn (1997) and Fire Bird (1996). Both have subtitles. I have clear memories of writing about Maria and the Inn and I remember really liking it. I wonder if time has changed my opinions.

So.. have you purchased any DVDs lately?
Click here to view the complete list of DVDs I own

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Two People in the Wall (1978)

20th October 2013

Two People in the Wall (1978) — Korean Title: 벽속의 두사람– Romanization: Byeoksokui Doosaram. Directed by Lee Seong-goo. Starring: Ha Myeong-joong (Myeong-ho) and Jeong Yeong-sook (Myeong-ho’s lover). Running Time: 75 minutes. Original Release Date: March 1, 1978. Available on DVD: No

two people in the wall Myeong-ho is a welder in a factory who spends his days like a zombie. He moves between his shabby home where he lives with his elderly mother and his job where he is worked nearly to death. The only relief he gets from work is a five-minute break each day and propaganda time where they chant slogans for the nation. You see, Myeong-ho lives in North Korea. He is not without his friends but he is extremely discontented with life, finding no meaning in what he is doing. He notices things that others are either blind to or have been desensitized to such as when a young woman is taken at gunpoint from his village to be gang raped by soldiers on the outskirts of town. When her body shows up shortly thereafter, he is the only one whose face registers anything. He starts noticing death all around him. Visiting his best friend to discuss his thoughts and doubts proves fruitless as his friend’s younger brother has joined a youth militia is now making regular reports to the soldiers that are an ever-present force in the small village they live in.

Myeong-ho is able to feel all-too-brief moments of escape with his lover, a co-worker in the factory. When he is being punished for sleeping at the job, she leaps to his defense– by beating his senseless, but it saves him from a far worse beating. However, she soon catches the attention of the lecherous soldiers and becomes the latest victim of their appetites. The aftermath leaves her pregnant, so she and Myeong-ho make a difficult journey into the mountains to pay a visit to a hermit who is known to perform abortions. Unfortunately, without the proper equipment or medication of any kind, it is a risky operation and the young woman does not survive. Meanwhile, his friend had been making plans for all three of to escape, but he has been reported by his younger brother and arrested. When a despondent Myeong-ho makes it back to town, he finds his friend hanging upside down from a tree.

Temporarily unhinged, Myeong-ho wanders aimlessly until his approached by a female soldier who inquires after him…rather kindly as opposed to every other soldier in the film. She is rewarded for her kindness by being raped and killed. At first it seems as if that Myeong-ho has no idea what he is doing, but after raping the woman he seems to recover his senses and her murder is intentional. He strangles her while remembering the screams of his girlfriend interspersed with happier times in their relationship. It is out of revenge that the soldier dies.

With nowhere left to go, Myeong-ho returns to his village and goes through the motions of his life. However, his tolerance of his circumstances is at an end. When he challenges the factory boss and the soldiers recruiting there, he starts an uprising among the workers. It is violent, bloody and very brief as reinforcements soon charge into the grounds and quickly disperse the workers that are not killed immediately. The death toll is high and Myeong-ho appears to be among the fallen, but he had only passed out after savagely beating a guard to death and exhausting his energy by continuing the beating long after the soldier is dead. With absolutely nothing left to lose, Myeong-ho heads south, but his sanity is not all there. He is a broken man, shouting angrily at singing birds and his sense of self-preservation is gone. He doesn’t even see the soldiers that eventually shoot at him. Tumbling down a mountain after being shot, he falls into a river (presumably the Duman as we later pan to the line of barbed wire marking the Demilitarized Zone). Crossing, he has barely emerged from the water and gotten his bearing when he is shot five or six times in the back and chest. Even then he does not fall for several minutes, presumably the hope of freedom spurring him ever onward.

A couple of posts down from this, I indexed the films of Lee Seong-goo and this was one of them. I was surprised to see it offered on BTV and decided to give it a chance. While I am glad that I watched it, I do not feel that I could recommend it to anyone else. The depiction of North Korea was how the Koran government of 1978 wanted us to see it and I strongly suspect that an accurate picture was not painted. The village was more like a prison camp than an actual village. However, the people living in North Korea were shown in a far more sensitive light than any anti-communist film I have seen up to that point. Other movies up to this point had shown North Koreans doubting their government and desiring to escape to the South, but soldiers–unless the focus of the film was on their wavering commitment to communism– were rarely shown to have human sides like the female soldier in this film. Her death upset me as there was no purpose to it, especially as it was committed by the man we are asked to identify with and root for.

Lee Seong-goo tried some things to make a rather lackluster story more interesting like the shakey camera to depict Myeong-ho’s slipping sanity near the end of the movie. That worked well and I appreciated the effort he put into it. What did not work so well was equating the attempted abortion to rape. We had already seen Myeong-ho’s girlfriend held down and gang raped and the hermit strapping her down to perform the crude surgery mimicked that. So did the expressions and screams emitted by the girl and the in and out motion the camera focussed on while the old doctor attempted her work.

There was something else that didn’t work as well because I don’t think it gave the impression the director was going for. At the end of the movie, Myeong-ho’s body is washed downriver where it will eventually wash out to see and be picked up by South Korean soldiers on the beach at the start of the film. However, while it is floating along through the rapids, the shots of his bobbing body are interspersed with cuts of South Koreans playing in swimming pools and at amusement parks. I think director Lee meant to show contrast between the freedoms and joys of the South and the pitiable death of Myeong-ho in the North, but it doesn’t work. It comes across as distasteful– the scenes of happy children and their obviously well-to-do mother splashing around in swimming pools at a park seem grossly imbalanced with life in the North as depicted in the film and makes the unknowing people in that stock footage seem uncaring to the plight of Myeong-ho and his brothers.. something I am sure the director was not aiming for.

Or maybe he was. Perhaps Lee was trying to make a statement about what he felt North and South Korean relations should be like…a risky proposition if it were true. At the time, open criticism of government policies, especially regarding the North, were not allowed. I briefly wondered too if the factory conditions shown throughout the film were very much different from what South Korean workers were experiencing in the 1970s. But then I thought that I was trying too hard to find a hidden agenda in this film because I was hoping to give director Lee some credit for trying to show something meaningful. Unfortunately, I think this film is purely a propaganda piece make the evils of the government to the Norht as evil as possible. It has little to offer except as a dated relic of its time and it is for this reason I would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone were it ever to become available on DVD.

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Korean Films in Theaters 2013, week 43

20th October 2013







20131024 accomplices, 20131024 koala, 20131024 topstar, 20131024 rough play, 20131024 if you were me 6

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Index of the 1970s: Director Lee Seong-goo

18th October 2013

Lee Seong-goo debuted in the early 1960s, so I will deal with his biography when I index that decade. He was quite active throughout the 1970s however and made a total of 24 films in that decade. I have previously uploaded information on half of his films and they can be viewed by clicking the tab marked ‘the 1970s’ at the top of this page. Below is information on his remaining 12 films. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

leeseonggoo1974 dangerous relations, leeseonggoo1974 pupils of evil, leeseonggoo1974 reminiscenes, leeseonggoo1974 saturday night, leeseonggoo1975 fury of the sun, leeseonggoo1975 red shoes, leeseonggoo1976 fury of the soul, leeseonggoo1976 tango on the last night, leeseonggoo1977 last leaf, leeseonggoo1978 in vain, leeseonggoo1978 road, leeseonggoo1978 two people in the wall

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Lost Youth (1982)

13th October 2013

Lost Youth (1982)– Korean Title: 버려진 청춘– Romanization: Beoryeojin Cheongchoon. Directed by Jeong So-yeong. Starring: Nam Goong-won (as Mr. Han), Lee Gi-seon (as Myeong-ja), Park Jong-geun (Woo-shik), Choi Hee-jeong and Kim Gi-jong (as Woo-shik’s father). Running Time: 89 minutes. Original Release Date: September 24, 1982. Available on DVD: No

lost youth Myeong-ja ran away to Seoul when she was in her teens in order to escape an unhappy family life in which her father was abusive to her mother and her younger siblings could not afford to go to school. She took a job in a factory with dreams of helping her mother and siblings. But life in Seoul was not at all what she expected. One night, Myeong-ja is raped and her perspective on life changes drastically. Rationalizing that the world was evil, Myeong-ja sets out to make money in any way she can and that includes lying, cheating, blackmail, stealing and selling her body. We know little of her background when we first meet her on the prowl at Kyeongpo Beach. (A beautiful beach, by the way. Not too built up, clean water.. good alternative to Haeyundai Beach) After a quick look through the cars in the parking lot and a chat with the clerk at the front desk of a hotel, she determines that her target is there. She takes to the beach and eventually finds her prey.. Woo-shik. She arranges to ‘accidently’ meet him and is soon heading back to his hotel room where they spend the night together. Myeong-ja sneaks out early in the morning, but before heading back to Seoul she intentionally bruises all of her limbs. The purpose of these self-inflicted injuries is to manufacture ‘evidence’ to support her claim that Woo-shik raped her. Heading the Woo-shik’s father’s home, a large mansion she had scoped out earlier, Myeong-ja arrives during a party. She meets with the wealthy parent and threatens to go to the police with her story if he does not pay her five million won. He relents and gives her the money she requests.

All of that, although a substantial portion of the running time, was to establish the character of Myeong-ja. Woo-shik and his father will appear again in the film, however their role has mostly been played out. The body of the story is Myeong-ja’s meeting of Mr. Han and how they change each other’s lives. They meet in a the lobby of an expensive international hotel is Seoul where Mr. Han is entertaining a rich client from Japan and Myeong-ja is attempting to seduce and rob foreigners. Their exchange inside the hotel is brief but they meet again in the parking lot when Myeong-ja, attempting to escape the enraged Woo-shik, dives into Han’s car and hides in the backseat. There she falls into a deep sleep so Mr. Han takes her home and puts her to bed.

In a Korean film made in the 1980s, you would not often be wrong if you suspected the worst from this situation, but in this case you would be. Director Jeong had a lot of class and Mr. Han was played by Nam Goong-won, so Myeong-ja was perfectly safe in this situation. Waking up in the morning, she strikes up a friendship with Mr. Han. In her case, she is enraptured with his wealth and the size of his estate. For his part, he is fascinated with this charming, young free spirit. Han confesses that he has not been with a woman in seven years, since his wife and son died in a plane crash. Myeong-ja takes this up as a personal challenge, and a chance to make a lot of money, and promises to seduce him in no time at all. After several failed attempts, Myeong-ja finallly succeeds in tempting Han to have sex with her, but her success may be largely due to the fact that the pair seem to have fallen in love with each other although neither will state that at first.

Here the movie could have ended happily ever after except for several things. First, Myeong-ja rediscovers her conscience and sets out to make ammends for some of her recent crimes such as returning Woo-shik’s money and visiting her mother and brothers and helping them as she intended. Unfortunately, neither of these things go off as smoothly as she had planned. Then there are those reoccuring headaches that Myeong-ja suddenly develops– and their instensity seems to be increasing rapidly. Will Myeong-ja get the happy ending she dreamed of all her life?

Lost Youth is a very good story marred slightly by the 1980s obsession with sex. Not that sex is bad in a film, but the overtness of it and the voyeurism the camera indulges in is often uncomfortable. This is especially true when the film is dealing with Myeong-ja’s loose friend whose breasts are exposed whenever we see her, be it at home or drunk at a club. And Myeong-ja’s attempts to seduce Han provide the camera ample opportunities for those uncomfortable ass and crotch shots. Barring that however, the movie is quite good and is an interesting character study, especially of Myeong-ja and the changes she undergoes throughout the film.She moves from being a character out only for herself to one who finds a larger purpose.

This was the last of director Jeong So-yeong’s regularly produced films. He did make two more movies after this.. one six years later in 1988 and a remake of his most famous film series entitled Again in 2001. But up until 1982, Jeong had been making one, two or more films for decades. The film starred Lee Gi-seon whom some readers may know as the shaman’s daughter/maid with the haunted doll from the 1981 horror film Suddenly at Midnight. It also starred veteran film actor Nam Goong-won. This makes for an odd pairing as Nam is more than 20 years Lee’s senior. In the film, Myeong-ja claims to be 21 and by this time the film was made, actor Nam was nearly 50 (although his character’s age is never stated)

All in all a good film, considerably better than I expected. It is not, however, on DVD at the time of this writing although it was, at one point, on VHS. I was lucky enough to see it on Btv and if you are in Korea, you can see it there along with many other classic films.

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Korean Films in Theaters 2013: Week 42

12th October 2013





2013 neverdie butterfly, 2013 fasten your seatbelt, 2013 queen of the night

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Index of the 1970s: Director Lee Sang-goo

12th October 2013

Lee Sang-goo was born on March 10th, 1944. He graduated from Joongang University where he majored in Performing Arts. Almost immediately after graduating, Lee began work as an assistant director, often under Ko Yeong-nam. He was only 22 when he began his career in film. In the early 1970s, Lee debuted as a director and he made two films in his debut year. His career was not as prolific as his contemporaries and he only made eight films in total and seven of those were made in the decade we are covering here. (Note: The KMDb assigns the 1975 film Fury of the Sun to Lee Sang-goo. This is incorrect. That film was made by Lee Seong-goo. Daum Movies has this listed correctly and a check of the original records confirms that Daum is correct) After his final film in the early 1980s, Lee became a professor at Donghae University and most recently was working as the CEO of Yewoo Productions. Information on his three earliest films had been uploaded previously and can be viewed by clicking the tab at the top of the page marked ‘the 1970s’ and scrolling down the alphabetical list of directors. Below are plates showing posters and information the rest of the five films he made during the seventies. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

leesanggoo1974- last showdown, leesanggoo1976- great fighter, leesanggoo1977- woman who brought the storm, leesanggoo1978- mark of the black dragon

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