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September 4, 2017


Oscars: South Korea Selects 'A Taxi Driver' for Foreign-Language Category


by Lee Hyo-won THR


The Asian country's top film of the year recently closed Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival.


A Taxi Driver will represent South Korea as its candidate for the 2018 Oscars' best foreign-language film category, its local distributor Showbox said Monday.


The historical drama sped through the local box office last month to become the year's biggest draw, hauling in $83.4 million as of Monday, according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database. South Korean industry observers primarily measure a film's market performance in terms of admissions, and the film became the 17th in local box-office history to cross 10 million admissions — a milestone figure in light of South Korea's population of 50 million.


The film, which closed the 21st Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal this summer, is inspired by true events of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. A German reporter (Thomas Kretschmann, Stalingrad, Avengers: Age of Ultron) receives the help of a local cab driver (Song Kang-ho, Snowpiercer), to cover a massive, state-sanctioned massacre against civilians during South Korea's democratization movement.


The incident remains a sensitive issue in modern Korean history, but film critics have noted that A Taxi Driver was able to resonate widely with viewers as it refrains from making any direct political commentary. Director Jang Hoon previously directed the Korean War actioner The Front Line.


"Based on a true story, A Taxi Driver ably expresses an inherent Koreanness as well as the progress of human rights and democracy in Asia," the Korean Film Council said in a statement. The state organization for promoting Korean films chooses the country's Oscar contender each year. "Moreover, we believed that the film's messages on universal human values could be easily delivered to international viewers. The film also boasts high cinematic values, and jury members unanimously agreed to choose it," said the statement.


While Korean films have gained prominence and international recognition in the past few decades, South Korea has yet to receive a foreign-language Oscar nomination.


Meanwhile, this marks the third consecutive year that a film starring Song Kang-ho in the lead role has been chosen as the Asian country's foreign-language Oscar contender, following last year's The Age of Shadows and 2015's The Throne.

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September 12, 2017


Korean films sweep August box office; audiences drop slightly


SEOUL, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- Homegrown films dominated the South Korean box office in August while audience amount saw a slight on-year drop, data showed Tuesday.


The number of moviegoers last month was 29.88 million, down 0.2 percent from the same month last year, according to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC). The August tally marked the third straight month of on-year audience decline. In June and July, audiences fell by 11.2 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively.


Korean movies accounted for 21.38 million sales, or 71.5 percent of all tickets sold, last month, more than double the 32.1 percent rate in July.

Local summer releases "A Taxi Driver," "Midnight Runners" and "The Battleship Island" took the top three spots in the monthly box office rankings, followed by the Hollywood films "War for the Planet of the Apes" and "Annabelle: Creation," which came in at fourth and fifth, respectively.


A movie poster image for the South Korean film "A Taxi Driver" (Yonhap)

A movie poster image for the South Korean film "A Taxi Driver" (Yonhap)



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September 15, 2017


'A Taxi Driver' to open five overseas Korean film festivals

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korean box office sensation "A Taxi Driver" has been chosen to open five Korean film festivals in Europe, the film's local distributor said Friday.


The movie starring Song Kang-ho has been officially invited to be an opening film to this year's Korean film festivals in Brussels, Belgium; Frankfurt, Germany; Spain; Paris, France and Hungary, Showbox said.


Director Jang Hoon will be attending two of the festivals set to open in Frankfurt on Oct. 18 and in Paris on Oct. 24.


"A Taxi Driver" was the closing film of the 21st Fantasia International Film Festival (FIFF) in Canada in July. Its hero Song received the best actor award in the festival.


The movie is inspired by the real-life story of a Seoul taxi driver who takes the late German correspondent Jurgen Hinzpeter to the southwestern provincial city of Gwangju for a large offer of money and witnesses the horrors of the bloody military crackdown on the pro-democracy people's uprising of May 1980. Hinzpeter, helped by the taxi driver, becomes the first western reporter to send out footage of the bloodshed.


In South Korea, the film sat on the box office throne for a long time, selling more than 12 million tickets.


"Since the story of citizens fighting against injustice and fighting for justice is a universal theme, overseas viewers will also be able to feel a lot of empathy," said an official with Showbox's overseas team. "We are actively discussing invitations with a number of other film festivals."



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September 27, 2017


President makes 2017 'Power People' list


Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily



Actor Song Kang-ho took first place in “Power People.” [YONHAP]


Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, has chosen 30 “Power People” this year whose jobs range from acting, singing, producing and writing to running an entertainment company and even President Moon Jae-in for his huge influence on popular culture. 


The mass survey, which started in 2014, was conducted by 150 people - 50 each insiders from the broadcasting, film and music industries. Each person got to choose five people.Compared to last year’s survey, the spectrum of jobs has widened, which means there are more people than celebrities honored for their contributions to popular culture.


Actor Song Kang-ho of “A Taxi Driver” and “The Age of Shadows” won first place.


Scriptwriter Kim Eun-sook was selected as the fifth most powerful person. She had taken second place last year.  Kim has become particularly well known after the KBS2 drama “Descendants of the Sun,” and the tvN drama “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.”


Singer Lee Hyori ranked sixth, the highest score for any television personality. She premiered on the JTBC TV show “Hyori’s Homestay,” which aired from June 25 to last Sunday. 


Former Korean traditional wrestler and a current television personality, Kang Ho-dong, ranked 12th with his active roles in JTBC TV shows such as “Please Give Me One Meal” and “Knowing Bros.”


Meanwhile, the ranking of popular comedian Yoo Jae-suk dropped sharply to 18th from third place last year and second place from the year before. 


Actress Kim Hee-sun, who played a lead role on the JTBC drama “Woman of Dignity,” is now 17th, the only actress in the top 30.


Boy band Wanna One has been ranked second, as the power of these 11 boys seems stronger than ever. 


Not only are broadcasting companies striving to win their time and air them on their channels, but companies also compete to have Wanna One in their advertisements.

Global idol group BTS, or Bangtan Boys, now occupy seventh place. Their latest song, “DNA,” which was released last Monday, has ranked in the top 100 tracks on the American music publication Billboard magazine’s main chart. 


BTS became the second K-pop act to have their Korean-language song on the Hot 100, after Psy’s major hit track, “Gangnam Style.”


President Moon has found himself in 25th place. This is the first time for a president to be selected for the “Power People” survey. 


The result implies that Moon has had a significant and positive influence across the cultural



All in all, the results show that the trend in pop culture has constantly changed and that people with diverse types of jobs - from entertainer and CEO to producer and even the president - are all playing their part to shape the nation’s cultural character.


BY HONG YOU-KYOUNG [hong.youkyoung@joongang.co.kr]

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September 29, 2017


Here Are The Nominees Of The 54th Daejong Film Awards


Source: Soompi by R. Jun  

The 54th Annual Daejong Film Awards, to be held on October 25, revealed the nominees for its 18 categories on September 29.


The nominees were selected by a panel of 32 industry experts over 10-day period of review.

Among the countless films inspired by history and real-life events this year, “A Taxi Driver” — which tells the true story of a taxi driver (played by Song Kang Ho) who drives a foreign correspondent down to Gwangju, South Korea during the Gwangju Democratization Movement – has been nominated for 11 categories.


The film “Anarchist From Colony,” portraying the lives of the Korean independence activist Park Yeol (played by Lee Je Hoon) and his lover Kaneko Fumiko (played by Choi Hee Seo), has been nominated for 12 categories.


Up for the most awards with 14 nominations is “The King,” a political thriller starring Jo In Sung and Jung Woo Sung.


Below is the full list of nominees for the 54th Daejong Film Awards.


Best Film:

“The King” (watch)

“Anarchist From Colony” 

“The Merciless”

“A Taxi Driver”



Best Director:

Park Jung Woo, “Pandora”

Byun Sung Hyun, “The Merciless”

Lee Joon Ik, “Anarchist From Colony”

Jang Hoon, “A Taxi Driver”

Han Jae Rim, “The King”


Best New Actor:

Kim Joon Han, “Anarchist From Colony”

Park Seo Joon, “Midnight Runners”

Min Jin Woong, “New Trial”

Byun Yo Han, “Will You Be There?” (watch)

Choi Minho, “Derailed”


Best New Actress:

Shin Eun Soo, “Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned”

Oh Ye Seol, “My Little Baby, Jaya”

Lee Soo Kyung, “Yongsoon”

YoonA, “Confidential Assignment”

Choi Hee Seo, “Anarchist From Colony”


Best Supporting Actor:

Kwak Do Won, “The Mayor”

Kim Yin Woo, “Anarchist From Colony”

Kim Hee Won, “The Merciless”

Bae Sung Woo, “The King”

Jung Jin Young, “Pandora”


Best Actor:

Sol Kyung Gu, “The Merciless”

Song Kang Ho, “A Taxi Driver”

Lee Je Hoon, “Anarchist From Colony”

Jo In Sung, “The King”

Han Suk Kyu, “Prison”


Best Supporting Actress:

Kim Young Ae, “Pandora”

Kim So Jin, “The King”

Kim Hae Sook, “New Trial”

Moon So Ri, “The Mayor”

Jeon Hye Jin, “The Merciless”


Best Actress:

Gong Hyo Jin, “Missing”

Kim Ok Bin, “The Villainess”

Yum Jung Ah, “The Mimic”

Chun Woo Hee, “One Day”

Choi Hee Seo, “Anarchist From Colony”


Technical Award:

“The King”

“The Villainess”

“A Taxi Driver”




Best Planning:

“The King”

“Anarchist From Colony”

“New Trial” (watch)

“A Taxi Driver”



Best Art Direction:

“Warriors of the Dawn”

“The King”

“Anarchist From Colony”

“A Taxi Driver”



Best Screenplay:

“Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned”

“The King”

“Missing” (watch)

“Anarchist From Colony”

“A Taxi Driver”


Best New Director:

Kim Joo Hwan, “Midnight Runners”

Na Hyun, “Prison”

Shin Joon, “Yongsoon”

Uhm Tae Hwa, “Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned”

Yang Gyung Mo, “One-Line”


Best Music:

“Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned”

“The King”

“Anarchist From Colony”

“Single Rider”

“A Taxi Driver”


Best Costume Design:

“Warriors of the Dawn”

“The King”

“Anarchist From Colony”

“The King’s Case Note”

“A Taxi Driver”


Best Lighting:

“The King”

“The Merciless”

“The Villainess”




Best Cinematography:

“The King”

“The Merciless”

“The Villainess”

“A Taxi Driver”



Best Editing:

“The King”

“The Merciless”

“The Villainess”

“A Taxi Driver”



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September 29, 2017


A TAXI DRIVER Gases Up at European Korean Film Fests
Gwangju Drama Schedules in Brussels, Frankfurt, Hungary, Madrid and Paris


by Pierce Conran / KoBiz


JANG Hun’s smash hit A Taxi Driver has received five invitations from Korean film events in Europe taking place over the next few months. 


Director JANG will personally attend both the 6th Korean Film Festival in Frankfurt and the 12th Korean Film Festival in Paris. The film has also been invited to the 5th Korean Film Festival Brussels, the 10th Korean Film Festival in Madrid and the 10th Korean Film Festival in Hungary. 


Based on a real story, A Taxi Driver follows German reporter Jurgen Hinzpeter (played by Thomas Kretschmann), who came to Seoul in May 1980 and hired a taxi driver (SONG Kang-ho) to take him to the city of Gwangju to cover the student protests that would leave an indelible mark on history. 


The politically-tinged drama opened in early August this year and welcomed over 12 million viewers, which makes it the tenth most successful Korean film of all time, knocking KANG Je-kyu’s TaeGukGi: Brotherhood Of War (2004) from the top ten. A Taxi Driver is the fourth film by JANG, who also made Rough Cut (2008), Secret Reunion (2010) and The Front Line (2011).


A Taxi Driver served as the closing film of the Fantasia International Film Festival, where it earned the Cheval Noir Award for Best Actor for its star SONG. The film was released in North America on August 11th, where it earned USD 1.5 million.

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August 4, 2017


A Taxi Driver (2017) ☆☆☆(3/4): A taxi driver and his foreign passenger


by kaist455 Seongyong's Private Place


South Korean film “A Taxi Driver” drives along a rather predictable route, but it knows well what it has to do for engaging us and then touching us. Although I still think it could be improved in several aspects, the movie has enough good things for recommendation, and it is also supported by another strong performance from one of the best performers in South Korea.


The movie begins with its everyman hero going through another ‘usual’ day of his plain daily life in Seoul, May 1980. Not long after the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in October 1979, General Chun Doo-hwan seized the power through his coup d’État, and he subsequently declared the martial law in the following year while further solidifying his political status. As many prominent political figures including Kim Dae-jung were accordingly arrested, lots of people demonstrated against Chun and his regime, and this unstable nationwide situation eventually culminated to a civil uprising in Gwangju on May 18th, 1980.


For Man-seop (Song Kang-ho),  who is one of many taxi drivers working in Seoul, frequent demonstrations in his city are simply an annoying problem blocking him from more money to earn. He does not care much about why those demonstrators are against the government, and all he cares about is earning enough money for him and his young daughter, who has been his only close family member since his wife died early not long after he came back from Saudi Arabia.


On one day, Man-seop happens to overhear a conversation about one foreigner who offers a considerable amount of money for a round trip between Seoul and Gwangju. Although he and others have heard rumors about what is going on in Gwangju, he instantly snatches that opportunity mainly because he has been behind several months in paying his rent, and that is how he comes to meet Jürgen Hinzpeter (Thomas Kretschmann), a German reporter who flies to Seoul from Tokyo after sensing something big from the ongoing situation surrounding Gwangju.



While everything looks fine at first as Man-seop gladly drives his taxi along a highway leading to Gwangju, he soon comes to realize that he inadvertently gets himself into a very serious circumstance. As he and Hinzpeter come close to Gwangju, they come across a warning sign on the road and then they come upon a makeshift military post where a bunch of soldiers are blocking the road. When they manage to arrive in Gwangju via a narrow detour, they behold the city mired in quiet unrest, and they soon come across a bunch of young demonstrators, who take Hinzpeter to a nearby local hospital which is filled with lots of people injured or killed by soldiers.


Man-seop tries to get out of Gwangju as soon as possible, but he only finds himself stuck along with Hinzpeter in the city, and, not so surprisingly, he come to witness the dark, brutal side of his country as Hinzpeter insists on recording more of what is happening in Gwangju. At one point, he watches a peaceful mass demonstration being savagely suppressed by soldiers, and that gut-chilling pandemonium certainly shakes up his belief in his country while also igniting his guilt on having been oblivious to the injustice inside his world.


While Man-seop is a fictional character, the movie is inspired by a dramatic real-life story of German journalist Jürgen Hinzpeter, who died early in last year. As shown from the movie, Hinzpeter managed to sneak into Gwangju thanks to an unknown taxi driver who bravely took the risk for his foreign passenger, and what Hinzpeter shot there has been one of a few visual records vividly showing the atrocities committed in Gwangju during that horrible period in 1980.


The screenplay by Eom Yu-na is often blatant especially during its melodramatic third act, but its earnest storytelling works on the whole. Its main characters are rather broad and simple, but they are depicted with recognizable human qualities nonetheless, and that is why the movie is better than “May 18” (2007), another major South Korean film about the Gwangju Uprising. While I merely observed that film from the distance due to its thin plot and stiff cardboard characters, “A Taxi Driver” held my attention via its more engaging storytelling, and I found myself caring a lot about Man-seop, Hinzpeter, and some other supporting characters in the film – even during the climactic part of the movie which requires a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief for good reasons.



Director Jang Hoon, who previously impressed me and other South Korean audiences with “Secret Reunion” (2010) and “The Front Line” (2011), did a competent job of steadily maintaining narrative momentum, and it surely helps that the period background and atmosphere in the movie mostly feel authentic on the screen. For instance, several South Korean pop songs from the 1980s are effectively used throughout the film, and my parents and other older South Korean audiences will certainly appreciate these aural period details more than me.


As the ordinary hero of the movie, Song Kang-go utilizes well his likable screen persona as he did before in several films including “Memories of Murder” (2003), “The Host” (2006), “Secret Reunion”, and “The Attorney” (2013), and he has a number of good scenes as his character earns understanding and empathy from us. His character’s gradual change over the story may be a pretty predictable character arc, but that process feels sincere and heartfelt thanks to Song’s excellent performance, and the movie surely confirms to us again that he is indeed one of the most interesting South Korean actors at present.


On the opposite, Thomas Kretschmann holds his own place well, and it is a pleasure to watch how his acting is mixed well with that of his South Korean co-performers. While Yoo Hae-jin is enjoyable as the de facto leader of taxi drivers in Gwangju, Ryu Jun-yeol is also fine as a young demonstrator who comes to befriend Man-seop and Hinzpeter by chance, and Park Hyuk-kwon, Choi Gwi-hwa, Ko Chang-seok, and Jeon Hye-jin fill their respective minor supporting roles as required.


“A Taxi Driver” is not without weak points. It could be more effective and interesting if it put more emphasis on its foreign perspective on the Gwangju Uprising, and I must point out that it is less colorful compared to what was achieved in “Scout” (2007), a small overlooked South Korean comedy drama film which is also about the Gwangju Uprising. Despite these and other weak aspects, the movie mostly succeeds in what it intends to do, and I often found myself becoming involved in its human drama more than expected during my viewing. In short, this is one of better South Korean films to watch during this summer season.

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October 10, 2017


‘A Taxi Driver’ pulled from Chinese theaters


Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily



“A Taxi Driver,” which was this year’s first film to attract more than 10 million moviegoers domestically, has been banned in China and comments and posts about the movie have been removed from Chinese websites.


The film tells the true story of a taxi driver taking a German journalist to the center of the Gwangju pro-democracy uprising in 1980. According to Apple Daily, a newspaper in Hong Kong, the Chinese government blocked the premiere of “A Taxi Driver” and removed all related information online, as the content is reminiscent of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.


Immediately after the film’s release in China last month, thousands of opinions were posted on Douban, a popular Chinese social media service, demonstrating the film’s popularity among the Chinese audience.


Yet, after several internet users said that the movie reminded them of the Tiananmen protests, the government took actions to prohibit the film from being shown. Last Tuesday, the film’s page was deleted from Douban as well. Posts related to “A Taxi Driver” on Weibo have also been removed.


The Tiananmen Square protests took place in Beijing on June 4, 1989, and it has been estimated that hundreds of citizens were massacred by Chinese troops. Talking about the incident is banned and strictly controlled on Chinese social media.


Some expressed their dissatisfaction, saying that it is unfair to prohibit a movie that depicts the protests of another country. Meanwhile, with its 19th National Party Congress on Oct. 18, which will provide broad indications for economic policy in the coming years, the government has strengthened its efforts to monitor the media.


By Hong You-kyoung

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October 11, 2017


Busan Film Fest to open with “Glass Garden” premiere

A scene from film "Glass Garden. " Directed by Shin Su-won and starring Moon Geun-young, "Glass Garden" will open the 22nd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). / Courtesy of BIFF.


By Jason Bechervaise The Korea Times


Asia's most prestigious film festival, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), kicks off its 22nd edition on Thursday evening with the world premiere of Shin Su-won's mystery drama "Glass Garden." 


Shin's filmography includes "Pluto" that bowed in Busan in 2012 creating much buzz and secured a well-deserved invite to the Berlin Film Festival, while her more recent film "Madonna" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. 


Her latest film stars Moon Geun-young as a brilliant young researcher who lives alone in a glass garden and is watched by a novelist played by Kim Tae-hoon who then writes a novel about her. 


It is significant that a Korean film again opens the festival following last year's well-received "A Quiet Dream" underscoring the festival's emphasis on local cinema, which features programs dedicated to Korean films. 


In the Korean Cinema Today Panorama section, it will screen 16 films. Many of these titles have been released over the past few months including Hong Sang-soo's "The Day After," Jang Hoon's "A Taxi Driver," Lee Joon-ik's "Anarchist from Colony," Bong Joon-ho's "Okja" and Ryoo Seung-wan's "The Battleship Island" (the festival will screen Ryoo's director's cut). 


But there are also new films from established and talented filmmakers such as Oh Muel with "Mermaid Unlimited," Shin Yeon-shick with "Romans 8:37" and Pang Eun-jin with "Method." 

In the vision strand, which has been home to some of the great discoveries in recent years such as "Han Gong-ju" (2013) and last year's "Jane" will feature eleven titles including Lee Kwang-kuk's "A Tiger in Winter" and Lee Dong-eun's "Mothers." 


Among the films selected for the New Currents section are two Korean titles: Ko Hyun-seok's "How to Breathe Underwater" and Shin Dong-seok's "Last Child" vying for the New Currents Award. 


Notable Korean films to emerge from this program include the touching "Merry Christmas Mr. Mo" last year and "End of Winter" in 2014 that was invited to Berlin Film Festival and won the New Currents Award. 


This year the New Currents jury is to be headed by world renowned filmmaker Oliver Stone that reflects the wealth of talent coming to this year's festival, which also includes Darren Aronofsky with his film "Mother!" and John Woo with his latest feature "Manhunt." 


Indeed, while the festival is certainly keen on showcasing local films and talent, it is equally passionate about world cinema, made evident by its impressive lineup, screening 300 films from 75 different countries. This includes 100 world premieres. 


Aronofsky's "Mother!" will feature in the festival's Gala Presentation section, as will "Manhunt" starring local star Ha Ji-won. Both films were invited to the Venice Film Festival last month. 


Those keen on catching some of the other major festival titles that are attracting awards buzz include Sean Baker's acclaimed drama "The Florida Project" that is screening in the World Cinema section, as is Todd Haynes' mystery drama "Wonderstruck. " Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' sports drama "Battle of the Sexes" starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell is also screening in this strand along with Alexander Payne's science fiction comedy "Downsizing," among others. 


British film "God's Own Country" directed by Francis Lee, about the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker at a Yorkshire farm that has generated much critical acclaim in the U.K. , is screening in the Wide Angle section. 


There is also a strong showing from Japan with a number of titles from auteurs and notable directors. Takeshi Kitano's latest yakuza film "Outrage Coda" that screened out of competition in Venice is featuring in the A Window on Asian Cinema section while Hirokazu Koreeda's thriller "The Third Murder" and Yukisada Isao's "Narratage" are to screen as gala presentations. 


Special programs this year include a Shin Seong-sil retrospective, one of Korea's most iconic actors featuring as a lead in over 500 films. Eight films starring Shin will screen at the festival including Kim Ki-duk's "The Barefooted Youth" (1964) and Kim Soo-yong's "Mist" (1967). 


The festival will also hold a special focus on Sakha cinema along with a program focussing on renowned Japanese filmmaker Suzuki Seijun featuring seven of his films such as "Tokyo Drifter" and "Branded to Kill." 


The festival will close with the world premiere of Sylvia Chang's "Love Education" in which she also stars about three women from different eras of Chinese history. 

The festival will take place until Oct. 21 and further details are available at biff.kr .


Jason Bechervaise is a movie columnist for The Korea Times. He can be reached at jase@koreanfilm. org.uk .



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October 17, 2017


A TAXI DRIVER Has Been Invited to Overseas Film Festivals
It was selected to close the 21st Fantasia International Film Festival (FIFF)


by KIM Su-binKoBiz


JANG Hun’s Gwangju Democratization Movement drama A Taxi Driver has received huge attention from overseas film festivals. The film has been officially invited to this year’s Korean film festivals in Europe including: the 5th Korean Film Festival Brussels, the 6th Korean Film Festival Frankfurt, the 10th Korean Film Festival Spain, the 12th Korean Film Festival Paris and the 10th Korean Film Festival Hungary. Even more incredible, the movie has been chosen as the opening film for all of these events. Director JANG Hun will attend two of the festivals, Frankfurt on October 18th and Paris on October 24th. In addition, A Taxi Driver was in the competition category and was selected to close the 21st Fantasia International Film Festival (FIFF) in Montreal, Canada which took place from July 13th to August 2nd. Its actor SONG Kang-ho also picked up the Best Actor Award at FIFF. 


Meanwhile, the political drama which was released on August 2nd has become the ninth most successful Korean film of all time, surpassing 12 million moviegoers in three months. A Taxi Driver tells the story of German reporter Jurgen Hinzpeter (Thomas Kretschmann) who came to Gwangju in May 1980 to cover and report the protest to the world, as well as Korean taxi driver KIM Sa-bok (SONG Kang-ho) who helped the journalist. The combination of the two renowned actors from Korea and Germany has gained recognition. SONG has been featured in films like The Attorney (2013), The Throne (2015) and The Age of Shadows (2016) while Kretschmann is known for films such as The Pianist (2003) and Grimm Love (2006). 

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October 17, 2017


A TAXI DRIVER Tops Buil Film Awards
SONG Kang-ho and YOUN Yuh-jung Nab Acting Prizes


by Pierce Conran / KoBiz (Photo: Sports Donga)




The 26th Buil Film Awards, which are staged by the newspaper Busan Ilbo, took place in Busan on October 13th this year. The Best Film prize this year went to JANG Hun’s smash hit political drama A Taxi Driver. JANG’s film also picked up the Best Actor Prize for lead SONG Kang-ho, as well as the Buil Readers' Jury Award. A Taxi Driver is the year’s top grossing film in Korea, having welcomed 12.19 million spectators (USD 84.7 million).


Other multiple award winners during the night were RYOO Seung-wan’s The Battleship Island, which scored awards for Best Supporting Actress (KIM Su-an) and Best Art Direction (LEE Hwo-kyung), as well as LEE Joon-ik’s Anarchist from Colony, which scooped up Best New Actress (CHOI Hee-seo) and Best Screenplay (HWANG Seong-gu). Indie film Jane by CHO Hyunhoon meanwhile won for Best New Actor (KOO Kyo-hwan) and Best Music (Flash Flood Darlings).


Veteran director KIM Sung-su picked up the award for Best Director for last year’s hard-boiled thriller Asura : The City of Madness. Best Actress went to screen legend YOUN Yuh-jung for her part in E J-yong’s The Bacchus Lady. 


Other award winners included Best Supporting Actor KIM Hee-won for The Merciless, Best New Director LEE Hyun-ju for Our Love Story and PARK Jung-hun, who earned Best Cinematography for his work on The Villainess.


Finally, the YU Hyun-mok award, which is generally given upon a classic Korean filmmakers, was this year posthumously dedicated to KIM Ji-seok, the the Busan International Film Festival executive programmer who passed away this May.

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October 18, 2017


'A Taxi Driver' to open Korean film festival in Frankfurt

By Park Jin-hai The Korea Times


"A Taxi Driver," a film loosely based on the Gwangju massacre on May 18, 1980, will open an annual Korean film festival in Frankfurt. 


The film festival, to be co-organized for the sixth time by the Korean Consulate and a nonprofit organization Project K, consisting of University of Frankfurt Korean studies students and other young Germans interested in Korean culture, will screen 16 Korean films at CineStar Metropolis between Oct. 18 and 28. 


Opening the festival will be "A Taxi Driver," directed by Jang Hoon. The South Korean entry for the Foreign Language Category of the 90th Academy Awards depicts the journey of a taxi driver named Kim Sa-bok, who drove a German reporter to the Gwangju massacre. Edeltraut Brahmstaedt, the widow of Jurgen Hinzpeter, the German journalist who filmed and reported on the Gwangju massacre, and his friend Jurgen Bertram who edited Hinzpeter's documentary broadcast under the title "South Korea at Crossroads," will be present at the film festival. 


Other Korean films to be screened include "The Battleship Island," "The King," "New Trial" and "Ordinary Person," all set in modern Korean history. 


During the festival, a variety of cultural events to introduce Korean culture will take place. Visit the festival's website at project-k-frankfurt. de for more. 



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October 17, 2017


SHIN Sang-ok’s North Korea-Produced SALT to Premiere in Asian World Film Festival
Period Siege Drama THE FORTRESS Selected as Centerpiece Screening


by Pierce Conran / KoBiz


Classic Korean filmmaker SHIN Sang-ok’s North Korea-produced Salt (1985) will have its North American premiere on November 1st, during the 3rd edition of the Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, director HWANG Dong-hyuk’s Joseon Era siege drama The Fortress has been selected as the festival’s Centerpiece screening. 


Renowned for his classic dramas in South Korea, such as The Flower In Hell (1958) and Mother And A Guest (1961), SHIN and his wife, star CHOI Eun-hee, were famously kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1978 during a trip to Hong Kong. They were brought to Pyongyang where they were forced by North Leader KIM Jong-il to make propagandist films.


Set in the 1930s, Salt features CHOI as the wife in a family that harbors a rich Korean-Chinese businessman. When her husband dies, she asks for the merchant’s help and eventually enters an illegal salt trade. She is later attacked by the Japanese but then saved by a communist group.


Salt was screened at the Moscow International Film Festival, where it earned the Best Actress Award for CHOI. Both SHIN and CHOI finally managed to escape their captivity while visiting Austria for a film festival in 1986. SHIN passed away in 2006.


The Fortress, which stars LEE Byung-hun, KIM Yun-seok and PARK Hae-il, recently topped the box office in Korea, where it was released during the Chuseok holiday period. Also screening in the Culver City-based festival will be RYOO Seung-wan’s The Battleship Island and JANG Hun’s A Taxi Driver.

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October 18, 2017


26th Buil Film Awards Winners


Source: BUILfilm via HanCinema.net


Winners for the 26th Buil Film Awards.



The Lamp representative Park Eun-kyeong


Best Film

"A Taxi Driver" - Jang Hoon


"The Age of Shadows" - Kim Jee-woon
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Kim Seong-su
"The Day After - 2017" - Hong Sang-soo
"Anarchist from Colony" - Lee Joon-ik


Best Director

"Asura: The City of Madness" - Kim Seong-su


"The Day After - 2017" - Hong Sang-soo
"Anarchist from Colony" - Lee Joon-ik
"The Age of Shadows" - Kim Jee-woon
"Beaten Black and Blue" - Kim Soo-hyeon




Best Actor

"A Taxi Driver" - Song Kang-ho


"Anarchist from Colony" - Lee Je-hoon
"Bluebeard" - Cho Jin-woong
"The Day After - 2017" - Kwon Hae-hyo
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Jung Woo-sung


Best Actress

"The Bacchus Lady" - Youn Yuh-jung


"On the Beach at Night Alone" - Kim Min-hee
"Misbehavior" - Kim Ha-neul
"Missing Woman" - Gong Hyo-jin
"The Villainess" - Kim Ok-bin


Best Supporting Actor

"The Merciless" - Kim Hee-won


"The King" - Ryu Jun-yeol
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Joo Ji-hoon
"The Age of Shadows" - Eom Tae-goo
"Bluebeard" - Kim Dae-myeong


Best Supporting Actress

"The Battleship Island" - Kim Su-an


"The Last Princess" - Ra Mi-ran
"Tunnel" - Bae Doona
"The King" - Kim So-jin
"Misbehavior" - Yoo In-young


Best New Director

"Our Love Story" - Lee Hyun-ju


"Delta Boys" - Ko Bong-soo
"A Single Rider" - Lee Zoo-young
"Jane" - Cho Hyun-hoon
"The Queen of Crime" - Lee Yo-sup


Best New Actor

"Jane" - Koo Gyo-hwan


"Anarchist from Colony" - Kim Joon-han
"Midnight Runners" - Park Seo-joon
"Misbehavior" - Lee Won-geun
"ALONE" - Lee Ju-won


Best New Actress

"Anarchist from Colony" - Choi Hui-seo


"Jane" - Lee Zoo-young
"Yongsoon" - Lee Soo-kyung-I
"Jane" - Lee Min-ji-I
"Our Love Story" - Lee Sang-hee-II


Best Screenplay

"Anarchist from Colony" - Hwang Seong-goo


"Bluebeard" - Lee Soo-yeon
"Jane" - Cho Hyun-hoon and Kim So-mi
"The Age of Shadows" - Park Jong-dae-I and Lee Ji-min
"Missing Woman" - Hong Eun-mi


Best Cinematography

"The Villainess" - Park Jeong-hoon-II


"The King" - Kim Woo-hyeong
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Lee Mo-gae
"The Age of Shadows" - Kim Ji-yong
"A Taxi Driver" - Go Nak-seo


Best Music

"Jane" - Flash Flood Darlings


"The Age of Shadows" - Mowg
"A Taxi Driver" - Jo Yeong-wook
"The Battleship Island" - Bang Joon-seok
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Lee Jae-jin


Best Art Direction

"The Battleship Island" - Lee Hoo-kyeong


"A Taxi Driver" - Jo Hwa-seong and Kim Mi-kyeong-III
"The King" - Lee Na-gyeom
"Asura: The City of Madness" - Jang Geun-yeong
"The Age of Shadows" - Jo Hwa-seong


Buil Readers' Jury Award

"A Taxi Driver" - Jang Hoon


YU Hyun-mok Award

Kim Ji-seok

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October 25, 2017


'A Taxi Driver' wins best picture at Daejong Film Awards user posted image


By Shim Sun-ah


SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) -- "A Taxi Driver," a local box office hit about a pro-democracy uprising in the country, won best picture at the 54th annual Daejong Film Awards on Wednesday.


The movie, directed by Jang Hoon, is inspired by the real-life story of a Seoul taxi driver who takes the late German correspondent Jurgen Hinzpeter to the southwestern provincial city of Gwangju for a large offer of money and witnesses the horrors of the bloody military crackdown on the pro-democracy people's uprising of May 1980. Hinzpeter, helped by the taxi driver, becomes the first western reporter to send out footage of the bloodshed. The film starring Song Kang-ho and German actor Thomas Kretschmann sat on the box office throne for a long time, selling more than 12 million tickets after it opened in August.


A poster for the 54th Daejong Film Awards (Yonhap)

A poster for the 54th Daejong Film Awards (Yonhap)


"I think this award to 'A Taxi Driver' is a consolation for the country's painful modern history and support for the role of the press," said Park Eun-kyung, head of the film's studio The Lamp, on her last of two trips to the podium at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in central Seoul. She thanked the film's director, cast and crew members.


While "A Taxi Driver" received only two prizes -- best picture and best planning, it was a big night for "Anarchist from Colony" which landed five prizes, including best director and best actress.


"Anarchist from Colony" earned Lee Joon-ik the best director award while its heroine Choi Hee-seo picked up both best rookie actress and best actress for her performance as Kaneko Fumiko, comrade and Japanese wife of Park Yeol, a Korean anarchist who fought for Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule. The film also received art direction and costume design awards.


Actress Choi Hee-seo and director Lee Joon-ik walk on the red carpet at the 54th Daejong Film Awards in Seoul on Oct. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)

Actress Choi Hee-seo and director Lee Joon-ik walk on the red carpet at the 54th Daejong Film Awards in Seoul on Oct. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)


"The King" received four prizes -- best screenplay, best supporting actor and actress and best editing.


Seol Kyung-gu got best actor for playing the underboss of a large-scale drug trafficking ring in "The Merciless" by director Byun Sung-hyun.


Park Seo-jun was honored as best supporting actor for his police university cadget role in "Midnight Runners." Um Tae-hwa received best rookie director for "Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned," a story about a boy who mysteriously disappears when he goes to the mountains with his friend, only to return as a full-grown adult a few days later.


A Special Award for film industry people who greatly contributed to the development of the industry went to late actress Kim Young-ae who died of pancreatic cancer in April.


Her son ascended to the podium to pick up the prize on her behalf. "I realized how much affection she had for films and how diligently she lived only after she passed away," he said. "Please keep remembering her."


As South Korea's equivalent of the Academy Awards, the Daejong Film Awards was launched in 1962 to boost the quality of Korean films and to support the industry.


Actor Seol Kyung-gu receives flowers from his fans at the 54th Daejong Film Awards in Seoul on Oct. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)

Actor Seol Kyung-gu receives flowers from his fans at the 54th Daejong Film Awards in Seoul on Oct. 25, 2017. (Yonhap)



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October 26, 2017


'Anarchist from Colony' Sweeps Daejong Awards


By Lee Tae-hoon The ChosunIlbo


"Anarchist from Colony" had a roaring night at this year's Daejong Film Awards at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul on Wednesday. The period drama swept five trophies including best director, best actress, best new actress, best costume design, and best art direction.


Choi Hee-seo won both best actress and best new actress for her performance as independence activist Park Yeol's Japanese lover Fumiko Kaneko. 



Sol Kyung-gu (left) and Choi Hee-seo


Choi, who looked confident and well-prepared when she gave her speech accepting the best new actress award, burst into tears when her name was called as the winner of the best actress award.


But it was "The Taxi Driver" that claimed the award for the best film. Park Eun-kyung, the producer of the film, said, "This movie resurrects painful memories in Korea's modern history. I sometimes think that some movies will outlive the people who make them."


Sol Kyung-gu won best actor award for his performance in "The Merciless." He said, "As I get older, there are fewer new things I can show the world. I will do my best to show new side of me in every film I do."


Kim Young-ae, who died of cancer in April, was given a special award posthumously in honor of her long and illustrious acting career.


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October 27, 2017


Stars shine at Daejong awards:

A successful year for film industry celebrated at annual ceremony


Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

“A Taxi Driver” was named Best Picture at this year’s Daejong Film Awards, but the biggest winner of the night was “Anarchist from Colony” which took home five awards, including Best Director and Best Actress.


Hosted by actor Shin Hyun-joon and model-turned-actress Stephanie Lee, the 54th edition of the annual award ceremony took place at Sejong Center for Performing Arts in central Seoul on Wednesday evening.


Daejong, which was once one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in Korea, has encountered controversy since announcing in 2015 that it would not honor those who did not attend the ceremony. 


Followed by the announcement, actors and actresses who questioned the ceremony’s fairness have chosen to avoid the event over the past two years. But the number of stars who attended this year jumped in the wake of Daejong’s efforts to restore its honor by reorganizing and setting new standards for evaluation.


Some of the high-profile actors who showed up at Daejong on Wednesday included Song Kang-ho, Jo In-sung and Lee Je-hoon, all of whom vied for the Best Actor award. But the honor was given to Seol Kyung-gu for his role in crime action “The Merciless.” The movie, about a bromance between an undercover cop (Yim Si-wan) and a drug smuggler (Seol), was invited to the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year for a screening at the Midnight Screening section.


“Though the theatrical screening of ‘The Merciless’ is over, I’m still keeping in touch with the movie’s fans. I’m very grateful to the fans who have always supported me,” said Seol during his acceptance speech. 


Actresses who attended the ceremony included Son Ye-jin, singer-turned-actress Yoona from Girls’ Generation and Kim Sa-rang.


For the Best Actress award, Kong Hyo-jin, Chun Woo-hee, Yum Jung-ah and Kim Ok-vin were all nominated, but Choi Hee-seo, who was the only nominated actress that made an appearance, took home the award for her role in period drama “Anarchist from Colony.” 


The Lee Joon-ik-directed movie is about a Korean independence fighter named Park Yeol who organized an anarchist group during the Japanese colonial period (1910-45), and his lover Fumiko Kaneko (Choi), a Japanese anarchist.


“Fumiko Kaneko fought against the authority regardless of her gender and nationality. I was able to learn a lot from a woman who had a short life, and who passed away 90 years ago. I’m 30 years old, and I now feel like I’ve become an adult,” said Choi, who also took home the Best Rookie Actress award for the role.


But the actress’ long speech was hindered by an audio malfunction. 


Frustrated remarks like “Let’s stop” and “[She’s] driving me crazy” could be heard on the live broadcast of the ceremony. Though it was reported that the comments were said by the production staff from TV Chosun, which aired the ceremony live, Daejong explained that the remarks came from the audience.


But Daejong acknowledged that overheard remarks in which director Lee Joon-ik was called a “baldy” when the honored actress mentioned his name were spoken by the staff. 


Of the contenders for Best Picture, “A Taxi Driver” was the only movie that has sold more than 10 million tickets. The movie revolves around a cab driver (Song Kang-ho) who takes a German journalist (Thomas Kretschmann) to the center of the Gwangju pro-democracy uprising in 1980.


After accepting the award, the producer of the period movie said, “Great movies were nominated, but we believe the award was given to us due to the film’s role in comforting the painful history and its support for the freedom of the press.”


Other winners at the festival were filmmaker Lee Joon-ik, who won Best Director for “Anarchist from Colony,” and actor Bae Seong-woo and actress Kim So-jin, who were named Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards for their characters in crime drama “The King.” 


Actor Park Seo-jun took home the Best Rookie Actor award for his role in the buddy movie “Midnight Runners” while director Um Tae-hwa was named the Best Rookie Director for fantasy drama “Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned.”


Late actress Kim Young-ae, who died of pancreatic cancer in April, was honored with a special award, given to those who have greatly contributed to the development of the film industry. After debuting in 1971, Kim starred in a number of TV series and movies, including the drama “The Attorney” (2013) and the disaster movie “Pandora” (2016).


Kim’s son accepted the award on her behalf. “I’m grateful for being handed the award even after her death .?.?. Only after she passed away I realized how much love she had for acting. I hope she continues to be remembered.”


BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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October 27, 2017

[USA] "A Taxi Driver" Arrives on Digital November 7


Source: HanCinema.net


South Korea's Foreign Language Oscar® Submission
"A richly imagined tribute to a working-class hero". ~ Sheri Linden, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
"… a heartfelt appreciation of ordinary people turned heroes in extraordinary circumstances".
~ Barbara VanDenburgh, ARIZONA REPUBLIC
"Song's brilliantly layered performance … is almost certain to garner the actor serious awards attention". ~ James Marsh, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
"A Taxi Driver"
Directed by Jang Hoon and Starring Song Kang-ho & Thomas Kretschmann
Available on Digital November 7
Based on a true story, "A Taxi Driver", which will represent South Korea as its official entry in the 2018 Academy Awards® best foreign-language film category, debuts on digital November 7 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Described by Rob Hunter of Film School Rejects as a "powerful film set in the relatively recent past, but with messages and themes that remain every bit as relevant in today's world", the film follows "A Taxi Driver" from Seoul, who accidentally gets involved in a German journalist's reporting of the events of the Gwangju Uprising in 1980. Directed by Jang Hoon ("The Front Line"), the fifth-highest-grossing domestic film of all time in South Korea stars Song Kang-ho ("Snowpiercer"), Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong, Wanted), Yoo Hae-jin ("Veteran", "Pirates") and Ryu Jun-yeol ("The King").
In this powerful true story set in 1980, a down-on-his-luck taxi driver from Seoul is hired by a foreign journalist who wants to go to the town of Gwangju for the day. They arrive to find a city under siege by the military government, with the citizens, led by a determined group of college students, rising up to demand freedom. What began as an easy fare becomes a life-or-death struggle in the midst of the Gwangju Uprising, a critical event in the history of modern South Korea.
Country of Origin: South Korea
"A Taxi Driver" has a runtime of approximately 137 minutes and is not rated.

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