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October 24, 2016

'The Age of Shadows' wins Korean film critics' award

SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean espionage film "The Age of Shadows" directed by Kim Jee-woon picked up the best film prize given by the local film critics' association, the organization said Monday.

Along with best film, the espionage period thriller also won the best music award at the 36th annual Korean Film Critics Association Awards, the group said in a release.

Lee Kyoung-mi received the best director award for the mystery thriller "The Truth Beneath," for which Son Ye-jin earned the best actress honor for her successful portrayal of both a young mother and a desperate woman with a deteriorating mental condition as she tirelessly searches for her missing daughter.

Best actor went to Lee Byung-hun, who received critical acclaim for his performance in Woo Min-ho's political revenge flick "Inside Men."

   For new talent, Yoon Ga-eun picked up the best new director prize for "The World of Us", which casts light on social issues affecting children in Korea, and Jeong Ha-dam won the rookie actress award from "Steel Flower" for successfully depicting the life of a scared, homeless girl who is determined to forge a path out of poverty.

Meanwhile, the best rookie actor award was left vacant.

The technical award went to the zombie thriller "Train to Busan" and the best cinematography award was given to Park Chan-wook's "The Handmaiden," centered on the lesbian relationship between a servant and her master.

This year's prize for contribution to cinema was awarded to Im Kwon-taek, one of the most famous directors in Korea, for his influence in the development of the Korean movie industry.

Among other prize winners are directors Kim Dong-ryung and Park Kyoung-tae, who received the best independent film award for co-producing the documentary film "Tour of Duty," which chronicles the lives of three women struggling to overcome pain and persecution during the U.S. military presence in South Korea.

The black-and-white biographical period film "Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet" won Lee Joon-ik an award from the local Film Critics Society composed of movie critics working in Korea, and earned its writer Shin Yeon-shick the best screenplay award.

The 36th award ceremony, emceed by actor Kim Sung-kyun and actress Uhm Ji-won, will fall on Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m at Seoul Press Center in downtown Seoul.


South Korean actress Son Ye-jin greets the fans at an open talk session held at the 21st Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 8, 2016. (Yonhap)

South Korean actress Son Ye-jin greets the fans at an open talk session held at the 21st Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 8, 2016. (Yonhap)


South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun poses for a photo during a publicity event in Seoul for the political thriller "Inside Men" on Nov. 2, 2015. (Yonhap)

South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun poses for a photo during a publicity event in Seoul for the political thriller "Inside Men" on Nov. 2, 2015. (Yonhap)


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October 31, 2016

1st London East Asian Film Festival Opens with THE AGE OF SHADOWS
LEAFF Stages PARK Chan-wook Retrospective

by Pierce Conran / KoBiz


Following its soft launch last year with a weekend-long 0th edition, the London East Asian Film Festival held its first official edition this year, which ran from October 20th to 30th. Korean films made up a majority of the program, with some of the highlights including KIM Jee-woon’s The Age of Shadows as the opening gala screening and a full retrospective on the works of PARK Chan-wook. Both filmmakers visited London for their screenings.

The Official LEAFF Selection also featured KIM Seong-hun’s Tunnel and KANG Woo-suk’s The Map Against the World. The Competition section featured three Korean films: KIM Tae-gon’s Familyhood, YOON Ga-eun’s The World of Us and KIM Sang-chan’s Karaoke Crazies. All five titles were accompanied by Q&As with their directors. 

A Special Stories of Women program was opened by The World of Us and also featured Spirits’ Homecoming, with director CHO Jung-rae and actresses SON Sook and KANG Ha-na in attendance. One of LEAFF’s annual strands will be ‘Film Focus Festival’, which this year looked at the Jeonju International Film Festival. Director KIM Jong-kwan and actors HAN Ye-ri and GWON Yool were present for Worst Woman while the section also featured Curtain Call and Breathing Underwater.

The PARK Chan-wook section featured all his films from Joint Security Area /JSA (2000) all the way to his latest work The Handmaiden. Also included were several shorter works, such as Judgement (1999), and DAY TRIP (2012) and Bitter, Sweet, Seoul (2014), both made with his brother PARK Chan-kyong.

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November 3, 2016

THE AGE OF SHADOWS Tops Korean Association of Film Critics Awards

by KIM Hyun-jung / KoBiz

KIM Jee-woon’s The Age of Shadows received the Best Film award and Best Music award (Mowg) at the 26th Korean Association of Film Critics (KAFC) Awards. KAFC announced the winners before its awards presentation on November 8th, 2016. 

Director LEE Kyoung-mi picked up the Best Director award for The Truth Beneath. In addition, the film became a double winner along with The Age of Shadows because SON Ye-jin won the Best Actress award with The Truth Beneath and The Last Princess. 

LEE Byung-hun earned the Best Actor award for Inside Men. The Best New Actress award went to JEONG Ha-dam for Steel Flower, but there was no winner for the Best New Actor award this year. YOON Ga-eun was selected as the Best New Director for The World of Us, which was invited to the Berlin International Film Festival this year. 

Director KIM Dong-ryeong and PARK Kyoung-tae picked up the Best Independent Film award for Tour of Duty, while LEE Joon-ik earned the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Korean Branch award for his first indie film DONGJU; The Portrait of A Poet, which carried the Best Screenplay award (SHIN Yeon-shick) home as well. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award went to director IM Kwon-taek. 

Meanwhile, TRAIN TO BUSAN and The Handmaiden were given just the Best Technique award (KWAK Tae-yong) and the Best Cinematography award (CHUNG Chung-hoon) respectively, though they were invited to the Cannes and successful at the box office.

The 36th of KAFC Awards will be hosted by KIM Sung-kyun and UHM Ji-won at the Seoul Press Center on November 8th.

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November 6, 2016

[USA] 14th Annual New York Korean Film Festival begins November 11

Source: Hancinema.net

The Korea Society's New York Korean Film Festival returns to New York City's Museum of the Moving Image on November 11 to 13 for its yearly celebration of the best in Korean cinema. This 14th edition of the Festival focuses on the family, as mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents struggle to survive the zombie apocalypse, law school exams, ambitious aristocrats, and secret societies. South Korea's 2016 Oscar submission, "The Age of Shadows", and American premieres make for a not-to-be-missed showcase of one of the world's most dynamic national cinemas.

The Museum is located at 36-01 35 Ave, Astoria, Queens, NY, 11106. 

NYKFF tickets are $12 ($7 for TKS members, MOMI Film Lover and Kids Premium members / free for Silver Screen members and above). Advance tickets will be available online at movingimage.us.

All films are in Korean with English subtitles.



"Train to Busan"

Dir. Yeon Sang-ho. 2016, 118 mins. With Gong Yoo, Kim Soo-an, Jeong Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok.
What's scarier than snakes on a plane? Zombies on a train! Korea's biggest box office hit of 2016 finds fund manager Seo-woo (Gong Yoo) riding the rails with his daughter (Kim Soo-an). But when the undead join the commute, the passengers must fight to make it to the end of the line. Selected for the Cannes Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Fantasia International Film Festival, and the Stockholm International Film Festival.

"Zombie thriller Train to Busan comes awfully close to greatness"-Simon Abrams, The Village Voice

"As an allegory of class rebellion and moral polarization, it proves just as biting as Bong Joon-ho's sci-fi dystopia Snowpiercer, while delivering even more unpretentious fun". - Maggie Lee, Variety

"The Map Against the World"
Dir. Kang Woo-seok. 2016, 129 mins. With Cha Seung-won, Yoo Joon-sang, Kim In-kwon, Nam Ji-hyeon. Devoted cartographer Kim Jeong-ho (Cha Seung-won) travels across the land to make the first accurate map of Korea. However, a single-minded pursuit of truth estranges him from his family and ignites political intrigue between the King's regent (Yoo Joon-sang) and the rival house of the Andong Kims. Prolific and crowd-pleasing director Kang Woo-seok ("Public Enemy", "Fist of Legend") captures the beauty of Korea with this retelling of a well-known episode in Korean history.

"Phantom Detective"
Dir. Jo Sung-hee. 2016, 125 mins. With Lee Je-hoon, Ko Ah-ra, Kim Seong-gyoon. Private detective Hong Gil-dong (Lee Je-hoon) seeks his mother's killer (played by Park Geun-hyeong), but finds the murderer's granddaughters instead. Together, they set off to find the missing man, and uncover an even bigger secret. Hong Gil-dong, Korea's traditional Robin Hood character, is reborn in this film as a modern anti-hero. Selected for the Fantasia International Film Festival.

"A dazzling, spooky, sometimes comic revenge tale". - Tom Keogh, The Seattle Times

"Director Jo Sung-hee has crafted a winning thriller with a lot of heart here" - David Noh, Film Journal International

"SORI: Voice from the Heart"
New York Premiere
Dir. Lee Ho-jae-I. 2016, 117 mins. With Lee Sung-min, Lee Hee-joon, Lee Honey. After achieving sentience, an advanced spy satellite goes AWOL and returns to Earth full of remorse for its role in a military strike. Distraught father Hae-gwan (Lee Sung-min) finds the machine, whose memory-filled with years of recorded phone conversations-may contain clues to the whereabouts of his missing daughter. Together, father and robot-now named "Sori"-must stay a step ahead of intelligence agent Shin (Lee Hee-joon) and aerospace engineer Ji Yun (Lee Honey) to learn the truth. Winner of the 2016 Audience Choice Award at the Udine Far East Film Festival. Selected for The Asian Pop-Up Cinema Festival and Fantasia International Film Festival.

"A creative and oddball meditation on grief and acceptance". - Elizabeth Kerr, The Hollywood Reporter 

"A rewarding, heartwarming film". - Debra Davy, The Splash Magazines

New York Premiere
Dir. Kim Tae-gon. 2016, 119 mins. With Kim Hye-soo, Ma Dong-seok. Spoiled and aging actress Joo-yeon (Kim Hye-soo) decides to secretly adopt a pregnant teen's baby to make up for declining prospects in both her career and love life. But when news of her fake "pregnancy" pushes her back into the public eye, will she betray those who care about her for a few more moments in the limelight?

"The Queen of Crime"
North American Premiere
Dir. Lee Yo-sup. 2016, 130 mins. With Park Ji-yeong, Jo Bok-rae, Kim Dae-hyeon. When law student Ik-soo (Kim Dae-hyeon)-who is about to sit for Korea's notorious bar examination-calls home to ask his mother (Park Ji-yeong) to pay off a $1,000 water bill, she smells a big rat. Mom, who immediately travels to Seoul to "help out", vows to get to the bottom of the criminally suspicious water bill. But who among the eccentric law-student residents of her son's apartment complex is really the criminal?


"The Age of Shadows"
Dir. Kim Jee-woon. 2016, 140 mins. With Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-min. Lee Jung-chool (Song Kang-ho), a Korean police officer working for the Japanese colonial government, is out to stop a plot by a Korean independence group-or is he? Kim Jee-woon returns to Korean cinema after directing Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand with this stylish spy thriller. South Korea's 2016 Academy Award entry also stars Gong Yoo as the leader of the resistance and superstar Lee Byung-hun in a cameo role.

"Unfolding in classic action style, this rousing gem has everything one wants for an evening's entertainment" - Jay Weissberg, Variety

"This director is really looking to stage the action sequence". - Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

More information : koreanfilmfestival.org

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November 14, 2016

THE WAILING Leads 37th Blue Dragon Nominations
TRAIN TO BUSAN Close Behind with 10 Nods

by Pierce Conran / KoBiz
The Blue Dragon Awards, the most prestigious awards body of the Korean film industry, has announced the nominations for its 37th edition, which will take place at the end of the month. Leading this year’s crop is NA Hong-jin’s THE WAILING with 11 nominations, while YEON Sang-ho’s TRAIN TO BUSAN isn’t far behind with 10 nods in 9 categories. 

Also heavily nominated were PARK Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (8), KIM Jee-woon’s The Age of Shadows (7), WOO Min-ho’s Inside Men (6), KIM Seong-hun’s Tunnel (6), JANG Jae-hyun’s The Priests (5), KIM Sung-soo’s Asura : The City of Madness (5) and LEE Joon-ik’s DONGJU; The Portrait of A Poet (4).

In what has been a strong year for commercial Korean films, this year’s Best Film category features The Age of Shadows, TRAIN TO BUSAN, THE WAILING, DONGJU; The Portrait of A Poet, Inside Men and The Handmaiden. Minus TRAIN TO BUSAN, the same films were nominated for the Best Director prize. YEON Sang-ho was nominated for the Best New Director Prize, alongside KIM Tae-gon (Familyhood), LEE Il-hyung (A Violent Prosecutor), JANG Jae-hyun (The Priests) and YOON Ga-eun (The World of Us).

In the Best Actress category, the nominees are SON Ye-jin (The Last Princess), HAN Ye-ri (Worst Woman), KIM Min-hee (The Handmaiden), KIM Hye-soo (Familyhood) and YOUN Yuh-jung (The Bacchus Lady), while the Best Actor contenders are JUNG Woo-sung (Asura : The City of Madness), LEE Byung-hun (Inside Men), SONG Kang-ho (The Age of Shadows), KWAK Do-won (THE WAILING) and HA Jung-woo (Tunnel).

The 37th Blue Dragon Awards will take place on November 25th

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November 17, 2016

37th Blue Dragon Film Awards 2016 Nominees

Source: Hancinema.net


37th Blue Dragon Film Awards 2016 nominees list.

The ceremony will be held on November, 25 2016.

Best Film

"The Wailing" - Na Hong-jin
"DongJu, The Portrait of A Poet" - Lee Joon-ik
"Train to Busan" - Yeon Sang-ho
"Inside Men" - Woo Min-ho
"The Age of Shadows" - Kim Jee-woon
"The Handmaiden" - Park Chan-wook

Best Director

 "The Age of Shadows" - Kim Jee-woon
"The Handmaiden" - Park Chan-wook
"DongJu, The Portrait of A Poet" - Lee Joon-ik
"The Wailing" - Na Hong-jin
"Inside Men" - Woo Min-ho

Best Leading Actor

"The Age of Shadows" - Song Kang-ho
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Jeong Woo-seong
"The Wailing" - Kwak Do-won
"Inside Men" - Lee Byung-hun
"Tunnel" - Ha Jeong-woo

Best Leading Actress

"The Last Princess" - Son Ye-jin
"Worst Woman" - Han Ye-ri
"The Handmaiden" - Kim Min-hee
The Bacchus Lady - Yoon Yeo-jeong
"Familyhood" - Kim Hye-soo

Best Supporting Actor

"Train to Busan" - Kim Ee-seong
"The Age of Shadows" - Eom Tae-goo
"The Wailing" - Jun Kunimura
"Train to Busan" - Ma Dong-seok
"Tunnel" - Oh Dal-soo

Best Supporting Actress

"The Priests" - Park So-dam
"Train to Busan" - Jeong Yu-mi
"The Last Princess" - Ra Mi-ran
"Tunnel" - Bae Doona
"The Wailing" - Cheon Woo-hee

Best New Actor

"The Net" - Lee Won-geun
"Insane" - Lee Sang-yoon
"DongJu, The Portrait of A Poet" - Park Jeong-min
"Inside Men" - Jo Woo-jin
"One Way Trip" - Ji Soo

Best New Actress

"Spirits' Homecoming" - Kang Ha-na
"The Wailing" - Kim Hwan-hee
"Steel Flower" - Jeong Ha-dam
"The Handmaiden" - Kim Tae-ri
"A Break Alone" - Yoon Joo

Best New Director

"Train to Busan" - Yeon Sang-ho
"The Priests" - Jang Jae-hyeon
"Familyhood" - Kim Tae-gon
"A Violent Prosecutor" - Lee Il-hyeong
"The World of Us" - Yoon Ga-eun

Best Music

"The Wailing" - Jang Yeong-gyoo and Dalparan
"The Priests" - Kim Tae-seong-I
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Lee Jae-jin
"The Handmaiden" - Jo Yeong-wook
"The Age of Shadows" - Mowg

Best Art Direction

"The Wailing" - Lee Hoo-kyeong
"Train to Busan" - Lee Mok-won
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Jang Geun-yeong
"The Age of Shadows" - Jo Hwa-seong
"The Handmaiden" - Ryoo Seong-hee

Technical Award is given to achievement in visual effects, editing, costume design, or action/stunt choreography

"Tunnel" - Kim Nam-sik (Visual effects)
"The Handmaiden" - Jo Sang-kyeong (Costumes)
"Train to Busan" - Kwak Tae-yong and Hwang Hyo-gyoon (Special makeup)
"The Priests" - Baek Sang-hoon-I (Visual effects)
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Heo Myeong-haeng and Choi Bong-rok (Martial arts)

Best Screenplay

"Train to Busan" - Park Joo-seok
"Tunnel" - Kim Seong-hoon
"DongJu, The Portrait of A Poet" - Shin Yeon-shick
"Inside Men" - Woo Min-ho
"The Wailing" - Na Hong-jin

Best Editing

"Inside Men" - Kim Sang-beom and Kim Jae-beom
"Tunnel" - Kim Chang-joo
"Train to Busan" - Yang Jin-mo
"The Wailing" - Kim Sun-min
"The Priests" - Sin Min-kyeong

Best Cinematography/Lighting

"Asura: The City of Madness" - Lee Mo-gae and Lee Seong-hwan
"The Handmaiden" - Chung Chung-hoon and Bae Il-hyeok
"Train to Busan" - Lee Hyeong-deok and Park Jeong-woo-II
"The Wailing" - Hong Kyeong-pyo and Kim Chang-ho

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November 24, 2016

Who will win the top prize at the 37th Blue Dragon Film Awards?

Source: STARNEWS via Hancinema.net

2016 was full of movies of diverse genres and colors. This year's Blue Dragon Film Awards is expected to be competitive.

Success, cinematic quality and performance are taken into account for The Best Actor prize and it's going to get messy. There are five actors whom we can't possibly compare and they are Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho, Ha Jeong-woo, Kwak Do-won and Jeong Woo-seong.



#1. "The Wailing" Kwak Do-won is a top star now

Kwak Do-won is a top candidate.

He's starred in various movies such as "The Shameless", "The Attorney", "A Company Man", "Ghost Sweepers" and more. "The Wailing" has placed him in line with other top actors.

He was in the center of a mysterious case that happened after a foreign being appeared in a village. Kwak Dong-won's act of fatherly love and realistic living were outstanding.

Kwak Do-won went from 'great actor' to 'greater actor' with "The Wailing" and played an important role in enforcing the middle age group in Chungmuro.


#2. "The Age of Shadows " Song Kang-ho, a trustworthy actor

Song Kang-ho is a trustworthy actor and of course his name is in the list.

"The Age of Shadows" is the first spy movie in Korea. A Japanese cop tracks down a heroic group which brings in a bomb from Shanghai to Seoul in the 1920s.

It was a different approach for a Japanese Invasion movie and it focused on the emotions of people who lived hard times.

Song Kang-ho was outstanding once again and he expressed how a human can change according to circumstances. He was told, 'Song Kang-ho indeed'.



#3. "Inside Men" Lee Byung-hun, more than shocking

We can't forget about Lee Byung-hun.

He was on the verge of risking his career with some private matters but that all went away with his performance in "Inside Men". His visual was just a tip of the iceberg.

Lee Byung-hun's performance in "Inside Men" was so shocking but insanely impressive at the same time. We call him 'acting God' indeed.



#4. "Asura: The City of Madness" Jeong Woo-seong's passion

Jeong Woo-seong played his part this year. Producer Kim Seong-soo and Jeong Woo-seong came together once again with Hwang Jeong-min, Kwak Do-won and Joo Ji-hoon. The performance was great, but he storyline itself wasn't too great.

Although the movie didn't succeed, Jeong Woo-seong deserves an applause for his passion and self development.



#5. "Tunnel" Ha Jeong-woo hits the mark

Ha Jeong-woo was in a blockbuster movie this year. He was strong. He didn't go for 'change' like the others and just did what he did best. His wits and concentration created another 'Ha Jeong-woo movie'.

On the way home, a man gets trapped in the middle of a tunnel that collapses.

Ha Jeong-woo's 'one-man-show' stood out in this movie.

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November 30, 2016

THE AGE OF SHADOWS to Open Marrakech Film Festival
KIM Jee-woon’s THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE WEIRD also on Deck in Morocco

by Pierce Conran / KoBiz


KIM Jee-woon’s hit Colonial Era action-thriller The Age of Shadows will serve as the opening film of the 16th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, which kicks off on December 2nd. The film, which debuted at the Venice International Film Festival in August, drew 7.5 million viewers (USD 52.38 million) to theaters during the Chuseok holiday in Korea this year, becoming the acclaimed genre maestro’s most successful film to date.

SONG Kang-ho leads the cast as a Korean man working as an officer for the Japanese police during the occupation period in the early 20th century, whose allegiances are put to the test when he is tasked with taking down a group of resistance fighters and enters into a tense game of cat and mouse with one of their charismatic members, played by GONG Yoo.

The Age of Shadows has been very visible on the fall festival circuit this year, playing in Toronto, Busan, Mar del Plata, Sitges and Hawaii, as well as serving as the opening film of the London East Asian Film Festival. In addition, the film picked up the Best Action Film prize from Fantastic Fest in Austin and was awarded the Best Film accolade from the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards.

KIM’s 2008 Manchuria-set action film The Good, The Bad, And The Weird, once again featuring SONG, is also playing in Marrakech. Recent Korean films that have featured prominently at the festival include 2013’s HAN Gong-ju, which picked up the Golden Star which is Grand Prize, and last year’s Steel Flower, which came away with a Special Jury Prize.

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December 18, 2016

Korean movies tops for action

By Lee Han-soo The Korea Times

The Playlist, a U.S. online independent filmmaking review, on Friday named three Korean films as having the best action sequences of 2016.

An article titled "The 25 Best Action Sequences of 2016,"included scenes from "The Age of Shadows," which was ranked fourth, "The Wailing," sixth, and "Train to Busan," 15th.

The scenes were:

A scene from "The Age of Shadows" / Courtesy of Twitter

"The Age of Shadows"

Directed by Kim Jee-won, the review selected an action-packed train scene.

Comparing the scene to Russian nesting dolls, the reviewer wrote that the whole scene had threads of six plots, including a fight and chase scene that left a strong impression.

A scene from "The Wailing" / Korea Times file

"The Wailing"

Directed by Na Hong-jin, the review selected an exorcism scene.

Although the scene may not be packed with intense action scenes, the review gave high points to the alternating exorcism rituals between one by a Korean shaman (Hwang Jung-min) in an attempt to exorcise a little girl and the other by a Japanese man (Jun Kunimura) to resurrect the dead.

A scene from "Train to Busan" / Korea Times file

"Train to Busan"

Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, the review selected a Daejeon Station scene.

The review noted that the nail-biting scene was similar to a zombie-packed scene in the U.S. zombie movie "World War Z," but more effective. 


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December 25, 2016

Korean cinema of 2016: Women, politics, horror

Women, female relationships and political intrigue were the hallmarks of Korean cinema this year. A number of films that delved into the world of the occult, driven by unfathomable forces of evil, also stood out in a year that saw the return of some of Korea’s most renowned directors, including Park Chan-wook and Na Hong-jin, who each added significant pieces to their idiosyncratic oeuvre. 

Spotlight on women 

Arguably the most globally lauded Korean film of the year, Park Chan-wook’s “The Handmaiden” took on the subject of a lesbian thriller romance, featuring two female lovers against a world of demented male figures. Provocative scenes were portrayed against a flat, fairy tale-like backdrop.



Kim Tae-ri (left) and Kim Min-hee star in “The Handmaiden.” (CJ Entertainment)

“Handmaiden” has nabbed various international accolades since its screening at the Cannes International Film Festival in May. Vogue.com named it among the “10 Most Fashionable Movies of 2016” for its lavish mise-en-scene, while the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards gave it a best production design award. 

The New York Times listed Kim Tae-ri, who stars as Hideko’s earthy, unabashed handmaiden Sook-hee, in a September article titled “Four Actresses Everyone will be Talking About this Fall.” 

Female romance was also given a stage in Lee Hyun-ju’s indie film “Our Love Story,” a subtle, realistic tale of an encounter between an art student and a stranger. 

Antagonistic relationships between women were explored in films like Kim Tae-yong’s “Misbehavior,” which draws on the jealousy and pride between two female teachers fighting for the affections of a male student. Both Kim Ha-neul and Yoo In-young are excellently cast in their roles: One is reticent and downtrodden, while the other is vivacious, young and self-absorbed.

Director Lee Eon-hee’s “Missing,” meanwhile, saw the unlikely reconciliation between two women -- a mother and the nanny who kidnapped her daughter, played by Uhm Ji-won and Gong Hyo-jin. 

In a mature tale of womanhood, “Bacchus Lady” explored the world of Korea’s elderly prostitutes and the universal solitude of growing old. 

Veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung portrayed the feisty protagonist, who, at 65, turns tricks for a living. Directed by E J-yong, the film offers an emotional reflection on life and death as Korea advances into an aging society. It was screened at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. 

Scandalous politics

This year also saw a number of films portraying disasters and authorities’ damnable responses. 

Director Park Jung-woo’s “Pandora,” set to be streamed globally on Netflix, depicted a nuclear power plant meltdown and the lack of an emergency response system, resulting in the preventable deaths of nuclear power plant workers and residents of surrounding areas. 



Hwang Jung-min (left) and Jung Woo-sung star in “Asura: City of Madness.” (CJ Entertainment) 

Kim Seong-hun’s “Tunnel” saw actor Ha Jung-woo trapped inside a collapsed tunnel for weeks on end, the rescue squad wringing their hands at the ineffectual orders from those higher up in the government. 

Kim Sung-su’s “Asura: The City of Madness” depicted a bloodstained web of criminals and politicians. 

The latest political thriller “Master,” helmed by Jo Eui-seok, stars actor Lee Byung-hun as a con artist who amasses astronomical wealth and bribes government officials to exert power in state affairs. The flick which opened last week, rang an eerily familiar bell in Korea, currently swept up by an influence-peddling political scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye. 

Ride into the occult

Two of this year’s most striking films were in the horror genre, ruminating on morality and human nature.

Yeon Sang-ho’s apocalyptic zombie thriller “Train to Busan” showed everyday characters -- from students to office workers -- fighting for their lives, trapped on a torpedoing train swarming with flesh-hungry zombies. It premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival’s Midnight Screenings section and has been picked up for a US remake by Gaumont, a French film studio. 



Hwang Jung-min stars in “The Wailing (Goksung).” (20th Century Fox Korea)

Na Hong-jin’s occult thriller “The Wailing (Goksung),” which also screened at Cannes’ Out of Competition section, took viewers on a terrifying journey toward unreasoning evil. Fourteen-year-old actress Kim Hwan-hee delivered a chilling performance as a possessed child. 

A period in time 

As usual, a number of period pieces also sought to reinterpret historical events from the Japanese occupation era. 

Kim Jee-woon’s “The Age of Shadows” transformed the story of Korean independence fighters smuggling in bombs from Shanghai to Korea into a stylish noir.

Gong Yoo stars in “The Age of Shadows.” (Warner Bros. Korea)

In “The Last Princess,” director Hur Jin-ho focused on the early stages of the Japanese occupation of Korea through the eyes of Joseon princess Deok-hye, weaving the historical into a personal tale. 

“The Portrait of a Poet” by Lee Joon-ik offered a moving portrait of poet Yun Dong-ju, in colonial Korea where the Korean language was banned. 

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com) 

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Watched Jan 09, 2017

Review by Jianne Soriano Letterboxd

The Age of Shadows 2016 ★★★★½

Renowned South Korean director, Kim Jee-woon returns after a 3-year hiatus in the country's Best Foreign Film entry, "The Age of Shadows". Like Woon's other films, (I Saw the Devil, A Bittersweet Life), Shadows is an action-packed cat-and-mouse thriller extravagant.

Shadows has an amazing line up: Sang Kang-ho (Memories of Murder, Thirst), Gong Yoo (Train to Busan, A Man and a Woman) and cameo appearance from Lee Byung-hun (A Bittersweet Life, Inside Men) whom Kim has worked previously and Um Tae-Goo (Coin Locker Girl, Veteran).

Pulled at the edge of your seat from start to finish, Kim doesn't disappoint tossing action sequences and twists that he carefully crafts and builds in suspense, only to laid them out with the greatest satisfaction, it leaves you hungry for more.

Just like "I Saw the Devil" and "A Bittersweet Life", Kim starts Shadows with little-to-nothing description of what's going out, only to follow it up with an action-filled chase scene, an amputated toe nail and blood splashed across the wall.

Shadows' 30 minutes train sequence is one of the best I've ever seen. This is the juice. It builds the plot as much as it shapes it and moves it, that includes the characters too. Accompanied by a more menacing version of Ravel's Bolero, the adrenaline just doesn't stop. I, for one, had to pause the film just so I could breathe. Kim brings us from compartment to compartment from character to character from discoveries to discoveries.

Cinematographer Kim Ji-Young does a fine job of transporting us to a 1920s setting of South Korea and Shanghai (the accuracy may be question but it looks beautiful nonetheless) with retro-like colors and saturated tones. Kim ravishes in extremism at times, with loud shoot outs, dialogues delivered in sinister whispers, loud slapping sounds, to torture scenes that likens to his other film, "I Saw the Devil".

Kim channels his narrative into powerful loyalty that seems like The Age of Shadows take a patriotic approach but ultimately, this thrill-filled film is entertaining as much as it is greatly crafted.

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November 14, 2017


New Sales Dawn on THE AGE OF SHADOWS and A DAY at AFM
Finecut Courts Remake Rights Interest for Time Loop Thriller


by Pierce Conran / KoBiz




Korean sales agency Finecut announced several new sales for titles in its current lineup during this year’s American Film Market (AFM), which took place in Santa Monica, CA. New deals were inked for both KIM Jee-woon’s Colonial Era spy drama The Age of Shadows and JO Seon-ho’s time slip thriller debut A Day, with the latter also attracting interest for foreign remake rights.


The Age of Shadows scored new deals with Splendid Film (Benelux), Movies Inspired (Italy), StudioCanal (France) and Mayfly (Poland). These were in addition to earlier acquisitions for Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Latin America. Starring SONG Kang-ho and GONG Yoo, the 2016 Chuseok holiday hit was Korea’s submission to the foreign language category of the Academy Awards last year.


A Day features KIM Myung-min and BYUN Yo-han as a doctor and paramedic who are stuck in the same time loop as they try to save their children from a car accident. The film was bought by Viz Media Switzerland S.A (Germany and Austria), PFA Films (Italy), Just Real (Mexico), Payfly (Poland), Kinovista (France), Festival Films (Spain) and the Overseas Korean Television Network (Indonesia). Finecut also reported strong interest in remake rights from companies in the US, France, Italy, Spain and Turkey.


Also during this year’s AFM, Finecut presented its latest acquisition, the highly anticipated new drama from revered director LEE Chang-dong. Burning, which is currently in production, stars YOO Ah-in and Steven YEUN in a tale based on a short story by Japanese author MURAKAMI Haruki.

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November 25, 2017


[Guest Film Review] "The Age of Shadows"


Source: HanCinema.net


South Korea's contender for the 89th foreign-language Academy Award, and the first Korean-language production for Warner Bros is a blockbuster in every sense.


"The Age of Shadows" screened at Five Flavours, that will be on in Warsaw November 15-22. 


The film is set at the end of the 1920's, in Korea, during the Japanese occupation. Lee Jeong-chool is a Korean working for the Japanese police, whose mission is to uncover members of the Resistance, and particularly Kim Woo-jin, one of its central figures. Lee has some successes, but the Japanese do not fully trust him, and attach to him Hashimoto, supposedly as his assistant, but actually as the man in charge. In this power struggle, both sides use their moles and their informants, and a series of events take place, that lead Lee and Kim to meet, although none of them reveals that he knows the other's identity.


Soon the scenery changes, as all the players move to Shanghai, where the members of the Resistance have moved to avoid investigations and to obtain explosives. Kim soon tricks Lee into a meeting with the leader of the Resistance, Jung Chae-san, and now Lee has to choose sides, as he is blackmailed by the Koreans and suspected by the Japanese. A deadly cat-and-mouse game initiates.


Kim Jee-woon directs and pens a spy thriller that also combines elements of film-noir with action and drama. There is also a minor romantic concept, but it's not actually examined at all, since women are in the definite background. The script is quite elaborate, with constant betrayals and changes in the upper hand, as spies fight against other spies. These notions are chiefly materialized through Lee Jeong-chool's character, who incorporates all of them.




In terms of direction, the film is a true masterpiece. Kim creates a great atmosphere that is shaped through a number of "confrontations", usually between two characters, with the ones between Lee and Kim standing apart. The noir element is chiefly present in these scenes. The highlight of his direction, though, is the sequence on the train, where he manages to retain the agony through an astonishing number of events, which occur despite the restricted space. The bloody finale of these events is another highlight of the film.


After that point, the dramatic element also enters the movie, along with the most violent scenes, which include graphic depiction of torturing. In that fashion, the action scenes are another point of excellence, with the aforementioned and the introductory one, with the magnificent shots on roofs, being the ones that stand apart. The film's large budget ($8.62 million) becomes quite evident in these scenes, which highlight Kim Ji-yong's magnificent cinematography and elaborate editing. The same applies to the utterly detailed depiction of the era, which includes costumes, the setting in both Korea and Shanghai, even cars and rickshaws.




Song Kang-ho is great as always as Lee Jeong-chool, in a very difficult role that demands a constant state of inner struggle. His chemistry with Kim Jee-woon, that has been shaped through three previous collaborations ("The Quiet Family", "The Foul King", "The Good, the Bad, the Weird") is quite evident, and one of the biggest assets of the film. Gong Yoo is also great as the highly intelligent Kim Woo-jin, in another difficult role that has him portraying a character who must hide his angst under a rather cool facade. The one who steals the show, though, is Um Tae-goo as Hashimoto, a truly great villain, both in concept and in materialization. The fact that he oozes evil and threat from every part of his body is a definite point of excellence, as is his constant, covered threat towards Lee Jeong-chool. The scene where he is first introduced, when he hypocritically acts as if he has respect for him, is one of the greatest in the film. Lee Byung-hun also appears in the movie, in a small role, once more looking as smooth as possible.


"The Age of Shadows" is a film destined to succeed, both commercially, since it includes a favorite theme, some of S. Korea's most popular actors, and a rather large budget that was implemented wisely, and artistically, particularly due to the acting and the masterful direction, and it absolutely deserves it.


Review by Panos Kotzathanasis

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 L'OrdreDesArtsOfficier.jpgOrdre des Arts et des Lettres. Congratulations!


September 28, 2018


Director Kim Jee-woon to receive French honor

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean director Kim Jee-woon will be decorated with a cultural medal by the French government for his contribution to the arts, the country's embassy in Seoul said Friday.


Kim will be made an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters at a dinner to be hosted by the French Embassy during the 23rd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in the southern port city of Busan on Oct. 6.


Kim is best known to French viewers for the postmodern spaghetti western "The Good, The Bad, The Weird," which was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.


His filmography also includes "The Quiet Family" (1998), "The Foul King" (2000), "A Tale Of Two Sisters" (2003), "Bittersweet Life" (2005), "The Age of Shadows" (2016) and "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" (2018), as well as the Hollywood movie "The Last Stand" (2013).


The other Korean film icons previously honored by the French government are former BIFF chairman Kim Dong-ho, directors Hong Sang-soo and Bong Joon-ho and actress Jeon Do-yeon.


This file photo shows director Kim Jee-woon. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows director Kim Jee-woon. (Yonhap)

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  • Guest changed the title to [Movie 2016] The Age of Shadows/Mil-jeong 밀정
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May 31, 2019


SONG Kang-ho to Receive Excellence Award in Locarno

First Asian to Be Honored at Prestigious Swiss Festival


by Pierce Conran KOFIC




SONG Kang-ho is set to be honored at this year’s 72nd Locarno International Film Festival, where he will become the first person from Asia to receive the festival’s Excellence Award.


Currently on screens in BONG Joon-ho’s PARASITE, which walked away from the Cannes Film Festival with the Palme d’Or last weekend, the first time a Korean film has ever taken the top prize at the event, SONG is one of the most beloved and acclaimed actors in the Korean film industry. He is known for his collaborations with top filmmakers such as BONG (Memories Of Murder, 2003; The Host, 2006), PARK Chan-wook (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, 2002; Thirst, 2009) and KIM Jee-woon (The Good, The Bad, And The Weird, 2008; The Age of Shadows, 2016).


Beyond that, he has appeared in numerous chart-topping films, including Swiri (1999), The Attorney (2013) and A Taxi Driver (2017), as well as acclaimed classics like LEE Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine (2007) in a career that has so far spanned 23 years, having kicked off in Hong Sangsoo’s debut The Day A Pig Fell Into A Well in 1996.


New Locarno artistic director Lili HINSTIN described SONG as a “peerless interpreter of the variety and intensity of emotions generated by Korean cinema.” In previous years, the Excellence Award has been given to world cinema luminaries such as John MALKOVICH, Juliette BINOCHE, Ethan HAWKE and Isabelle HUPPERT.


This year’s Locarno International Film Festival will take place from August 7 to 17.

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October 4, 2019


16 Best Korean Movies of This Decade


by Diksha Sundriyal TheCinemaholic


In international cinema, there are a couple of countries that have made their presence felt strongly. While European cinema continues to excel, in the Asian market, Korean filmmakers have taken charge. Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook and Kim Ki-duk are just a couple of directors that have made excellent films while succeeding in breaking into the international market. Their films are commercially successful without compromising with the soul of the story. In the past decade, this trend has been followed by a number of other directors. Here, we have compiled the list of the best Korean movies of this decade, from 2010 to 2019. that you must watch:

16. Train to Busan (2016)

15. The Man from Nowhere (2010)


14. The Day He Arrives (2011)


13. Masquerade (2012)


12. The Wailing (2016)


11. I Saw the Devil (2010)


10. The Handmaiden (2016)


9. House of Hummingbird (2018)


8. The Age of Shadows (2016)

South Korea’s official entry for Academy Awards in 2017, ‘The Age of Shadows’ follows a complex game between its characters, as they try to manipulate each other to serve their own purpose. The first spoke of the wheel is Lee Jung-chool. He is a Korean police officer and a turncoat who provides information to the Japanese to earn their favours. His lifestyle receives a blow when the Japanese government accuses him of working against them. This thoroughly confuses him but also brings him to the attention of some major players in Korea and Japan. While one tries to recruit him to his cause, there is another who plays a psychological game to establish his prominence. Who will win and how far will this game go?


7. Burning (2018)


6. Planet of Snail (2011)


5. Poetry (2010)


4. The Bacchus Lady (2016)


3. Hope (2013)


2. Silenced (2011)


1. Parasite (2019)

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