2017 Korean Film Night Programme
Welcome to our Film Night programme for 2017
2005. Directed by Pang Eun-jin , starring Uhm Jeong-hwa, Moon Sung-keun, Kwon Oh-jung, Kim Sun-hwa, Cert 18 , 106 mins.
The directorial debut of Pang Eun-jin, Princess Aurora is a female take on the one of the most feted of all Korean genres: the revenge film. Vengeance, bloody and violent, here is meted out by Jung Soon-jung (Uhm Jung-hwa), a mother grieving the horrific death of her young daughter, at the hands of a stranger some years prior to the opening of the film. But what is the reason behind her ‘kill list’ – the people on which, including an abusive mother, seemingly have nothing in common, besides the small sticker of “Princess Aurora” (a children’s television series) which is found at the scene of each crime? To complicate matters, one of the detectives who is investigating the murders, Oh Sung-Ho (Moon Sung-geun), is her ex-husband. Driven down a spiraling path of destruction, can Detective Oh stop Soon-jung before it is too late?
KCCUK, 16 Feb 17 7:00 pm
2005. Directed by Kim Yong Gyun, Cert 15 , 103 mins.
Paying homage to Hans Christian Anderson’s 1845 fairy tale of the same name, The Red Shoes brings a peculiarly Korean twist to this grotesque tale of magical shoes whose beauty, while enticing, hides their cursed nature. Discovering her husband has been unfaithful, Sun-jae (Kim Hye-su) flees to Seoul with her young daughter, Tae-soo (Park Yun-a), and tries to begin her life over. One day, Tae-soo comes across a pair of pink shoes as she is riding on the subway, and unable to resist their beauty she takes them home with her. And as in the fairytale, these are no ordinary shoes and everyone who comes into contact with the shoes, including her daughter, falls under their curse. In order for Sun-jae to save her daughter, she enlists the help of her boyfriend, In-cheol (Kim Sung-su), to trace the origins of the cursed shoes. Their investigation leads them back to a traumatic time in Korean history: the Japanese Occupation. As past and present coalesce, can revealing the mystery of the shoes and their original owner, put paid to the curse in the present?
KCCUK, 23 Feb 17 7:00 pm
2009. Directed by Lee Jong-Yong , starring Oh Yeon-seo, Jang Kyoung-ah, Son Eun-seo, Song Min-jeong, Cert 15 , 88 mins.
The fifth and last film in the Whispering Corridors series (1998-2009), A Blood Pledge does not dramatically change what is by this time a very successful formula. Set in an all-girls high school – as are the previous films – the film focuses in on the fractures to the close friendships between three girls - So-yi (Son Eun-seo), Yu-jin (Oh Yeon-seo) and Eun-young (Song Min-jung) - in the aftermath of a suicide by one of their classmates, Eon-ju (Jang Kyoung-ah). Soon, the girls are seeing the ghost of their dead friend and become afraid that she is out for revenge. At the beginning of the film, we see the three girls signing a blood pledge, underlining their intentions to commit suicide. But what does this have to do with the suicide of Eon-ji, if anything? And are they being haunted by their guilty consciences, or has the ghost of Eon-ju really returned to take her revenge?
KCCUK, 02 Mar 17 7:00 pm
2012. Directed by Min Kyu-dong and Kim Gok and Kim Sun and Lim Dae-woong and Jung Bum-sik and Hong Ji-Young , starring Kim Hyeon-soo, Noh Kang-min, Zim Tai-hyun, Choi Yoon-young, NamBo-ra, Cert 18 , 108 mins.
The first of three omnibus films featuring some of South Korea’s most talented young directors, Horror Stories is a truly horrific experience. Made up of four stories – Don’t Answer the Door (Jung Bum-Sik), Endless Flight (Lim Dae-woong), Secret Recipe (Hong Ji-young) & Ambulance on the Death Zone (Kim Gok & Kim Sun), the film begins with a short framing narrative (Min Kyu-dong) in which a highschool girl (Kim Ji-won) is kidnapped by a serial killer (Yoo Yeon-seok) and is forced to tell him scary stories in order to stay alive. Don’t Answer the Door and Secret Recipe are based upon traditional Korean folktales, Sun and Moon and Kongjwi and Patjwi (the Korean version of Cinderella), while Endless Flight and Ambulance take on more contemporary horror tropes including the ubiquitous zombie. Also called Scary Stories, the stories in this anthology, turn out to be very scary indeed.
KCCUK, 09 Mar 17 7:00 pm
2014. Directed by Oh In-Chun , starring Kang Ha-neul, Kim So-eun, Kim Jung-tae, Han Hye-lin, Cert 15 , 90 mins.
The directorial debut of Oh In-chun, Mourning Grave is a contemporary reinvention of the traditional Korean ghost story that is as much a romantic drama as it is a horror story. A young boy, In-soo (Kang Ha-neul), who possesses the ability to see ghosts, transfers to a new school, after having problems at his old one because of this ability. Taking up residence with his uncle, Sun-il (Kim Jung-tae), a part-time exorcist and full time agoraphobic, In-soo soon settles into his new school and even falls in love with a beautiful girl (Kim So-eun), who cannot remember her own name, and eventually turns out to be a ghost – the very thing that he’s trying to escape from. However, trouble isn’t very far away, and one by one his classmates disappear – victims of a masked vengeful ghost who may or may not be the unquiet spirit of a bullied girl who committed suicide the previous year. Coming to the realisation that he cannot escape himself and that his ability to see ghosts may in fact be a gift, he teams up with Sun-il in order to prevent any more of his classmates from being murdered.
KCCUK, 16 Mar 17 7:00 pm
2015. Directed by Yun Jun-hyeong , starring Joo Won, Yoo Hae-jin, Lee Yoo-young, Ryu Hye-young, Cert 15 , 109 mins.
Jang-woo (Joo Won) lives with his teenager sister, Eun-ji (Ryoo Hye-Young), in a small and desolate coastal town eking out a living by working a menial job at an ice factory. With both parents having died in a car accident, Jang-woo takes on the parental role for Eun-ji and plans to leave the small town and relocate with her to Seoul so that she can attend college. Eun-ji disappears one night. No-one seems to know where she is with the exception of Shi-eun (Lee Yoo-young), a strange young woman whose ability to see into the future has led to her being ostracised. The police aren’t interested in helping Jang-woo search for his sister, and Shi-eun’s powers seem to be the only way to find her. Will they find Eun-ji before something awful happens or is it already too late? And what is it that Shi-eun knows?
KCCUK, 23 Mar 17 9:00 pm
In the industrial suburb of Masoek we find three foreign workers sharing a prefab hut built on their factory’s rooftop.This documentary offers a gaze into their lives, shifting its focus away from issues often associated with immigrants, taking a look at their personalities and everyday existence instead.Through very concise interviews, their plans and the challenges they face are slowly unveiled. We learn about the sacrifices they make for their families and their longing to return to a country that offers an uncertain future. We also witness both the camaraderie and the frictions that arise from living with strangers in such a confined space.
These dignifying human portraits are crafted with an austere visual style, complemented with a strong sense of place through distinct urban landscapes. And whilst we never learn these men’s full names, the film ensures they will not remain anonymous.
KCCUK, 27 Apr 17 7:00 pm
Bandhobi is a story about the crossover between two different cultures and the friendship it can spark. As the title suggests, “female friend” in Bengali, the film follows the evolving relationship between Min-seo, a 17-year old rebellious Korean girl, and Karim, a 29-year old Muslim migrant worker from Bangladesh.This character-driven film subtly explores many areas of importance: racism, illegal immigration, family dynamics, the education system and working conditions with great sensitivity and realism. Both characters bring distinctive critical outlooks: Min struggles with a broken relationship with her mother and an absent father while Karim is desperately trying to retrieve the unpaid wages from his employer. Both are lost souls in a society they feel disenfranchised from.Their unique friendship helps them finally address and voice the questions so quietly hidden under social conventions and ignorance.
KCCUK, 04 May 17 7:00 pm
Chinese-Korean director Zhang Lu’s eighth feature follows fourteen foreigners from nine different countries who have left their home to work in South Korea. In this documentary, Lu asks each of these men to reveal the most vivid dream that remains in their memory since arriving in Korea.
Bordering the surreal, Lu conjures an evocative reflection on South Korea’s evolving social landscape.The dreams of all men seem to merge into one, as we learn about their longing to return to their hometowns, reunite with their lost families and embrace their mothers. In their dreams, their anxieties are juxtaposed with nostalgia for their childhood. By alternating these oniric recollections with images of the heavy machinery they operate in their work, Lu accentuates the striking contrast between the immensity of the equipment they employ and the fragility of the hopes they harbour.
KCCUK, 11 May 17 7:00 pm
The Journals of Musan stars (and is written/directed by) Park Jung-bum as Seung-chul, a North Korean refugee who has defected to South Korea. He attempts to adjust to Seoul with a shy and submissive attitude. When Seung-chul is harassed by the authorities, he takes a new job at a karaoke bar to gain stability, an appropriate income, and less prejudice for being a defector. Seung- chul attends Mass every week in the hope that his spirituality will help him embrace his new surroundings.
The Journals of Musan is a precise character study in its detailed portrayal of alienation. But Park Jung-bum’s film also works as a broader exploration of the refugee experience; it illustrates the wide array of emotional adversity immigrants withstand: isolation, shame, hope, faith and even some humour.These are all on the spectrum of feelings that Seung-chul experiences and, we as an audience, experience with him.
KCCUK, 01 Jun 17 7:00 pm
Heavily influenced by the 1980s teen comedies of US director John Hughes, Seoul Searching follows a group of foreign-born Korean teenagers as they visit a summer camp near Seoul that aims to reconnect them with their lost cultural heritage, with varying degrees of success. As you’d expect from a teen comedy, the film has a catchy soundtrack and is full of memorable characters and outlandish comedy situations.
Benson Lee’s film is as concerned with matters of love, sex, underage drinking and partying as any of the other films associated with the genre, but it is the treatment of identity which is most pertinent. All teen comedies are about coming to terms with who you are as you approach adulthood, what Seoul Searching does is amplify this well-worn theme to encompass an acceptance, as a second generation immigrant, of a lost cultural heritage and national identity.
KCCUK, 08 Jun 17 7:00 pm
BangTae-sik is a perennially unemployed South Korean man who, based on his physical appearance, could pass for a foreigner. He is as a result often confused for an outsider and, having nothing much to do, he takes advantage of his own situation.Tae-sik adopts a fake foreign accent and pretends to come from Bhutan. Very clumsy, the newly named Bang-ga gains confidence little by little and becomes more and more influential among his friends and co-workers. He also starts romancing the lovely Jang-mi who works in the same factory as him.
With He’s on Duty,Yook Sanh-Hyo presents a light- hearted and vigorous comedy that nonetheless delivers uncommonly powerful commentaries on immigration, discrimination and racism.
KCCUK, 15 Jun 17 7:00 pm
1959. Directed by Shin Sang-ok , starring Ju Jeung-nyeo, No Neung-geol, Choe eun-hui, Park Gyeong-ju , 104 mins.
Produced during the ‘golden age’ of Korean cinema, It’s Not Her Sin tells the story of Seong-hui, wife of the diplomat Baek Sang-ho. After shooting at her husband’s mistress, Yeong-suk, Seong-hui is arrested by the police. With the media reporting a love triangle between the three, Yeong-suk is called in for questioning. With a prosecutor and Baek Sang-ho in attendance, Yeong-suk begins to talk about her past and her relationship with Seong-hui.
With a plot echoing Korean noir films of the 1950s, It’s Not Her Sin offers a more nuanced understanding of womanhood and its circumstances. What would at first glance seem to be another entry into the ‘femme fatale’ genre, Seong-hui is instead presented as a victim of circumstance, rather than an agent of her own demise.
KCCUK, 20 Jul 17 7:00 pm
2016. Directed by Park So-hyun, Cert 12 , 98 mins.
When a group of women working in an office get bored with the hardened angry faces that they meet on their way to work on the grey urban mornings of their city commute, they decide to do something about it. In an effort to make the city a happier place for all, they start a knitting club.
“Coming to work in the morning, everyone is stone faced in this cold grey city… wouldn’t it be great to do something to make people smile?”
As the women become closer friends they realise that they have more in common than they thought. With an inspiring soundtrack and presenting a beautiful way in which people can come together, this documentary is an inspiration for change and for creating alternative platforms for discussion.
“Going from knitting that changes the city, to knitting that changes lives.”
KCCUK, 03 Aug 17 7:00 pm
1975. Directed by Ha Gil-jong , starring Yun Mun-seop, Ha Jae-young, Lee Young-ok, Kim Ill-young, Kim Yeong-suk, Cert 15 , 105 mins.
In his My Korean Cinema, Kim hong-joon refers to The March of Fools as a film that made a profound impact upon him.The film was directed by Ha Gil-jong, a director who was known for being somewhat of a rebel himself and who unfortunately passed away all too soon. His film is about the dreams of youth and freedom, of love and possibility, but also of realising that life does not always turn out the way one had hoped.
Majoring in Philosophy at college, Byeong-tae becomes acquainted at a group meeting with Young-ja, who majors in French Literature. With the influence of rapidly propagated Western culture, these stylish 70s youngsters are dealing with the agonies of family, school and jobs. Though this agony is coloured with humour and self- scorn, it points towards a bright and promising future.
The March of Fools was recently deemed the best Korean film of all time in a KoFa poll of the top 100 Korean films.
KCCUK, 10 Aug 17 7:00 pm
2017. Directed by Jung Da-won , starring Jung Du-won, Choi Si-on, Park Ye-yeong, Cert 15 , 88 mins.
In this sweet alternative story of youth and protest, a young man with a college degree takes a job at the local Garak Market without telling his parents. Being teased by younger peers for not having a white collar job and getting harassed by his boss, his life is not exactly ideal, but after discovering his extraordinary gift for playing the traditional oriental chess game, jang-gi, and falling in love with a girl who fights to make the world a better place, he might have just found a possibility to change the world for himself and his friends.
KCCUK, 17 Aug 17 7:00 pm
1994. Directed by Kim Hong-joon , starring Kim Eun-sook, Choi Chong-won, Choi Jae-sung, Cert 15 , 93 mins.
La Vie en Rose feels like a Tarantino movie set in a comic book shop. It’s a film that works over many genres, ranging from martial arts to vengeance, from coming-of-age to finding your place in life. Clerks (Kevin Smith: 1994) meets High Fidelity (Stephen Frears: 2000) as Seoul’s youth try to create and protect the place and
The community they’ve come to love. “Should I stay or should I go?” is a question many young people ask themselves, whether they are from the country or the city, from the east or the west. it is a story about refusing to give up even under impossible circumstances; it’s about refusing to give in to the destructive forces of everything from organised crime, to governmental bans and crackdowns on illegal activities; it’s also about trying to build something together, a community you feel you can belong to, where the outcasts, half criminals and homeless can also feel welcomed.
Birkbeck Cinema, 24 Aug 17 7:00 pm
This night of six short films illustrates how the experiences of women in Korea have changed since the 1930s as shown in Kim Hong-joon’s film, Smoking Women. Made by a mix of men, women, expats and emigres, the programme presents an image of the ‘millennial woman’: one who is finally in charge of her own destiny.
KCCUK, 27 Jul 17 12:00 am