Kokdu: A Story of Guardian Angels
Cast: Kim Su-an, Choi Go, Cho Hee-bong
Distributed by M-Line Distribution
Garnering universal praise at the 2018 Busan International Film Festival as well as Berlinale 2019, Kokdu: A Story of Guardian Angels blends theatre, traditional Korean music (gugak) and film in a heartwarming narrative of loss and redemption from award winning director Kim Tae-yong.
The film follows two children, Sun-min (Train to Busan) and her younger brother Dong-min as they are mistakenly sent to the underworld whilst retrieving their grandmother’s shoes from a junkyard, originally lost in a faustian style trade-off. Unaware of their predicament, the children continue their search accompanied by a mischievous band of kokdu; guardians that guide departed souls in the afterlife that are represented by wooden figurines that decorate traditional funeral biers. The kokdu, each one carrying out a unique duty, must console the children and help them complete their journey to the underworld.
Melding fantasy and reality, Kokdu meanders between cinematic action and impressively staged theatre, creating a uniquely captivating experience. The film deftly explores the meaning and impact of death whilst maintaining an unbridled sense of joy and innocence, resonating with audiences of all ages. Traditional gugak music compliments the transcendental themes, originally performed live at the National Gugak Center in Seoul, generating record ticket sales.
Director Kim Tae-yong’s past films include the groundbreaking Memento Mori (1999) and captivating Box Office hit Late Autumn (2011). He now returns once more to the LKFF after his innovative recreation of Korea’s oldest silent film, Crossroads of Youth (1934), opened our Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films from the Japanese Colonial Period season in February.