Hits 2015/16

The Last Princess

Last Princess 2
Film info

Director: Hur Jin-ho
Cast: Son Ye-jin, Baek Yoon-sik, Park Hae-il
126mins, 2016

The Last Princess is based on the true life story of Yi Deok-hye (Son Ye-jin), the last princess of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty and daughter of Emperor Go-jong (Baek Yoon-sik). At 13 years of age, Deok-hye is sent to Japan to study but soon finds herself being used as a political pawn, her pleas to be allowed to return home repeatedly denied. As her time in captivity stretches into years, Deok-hye meets her childhood friend Kim Jang-han (Park Hae-il) and a plan is gradually hatched to help her escape. However, pro-Japanese general Han Taek-soo (Yoon Je-moon) is determined to make sure that Deok-hye never returns home. The Last Princess is a sumptuous and epic historical tale and, in classic Hur Jin-ho style, has a beautifully understated emotional depth.

Regent Street Cinema, 09 Nov 2016 6:30 pm

Seoul Station

Seoul Station
Film info

Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Cast: (Voice) Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung, Lee Joon
93mins, 2016

All eyes have been on Train to Busan this year, but fans should also draw their attention to director Yeon’s animated indie prequel Seoul Station, which chronicles the initial zombie outbreak when a homeless man begins to go raving mad around Korea’s main transport hub. Soon a father goes on the search for his teenage daughter who is running around town with her pimp boyfriend. Continuing the director’s gritty style from The King of Pigs and The Fake, Seoul Station uses zombie tropes to allegorise the ugly side of humanity, pitting flawed and selfish characters against one another in a pitch black narrative.

Picturehouse Ritzy, 11 Nov 2016 10:30 pm

The Hunt

The Hunt
Film info

Director: Lee Woo-chul
Cast: Ahn Sung-ki, Cho Jin-woong, Han Ye-ri, Kwon Yul, Son Hyun-ju
93mins, 2016

The gold rush comes to Korea in typically violent style in The Hunt, which features legendary actor Ahn Sung-ki going up against a group of unscrupulous opportunists in the countryside. Ahn plays an old hunter who sees A Hard Day villain Cho Jin-woong and his band of mercenaries play a hand in an old woman’s death when they muscle in on her gold-filled land.  Echoing recent Korean hunting chase films such as War of the Arrows and The Tiger, this new film from Cello director Lee Woo-chul cranks up the tension with an A-list cast.

Picturehouse Ritzy, 12 Nov 2016 10:30 pm

The Phantom Detective

The Phantom Detective
Film info

Director: Jo Sung-hee
Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Kim Sung-kyun, Go A-ra, Park Keun-hyung
125mins, 2016

A Werewolf Boy director Jo Sung-hee returns to the mainstream with Phantom Detective, a stylized update of the classic Hong Gil-dong Korean folk tale. Taking on the role of the famed sleuth is Lee Je-hoon, who brings boatloads of cocky swagger to the part. The private eye tracks down the only man who has ever eluded him only to see him slip between his fingers. He takes on the granddaughters the man leaves behind and continues his search, soon becoming embroiled in a dangerous case with a large corporation. Mixing a retro noir feel with modern effects, Phantom Detective poises itself as Korea’s answer to Sin City.

Odeon Camden, 13 Nov 2016 3:50 pm

One Way Trip

One Way Trip
Film info

Director: Choi Jeong-yeol
Cast: Ji-soo, Su-ho(EXO), Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Hee-chan
93mins, 2015

A youth road with a sinister edge, One Way Trip is far from your typical coming of age film. Four young men hit the road for a quick trip before one among them must report for military service. Their hedonistic plans are brought to a screeching halt following a hit-and-run incident. They plead their innocence to the cops but the only witness, a young woman whose rescue they came to, has decided to provide false testimony. The boys’ backgrounds come into play as frictions quickly dissolve their close ties and the fear of jeopardising their uncertain futures looms over them.

Odeon Kingston, 04 Nov 2016 8:30 pm

Fourth Place

Fourth Place
Film info

Director: Jung Ji-woo
Cast: Park Hae-jun, Lee Hang-na, Yoo Jae-sang
120mins, 2015

A teenage swimming sensation sees his career careen off the rocks due to ego and booze and eventually becomes a bitter, but effective swimming coach. An overeager mother brings her son to him, who has failed to place higher than fourth in any competition. The young swimmer soon begins to improve while his mental condition deteriorates as a result of the coach’s violent and abusive tactics. Eungyo director Jung Ji-woo puts together a compelling character study that highlights dangerous ambition in a country where parents have been known to push their children to extremes to overtake their peers.

Regent Street Cinema, 08 Nov 2016 6:30 pm

A Violent Prosecutor

A Violent Prosecutor
Film info

Director: Lee Il-hyung
126mins, 2015

Two of Korea’s biggest stars, Hwang Jung-min and Gang Dong-won, team up for a twisty prison-set thriller that channels The Shawshank Redemption before veering off into more political territory. Fresh from Veteran, Hwang is the violent prosecutor of the title who is framed for the death of a witness in his care. Abandoned by his fellow prosecutors, Hwang plies his skill to rise to the top of the food chain behind bars and when a young swindler (Gang), who may have information that could exonerate him, appears before him, he takes his case and grooms him for release.

Odeon Kingston, 04 Nov 2016 6:00 pm

Dong-ju: The Portrait of a Poet

Film info

Director: Lee Joon-ik
Cast: Kang Ha-neul, Park Jung-min
113mins, 2015

Hitmaker Lee Joon-ik teams up with arthouse darling Shin Yeon-shick for a bold black and white biopic of Lee Dong-ju, a young poet whose voice channelled the feelings of a generation in Korea when the country was a subject of the Japanese Colonial Empire. Kang Ha-neul features as the artist, whose lyrical verses had him arrested and tortured by the Japanese, while actor Park Jung-min shines as his head-strong resistance fighter friend. Lee brings a deft and sensitive touch to Shin’s powerful screenplay in a story that resonated with many local viewers earlier this year.

Odeon Camden, 12 Nov 2016 2:00 pm

Asura: The City of Madness + Q&A (SOLD OUT)

Asura Still 2
Film info

Director: Kim Sung-soo
Cast: Jung Woo-sung, Hwang Jung-min, Ju Ji-hoon
137mins, 2016

Star Jung Woo-sung teams up for the fourth time with Beat director Kim Sung-soo for a hardboiled noir that oozes with grime and corruption. Actor of the moment Hwang Jung-min is the mayor who is forcing through a redevelopment plan for his small city while Jung plays his right-hand man, a cop who is feeling pressure both from internal affairs and city prosecutors looking to take the mayor down. No one gets away clean in this brutal crime saga that plays violent men headfirst against each other against a claustrophobic urban background.

Regent Street Cinema, 04 Nov 2016 8:00 pm

A Conversation with Director Kim Sung-soo and Actor Jung Woo-sung

Kim Jung

Action-noir Asura: The City of Madness took Korean screens by storm in the summer and at the London Korean Film Festival the film will make its eagerly awaited European debut. Before the film premieres this evening its star and director are here to give a special talk on their long-standing collaborative relationship.

Asura is director Kim Sung-soo’s most accomplished film to date, a brooding, atmospheric masterpiece where cops, criminals and corrupt politicians fight for survival against the backdrop of a shady megalopolis. Kim’s been turning out blockbusters for over two decades now, with his maturation as a director being mirrored by actor Jung Woo-sung’s own transformation from simmering youth icon to one of the country’s hottest leading men.

The pair first collaborated on the cusp of the Korean New Wave with Beat (1997), followed swiftly by City of the Rising Sun (1999). A showcase for the talents of both star and director these action-filled crime dramas would set the template for such films in the coming decade. Their next project, historical epic Musa - The Warrior (2001), was groundbreaking in scale and ambition; the Wave had broken, and Jung and Kim have been at the forefront of Korea’s innovative blockbuster filmmaking ever since.

Kim Sung-soo and Jung Woo-sung Collaborative Filmography

  • Beat (1997)
  • City of the Rising Sun (1998)
  • Musa - The Warrior (2001)
  • Asura: The City of Madness (2016)

Registration: Entrance is free and no tickets are required but booking is essential.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Korean Studies and the London Korean Film Festival

Contact email: centres@soas.ac.uk

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), 04 Nov 2016 5:30 pm