Welcome to the fourteenth edition of the Korean Film Newsletter. This letter is distributed every three months to inform the reader of the latest events in the industry. An archive of past newsletters is available at http://koreanfilm.org. If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, or if you have any questions, send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New at Koreanfilm.org: reviews of Sorum (2001), Take Care of My Cat (2001), Bad Guy (2002), No Blood No Tears (2002), The Turning Gate (2002), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), The Way Home (2002), and Champion (2002).
NEW RELEASES (March - July 2002)
The Turning Gate ["Saenghwal-ui balgyeon"] Directed by Hong Sang-soo. An actor leaves Seoul on a trip after the failure of his latest film. On the way he meets two women, and ends up having separate affairs with each of them. Starring Kim Sang-kyung, Choo Sang-mi, Yeh Ji-won, Kim Hak-seon. Cinematography by Choi Young-taek. Produced by Miracin Korea. Distributed by Cinema Service. Rating: 18+. 115 min. March 22. (http://www.findalife.co.kr)
Jungle Juice ["Jeonggeul-jyuseu"] Written and directed by Jo Min-ho. Two young thugs come across a stash of drugs by accident, and decide to run with it. Starring Jang Hyuck, Lee Bum-soo, Jeon Hye-jin, Son Chang-min, Kim Joong-ki. Cinematography by Lee Du-man. Produced by Sidus Uno Films. Distributed by Big Blue Films. Rating: 18+. 98 min. March 22. (http://www.junglejuice.co.kr)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance ["Boksuneun na-ui geot"] Directed by Park Chan-wook. Screenplay by Park Ridame, Lee Jong-yong, Lee Jae-soon. A deaf man working in a smelting factory and his radical-minded girlfriend resort to desperate measures to find money for a kidney operation. Starring Song Kang-ho, Shin Ha-kyun, Bae Doona, Lee Dae-yeon, Im Ji-eun. Cinematography by Kim Byung-il. Produced by Studio Box. Distributed by CJ Entertainment. Rating: 18+. 120 min. March 29. (http://www.myboksu.co.kr)
The Beauty in Dream ["Mongjungin"] Written and directed by Lee Kyung-young. A middle-aged widower who writes martial-arts screenplays falls in love with a new woman. Starring Jung In-seon, Lee Kyung-young, Ha Hee-ra, Song Jae-ho, Kim Ji-yeon. Cinematography by Heo Seung-ryong. Produced by Ga-in Films. Distributed by A-Line. Rating: all ages. 106 min. April 5. (http://www.mongjungin.co.kr)
The Way Home ["Jibeuro..."] Written and directed by Lee Jeong-hyang. A seven year old boy is left by his mother with his mute grandmother, who lives in a remote country village. Furious at being separated from the comforts of the city, the boy sets about causing trouble for his grandmother, who is seeing the boy for the very first time. Starring Kim Eul-boon, Yu Seung-ho, Dong Hyo-hee, Min Kyung-hoon. Cinematography by Yoon Hong-shik. Produced by Tube Pictures. Distributed by CJ Entertainment. Rating: all ages. 80 min. April 5. (http://www.thewayhome.co.kr)
A Funny Movie ["Jaemineun yeonghwa"] Directed by Jang Gyu-sung. Screenplay by Son Jae-gon. A parody of 28 Korean films from recent years, built around the story of Japanese extremists who hope to blow up a stadium during the World Cup. Starring Im Won-hee, Kim Jung-eun, Suh Tae-hwa, Kim Soo-ro, Park Kyung-nim. Cinematography by Kim Yoon-su. Produced by Fun & Happiness and Siseon Film Company. Distributed by Cinema Service. Rating: 15+. 122 min. April 12. (http://www.funmovie.co.kr)
Iron Palm ["Ai-eon pam"] Written and directed by Yook sang-hyo. Five years after breaking up with his girlfriend, a man travels to Los Angeles to win her back. Starring Cha In-pyo, Kim Yoon-jin, Park Kwang-jung, Charlie Chun. Cinematography by Phillip Lee. Produced by Cinewise Film. Distributed by Korea Pictures. Rating: 15+. 120 min. April 19. (http://www.ironpalm.co.kr)
Marriage is a Crazy Thing ["Gyeol-honeun michin-jisida"] Directed by Yu Ha. Screenplay by Lee Man-gyo. A man and a woman meet each other on a blind date, and soon fall into love and bed with each other. Torn by thoughts of love vs. riches, however, the woman marries another man, leading the two to a moral dilemma. Starring Um Jung-hwa, Gam Woo-sung, Park Won-sang. Cinematography by Park Young-ho. Produced by Sidus Uno Films. Distributed by Big Blue Film. Rating: 18+. 103 min. April 26. (http://www.crazymarriage.co.kr)
Oh! LaLa Sisters ["Ullalla ssiseuteojeu"] Written and directed by Park Je-hyun. A nightclub begins to lose customers to the rival club across the street. Desperate to attract customers, the four women who operate the club decide to make themselves the center attraction. Starring Lee Mi-sook, Kim Won-hee, Kim Min, Kim Hyun-soo, Kim So-sung. Cinematography by Park Je-hyung. Produced by May Film. Distributed by A-Line. Rating: 15+. 110 min. April 26. (http://www.oollala.co.kr)
Make It Big! ["Ildan ddui-eo"] Written and directed by Jo Ui-seok. Three high school students are startled when a bagful of money and a dead man fall on top of their car. Once they realize just how much money is in the bag, they give up any thought of calling the police. Starring Song Seung-heon, Kwon Sang-woo, Kim Young-jun, Lee Bum-soo, Lee Mun-shik. Cinematography by Kim Chul-ju. Produced by Keyweck Shide. Distributed by Korea Pictures. Rating: 15+. 120 min. May 10. (http://www.ildanrun.com)
Chihwaseon ["Chwihwaseon"] Directed by Im Kwon-taek. Screenplay by Doul Kim Yong-ok, Im Kwon-taek. A biopic covering the life of Ohwon Jang Seung-eop, a talented 19th-century Korean painter with a penchant for alcohol and a disrespect for authority. Starring Choi Min-shik, Ahn Sung-ki, Yoo Ho-jung, Kim Yeo-jin, Son Yeh-jin. Cinematography by Chung Il-sung. Produced by Taehung Pictures. Distributed by Cinema Service. Rating: 18+. 120 min. May 10. (http://www.chihwaseon.com - award-winning bilingual site)
4 Toes ["Nebalgarak"] Written and directed by Kye Yoon-shik. The comic adventures of four thugs who have been friends since high school. Starring Heo Jun-ho, Lee Chang-hoon, Park Jun-gyu, Lee Won-jong, Jung Eun-pyo, Goguma. Cinematography by Yang Hee-man. Produced by Pisces Film. Distributed by SS1 Cinema. Rating: 18+. 100 min. May 17. (http://www.nebal.co.kr)
Over the Rainbow ["Obeo deo reinbou"] Directed by An Jin-woo. Screenplay by Jo Myung-ju, An Jin-woo, Jang Hyuk-rin. A young weatherman gets in a car accident and suffers from partial memory loss, not being able to remember the woman he loved as a university student. With the help of a friend, he tries to discover her identity. Starring Lee Jung-jae, Chang Jin-young, Jung Chan. Cinematography by Kim Young-chul. Produced by Kang JeGyu Films. Distributed by A-Line. Rating: 15+. 106 min. May 17. (http://www.overtherainbow.co.kr)
Who Are You? ["Hu-a-yu"] Directed by Choi Ho. Screenplay by Kim Eun-jeong, Choi Ho, Oh Hyun-ri. A computer game programmer working in Seoul's Building 63 skyscraper becomes acquainted with a woman working in the aquarium on the ground floor. She agrees to take part as a test player in his online dating game, but doesn't realize the identity of her new online acquaintance. Starring Jo Seung-woo, Lee Na-young, Jo Eun-ji, Lee Jang-won. Cinematography by Park Hyun-chul. Produced by dnding.com and Myung Film. Distributed by CJ Entertainment. Rating: 12+. 102 min. May 24. (http://www.whoru.co.kr)
No Comment ["Mudjima paemilli"] Directed by Park Kwang-hyun (My Nike), Park Sang-won (Sabang-e-joek), Lee Hyun-jong (Church Sister). Screenplay by Jang Jin, Park Kwang-hyun, Jo Jeong-hwa. An omnibus film made up of three 30-min works: My Nike, set in the 1980s about a boy who dreams of owning a pair of Nikes; Sabang-e-joek, about a series of comic and violent events that occur in neighboring rooms at a motel; and Church Sister, about a man on leave from the military who spends the day with a woman he once loved. Starring Shin Ha-kyun, Ryu Seung-beom, Im Won-hee, Jung Jae-young, Park Sun-young, Kim Il-woong. Cinematography by Park Yong-su, Choi Sang-ho, Baek Dong-hyun. Produced by Film It Suda. Distributed by Big Blue Film. Rating: 15+. 99 min. May 31. (http://www.nocomment.co.kr)
Love Me Once Again 2002 ["Miwodo dasihanbeon 2002"] Directed by Jung So-young. Screenplay by Kim Su-hyun. A remake of one of the classic melodramas of 1960s Korean cinema. Starring Lee Seung-yeon, Lee Kyung-young, Park Yong-ha. Cinematography by Lee Seong-chun, Choi Chan-gyu. Produced by JL Entertainment. Distributed by Hapdong Pictures. Rating: 12+. 102 min. May 31. (http://www.again2002.co.kr)
Bet On My Disco ["Haejeok, Diseuko-wang doeda"] Directed by Kim Dong-won. Screenplay by Kim Eun-hwa. In order to rescue the girl of his dreams, a high school student must win a disco contest. Set in a rural village during the 1980s. Starring Lee Jeong-jin, Yang Dong-geun, Lim Chang-jung, Han Chae-young, Lee Dae-geun, Jung Eun-pyo. Cinematography by Jeon Jo-myung. Produced by Keyweck Shide. Distributed by A-Line. Rating: 15+. 107 min. June 6. (http://www.discoking.co.kr)
Mago ["Mago"] Directed by Kang Hyun-il. Screenplay by Jang Kyung-gi. A film which draws on a Korean creation myth to depict man's fall from paradise to a corrupted modern life. Starring Ga Eh, Kwon Yu-jin, Kim Do-yeon, Kim Su-yeon. Cinematography by Lee Eun-gil. Produced by RMJC. Distributed by Film Bank. Rating: 18+. 80 min. June 13. (http://www.magoq.com)
Yesterday ["Yeseuteodei"] Written and directed by Jung Yoon-su. In the year 2020, a series of kidnappings lead police investigators to pursue criminals in an 'intercity' constructed along the border with China and a unified Korea. Starring Kim Seung-woo, Kim Yoon-jin, Choi Min-soo, Kim Seon-ah. Cinematography by Jung Han-chul. Produced by Miracin Korea. Distributed by CJ Entertainment. Rating: 15+. 121 min. June 13. (http://www.yesterday2020.co.kr)
Dig Or Die ["Ddureoya sanda"] Directed by Goh Eun-ki. Screenplay by Kwon In-chan, Shin Dong-ik, Lee Seong-ju et al. Comic action film about policemen who pursue a group of professional theives who are 'employed' to test the alarm system of a major gangster. Starring Park Kwang-hyun, Park Yeh-jin, Jung Woon-taek, Lee Jae-yong. Cinematography by In Byung-hoon. Produced and distributed by Taechang Entertainment. Rating: 15+. 96 min. June 21. (http://www.digdig.co.kr)
Champion ["Chaempieon"] Written and directed by Kwak Kyung-taek. Based on the true story of Kim Deuk-gu, who rose from poverty to become a champion boxer, only to die from injuries sustained during a fight with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. Starring Yoo Oh-sung, Chae Min-suh, Yoon Seung-won, Jung Du-hong. Cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo. Produced by Zininsa Film. Distributed by Korea Pictures. Rating: 12+. 117 min. June 28. (http://www.champion2002.co.kr)
Surprise Party ["Seopeuraijeu"] Directed by Kim Jin-sung. Screenplay by Byun Won-mi. Over the course of twelve hours before his engagement ceremony, a man falls in love with another woman. Starring Shin Ha-kyun, Lee Yo-won, Kim Min-hee, Gong Hyung-jin, Gong Hyo-jin. Cinematography by Jung Kwang-seok. Produced by Cine2000. Distributed by Cinema Service. Rating: 12+. 99 min. July 5. (http://www.surpriselove.co.kr)
Are You Ready? ["A Yu Redi?"] Directed by Yoon Sang-ho. Screenplay by Goh Eun-nim. When calamity strikes during a safari ride at a theme park, six various people are thrown together in a series of dangerous and fantastic adventures. Starring Kim Jeong-hak, Kim Bo-kyung, Lee Jong-su, Ahn Seok-hwan. Cinematography by Shin Hyun-joong. Produced by Noon Entertainment. Distributed by CJ Entertainment. Rating: 12+. 105 min. July 12. (http://www.ruready.co.kr)
YMCA Baseball Team The lastest project from Myung Films (JSA) will portray the true story of Korea's first baseball team, which was formed in 1905 under the backdrop of Japan's colonization of Korea. The casting of lead actors Song Kang-ho (JSA) and Kim Hye-soo (Kick the Moon) have created considerable expectation among audiences, leading many to predict a major box-office hit. Shooting started in April and the film is expected to debut in the fall.
Milae* The first feature film from Byun Young-ju, who won widespread acclaim for her trilogy of documentaries about the lives of Korea's comfort women (women who were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese forces during World War II). Milae is based on a novel by Jeon Kyung-rin, and will tell the story of a woman who discovers her husband's infidelity, and then ends up pursuing a relationship with another man. Kim Yoon-jin of Shiri will star, and the film is expected to debut in the fall.
The Shoreline* The latest film from controversial director Kim Ki-duk is set on the east coast of Korea, about a marine who shoots a man whom he mistakes for a spy. The $600,000 film will be the first time Kim is working with a major star, with Jang Dong-gun (Friend) having signed on for the lead role. Shooting started in June, with a release expected by November.
Double Agent The long-awaited return to the screen of actor Han Suk-kyu (Tell Me Something) is a story set in the 1980s about a North Korean spy who defects to the South. Han will co-star with actress Ko So-young (A Day), with shooting scheduled to take place in Korea, Eastern Europe and Brazil. The film will be a co-production between Koo & Film and Him Pictures, a company run by Han's brother Han Sun-kyu. Shooting began in early summer.
Fresh Wind, Bright Moon* (Cheong-pung-myeong-weol) Korea's latest martial-arts blockbuster will star Jo Je-hyun, the talented lead from Bad Guy, as well as action veteran Choi Min-soo. The $6.7m film, set in Korea during the Chosun Dynasty, concerns the fate of two warriors whose friendship is placed under strain. The film marks the return to the screen of director Kim Ui-seok, whose Marriage Story (1992) has become a classic and who last appeared with the film The Great Chef (1999). Expected release date: February 2003.
Independence Day Amnesty* The latest project from the directing and writing team of Attack the Gas Station and Kick the Moon will star actors Sol Kyung-gu (Peppermint Candy), Cha Seung-won (Kick the Moon), and Song Yoon-ah (A Masterpiece in My Life). The story concerns two convicts who break out of prison, only to discover they were scheduled to receive a presidential pardon absolving them of their crimes. In order to clear their name, the two decide to break back in. Shooting started in June, with a release scheduled for the fall.
* official English title not yet available
High profile awards for Korean cinema
Korean cinema captured two high-profile awards at international festivals this spring, leading to intense press coverage and fan interest at home. In May, veteran director Im Kwon-taek exhibited his 98th film Chihwaseon at the Cannes International Film Festival, where it was awarded the Best Director prize together with Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love. The award marked the first time a Korean feature film had won an award at the world's most prestigious festival. Following the award, Im was celebrated in Korea for his long career, receiving an honorary professorship from Catholic University and a special medal from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Chihwaseon also received a huge boost at the box-office, jumping from #8 to #2 in the box-office following the announcement of the award.
Furthermore on June 8, Lee Sung-gang's My Beautiful Girl Mari won the Grand Prix for best picture at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, the world's most prestigious showcase for animation. Mari was the first Korean feature film ever to be screened in the festival's competition section, giving encouragement to the small but quickly-expanding Korean animation sector.
On July 15, the directors and producers of both films were honored at the Korean president's official residence, Cheong Wa Dae. During the reception, President Kim Dae-jung reaffirmed the government's future support of the film industry.
The Way Home captures audiences' hearts
Lee Jeong-hyang's The Way Home has become the unexpected smash hit of the year, grossing over $20m to outperform both Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The film, which tells the story of a seven-year old boy who goes to live with his grandmother in the country, was shot in a remote village using non-professional actors for all roles except that of the boy. The film has made Lee into a major directorial star, three years after her first film Art Museum by the Zoo became a mid-level hit. However, the true star of the film was 77-year old Kim Eul-boon, who acted the role of the grandmother and who herself had never been to a movie theater in her life. Press coverage and fan interest eventually became so intense that Kim's family requested that she be given peace so that she could lead her life as she had before.
Grand Bell Awards
The Grand Bell Awards, one of Korea's top two awards ceremonies, held its 39th edition in Seoul on May 26. Smash hit The Way Home by Lee Jeong-hyang was the star of the evening, winning both the Best Picture and Best Screenplay awards. Acclaimed actor Sol Kyung-gu took home the Best Actor award for his role in Public Enemy, while superstar Jeon Ji-hyun won Best Actress for her eccentric role in the hit film My Sassy Girl. Also notable was awarding of the Best Supporting Actor prize to Japanese star Nakamura Toru, the first instance of a non-Korean winning a major prize at a local awards ceremony. A partial list of prizes is printed below:
Best Picture: The Way Home (Tube Pictures); Jury Prize: Failan (Tube Pictures); Best Director: Song Hae-sung (Failan); Best Actor: Sol Kyung-gu (Public Enemy); Best Actress: Jeon Ji-hyun (My Sassy Girl); Best New Director: Lee Si-myung (2009 Lost Memories); Best New Actor: Lee Jong-soo (Kick The Moon); Best New Actress: Seo Won (Bad Guy); Best Supporting Actor: Nakamura Toru (2009 Lost Memories); Best Supporting Actress: Pang Eun-jin (Address Unknown); Best Cinematography: Kim Yoon-su (The Last Witness); Best Screenplay: Lee Jeong-hyang (The Way Home); Best Adapted Screenplay: Kwak Jae-yong (My Sassy Girl).
Cinema Service plans rapid expansion
Cinema Service, one of Korea's two major film companies, has announced ambitious plans for expansion that will give it direct control over virtually every stage of filmmaking. Already a major force in film investment, production, distribution, video/DVD and foreign sales, in the coming year the company plans to build its own studio complex as well as launch a nationwide chain of multiplex theaters.
Construction of the $12.5m studio complex, which will fall under a new division of the company called Art Service, broke ground on May 13 in the city of Paju in Gyeonggi Province. The complex will become Korea's second major studio to provide both sound stages and post-production facilities, following the opening of the Seoul Studio Complex by the Korean Film Commission in 1998. The complex will be open for use by all companies on a fee basis. In addition, Cinema Service plans to launch its own multiplex chain which will concentrate on regional areas of Korea rather than major cities. The company intends to build 10 venues over the next several years, which will total 100 screens in all.
Meanwhile director/producer Kang Woo-suk, the founder of the Cinema Service, has announced the opening of the Kang Woo-suk Film Academy. With its first semester scheduled to start this September, the academy will provide free instruction to 5-10 students each in the fields of directing, producing, screenwriting, and acting. Should the venture prove a success, after approximately five years Kang plans to apply for certification to allow the academy to become a specialized university.
The 3rd Jeonju International Film Festival
The Jeonju International Film Festival held its third edition from April 26 to May 2 in the southwestern city of Jeonju. With an emphasis on digital works and Asian independent cinema, the festival screened over 260 films in total, including a tribute to American producer Christine Vachon and retrospectives on "War and Film" and the works of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Hong Kong director Yan Yan Mak took home the festival's Woosook Award for Asian Independent Cinema with her film Brother, while Czech director won the Daring Digital Award for Angel Exit and Japanese director Miyazaki Hayao's Spirited Away won the festival's Audience Award.
A total of 65,000 tickets were issued for the event, with roughly the same number of paying customers as last year but a significant drop in tickets secured through ID passes. The comparatively low attendance was also attributed to heavy rain which fell for three days of the festival.
Next year's event looks to be held under different leadership, following the resignation of programmer Seo Dong-jin in June and festival director Choi Min in July.
The 6th Puchon International Film Festival
The 6th edition of the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival took place this year from July 11-20. Opening with the British soccer movie Bend It Like Beckham, the festival featured a total of 173 films from 37 countries. The festival's main retrospective highlighted the work of German director Werner Herzog, with additional special focuses on the work of Peter Jackson, the Kuchar brothers, and maverick Japanese filmmaker Miike Takashi.
German film Getting My Brother Laid by debut director Sven Taddicken proved to be the event's biggest prizewinner, taking home the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor awards. Also honored were the Japanese horror film Dark Water (Jury's Choice), Austrian black comedy The Praying Mantis (Best Actress), and Korean comedy Bet On My Disco (Citizens' Choice). Two more days of "post festival" screenings followed the closing ceremony, before the world premiere of An Byung-ki's Phone wrapped up the festival on Saturday, July 20.
This year's edition saw sharply increased levels of attendance: 57,806 admissions, a 48% increase over the 39,068 recorded for the year before. This was attributed both to the extra days of screenings as well as a post-World Cup resurgance in cinema attendance. A complete list of awards is reproduced below:
Best of Puchon -- Getting My Brother Laid, dir. Sven Taddicken (Germany); Best Director -- Sven Taddicken, Getting My Brother Laid (Germany); Best Actress -- Christiane Horbinger, The Praying Mantis (Austria); Best Actor -- Roman Knizka, Getting My Brother Laid (Germany); Citizens' Choice -- Bet On My Disco, dir. Kim Dong-won (Korea); Jury's Choice -- Dark Water, dir. Nakata Hideo (Japan); Grand Prize for Short Film -- Salad Days, dir. Gustavo Salmeron (Spain); Jury's Choice for Short Film -- The Pitch, Nash Edgerton (Australia); Citizens' Choice for Short Film -- Salad Days, dir. Gustavo Salmeron (Spain).
KOFIC appoints new commissioners and chairman
On May 28 the Korean Film Commission (KOFIC) announced the selection of nine new commissioners who will form the organization's leadership for the next three years. The new commissioners, seven of whom work as film professors, will take over from the former board whose three-year term had come to an end. Among the nine commissioners, Choong-Ang University film professor Lee Choong-jik was selected to act as KOFIC's chairman, while actress and film professor Chang Mi-hee (Deep Blue Night) will serve as vice-chairman. A complete list of the new commissioners follows:
Lee Choong-jik (45), professor, Choong-Ang University / former programmer, Pusan International Film Festival
Chang Mi-hee (45), actress / professor, Myongji University / vice chairman, Film Actors Association of Korea
Byun Chae-ran (41), professor, Soonchunhyang University / Vice chairman, Women's Film Festival in Seoul
Kim Byung-heon (42), general manager, Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival
Kim Chang-yu (47), professor, Yongin University / chairman, Moving Image Technology Association of Korea.
Kim Hong-joon (46), festival director, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival / professor, Korean National University of Arts / film director
Lee Min-yong (44), director, A Hot Roof (1995).
Min Byung-rok (52), professor, Dongguk University / chairman, Film Studies Association of Korea
Yu Gina (42), film scholar / professor, Dongguk University.
KOFIC is the main government-supported body in charge of promoting Korean cinema. It was founded in 1973 as the Korean Motion Picture Promotion Corporation, and underwent a major restructuring in May 1999.
Awards at international film festivals
Veteran director Im Kwon-taek's film Chihwaseon became the first Korean feature film ever to win an award at the Cannes International Film Festival, when it shared the Best Director award with Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love. Chihwaseon was only the second Korean film to be invited to the festival's Competition Section, following Im's previous film Chunhyang in 2000.
In mid-June, My Beautiful Girl, Mari became the first Korean animation to win the feature film Grand Prix at the top-ranked Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France. The film, directed by Lee Sung-gang, tells the story of a boy in a seaside village who loses himself in a world of fantasy.
Director Joo Kyung-joon's A Little Monk was jointly awarded the Best Screenplay award at the 6th Shanghai International Film Festival, which ran from June 8-16. The film, which has not yet been released in Korea, was adapted from a play about a young Buddhist monk who wishes to find the identity of his mother. The award was shared with David Caesar's Mullet from Australia.
Guns & Talks by Jang Jin and Hi, Dharma by Park Chul-kwan were voted the 2nd and 3rd most popular films at the 2002 Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy. The festival, which ran from April 19-27, featured 73 screenings in total and is considered one of the world's leading showcases of popular Asian cinema.
Let's Not Cry by Min Boung-hun was given a Special Jury Mention at the 37th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, held in the Czech Republic in July. The film also received a Special Mention from the Award of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI). Let's Not Cry is shot in Uzbekistan, and is the second film from the director of the award-winning Bee Fly.
Jeong Jae-eun's Take Care of My Cat won the top prize at the Cinema Jove International Film Festival in Spain, which ran from June 15-22 in Valencia. The 18,000 euro prize, named the Valencian Moon, is presented each year to an international director under the age of 35.
Subway Cinema held the 2002 edition of Asian Films Are Go!!!: The New York Asian Film Festival from April 26 - May 2, and the Korean hit comedy My Sassy Girl was voted by the audience as the most popular film. The festival, which is to become an annual event, screened 11 Asian films in total.
Address Unknown was named winner of the Amakourou Prize from the young jury at the 19th Cinema Novo Film Festival. Held from March 14-24 in Brugge, Belgium, the festival focuses on films from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Animated film Nineteen by Kim Sang-nam received a Special Mention in the student category from the 15th Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films, held from June 18-23.
New DVD releases with English subtitles
The following are the latest releases of Korean films on DVD with English subtitles. For ordering information, more details and a full list of subtitled Korean films available for purchase, visit http://www.koreanfilm.org/subtitles.html or my wife's online DVD store at http://www.yeondvd.com.
MY BEAUTIFUL GIRL, MARI (2002), from EnterOne in Korea.
VOLCANO HIGH (2001), from Cinema Service in Korea.
WAIKIKI BROTHERS (2001), from CJ Entertainment in Korea.
A FUNNY MOVIE (2002), from Cinema Service in Korea.
THE TURNING GATE (2002), from I Vision in Korea.
TAKE CARE OF MY CAT (2001), from EnterOne in Korea.
BAD GUY (2002), from CJ Entertainment in Korea.
JOINT SECURITY AREA/JSA (2000), from CJ Entertainment in Korea.
PUBLIC ENEMY (2002), from Cinema Service in Korea.
HI, DHARMA (2001), from EnterOne in Korea.
WANEE AND JUNAH (2001), from EnterOne in Korea.
MAENG JINSA'S HAPPY DAY (1962), from Bitwin in Korea.
JANG HEE-BIN (1961), from Bitwin in Korea.
MY BOSS, MY HERO (2001), from I Vision in Korea.
RAY BANG (2001), from I Vision in Korea.
WHITE BADGE (1992), from NeoSense in Korea.
MOTEL CACTUS (1997), from SRE Corporation in Korea.
TWO COPS 2 & 3 box set (1996/1998), from Spectrum in Korea.
LAST WITNESS (2001), from Metro DVD in Korea.
A MASTERPIECE IN MY LIFE (2000), from Metro DVD in Korea.
CLUB BUTTERFLY/ VANISHING TWIN (2001/2000) from Spectrum DVD in Korea.
AFRIKA (2002), from SRE Corporation in Korea.
BESAME MUCHO (2001), from Spectrum DVD in Korea.
DANCE DANCE (2001), from Bitwin in Korea.
A DAY (2001), from 20th Century Fox Korea.
OUT OF JUSTICE (2001), from Bear Entertainment in Korea.
ASAKO IN RUBY SHOES (2001), from Deltamac in Hong Kong.
THE QUIET FAMILY (1998), from Modern Audio in Hong Kong.
LOVE WIND, LOVE SONG (1999), from Universe Laser in Hong Kong.
HOLIDAY IN SEOUL (1997), from Universe Laser in Hong Kong.
NO. 3 (1997), from Universe Laser in Hong Kong.
THE UPRISING (1999), from Universe Laser in Hong Kong.
GREEN FISH (1997), from Universe Laser in Hong Kong.
AN AFFAIR (1998), from Edko Films in Hong Kong.
JOINT SECURITY AREA (2000), from Modern Audio in Hong Kong.
DR. K (2000), from Modern Audio in Hong Kong.
THE SIREN (2000), from ERA Home Entertainment in Hong Kong.
Coming soon: No Blood No Tears (2002), Nabi (2001).
Korean film releases abroad
Although no Korean films were released in North America in recent months, box-office hit The Way Home secured a high profile sale to Paramount Classics for all English-speaking territories worldwide. The distributor, which plans to push it as a contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, intends to give it the widest release yet for a Korean film before the end of the year. In other news, Jeong Jae-eun's Take Care of My Cat was also successfully sold to Kino International, the distributor which released Tell Me Something in the U.S. last fall.
Korean films underwent a tough period in Japan, with box-office champ Friend performing grossly below expectations in its 66-screen release in early April. Debuting at #9 at the box-office, the film grossed about US$783,000 in three weeks. On the other hand, Japanese animation Spirited Away enjoyed a hugely successful commercial release in Korea on June 28. The film looks likely to break the record held by Japanese films in Korea set by Love Letter in 1999.
In Hong Kong, My Wife is a Gangster was released on April 4 by Edko. With audience interest running high after the distributor's previous success My Sassy Girl, the film grossed a strong US$1.2m (HK$9m). However, Korean films reverted to low box office levels afterwards. Hi, Dharma, released on May 23 ended up with only US$130,000 (HK$1m) gross, while Jang Jin's Guns & Talks, released by Mandarin with 15 minutes of cuts, grossed only US$65,000 (HK$500,000). Distributor Edko, meanwhile, attempted a re-release of My Sassy Girl in a Cantonese dubbed version with local star Miriam Yeung, but ended up grossing only one-tenth of the additional HK$10m it hoped to earn.
Other releases in Hong Kong included Park Jong-won's Paradise Villa (2001), released by Mandarin in a cut version on June 13 (US$2,800 gross); and Jeong Jae-eun's Take Care of My Cat, which drew moderate box-office for Golden Scene on two screens after its July 11 release. Upcoming releases include My Beautiful Girl Mari (mid-August), box-office sensation The Way Home (late September), and sci-fi blockbuster 2009 Lost Memories (Sept. or Oct., to be released by EVA)
Meanwhile, My Sassy Girl continued its strong run throughout Asia. In Taiwan, the film opened on June 21 and has remained in the box-office top ten for more than four weeks, grossing over US$300,000. Taiwan had previously proved to be a tough market for Korean films, with both Shiri and Friend performing poorly. In Singapore, the film passed the US$170,000 mark earned by Shiri - previously the record holder for a Korean film - to gross US$280,000 in six weeks, remaining in the box-office top ten throughout. The film has also proved a success in Thailand, kicking off a wave of film sales as well as a successful run for comedy Guns & Talks.
A key test for another high-profile film from 2001 will come this summer, with historical epic Musa scheduled to be released on over 150 screens in France. The Korean-Chinese coproduction is also scheduled to receive a 500-screen release in China.
Note that sales to a given country do not necessarily guarantee a release. This is not a comprehensive list; I am merely passing along what I have heard.
ALL ENGLISH-SPEAKING TERRITORIES: The Way Home (2002);
UNITED STATES: Take Care of My Cat (2001);
JAPAN: Turning Gate (2002);
CHINA: Hi Dharma (2001); My Wife is a Gangster (2001); Wanee and Junah (2001); The Anarchists (2000); The Cut Runs Deep (2000)
HONG KONG: Oh! LaLa Sisters (2002); Iron Palm (2002); The Way Home (2002); 2009 Lost Memories (2002); Champion (2002).
TAIWAN: The Way Home (2002);
SINGAPORE: Take Care of My Cat (2001); Volcano High (2001); Public Enemy (2002); The Last Witness (2001);
THAILAND: Surprise Party (pre-sales); Elysium (2001); Public Enemy (2002); No Blood No Tears (2002); Marriage is a Crazy Thing (2002); Turning Gate (2002); My Beautiful Days (2002); Jungle Juice (2002); The Last Witness (2001); Funny Movie (2002); The Way Home (2002);
MALAYSIA: 2009 Lost Memories (2002);
UNITED KINGDOM: Address Unknown (2001) - video rights; Take Care of My Cat (2001); Bad Guy (2002);
FRANCE: Chihwaseon (2002); My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002); Volcano High (2001); Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002); Bad Guy (2002); 2009 Lost Memories (2002); Joint Security Area (2000)
GERMANY: Say Yes (2001); Bad Guy (2002); Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002);
SCANDINAVIA: Bad Guy (2002);
BENELUX: The Way Home (2002); Bad Guy (2002);
PORTUGAL: 2009 Lost Memories (2002);
SPAIN: The Way Home (2002);
SWITZERLAND: Chihwaseon (2002);
GREECE: The Way Home (2002); Bad Guy (2002);
TURKEY: Yesterday (2002);
RUSSIA: Elysium (2001); The Way Home (2002); Bad Guy (2002);
ISRAEL: Volcano High (2001);
BRAZIL: Volcano High (2001); Bichunmoo (2000);
Special thanks to Yeon Hyeon-sook (www.yeondvd.com), Ryan Law (www.krmdb.com) and Stephen Cremin (Asian Film Library Bulletin) for their help in compiling this newsletter.
July 21, 2002
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