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Lee Byung Hun 이병헌 Byunghun Lee

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#OriginalBromance #JointSecurityArea #KoreanFilm101 #Classic #JSA


Thanks to @ByungBlue for the highlight








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Awesome BH movies selected for the list, it'll be nice if A Bittersweet Life is added as well but JSA and ISTD are definitely & already perfect choices! ^_^


February 11, 2020


A brief history of the Korean New Wave.


Source: Inverse.com




The mountainous rise of Korean cinema reached its highest peak on Sunday when the American-centric Oscars crowned Korean director Bong Joon-ho and his acclaimed drama Parasite as the year's Best Picture (not best international, just best).

It was a historic moment, not just for foreign language cinema, but for the wide breadth of the Korean film industry that has seen pictures regularly transcend language and cultural barriers, from cult classics like Old Boy to sci-fi blockbusters like Snowpiercer. The list goes on, but we've whittled it down to an essential eleven.


For the unfamiliar, it may be hard to understand how this happened, and why Korean cinema is now the darling of the worldwide film community. While Japan boasts legends like Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki, and Hong Kong has Wong Kar-Wai, Ann Hui, and John Woo, the most renowned artists of South Korea didn't emerge until the 2000s. Out of the 1997 financial collapse and a boost from screen quota laws, the East Asian nation of 51 million found their voices in directors like Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho, Kwak Jae-yong, and more, who helped kick off the Korean New Wave that's now lasted nearly two decades.


The can't-miss films below illustrate a region's cinema that carved its identity through blending overly familiar genres into pointed social commentaries. Spy movies, monster movies, zombies, vampires, and rom-coms are remixed with uniquely Korean flavor that all point to a nation, and a people, who fell hard in the global economy only to resurge amidst grand, sweeping technological shifts. By the second decade, Korean filmmakers began to reckon with the unfair income inequality that continues to plague the nation.


Below is a brief history of the Korean New Wave, as illustrated by 11 must-watch movies that all led to the crowning of Parasite. If you're less "#BongHive" and more "Bong Joon-who?" let this be your starting point.



It is commonly understood that the Korean New Wave kicked off in 1999 with South Korea's first Hollywood-style blockbuster, Shiri. A spy film directed by Kang Je-gyu, Shiri had the highest budget of a South Korean film at the time ($8.5 million) and still broke box office records upon its release. It was the reason James Cameron's Titanic sunk in South Korea, the only Asian nation the movie bombed.


But while Shiri was the first punch, Park Chan-wook's Joint Security Area (2000) was the haymaker. A mystery thriller that helped cement the careers of actors Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho, and Lee Young-ae, the film explores the circumstances of a murder at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the border separating North and South Korea. In its microscopic view of the war-torn region, the film looks far and wide to the irreconcilable differences between two nations still at war today.


The fourth release from Park Chan-wook, Joint Security Area was a smash hit at home, becoming the highest-grossing movie in Korean film history in 2001. It developed an international cult following thanks in part to American directors like Quentin Tarantino giving it public praise.


Fun fact: When the film was released on DVD, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun gifted the movie to North Korea's Kim Jong-il at the 2007 Inter-Korean summit.


10. MY SASSY GIRL (2001)




Before Tom met Summer in (500) Days of Summer, director Kwak Jae-yong adapted a popular online blog written by a lovestruck boy obsessed over the perfect, if not quirky, girl.

My Sassy Girl, starring Jun Ji-hyun and Chae Tae-hyun, was a major hit that spawned one of the most popular Korean franchises of all time, earning acclaim across all of Asia. The inevitable American remake was produced in 2008 with Elisha Cuthbert, while other adaptations and remakes have popped up in Japan, India, China, and Nepali. In 2014, The Korean Wave author Jennifer Jung-Kim wrote of My Sassy Girl that it's a film that "deserves to be called a global success" based on its numerous localized adaptations.



9. VOLCANO HIGH (2001)




When misfit teenager Kim Kyung-soo (Jang Hyuk) is transferred to a secret martial arts school, he literally fights to survive in a mashup of teen dramas and kinetic action movies that all pay homage to Korea's homegrown manhwa (comics).

You won't find much praise for Volcano High outside the most niche action movie blogs. If it wasn't for an MTV-produced dub starring hip-hop musicians like André 3000, Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg, and Method Man, Kim Tae-kyun's martial arts teen comedy would be forgotten to time.

But it was precisely because of MTV and the movie's wide distribution in the US on DVD that Volcano High become a cult hit among American teens — and the first real dose of Korean action for a mass, impressionable audience. (I knew about the movie because it was always so cheap at Walmart.)

Peep the YouTube comments and you'll find people reminiscing about discovering it on MTV and DVD in their youths. While not the highest of brows, the availability of Volcano High may have been the untold Westerners' first dose of Korean cinema.



8. OLDBOY (2003)




Easily one of the most renowned movies of the Korean New Wave, this neo-noir thriller from Park Chan-wook adapts the Japanese comic of the same name. The film tells the story of a man mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years. When he's finally released, he's given only five days to figure out the reason for his torture.

Choi Min-Sik, Yoo Ji-tae, and Kang Hye-jung star in a gritty revenge tale whose reach and influence went far beyond its homeland. The film played a direct influence on American movies and shows like John Wick and Marvel's Daredevil.

Like Park's Joint Security Area, Old Boy's praise from Western voices like Quentin Tarantino and Roger Ebert — who in his review called the film "powerful ... not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare" — helped cement the movie as a must-see and the real barn burner for the Korean New Wave around the world.



7. THE HOST (2006)




By the time Bong Joon-ho got to making his political monster thriller, The Host, he was already a veteran with film credits like Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000) and Memories of a Murder (2003). But it was The Host that put Bong on the global map. Merging together the styles of Japanese monster films with Korean social commentary, Bong tells the story of a Korean family that tries to stay together when a mutant monster emerges from the Han River.

Eschewing the spectacle of blowing things up in favor of family drama, The Host won acclaim and proved the Korean New Wave's tendency to mesh and reinvent genres like science fiction and horror into something more profound. The film is also proudly Korean, with scathing depictions of American imperialism. (The film was in part inspired by an international incident in 2000, when the United States military dumped formaldehyde into the drinking water of Seoul.)



6. THIRST (2009)




Amid the height of the West's obsession for vampires, thanks to the Twilight phenomenon, Park Chan-wook directed Thirst. A loose adaptation of the 1868 French novel Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola, the movie stars Song Kang-ho as a Catholic priest who volunteers for a medical experiment that turns him into a vampire. The priest must then resist his bloodlust as he falls in love with an old childhood friend.

The film won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009 and debuted at number one at the South Korean box office upon its release. While not the capital-B biggest movie in the Korean New Wave, the film's buzz — supported by Park who was still floating internationally thanks to the popularity of Oldboy — kept Korean film popularity going into the 2010s.



5. I SAW THE DEVIL (2010)


A movie seemingly made for the Reddit crowd, Kim Jee-woon's gruesomely morbid thriller, I Saw the Devil, took the Korean New Wave into its darkest territory yet. Flipping the manhunt movie on its head, the movie stars Lee Byung-hun (by now known to Americans for his role as Storm Shadow in 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) as a heroic NIS agent who pursues a serial killer (Choi Min-sik) for the murder of his fiancé.


What the movie does differently than other hunt movies, to unnerving effect, is a downward spiral journey revealing what, or who, is a real monster. Praised by Rolling Stone for "relentless nastiness" that's "hard to watch and even harder to turn off" and by Taste of Cinema as "a modern masterpiece of South Korean cinema," the film endures thanks to discussions on places like Reddit.






Bong Joon-ho went international with Snowpiercer, a Korean-Czech financed movie with a majority English-speaking script and cast all based on a French comic book. Fresh from The Avengers, Chris Evans fights for freedom as the leader of a revolution aboard a high-speed train that circles a frosted Earth — an apocalypse from an overcorrection of reversing climate change. Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Go Ah-sung, Alison Pill, and Ed Harris also star.

A critical favorite when it was released in 2013, the film not only proved the international appeal of Korean cinema, but it also became a bonafide franchise. An American TV series will premiere on TNT in 2020.



3. TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016)




Like The Host before it, Yeon Sang-ho's Train to Busan takes another horror genre (this time zombies) and again explores the meaningful bond of a family and class warfare when a zombie outbreak occurs on a train to the second-most populous city in South Korea.

Amidst the decorations for the film, the biggest praise came from English director Edgar Wright, of the 2004 comedy Shaun of the Dead, who tweeted Train to Busan was the "best zombie movie I've seen in forever. A total crowd-pleaser. Highly recommend."






Another erotic thriller from Chan-wook Park, this adaptation of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters changes Victorian England to Korea, dominated by colonial Japan, and is notable for borderline "pornographic" sex scenes between two main female characters. The film made numerous critics' end-of-year top 10 lists and included a nomination for the Palme d'Or. Just halfway past the 2010s, movies like The Handmaiden proved Korean cinema was here to stay.


1. BURNING (2018)




Lee Chang-dong's Burning adapts Haruki Murakami's short story "Barn Burning" into a mystery drama that, according to The Atlantic, "rejects the glamorization of Asian wealth and the notion of a universal Asian identity."

With two opposing characters — one working-class native Korean and one "Americanized" wealthy Korean played by The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun — the film imbues suspense into another harrowing tale of class warfare.



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Another clip feat. Lee Byung Hun in FromBIO CF Making Film, thanks to the highlight by awesome_hyeminee 


So many staff involved in the filming with people in every corner except in front of the camera. :sweatingbullets: The final CF video posted below.



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Interview with Lee Byung-hun on The Man Standing Next and His Meticulous Analysis of Character


Published on February 14, 2020 by BH Entertainment



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note1.gif Another glowing review for THE MAN STANDING NEXT, the movie is now being screened in the US cities. (AMC)


February 10, 2020


‘Man Standing Next’ a powerhouse Korean thriller

The political thriller, based on the events that led up to the assassination of the South Korean president in 1979, is a fascinating history lesson.


Cary Darling Houston Chronicle


Byung-hun Lee in the South Korean film 'The Man Standing Next' Photo: Showbox

The engrossing South Korean political thriller “The Man Standing Next” delves into a chapter of Korean history probably little known to the majority of Americans: what led to the assassination of president Park Chung-hee in 1979.


If director Woo Min-ho’s film, based on the non-fiction book “Chiefs of Namsan” though some names have been changed, is to be believed, the man responsible was neither hero nor villain but a man trapped in the middle — between his ambitions and his morals as well as conflicting interests, including those of U.S. officials who were becoming increasingly frustrated with the South Korean leader as he was becoming more dictatorial.


South Korean star Byung-Hun Lee (“The Magnificent Seven,” “Terminator Genesys”) is Kim Kyu-peong, the head of the KCIA, South Korean’s intelligence agency and once a firm ally of the president (Lee Sung-min). In fact, Kim is so close to the cold and mercurial Park that he is believed to be the next in line — “the man standing next.”


But events are unfolding that could turn Kim’s world upside down. Two rivals within Park’s inner circle are gunning for Kim: the hotheaded chief of security Kwak Sang-cheon (Lee Hee-joon) and a mysterious figure code-named Iago after the villain in Shakespeare’s “Othello” who seems to have Park’s ear and handles his murky finances.


Then there’s Park Yong-gak (Kwak Do-won), a former South Korean official and friend of Kim’s, who has fled to the U.S. to testify before Congress about the corruption inside the Park administration. Needless to say, the prez is not happy with Kim about this and wants it dealt with quickly.


Meanwhile, riots are breaking out in Busan in reaction to Park’s rule and Kwak wants to suppress them brutally, even suggesting the country could follow in the footsteps of Cambodia – which killed three million of its own citizens – by getting rid of a couple of million people and be no worse off.


So when Kim finally goes off and takes down Park, is he striking a blow for freedom or his own thwarted dreams? As has been pointed out in other reactions to the film, beyond the use of the name “Iago,” there’s definitely something tragically Shakespearean about “The Man Standing Next.”


The talky “The Man Standing Next” packs a lot of characters and history into its 113 minutes, so much so that some viewers with no knowledge of the real story might be left scratching their heads. Who is that guy again? He said what to whom?


Still, Woo Min-ho keeps things moving fairly briskly, managing to build suspense even as the audience knows it’s all going to end in tears and tragedy. In fact, the films begins on the day of the assassination and then goes back in time so it’s not a whodunit but a whydunit.


Stylistically, there are echoes of such notable ’70s American political thrillers as “Parallax View” and “The Conversation.” Even if you’re not sure what’s going on at any given moment, it is never less than compelling.


As if it weren’t known already, “The Man Standing Next” is proof that there’s much more to South Korean cinema than “Parasite.”




‘The Man Standing Next’

Unrated (bloody violence)

Running time:113 minutes

Language: In Korean and English with English subtitles

Where: AMC Studio 30, Houston

★★★★ (out of 5)

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There hasn't been any BH updates or sightings recently. THE MAN STANDING NEXT is still playing in the Korean cinemas (at number 5 B.O.) but its daily tally is less than 10K as audiences are watching new movies as well as the Oscar-winner Parasite which is being re-released. TMSN will now be shown on VOD platforms simultaneously with the theatrical screening.


Byunghun is probably taking a break although he might be preparing for Emergency Declaration (hopefully he'll play a new character he hasn't tried), filming new CFs or simply enjoying the time with his son since MJ is busy filming for her March drama.


Found this previous clip in English on Youtube, so it's not quite updated (re: Parasite). Jason Bechervaise is a big Bong Joon Ho fan that he did his PhD on the film-maker. Anyway, his favorite Korean films also include JSA and BSL plus The Age of Shadow.


Published on June 26, 2017 by ARIRANG TV


Film critic from London and fan of Korean films, Jason Bechervaise




Not too sure when this photo was taken, could be in 2008 when GBW was screening in London.. perhaps?





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An interesting poll set up by a fan on twitter. We get to see that many became new fans of Lee Byung Hun since 4 years ago.


Thanks to bean soup

If you're on twitter, do join the poll..lbh.gif



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 February 7, 2020 typewriter.gif




Jim Morazzini  Voices From The Balcony

A major hit in its native South Korea Min-ho Woo’s (Inside Men) The Man Standing Next is a dramatization of the 40 days leading up to the 1979 assassination of President Park Chung-hee. Text at the film’s start tells us that the filmmakers “have taken creative liberties for certain settings”. I’m not sure just how much liberty was taken. I know some names were changed and people combined into one character. But since his assassin never revealed his full motives I can see where this would be needed.


Kim Kyu-Pyung (Byung-Hun Lee, I Saw The Devil, Ashfall) is the director of the KCIA and President Park’s (Sung-min Lee, The Beast, Black Money) right-hand man. Former director Park Yong-gak (Do-won Kwak, The Wailing, The Man From Nowhere) has defected to the US and is giving the testimony that led to the Koreagate scandal. Kim is sent to deal with the problem.

He finds himself caught between his loyalty to the man he helped bring to power and a growing awareness of how corrupt that man has become. He’s also caught in competition with Head of Security Kwak Sang-cheon (Hee-joon Lee, The Drug King) for Park’s favour. Can he reconcile his duty to his country with his loyalty to its leader? Or will he be forced to take drastic measures to protect one or the other?



Images: @beansoup15


Since it is based on actual events we know how it will end. The fact The Man Standing Next works as a thriller is due to the excellent job it does of telling how it happened. The rivalries and manipulations going on behind the scenes. The growing paranoia of President Park. The question of how to deal with the Bu-Ma Democratic Protests. We see the pieces fall into place and the players become locked into their courses of action.

The cast all do an excellent job in their roles, which is a requirement of a film like The Man Standing Next. Byung-Hun Lee is especially good as the man in the centre of it all. He’s utterly convincing portraying someone who’s beliefs are unravelling around him. Woo does an excellent job with his cast, even the supporting players are on point.


The Man Standing Next should appeal to anyone who likes this kind of thriller. It’s one of the few recent movies that run near two hours and didn’t feel overlong to me. The setting, and for some, the unfamiliarity of the events, should also add some interest to the film.



Capelight Pictures will open The Man Standing Next at theatres across the U.S and Canada on February 7th. DVD and VOD release will follow later in the year.


Reviewer  Jim Morazzini

Review Date  2020-02-07

Author Rating 1star 1star 1star 1star gray

Title  The Man Standing Next
Description The Man Standing Next is a dramatization of the 40 days leading up to the 1979 assassination of President Park Chung-hee

Upload Date  February 7, 2020

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Thanks to awesome_hyeminee for the cool highlight


DK Urban Development Night Advertisement you can see on the way to Incheon Airport !! ^^








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A nice description for Lee Byung Hun by the author yes.gif




February 20, 2020


Parasite’ Star Song Kang-ho To Lead Stellar Cast of ‘Emergency Declaration’ (EXCLUSIVE)




Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho, and Jeon Do-yeon

“Parasite” star Song Kang-ho will head the cast of airborne disaster action move “Emergency Declaration.” Jeon Do-yeon and Lee Byung-hun co-star, making “Declaration” one of the powerful casts ever assembled in a Korean movie.


The film is in pre-production and aiming for an end-of-year release. Leading studio Showbox will begin pre-sales during this week’s European Film Market.


Showbox pitches it as ”an airborne blockbuster about an aircraft forced to declare an emergency when an unprecedented terror incident occurs in-flight.” It is to be directed by Han Jae-rim, who previously enjoyed success with “The King” and the Song-starring 2013 drama “The Face Reader.”


Jeon won a best actor award at Cannes in 2007 for “Secret Sunshine,” and has other credits that include “Untold Scandal” and “The Housemaid.” Lee is one of Korea’s finest thespians and a rarity who has managed to build a career on both sides of the Pacific. His Hollywood titles include “G.I. Joe” and “Reds” while his Korean roles include “Ashfall,” “I Saw the Devil,” “A Bittersweet Life” and “JSA: Joint Security Area.”

Song has been the face of Korean cinema for two decades, with a career that tracks many of its landmark moments. His standout roles include “Shiri” (1999) directed by Kang Je-gyu; Kim Jee-woon’s wrestling comedy “The Foul King” (2000); Park Chan-wook’s “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” (2002); and Bong Joon-ho’s “Memories of Murder” (2003) and “Snowpiercer” in 2013. He was last year the first Asian actor to be honored by the Locarno film festival with its Excellence Award.

At Berlin, Showbox is also representing upcoming titles “Sinkhole,” a disaster drama about a house that is swallowed up, now in post; fantasy drama “Our Season”; and comedy action film “The Golden Holiday,” about a family holiday in the Philippines that turns into a murder investigation. It is also selling the drama “The Man Standing Next,” which stars Lee Byung in a tale of espionage and political maneuvering that last month grossed $34 million.

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searchdoc.gif The article may not be much relevance but came across an interesting mention, Lee Byung Hun & Charles Pak of BH Entertainment is producing a new movie (in Hollywood?) Seems like his non-acting advancement as a film producer after signing up with UTA in 2017.




February 20, 2020


Asian American Content Banner Launches With Valence Media Investment (Exclusive)


by Rebecca Sun THR




Courtesy of Valence Media



Mary Lee, previously head of film at Justin Lin's Perfect Storm Entertainment, is developing projects for the newly formed A-Major Media with John Cho and Gemma Chan, among others.

A new production company focused on Asian American content has launched with a majority investment from Valence Media, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned. Financial terms were not disclosed.


A-Major Media is led by Mary Lee, a 15-year industry veteran who was most recently head of film at Justin Lin's Perfect Storm Entertainment, where she oversaw such upcoming projects as Warner Bros.' Space Jam 2, Legendary's Hot Wheels, Paramount's Lone Wolf and Cub and the upcoming adaptation of Steve James' Oscar-nominated documentary Abacus.


The Valence deal, made in association with UTA, is non-exclusive, meaning that A-Major is free to pursue partnerships with various production companies, not just Valence's MRC divisions, and has its own development fund. (Valence is the parent company of THR.)


"[A-Major] is built in a way where I have development financing and can partner with people and get projects to a certain place, versus having to depend on someone to take them on [before I can] even do that," Lee tells THR. "Knowing that it’s still tough [to make content from and about underrepresented groups], we didn’t want to put any additional limitations on what I can do. The fact that I can have flexibility and find the best creative home for each project was a lot of the reason why [I made this deal].”


A-Major is hitting the ground running with a number of projects in development that Lee says exemplifies the breadth of storytelling that exists within the Asian American community. In addition to a previously announced untitled feature set up at New Line and written by Elliott San and produced by John Cho, the new company has revealed three additional films:


•  I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Yulin Kuang's (CW Seed's I Ship It) adaptation of Maurene Goo's 2015 YA novel about a Korean-American girl who uses Korean drama techniques to woo the boy of her dreams. Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee (The Magnificent Seven) and BH Entertainment's Charles Pak are producing.


•  An untitled autobiographical project based on the high school experiences of Fresh Off the Boat co-executive producer Kourtney Kang, who is writing and making her feature directorial debut.


•  We Stan, about female friends and fellow K-pop stans, penned by Atypical scribe Lauren Moon (who also is adapting 29 Dates for Disney+). A-Major will produce the comedy alongside Asian American music and media company 88rising and Korean American rapper and actor Jon "Dumbfoundead" Park.




A-Major also is in early development on an untitled television series produced by Gemma Chan and Franklin Leonard, among others.


Lee began her producing career as a creative executive on Juno, and reteamed with director Jason Reitman to co-produce Young Adult, as well as Rodrigo Garcia’s Anne Hathaway starrer Passengers and Will Speck and Josh Gordon’s comedy The Switch, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. Before moving to Perfect Storm, she was a producer for Jake Johnson and Max Winkler’s 20th-based banner The Walcott Company.


“Looking back at my entire career, I think I’ve always tried in certain ways to champion Asian American stories or be involved with them, but it was just so much harder back then,” says Lee, citing the success of such films as 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians and Searching as paradigm shifters. “To actually build a company and be able to champion Asian and Asian American artists and stories is something I really didn't think was possible until now."



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Lots of good words on Director Woo Min Ho, too. He must be so relieved that THE MAN STANDING NEXT is an overall b.o. success & critically praised, we are very glad as well.


February 14, 2020


Movie Review - Man Standing Next, The

by Jay Seaver eFilmCritic.com  // clip: awesome_hyeminee

Overall Rating: "The President's Last Game"
4 stars / Worth A Look: 100%


"The Man Standing Next" is a pretty fair example of a movie that takes the known facts of recent history and stitches them together in the way that most resembles a thriller. The suspense comes as much from the craft as the pieces of that history where one doesn't know the exact details, meaning the most exciting set piece is in the middle rather than the climax. There's no mystery for many watching the film in South Korea, but at least some tension.

After a brief flash-forward to 25 October 1979, the film rolls the clock back 40 days to show Park Yong-Gak, the former director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency giving testimony before the United States Congress about the corruption and autocracy prevalent in their supposedly-democratic ally. He also announces plans to publish a memoir, incensing President Park (Lee Sung-Min), who dispatches current KCIA head Kim Kyu-Pyeong (Lee Byung-Hun) to get his predecessor under control. Kim returns with the manuscript and a warning, that the American CIA is tracking a figure they call "Iago" who secretly controls a large faction of the agency. Could that be Gwak Sang-Cheon (Lee Hee-Joon), the head of the President's personal security who seems far too much of a hot-head to be any kind of secret mastermind?


(Note that while the events of the film map fairly closely to actual history and real people, most of the names have been changed.)


This story ends with President Park's assassination, and whether Gwak's testimony in Washington set events in motion or was just one of many examples of how an institution that had rotted from the inside finally falls apart is treated as something of fairly minor concern. Instead, writer/director Woo Min-Ho focuses on the process of the collapse - the increasing paranoia, the machinations that grow more complex and dangerous to what seems like little purpose, and the gradual realization by Kim that what he's doing has drifted far from public service. Both the outside forces at play and the factors in Park's fall that derive from his own personality are visible mostly on the edges of the film - at a certain point, Woo suggests, both dictatorship and the forces of international politics are machines that may run slow but are are only stopped when the larger one crushes the smaller.



Lee Byung-Hun shoulders most of that. We know what Kim is going to do from the start, but he conveys the pain of seeing things fall apart nicely, along with the anguish of apparently still having a bit of a conscience after years of bad deeds. Min doesn't give Lee any big speeches about having started out trying to make South Korea a great nation twenty years earlier, but there's an angry stiffness to his movements and a look of pain on his face that suggests he's realizing that his loyalties to friend and country no longer align. There's also more than a bit of "ruthless survivor", lest the audience start liking this guy too much. His opposite number is not so much Kwak Do-Won or Lee Hee-Joon as the more flamboyant adversaries but Lee Sung-Min as President Park; there's a tremor in his hands that seems equal part age and fearfulness and an almost frightening blankness to his affect. Park doesn't seem to want anything but to hang on to his position, and even in that case, he doesn't seem to want that for any particular reason in the way dictators are often portrayed as gluttonous, delusional, or fond of cruelty. He may have once been that, but now he's just disconnected and protecting his position by reflex.




That's potentially dry, and Woo doesn't necessarily add much in the way of lurid color to it. Instead, he goes for a sleek professionalism, meticulously creating a version of 1979 that looks striking but not garish and shooting on location in Washington and Paris to add scale, but also finds way to use scale nicely in more intimate settings to show President Park's heavy hand, like how all the food on a dinner table seems pulled to his side by gravity, or making every time someone whispers in the President's ear feel like a snub of Kim personally. The film has two impressively-executed action pieces, and even if here is naturally more suspense in Gwak being chased through the French countryside, the inevitable showdown in a KCIA safehouse is excellent in large part for how Lee suggests both Kim running on adrenaline and in a bit of shock once he comes down from it.


These events have been the subject of Korean films before, perhaps most notably in Im Sang-Soo's "The President's Last Bang", which takes a more satirical approach to the material. Woo's more respectful, straightforward telling likely won't have the same impact internationally as Im's, but it does a nice job of navigating the space between historical recreation and entertainment well in its own way.



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February 11, 2020

The Man Standing Next 2020 ★★★★½


Review by hockeyphotos on Letterboxd

If you like political thrillers, go see this. You don't need to know any of the facts. I honestly don't know if this movie is better if a) you are Korean and know all of it, though not necessarily this interpretation b) you know the bare bones, ie what Kim did and the futility of the act like me (mostly from other Korean movies) or c) don't even realize that is based on truth.


Lee Byung-Hun is amazing in this. The way he used tiny facial muscle movements and his eyes to portray his feelings while outwardly, for the most part, appearing loyal and calm was *****. I've mostly seen him in action type roles and knew he was very good, but not that he was this good. Looking at the list of his films, he's been in a good number of Western movies, but none that I've ever had any desire to watch. I think I'll check off more of his Korean films before bothering with those.


If you feel like another movie after this, watch A Taxi Driver with Song Kang-Ho. Find some kleenex first. It is about the Gwanju uprising (similar to the one in Busan under Park) and the military coming in in 1980.


Forgot some stuff I wanted to mention:

1, When he slips and looks back - just so good and obv helped with the scenes in the car later, but so good and unexpected

2. The score was terrific. It didn't try to smack you in the face telling you IT IS TIME TO GET SUPER TENSE, but it did help build up that tension and if you stay thru all of the credits it gets even better. I have to go see if it can be streamed anywhere.


TMSN clip: awesome_hyeminee


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February 21, 2020


Chungmuro, the heart of Korean cinema, goes beyond ‘Hallyuwood’
Award-winning ‘Parasite’ benefits from Chungmuro, home to director Bong Joon-ho and other Korean filmmakers

By Park Jun-hee The Korea Herald



Surprisingly, the area has a humble background, despite its eventual prominence. Long ago, it was an ideal place to start a career because the cost of living was relatively low compared to other places. Soon after, the slums turned into an attractive spot and attracted companies to settle down.

Movie figures have also left behind the mystique and glamour of the film scene in the corners of Chungmuro. Besides, the old-fashioned neighborhood was well-known for its quaint landscape used for screenplay backdrops.


Sadly, many film production houses and theaters have since moved to other places, leaving old print shops and studios in the back alleys. Nowadays, there are barely any star-struck cinema boosters, big signs or posters across the street.


Yet, Chungmuro is still deemed as the heart of Korean cinema because of its long-established history. The area’s clout, too, has never been more significant across the nation, leaving indelible imprints on many people’s minds.


Expectations about the vibrant Korean movie industry are mounting, both at home and abroad. Thanks to old dynamics, the Korean cinema wave is currently witnessing worldwide success and popularity.


Go check out the video if you want to know how the word “Chungmuro” made it to major headlines, producing movies and the country’s stars.


Video script and article by Park Jun-hee (junheeep97@heraldcorp.com) 
Video shot and edited by Park Subin (qlstnqkr1204@heraldcorp.com)







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February 16, 2020

The Man Standing Next 2020 ★★★★

Review by SocietyReviews on Letterboxd typewriter.gif

When intelligence agencies go to war with the sitting president, who is the hero and who is the villain? The answer depends on whose endgame you ultimately side with. While it may be difficult for some to understand the nuance behind South Korean history and politics, The Man Standing Next does its best job (with a few creative liberties) to tell the story behind the assassination of South Korean President Park Chung-hee.


Set in the 1970s, former KCIA director Park Yong-gak (Do-won Kwak) travels to the United States in order to condemn South Korean President Park (Sung-min Lee) in front of Congress. President Park doesn’t take kindly to having his public image tarnished so he sends Current KCIA director Kim Kyu-Pyung (Byung-Hun Lee) to the States to defuse the situation. It is there that Kim learns that President Park has been defrauding Korea for many years by funneling state money into numerous Swizz bank accounts. Kim is then caught between a rock and a hard place as President Park orders the assassination of the former director and Kim’s good friend, leaving Kim to choose between his country and his president.


The Man Standing Next is an excellent story of espionage and government politics at play. Based on the real-life conflict that led to then-President Park being assassinated by his own KCIA director, the story gives a thrilling look at an internal battle between friendship and loyalty. The cast gives a stellar performance but the standout is Lee Byung-Hun, his character’s internal dilemma of continuing to support a boss and a friend who has clearly lost the best interest of his country is a gut-wrenching predicament. Yet despite knowing that he would go down in history as a traitor to his nation, Kim did what he felt he needed to do a fighter for the revolution.


Now whether you believe that Kim was truly a patriot is a debate for another day, keep in mind the film does take liberties with some of the facts. Ironically, President’s Park real-life daughter Park Geun-hye, was recently elected as Korea’s first female president only to be impeached due to a bribery scandal. The truth is always somewhere in the middle and for you guys who trust your government as far as you can throw them, The Man Standing Next is a solid pick one of the top films in the early film year.


Source: josh_0365



I really enjoyed it.

A film piece that details the situation

I was especially surprised by the acting of my favorite actor Lee Byung-hun.

If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend you

And I recommend Single Rider of actor Lee Byung-hun


Source: @BillyRocks_13


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THE MAN STANDING NEXT is out of the top ten list and coming to an end with the screening. It's really hard on all of the movies released recently as some cinemas almost went empty over the weekend. At number 11, TMSN has gained up to 4.74 million audience admission to date. It could have been many more tickets sold or at least crossing 5 million.. but with the unforeseen situation, it's just not what meant to be.


Lee Byung Hun received a lot of critical recognition for his performance. Clearly he will be a strong contender at the coming movie awards.


Source: hykwon.hyk (disclaimer: Google-translate)


I wanted to stay long ...
Now alone in the movie theater that ran to the unfortunate heart to send ㅠㅠ
We wish you someday to reopen and take care of yourself !!!!!


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