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November 27, 2017


History honored at top film awards : ‘

A Taxi Driver’, ‘I Can Speak’ win big at 2017 Blue Dragon Awards

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily


Winners pose for a photo at the end of the 38th Blue Dragon Awards, held on Nov. 25 at Kyung Hee University in eastern Seoul. From left are Jin Seon-kyu, Do Kyung-soo, Na Muni, Song Kang-ho, Kim So-jin and Choi Hui-seo. [JOONGANG ILBO]


The 38th Blue Dragon Awards, one of the most prestigious events in the Korean film industry, was held at the Grand Peace Hall of Kyung Hee University, eastern Seoul, on the evening of Nov. 25. 


The Best Actor and Best Actress awards went to Song Kang-ho for his role of a taxi driver who witnesses the brutality of the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising after taking a foreign journalist to the region in “A Taxi Driver,” and Na Muni for “I Can Speak,” where she portrayed a surviving “comfort woman,” a euphemistic term for a victim of Japan’s sexual slavery during World War II. 


“Even aside all the politics and history, ‘A Taxi Driver’ is about what’s within our hearts; I wanted to get across the feeling of remorse that we all have as humans,” said Song in his acceptance speech. “The trophy is important, and the 10 million tickets sold are important, too. But the biggest honor I’ve had with this movie is that I was able to take a look at my heart with ‘A Taxi Driver.’ I think this [trophy] is given to me by the amazing audience. Thank you.”


Na, born in 1941, also thanked her fans and the organizers for granting her the award despite her old age. “I came here thinking that I should not have any expectations. But now that it turned out this way, I’m getting a little greedy. A lot of my peers have left the film industry, but I’m here receiving such a nice award. Thank you for giving this big award to old Na Muni. I’ll stay here like this and keep doing my best.”


“A Taxi Driver” also took home the Best Film award, having sold a total of 12,186,001 tickets when it was in theaters this summer, and has become the ninth best-selling movie in Korean film history. The director of “I Can Speak,” Kim Hyun-seok, was named Best Director for his movie.


Other winners included Jin Seon-kyu for his supporting role in “The Outlaws,” where he played a Korean-Chinese gang boss. Jin shed tears as he gave his acceptance speech for his first award in his career. Choi Hui-seo took home the Best Supporting Actress award for “Anarchist from Colony,” in which she played the role of Fumiko Kaneko, a Japanese anarchist married to a Korean anarchist named Park Yeol.


However, the ceremony wasn’t without its share of troubles, as reporters staged a boycott of the ceremony before it began, a first for the Blue Dragon Awards. 


Due to rain on Saturday, the red carpet had to be canceled. The press requested the organizers move the pre-ceremony event, where they can get photos of the movie stars and have short interviews, indoors. 


But organizers declined, saying that the inside of the theater could not be used. The press, who had been waiting outside in the rain for hours before the ceremony, decided to leave. Because of this decision, the ceremony was quieter than usual, with no flashbulbs going off or crowds to welcome the glamorous stars as they walked into the ceremony. 


Many watching the program at home took to social media to point out the awkwardness of the ceremony’s co-host, actor Lee Sun-kyun. His partner, actress Kim Hye-soo, has hosted the awards show for the past 24 years, and viewers pointed out that next to her, Lee looked quite nervous throughout the night. 


Despite the ups and downs, this year’s Blue Dragon Awards consoled many of the pains of Korea’s modern history, by awarding the night’s major prizes to movies that shed light on the past. 


“A Taxi Driver” depicted the scenes during the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, “I Can Speak” showed the life of a surviving victim of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery and “Anarchist from Colony” revolved around the life of independence activist Park Yeol, who organized an anarchist group during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945).


BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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November 27, 2017


'A Taxi Driver' Sweeps Blue Dragon Awards


By Lee Tae-hoon The Chosun Ilbo

"A Taxi Driver" and "I Can Speak" swept the annual Blue Dragon Film Awards on Saturday evening.


"A Taxi Driver" won best picture, best actor (Song Kang-ho), most watched, and best music (Jo Yeong-wook). "I Can Speak" bagged two important categories -- best actress (Na Moon-hee) and best director (Kim Hyun-seok).


"A Taxi Driver" was this year's only film to draw over 10 million viewers and tells the story of a taxi driver who takes a German journalist to Gwangju during the democratic uprising in May 1980.


"I Can Speak" is a comedy about an elderly woman who constantly files complaints with the local office but also touches on the serious topic of Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by imperial Japan during World War II.


Actors pose with their trophies at the annual Blue Dragon Film Awards in Seoul on Saturday. From left, Jin Seon-gyu, Do Kyung-soo, Na Moon-hee, Song Kang-ho, Kim So-jin and Choi Hee-seo


Cha Tae-hyun stood on stage while the event paid tribute to fellow actors who died this year, including Kim Ji-young, Yoon So-jung, Kim Young-ok, and Kim Joo-hyuk.


"I remember the year 2017 as a year when many of my beloved colleagues left us," Cha told the audience.

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December 1, 2017


Big budgets don’t guarantee big success:

Some of 2017’s most highly anticipated films flopped after audiences found them to be unoriginal


Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily



In the beginning of 2017, moviegoers were excited about a number of star-studded, high-budget flicks scheduled for release throughout the year. But of the many that hit the big screens, only a few, like “A Taxi Driver,” “Confidential Assignment” and the currently running “The Swindlers,” managed to draw large audiences while others like “Real,” “The Battleship Island” and “Warriors of the Dawn” failed to drum up interest after their release.


From January to October, the number of tickets sold for locally produced movies dipped by more than 10 million year-on-year to 88.8 million, according to a report by the Korean Film Council. During the same period, however, the number of admissions sold for foreign movies surged by nearly nine million to reach 94.03 million, accounting for 51.4 percent of the market share.


The primary reason for the decline in sales can be explained by the disappointing performances of highly anticipated local blockbusters which cost at least 10 billion won ($9 million) to make.


CJ E&M’s mega-blockbuster “The Battleship Island,” starring Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub and Song Joong-ki, only sold 6.59 million tickets and faced backlash after being accused of monopolizing movie screens and distorting history. Though ticket sales were not low, they were not high enough, considering the 20 billion won it cost to make the period epic. 


“Real,” featuring superstar Kim Soo-hyun and singer-turned-actor Sulli, did not satisfy audiences either. Despite Kim being praised for his performance in the film, the 10-billion-won movie ended up selling merely 470,000 tickets after being criticized for its obscure plot.


Additionally, the number of crime and historical movies with unoriginal plots have prompted moviegoers to turn away from local films. 


“Over the past few years, most Korean movies have been confined to similar genres with similar stories,” said film critic Kim Hyung-suk. “Most high-budget flicks made with more than 10 billion won have been either crime or historical films due to their assumed commercial appeal, and audiences have grown tired of them.”


Kim also explained that the switch to a liberal government has affected moviegoers’ choices. Most crime movies are about good triumphing over evil, “which the current administration is attempting to achieve in reality,” while the majority of historical epics attempt to arouse nationalism. 


The growing monopoly of major film distributors has also contributed to the lack of diverse genres on offer, according to Kim, as “many of the flicks they chose to invest in have been either crime or period flicks.”


Making up for the poor performances of the big-budget movies, smaller budget films with well-organized plots had a relatively strong showing this year.


Action crime film “The Outlaws,” starring Ma Dong-seok, and action comedy “Midnight Runners,” which both cost seven billion won to make, sold an impressive 6.87 million and 5.65 tickets, respectively. 


The relative success of smaller films reflects the audience’s growing interest in unique and lighter films, according to movie critic Hwang Jin-mi.


“It seems that moviegoers have a growing preference towards characterheavy and less serious movies instead of giant blockbusters that attempt to satisfy everyone through similar characteristics, like being male-centered and adding emotional elements. [To further develop the local film industry], changes need to be made,” Hwang said.


But before 2018 arrives, two more local blockbusters may raise the annual performance of local films. “Steel Rain,” an action drama revolving around a former North Korean intelligence agent and a senior member of the Korean security services working on a secret mission to prevent the breakout of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, hits theaters on Dec. 14, while the fantasy drama “Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds,” which centers on the sudden death of a man and his afterlife trials that evaluate how he lived his life and determine where he will spend the rest of eternity, will be released on Dec. 20. 


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

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December 1, 2017


A TAXI DRIVER Drives Off with 4 Blue Dragons taxi1.gif
I CAN SPEAK Takes Best Director and Actress at 38th Awards


by Pierce Conran / KoBiz




The 38th edition of the Blue Dragon Film Awards took place on a rainy Saturday evening on November 25th in Seoul with a slew of stars and directors in attendance. This year’s chart-topping hit A Taxi Driver was triumphant during the show, as it picked up four prizes, the most of the night.


From director JANG Hun, Gwangju Democratization Movement drama A Taxi Driver won the awards for Best Film, Best Actor (SONG Kang-ho), Best Music (CHO Young-wuk) and the Audience Award for Most Popular Film, which it earned for being the year's most well-attended release with over 12 million admissions. SONG’s win for Best Actor was his second from nine nominations, after winning for 2013’s The Attorney.


Not far behind with three awards apiece were the human drama I Can Speak and the prosecutor saga The King. I Can Speak claimed the Best Director award for KIM Hyun-suk as well as Best Actress for NA Moon-hee, who previously won the Best Supporting Actress Award for Cruel Winter Blues in 2007. NA also earned one of the night’s four Popular Star Awards, the other recipients being SUL Kyung-gu for The Merciless, KIM Su-an for The Battleship Island and ZO In-sung for The King. HAN Jae-rim’s The King also won awards for Best Supporting Actress (KIM So-jin) and Best Editing (SHIN Min-kyung).


LEE Hyun-ju took the Best New Director prize for her debut Our Love Story, CHOI Hee-seo earned the Best New Actress accolade for Anarchist from Colony and DOH Kyung-soo was crowned Best New Actor for his role in MY ANNOYING BROTHER. KWAK Eun-mi won Best Short Film for A Hand-written Poster, which also won the Sonje Award for Best Short at the Busan International Film Festival in October.


Elsewhere, JIN Seon-kyu won Best Supporting Actor for THE OUTLAWS, HWANG Dong-hyuk picked up Best Screenplay for The Fortress, The Merciless won Best Cinematography (JO Hyung-rae) and Lighting (PARK Jung-woo), Best Art Direction went to The Battleship Island (LEE Hoo-kyoung) and the Best Technical Award went to KWON Ki-deok’s stunt work on The Villainess.

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December 13, 2017


More top actor awards for Kang, Na

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily




Actors Song Kang-ho and Na Muni were selected as the best actors of 2017 by the Korea Film Producers Association on Tuesday. The two actors were previously given the Best Actor and Best Actress awards at the 38th Blue Dragon Awards, held on Nov. 25.


In “A Taxi Driver,” Song, left, plays a driver who courageously takes a foreign reporter to the scene of the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. It is the only movie this year that has sold more than 10 million tickets in Korea, and became the ninth best-selling movie in Korean film history.


Na, right, played a surviving “comfort woman” in “I Can Speak,” a movie which illustrates how she strives to learn English from a public officer in order to speak up about her painful past. This year is the fourth year the Association has given awards. The event was organized to show gratitude to the cast and crew who produce movies in Korea. 


The ceremony for awards will be held next Tuesday at Myeong Films Art Center located in Gyeonggi. 


By Hong You-kyoung

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December 15, 2017


17th Director's Cut Awards 2017 Winners

Source: HanCinema.net


Yeon Sang-ho, Sul Kyung-gu, Choi Hui-seo, Na Moon-hee, Choi Gwi-hwa, Bong Joon-ho and Cho Hyun-hoon


Winners for the 17th Director's Cut Awards 2017 organised by Directors' Guild of Korea (DGK).


Best Director

"Okja" - Bong Joon-ho


Best Actor

"Memoir of a Murderer" - Sul Kyung-gu


Best Actress

"I Can Speak" - Na Moon-hee


Best New Director

"Jane" - Cho Hyun-hoon




Best New Actor

"A Taxi Driver" - Choi Gwi-hwa


Best New Actress

"Anarchist from Colony" - Choi Hui-seo


Vision Award

"Criminal Conspiracy" - Choi Seungho


Genre Award

"Train to Busan" - Yeon Sang-ho


Special Mentions

"I Can Speak" - Kim Hyun-seok
"Anarchist from Colony" - Lee Joon-ik
"A Taxi Driver" - Jang Hoon
"The Age of Shadows" - Kim Jee-woon
"The King" - Han Jae-rim
"Criminal Conspiracy" - Choi Seungho

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December 19, 2017

A TAXI DRIVER comes in at #6 on the easternKicks Top 10 Films of 2017



Technically, the movie is rather impressive, with the depiction of the era being quite accurate, as depicted in the clothes, the cars, the music, and the houses. Go Nak-seon’s cinematography is at the same level, with a number of elaborate shots and beautiful images, while the scenes of the mayhem and the subsequent hunt, which are coated in intense red colors, are ominous as they are beautiful, capturing the essence of the sequences fully. The same sequence, along with the action ones, is where Kim Sang-bum’s editing thrives, in another great aspect of the production.


Evidently, Korean cinema has been moving towards Hollywood blockbusters’ aesthetics with leaps, during the latest years, and “A Taxi Driver” is a testament to the fact, with almost all of its aspects moving towards this direction. However, this is not a bad thing, especially if the work is as elaborate as Jang Hoon’s and if one considers that the quintessential purpose of film as a medium is to entertain. Furthermore, and in contrast to the usual tendencies of the US films of the category (partly due to the lack of an eye-candy/damsel in distress/usually untalented model-actress), the acting is quite good, with the majority of the cast playing their parts at least in fitting fashion.


“A Taxi Driver” is a truly great film that manages to combine entertainment and meaningfulness, in a visually impressive package, under the elaborate direction of Jang Hoon and a great performance by Kang Ho-song.

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December 26, 2017


Best Korean movies of 2017


By Rumy Doo The Korea Herald

Another year has come to a wrap up the Korean film industry. 


Genres continue to be limited to political thrillers and crime flicks, and the scarcity of female roles persists. Despite the relative lack of diversity, however, 2017 turned out to be a year that offered several pleasant, unexpected surprises for moviegoers. Quieter, more pensive films excelled this year, offering insight into humanity and the everyday. 


Adventure, fantasy 
Directed by Bong Joon-ho 
Distributed by Netflix, Next Entertainment World


“Okja” is a film full of heart, an optimistic story that also peers into some of the most twisted aspects of a social order mankind has created for themselves. 


Vegetarians and environmentalists hailed the film as an effective campaign tool against the mass-production of meat, and though it makes an excellent case, the film is much more than an advocate for green eating. It speaks of universal issues such as the need for empathy, the inevitable pang of growing up and facing a vicious world, the inhumane order of capitalism and the terrible consequences that one person’s envy can cause. 


At once a coming-of-age tale, satire and good old-fashioned adventure ride, led by the indefatigable young heroine Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), “Okja” once again proves director Bong’s unique sensitivity and intellect. It includes picturesque Korean landscapes, large-scale yet detailed chase scenes, a richly layered story and an equally diverse cast. 


The Fortress
Historical drama
Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk 
Distributed by CJ Entertainment 


In Korea, dozens of period pieces are made every year for both film and television, but “The Fortress” is that rare example of a historical drama that appreciates history in all its complexity. 


It also invites viewers to ponder philosophical issues through characters who seem to adhere to a higher moral standard than the modern bureaucrat. 


The year is 1636. The location, Namhansanseong, a mountain fortress southeast of Seoul. Joseon’s King Injo (Park Hae-il), his advisers and people are trapped within its walls in the freezing winter, unable to escape from or fight against a Chinese invasion. 


At the center of the film lies the ideological struggle that ensues as the king’s two highest advisors -- Choi Myung-gil (Lee Byung-hun) and Kim Sang-hun (Kim Yoon-seok) -- fiercely debate on the course of action to take. Choi opts to surrender, arguing that life and survival precede lofty ideals, while Kim, staunchly believing that the only meaningful life is one with honor and dignity, argues Joseon should fight even if it means death. 


The film’s debate mirrors the philosophical tension that was pervasive throughout the Joseon era; some scholars today argue that it was Joseon’s excessive emphasis on form and formality that led to its demise. In the film, both arguments, meanwhile, pale when compared to the brutal reality of people dying from frostbite and starvation.  


The Running Actress
Drama, comedy
Directed by Moon So-ri 
Distributed by Metaplay


Humorous, intelligent and reflective, this is a gem of a film and the directorial feature debut of acclaimed actress Moon So-ri, known for films such as “Oasis.” Moon, who penned, directed and starred in the film, tells a semi-autobiographical three-part story about the daily life of an actress, which usually begins and ends in a breakdown in her van. 


Moon struggles with the gap between the cachet people place on actresses -- “You must not eat (cheap) food like this!” -- and the painfully menial, often demeaning, details of her actual daily routine. With a livelihood that relies so heavily on “personal charm” and “beauty,” the actress perennially wavers between confidence in her skills, the courage to ask for better roles and intense insecurity. The film ends with a stirring contemplation on art and life. 


The First Lap
Directed by Kim Dae-hwan 
Distributed by Indieplug 


With his sophomore feature, Kim Dae-hwan proves once again that he has a keen eye for capturing the real Korean family. His debut work “End of Winter” observed how deep-seated resentments begin manifesting themselves after a family is snowed in in their hometown. 


“The First Lap” focuses on a young couple as they attempt to navigate adult life, meet each other’s families and evade, for as long as possible, that daunting institution of marriage for fear of turning out like their respective parents. In two achingly naturalistic performances that were in large part adlibbed, according to director Kim, Jo Hyun-chul and Kim Sae-byuk bring to life a thoroughly average millennial Korean couple and all their blunders. 


The Merciless
Crime, action
Directed by Byun Sung-hyun
Distributed by CJ Entertainment 


Director Byun made an explosive debut with the stylish noir “The Merciless,” which was invited to Cannes Film Festival’s midnight screenings in May. 


The value of this film lies in its style -- its bold, vintage colors, the meticulous arrangement of the buildings and people -- and how it follows the emotions of its two lead characters, the seemingly hardened gangster Han Jae-ho (Sol Kyung-gu) and reckless young delinquent Jo Hyun-soo (Im Si-wan). Their relationship evolves to become deeper than a bromance and more calculated than a romance.  


The film’s box office numbers, meanwhile, received a blow due to public outrage at director Byun’s sexual tweets about his actors, for which the director subsequently apologized. 

Distinctly ‘Korean’ films that soothed the souls of Koreans

"A Taxi Driver" (Showbox)


“A Taxi Driver,” directed by Jang Hoon, became the 11th most-viewed Korean film of all time. Through the movie, we see that through the efforts of one taxi driver -- played by the always enjoyable Song Kang-ho -- and a relentless German journalist, Korea’s May 18 Democratic Uprising, where hundreds were killed while protesting the military government, became known to the world.

"I Can Speak" (Lotte Entertainment)


“I Can Speak,” directed by Kim Hyeon-suk, also deals with Korea’s lingering pain from history. The elderly Na Ok-boon (Na Moon-hee) is a neighborhood busybody who pesters civil servant Park Min-jae (Lee Je-hoon) for English lessons. It turns out that Na was forced into military sexual slavery in her youth by the Japanese. By learning English, she exposes Japan’s crimes on the international stage. 


Spectacular computer graphics 

"The Battleship Island" (CJ Entertainment)


Ryoo Seung-wan’s “The Battleship Island” recreated almost in its entirety Japan’s Hashima Island, where Korean people were forced into slave labor by the Japanese, both using a set and through computer graphics. The film shows large-scale explosions in the narrow underground coal mines, Korean laborers’ decrepit living conditions and a rebellion that breaks out among the workers. 

"Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds" (Lotte Entertainment)


Kim Yong-hwa’s “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds” offered another example of sheer scale and spectacle. It created a vast fantasy world of the afterlife, from the burning hell of lava to sprawling deserts and towering waterfalls. The graphics were undertaken by Kim’s Dexter Studios, one of Asia’s leading motion picture production studios.    


Daring films that attempted to transcend genre 

"Real" (CJ Entertainment)


Director Lee Sa-rang’s “Real,” starring Kim Soo-hyun, caused a small sensation when it was released in June. With blaring electronic visuals (so much red lighting), a plot that attempted to intertwine the present, the past, the psyche, and reality, and explicit sex scenes, the film was incomprehensible and utterly new -- though perhaps not in the best way. It is worth noting for its courage to break all rules.

"Glass Garden" (Little Big Pictures)


Shin Su-won’s “Glass Garden” features a scientist (Moon Geun-young) who isolates herself in the forest to research blood. She discovers a way to create “green blood” by infusing blood with chloroplasts, and dreams of one day turning into a tree. The novelty of the premise led the film to open this year’s Busan International Film Festival.   


By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com) 

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December 29, 2017


Major flops cause a weak year at the local box office: Foreign flicks nearly surpass local movies for first time since 2010


Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily


Among this year’s releases, only “A Taxi Driver” sold more than 10 million tickets as of Wednesday. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was the top-selling foreign feature with 7.25 million tickets sold, while animation “Your Name” became the best-selling Japanese movie in Korea.[SHOWBOX, SONY PICTURES RELEASING INTERNATIONAL, MEGABOX PLUS M]


It’s hard to say that 2017 has been an impressive year for the local box office. Of the 1,731 movies that hit theaters this year (158 more than last year), only the period epic “A Taxi Driver” starring Song Kang-ho surpassed 10 million ticket sales, with 12.2 million admissions sold.


Korean movies in particular failed to fulfill expectations despite a string of ambitious, big-budget movies like “The Battleship Island” and “The Fortress” which both cost at least 10 billion won ($8.97 million) to make. 


Of the 10 highest-grossing movies this year, three spots were taken by foreign films, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” as of Dec. 27. In fact, for the first time in seven years, the total ticket sales for local films came close to being outpaced by foreign movies. 


As of Dec. 25, Korean films have pulled in a total of 853.1 billion won with 175.6 million tickets sold, accounting for 50.5 percent of the market share. The performance is weaker than the 927.8 billion won raked in last year. Foreign movies, on the other hand, sold 152.3 million tickets this year, taking in a total of 848.2 billion won. But considering the popularity of “Steel Rain” and “Along with the Gods,” which sold more than three million admissions over the Christmas holiday, the gap is expected to widen slightly, with an additional boost from “1987: When the Day Comes,” which sold 332,000 tickets in its debut on Wednesday. 


One of the biggest contributors to Korean films’ relatively weak box office outcome is the poor performance of this summer’s big-budget films. Historical action drama “The Battleship Island,” and adventure drama “Okja” were both tent-pole movies for studios, but they failed to draw large audiences, hinting at the waning influence of seasonal releases, possibly due to the growth of streaming services like Netflix and Watcha Play.


Among domestic films, political thrillers, crime action flicks and period films were particularly abundant this year. Of the limited genres on offer, action flicks were especially well-received, as can be seen by “Confidential Assignment,” “The Outlaws” and “Midnight Runners” which ranked in the second, fourth and seventh spots on the top 10 best-selling movies of this year.


Movies that raised civic awareness captured moviegoers’ attention throughout the year. “Our President,” a documentary shedding light on late president Roh Moo-hyun, became the best-selling documentary this year. The film, which focuses on the miracle of Roh winning the Millennium Democratic Party’s primary in 2002 by unexpectedly defeating frontrunner Rhee In-je, sold 18.5 million tickets. Also, “The King,” about two corrupt prosecutors that director Han Jae-rim made “to portray the absurdities of Korean society with satire and farce,” sold 5.32 million tickets. 


Unsolved historical issues were also commonly depicted in films this year. “The Battleship Island,” which drew an audience of 6.59 million, portrayed Korean forced laborers on Japan’s Hashima Island during World War II, while “I Can Speak” (3.28 million) dealt with “comfort women,” a euphemistic term for victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, and won actor Na Mu-ni multiple awards. 



Among foreign releases, superhero movies were well-received, as expected. Audiences especially enjoyed films that got creative with the genre. Marvel and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was similar to a high school comedy while Hugh Jackman-fronted “Logan” was more of a modern-day Western about family, love and redemption. 


Another notable trend among foreign features was the increased popularity of Japanese romance dramas. Japanese films drew around 7.92 million audiences to cinemas, which is more than double last year’s 3.45 million. The number of audiences that watched Japanese films accounted for four percent of the entire ticket sales. This was the first time that Japanese films took up more than three percent of the market share since 2003. 


Director Makoto Shinkai’s animated feature “Your Name” became the highest-selling Japanese movie ever in Korea with 3.67 million admissions sold. Backed by the popularity, the animation will be re-released in theaters on Jan. 4, exactly a year after its initial release date. 


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

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January 4, 2018


A TAXI DRIVER Catches a Ride to Palm Springs
Korean Political Drama Kicks off 2018 Festival Calendar in California


by Pierce Conran / KoBiz




Last year’s biggest Korean hit will also be the first Korean film to screen at a major film festival in 2018 as JANG Hun’s political drama A Taxi Driver has been invited to the 29th Palm Springs International Film Festival. The festival runs from January 2nd to 15th. 


The only Korean film to be featured at the California festival this year, A Taxi Driver will screen in the ‘Awards Buzz’ section, as it was Korea’s official submission to this year’s foreign language category of the Academy Awards, though ultimately it did not make the final shortlist for the ceremony. In Palm Springs, the film will vie for the FIPRESCI Prize.


Based on a true story, the film features SONG Kang-ho as a taxi driver who brings the German reporter Jürgen Hinzpeter (played by Thomas Kretschmann) from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the violent political demonstrations that took place there in May 1980. A Taxi Driver was released in late summer in Korea and amassed 12.19 million viewers (USD 89.94 million), making it the tenth most successful Korean film of all time.


In addition to its commercial success, the film has screened around the world, with stops at the Busan, Mar Del Plata, Hawaii and Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festivals, among others. SONG earned the Best Actor award for his part at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, as well as several Best Actors awards in year-end industry events in Korea.

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January 8, 2018


Actress Lee Jung-eun Pulls Most Viewers with Supporting Roles


By Song Hye-jin The ChosunIlbo


Lee Jung-eun


Actress Lee Jung-eun got the most screen time last year, according to an analysis by the Korea Film Council released Sunday.


Lee mostly took on supporting roles in films, most of which were hits. She appeared in five films including "A Taxi Driver," "The Battleship Island," and "The Running Actress," which drew a total of 23.81 million viewers last year.


"Lee looks like the girl next door, creating a familiar impression, but she is very versatile and fit for any role," movie market analyst Kim Hyung-ho said.


Actor Yu Hae-jin was next, drawing over 20.37 million moviegoers with a string of films such as "A Taxi Driver," "Confidential Assignment" and "1987: When the Day Comes."

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January 7, 2018


HanCinema Awards

Best Actor in a Film for 2017 - And the Winner Is....


Source: HanCinema.net




From January to December, 2017 cast an array of talented men in film who rounded out the viewing experience and helped draw us into new worlds. You've cast your vote for your favorites and now it's time to see who won. Let's take one more look at our powerhouse nominees:


Kim Yun-seok for "The Fortress"

Kim Jae-wook for "Another Way"

Hyun Bin for "Confidential Assignment"

Yoo Hae-jin for "Confidential Assignment"

Jo In-sung for "The King"

Jung Woo-sung for "The King"

Ki Joo-bong for "Merry Christmas Mr. Mo"

Song Kang-ho for "A Taxi Driver"

Lee Je-hoon for "Anarchist from Colony"

Lee Byung-hun for "A Single Rider"

And the winner is...th_winnersmiley.gif

Song Kang-ho for "A Taxi Driver"

Congratulations to Song Kang-ho for this nuanced and sensitive performance!




-Yours, the HanCinema Team

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January 17,  2018


[Upcoming DVD Release] Korean Movie "A Taxi Driver"


Source: HanCinema.net



Korean movie "A Taxi Driver" is available to preorder on DVD (2-disc edition) with English subtitles from YESASIA.


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February 14, 2018


Winners for the 2017 HanCinema Awards!


Source: HanCinema.net




What an exciting year 2017 was and the perfect way to round it off was with your votes in the 2nd Annual HanCinema Awards. We couldn't have done it without you. Thank you!! And congratulations to all of the winners.


Here is a list of your winners of 2017:


Best Film of 2017 - "A Taxi Driver" taxi1.gif

Best Drama OST of 2017 - "Goblin"

Best Drama Villain of 2017 - Dong Ha as Jeong Hyeon-soo in "Suspicious Partner"

HanCinema's Top Film Picks of 2017 - "A Taxi Driver" taxi1.gif

HanCinema's Top Drama Picks of 2017 - "Goblin"

Best Scene Stealer in a Drama of 2017 - Yook Sung-jae in "Goblin"

Best Secondary Couple of 2017 - Lee Dong-wook and Yoo In-na in "Goblin"

Best Actress in a Film for 2017 - Na Moon-hee for "I Can Speak"

Best Actor in a Film for 2017 - Song Kang-ho for "A Taxi Driver" taxi1.gif

Best Historical Drama of 2017 - "Queen for 7 Days"

Best Actor in a Drama of 2017 - Gong Yoo for "Goblin"

Best Actress in a Drama of 2017 - Nam Ji-hyun for "Suspicious Partner"

Best Drama of 2017 - "Suspicious Partner"

Best Couple in a Drama of 2017 - Ji Chang-wook and Nam Ji-hyun in "Suspicious Partner"

Best Kiss in a Drama of 2017 - Ji Chang-wook and Nam Ji-hyun in "Suspicious Partner"


Thank you for an unforgettable 2nd Annual HanCinema Awards. You have made it special with your voting and comments. Until the 3rd Annual HanCinema Awards, happy film and drama watching!


-Yours, the HanCinema Team

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March 16, 2018


[USA] "A Taxi Driver" Arrives on Blu-ray April 17 @WellGoUSA #ATaxiDriver


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 Blu-ray™ April 17
Based on a true story, "A Taxi Driver", which represented South Korea as its official entry in the 2018 Academy Awards® best foreign-language film category, debuts on Blu-ray April 17 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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March 16, 2018


[Upcoming Blu-ray Release] Korean Movie "A Taxi Driver"


Source: HanCinema.net




Korean movie "A Taxi Driver" is available to preorder on a Blu-ray limited edition with English subtitles from YESASIA.


Scanavo Full Slip Outcase + Scenario Book + Script Card + Postcard + Photos



Order from YESASIA

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March 26, 2018


Four Korean Films Invited to CinemAsia Film Festival
JANG Joon-hwan Receives Award for Best Director


by Christopher Weatherspoon / KoBiz




JANG Joon-hwan picked up the Best Director Award for his film 1987: When the Day Comes (2017) at this year’s CinemAsia Film Festival. JANG’s historical drama was among a quartet of Korean films invited this year, which also included JANG Hun’s A Taxi Driver (2017), the winner of this year’s Audience Award, SHIN Dong-seok’s Last Child (2017) and KIM Jin-muk’s TRUE FICTION.


Released last December and based on the true story of a Korean government coverup conspiracy, 1987: When the Day Comes was a hit with audiences and critics, having recorded 7.23 million admissions (USD 54.26 million) to date, as well as a nomination for Best Film at the 9th Korean Film Reporters Association Film Awards. It follows the massive success of fellow 1980s democratic movement drama A Taxi Driver, which was released earlier in the year and went on to achieve blockbuster status and critical acclaim, after accruing 12.19 million admissions (USD 89.42 million).


Meanwhile the suspense thriller TRUE FICTION, which recently received the Best Picture and Best Screenplay Awards from the Fantasporto - Oporto International Film Festival, will be released in Korea on April 19, while the drama Last Child, which screened in the ‘Forum’ section of the this year's Berlin International Film Festival, has yet to announce its domestic premiere date.


Now in its 11th year, the CinemAsia Film Festival takes place annually in Amsterdam and works to promote Asian cinema and culture. This year’s festival ran from March 6 to 11.

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March 30, 2018


tvN Movies To Keep The Best Korean Action Films Coming In April 2018


By Adrian | HelloKpop

tvN Movies, best known as the world’s first and only Korean Blockbuster movie channel, is giving Singapore audiences a stronger-than-ever line up with the latest award-winning, top grossing blockbuster premiere, iconic works by established actor Song Kang-Ho, as well as a series of action movies this April. Make room for every night at 10:00pm SGT from Saturday to Monday for Blockbuster Premieres, Star Stunts and Action Gala!


tvN Movies continues to present audience with a special thematic stunt in April – Monday Action Gala at 10:00pm kicking the Monday Blues away! Solve crimes with detectives who are investigating horrific murders in Wild Card (Jung Jin-Young, Yang Dong-Geun, Han Chae-Young; 2 Apr); see how four childhood friends reunited and became rivals in the world of crimes in Friend (Yu Oh-Seong, Jang Dong-Gun, Seo Tae-Hwa, Jung Woon-Taek; 9 Apr); compete with the two cops who are trying to make the most number of arrests in Officer of the Year (Park Joong-Hoon, Lee Sun-Kyun; 16 Apr); catch the face off among three nemesis in Fist of Legend (Hwang Jung-Min, Yu Jun-Sang, Yoon Jea-Moon, Lee Yo-Won; 23 Apr) and do some jail time with a troubled ex-cop in The Prison (Han Seok-Kyu, Kim Rae-Won; 30 Apr).


The highly anticipated eye-catcher Saturday Blockbuster Premiere Block at 10:00pm is giving audience a great variety of genres from comedy to thriller and must-watch titles in April. Have a good laugh watching the crown prince gets switched with a slave who shares much resemblance in I am the King (Ju Ji-Hoon, Honey Lee, Baek Yoon-Sik; 7 Apr); see what would happen when a broke college student joins a legendary swindler’s team in One Line (Im Si-Wan, Jin Goo, Park Byung-Eun; 14 Apr); watch the No. 1 blockbuster with over 12 million admissions in Korean, which is based on the true story of Gwangju Democratization Movement in 1980 – A Taxi Driver (Song Kang-Ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Yu Hae-Jin; 21 Apr); catch North Korean serial murderer committing crimes around the world in V.I.P (Jang Dong-Gun, Kim Myung-Min, Park Hee-Soon, Lee Jong-Suk; 28 Apr).


This April, tvN Movies dedicates it Sunday Star Stunt Block at 22:00 to the prolific acclaimed Best Actor Song Kang-Ho, featuring some of his most iconic works from the silver screen. Dive in the intense period thriller The Age of Shadows (1 Apr), which is a contender for the 89th Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film; follow the story of a priest turned vampire in Thirst (8 Apr), the movie also won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival; watch the journey of a tragedy-struck mother as she fights for her life in Secret Sunshine (15 Apr); see the power play between princes in the Joseon period in The Face Reader (22 Apr); and take on an adventure to the Pole in Antarctic Journal (29 Apr).


Watch tvN Movies on StarHub Channel 818/819 or catch it on-demand on StarHub GO and Viu Singapore this April!

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