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December 13, 2017


(Yonhap Feature)

Korean cinema: Where are all the melodramas?


By Shim Sun-ah


SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- If there's one category of film that Korean cinemagoers loved in the late '90s and early 2000s, it's melodramas.


A number of well-made domestic films, such as "The Contact" (1997), "The Letter" (1997), "Christmas in August" (1998), "Ditto" (2000), "The Classic" (2003) and "A Moment To Remember" (2004), dominated the Korean film market at that time.


This trend seemed to remain strong in the early 2010s with the release of two box office sensations -- "Architecture 101" (2012) and "A Werewolf Boy" (2012).


But that isn't the case in recent years, with many romance films failing to score big at the box office.


Of the 50 most-watched Korean releases this year, only two were from the category, according to data from the Korean Film Council, the official market tracker, on Nov. 30. They were "Because I Love You," a romantic comedy starring Cha Tae-hyun and Kim You-jung, and the romance film "Oneday" led by Kim Nam-gil and Chun Woo-hee. Not only were their box-office numbers small, but their performance was not that impressive: "Because of I Love You" was the 39th most-viewed film with 324,526 in attendance, while "Oneday" came in 44th with 234,829.


Instead, male-centric thriller, crime, action and period drama films, such as "Roaring Currents" (2014), "Veteran" (2015), "Inside Men" (2015), "The Throne" (2015), "The Age of Shadows" (2016), "A Taxi Driver" (2017) and "Confidential Assignment" (2017) have thrived. As a result, great movie actresses have increasingly looked toward television for interesting roles.


Industry insiders attribute the decline in melodrama films to the audiences' preference for consuming action blockbusters in theaters. And the low demand again leads to less investment in melodrama films, they say.


"When we make a film, we usually aim to attract more than 1 million viewers. But for melodramas, such a success can hardly be expected even if it has a famous actor among its main cast," a well-informed source of the film industry said, asking not to be named.


For instance, "Remember You," featuring a romance between Korean heartthrob Jung Woo-sung and Kim Ha-neul, managed to draw only about 430,000 people when it opened in local theaters in January 2016. The following month, "A Man and A Woman," led by Cannes-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon and Gong Yoo, also a Korean heartthrob, opened and sold only about 200,000 tickets.


"Since there are so many melodramas on television, I don't want to pay to watch similar dramas at theaters," Lee Hyun-joo, 32, said. She then hurried into a theater in CJ CGV's Myeongdong location with her friend to see "The Swindlers," a crime-action flick that has been atop the local box office since its release on Nov. 22. The movie starring Hyunbin and Yoo Ji-tae exceeded 3 million in cumulative attendance last Monday.


Kim Myeong-seop, a college student whom this reporter met at the same theater, agreed, saying, "Because ticket prices went up much recently, I only go to see movies worthy of big-screen treatment these days. I can see melodramas any time on TV, you know."


There also is a more profound reason for melodrama films' recent unpopularity in South Korea, according to Jeon Chan-il, a film critic.


"A major theme penetrating the Korean cinema in recent years is the gravity of the times," he said in a recent media interview. "We have consumed so many political thrillers and historical flicks because melodramas couldn't carry the weight of the times."


Actually, movies that have scored big in the past few years like "The Attorney," "Inside Men," "Veteran" and "A Taxi Driver" sensitively reflected the present political and social situations of Korean society, addressing such themes of social injustice, and corrupt political power and capital.


As television stations took advantage of the public's desire for melodramas, releasing more diverse and larger-scale projects, the film industry has increasingly veered more into "strong films" fraught with violent scenes and four-letter words.


What's interesting is that new Japanese and re-released films have filled the vacancy of Korean films.


The number of new Japanese releases is rising rapidly each year. It increased from 171 in 2013 to 529 to date this year. Japanese titles have taken up 3.9 percent of all tickets sold in South Korean theaters so far this year, up from 0.9 to 1.6 percent in the past five years.


In the first half of the year, the animated high-teen romance film "Your Name" sold 3.63 million tickets, becoming the most-viewed Japanese movie of the genre in Korea. In the second half, "Let Me Eat Your Pancreas," also a school romance, drew about 460,000 views, the largest for Japanese live-action films that have opened in Korea in the past decade.


Watching re-released classical romance films was also an option for many Korean moviegoers who don't like action blockbusters.


Last month alone, seven of about 60 titles that opened in local theaters were re-released ones. They include the acclaimed 2008 movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," John Carney's 2007 Tony Award-winning musical "Once," the 2007 romantic comedy "Music & Lyrics" with Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant, and the 2004 fantasy-romance "If Only."


Lotte Cinema, a large cinema chain, gave a special screening of Korean romance films for two weeks last month in its chain theaters around the country. Shown were six select domestic films, including "Bungee Jumping Of Their Own" (2001), "A Moment To Remember" (2004) and "Architecture 101" (2012), which were received well among Korean audiences when they first opened.


"When we reviewed the lineup for new Korean releases early this year, there were almost no titles from the romance-melodrama genre," said Kang Dong-yeong, who heads Lotte Cinema's movie business unit. "So, we have targeted the season when the demand for romance films is high."



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May 30, 2018


'Bungee Jumping of Their Own’ returns to the stage

Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily



For the first time in five years, “Bungee Jumping of Their Own” is returning to local theaters. Familiar faces Kim Ji-hyun and Kang Pil-suk will be playing the roles of Tae-hui and In-u. [SEJONG CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS]


Falling in love while standing in the rain may seem like a trite theme often seen in literature and entertainment, but it still remains a romantic situation found in many stories.


This seems to be the case in director Kim Dae-seung’s hit romance film “Bungee Jumping of Their Own” (2001), which centers on the theme of first love and revolves around the relationship of Tae-hui (Lee Eun-ju) and In-u (Lee Byung-hun). 


The two become a couple shortly after Tae-hui suddenly appears under In-u’s umbrella as he is walking and captivates his heart. Years later, In-u still cherishes this memory, as Tae-hui was his first love. 


Because of the movie’s popularity, it was adapted into a musical of the same name in 2012. Due to the success of the original run, the musical was brought back a year later. 


The Musical magazine ranked “Bungee Jumping of Their Own” first on its list of “most anticipated musical reproductions” in 2013. The upcoming production will run from June 12 to Aug. 26 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts’ M Theater. 


Actors Kim Ji-hyun and Kang Pil-suk will be reprising their roles as Tae-hui and In-u once again, while actor Lee Ji-hoon will also be playing the role of In-u. 


Initially, Lee was concerned that he would be too old to play a character reminiscing about his first love, but he realized that “it would be even harder for someone to play this role without having lots of [romantic] experience.” 


The show’s music works to highlight the romantic emotions between the characters. “The music gives off an impression of polished refinement, which can be enjoyed by audiences [of all ages],” said musical director Joo So-yeon. 


Songs from the film’s soundtrack, such as “My Everything” and “Memories,” also appear in the musical.


Along with its soulful score, the production also puts an emphasis on dialogue. “Some of the [lines] were modified to suit the times,” said the musical’s director Kim Min-jung, who noted that some scenes between the male classmates in the show were amended because the dialogue could be seen as inappropriate to today’s audiences due to the ongoing wave of feminism. 


“[Seventeen] years have passed since the movie’s release, so we modified the dialogue accordingly to meet the [changes in attitudes,]” said Kim.


BY LEE JEONG-HYUN [lee.jeonghyun@joongang.co.kr ]

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September 21, 2018


Upcoming Blu-ray Release

Korean Movie "Bungee Jumping of their Own"


Source: YESASIA via HanCinema.net




Korean movie "Bungee Jumping of their Own" is available to preorder on Blu-ray (Full Slip Numbering Limited Edition) with English subtitles from YESASIA.


"Bungee Jumping of their Own"

Directed by Kim Dae-seung

With Lee Byung-hun, Lee Eun-joo, Yeo Hyun-soo, Hong Soo-hyun



In-woo and Tae-hee are two college freshmen who did not believe in love at first sight, but later find themselves wrapped in a deep relationship that seemed like it would last forever. One day they vow to make their love eternal by sealing it with a bungee jump. But their promise is left unfulfilled when Tae-hee suddenly disappears out of In-woo's life for what seems like eternity. Seventeen years later, In-woo is still unable to get Tae-hee out of his mind even though he is married and has a loving family. While teaching his students, In-woo is reminded of the time he spent with Tae-hee when one of the students asks about his first experience with love. In-woo thinks nothing of it until the student starts exhibiting habits and using phrases that were idiosyncratic of Tae-hee. Clinging onto his hope that he will meet her again, a strange mystery unfolds as In-woo tries to discover who this student really is.

International Film Festivals
2002    Philadelphia International Film Festival,
2001    Filmfest Hamburg , , Golden Tesafilm Ree I Audience Award


Blu-ray (Booklet + Postcard + Art Card + Full Slip Numbering Limited Edition)



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She was the actress playing In Woo's wife. :(


June 30, 2019


Actress' death saddens friends, fans



Actress Jeon Mi-seon answers questions from reporters during a news conference to preview the forthcoming movie "The King's Letters" at Megabox cinema in Jung-gu, Tuesday./ Yonhap


By Jung Hae-myoung The Korea Times


Actress Jeon Mi-seon's sudden death came as a shock even to those close to her, because she appeared to have no reason to cut her life short. 


Her death was reported days after she, along with other actors, met reporters in Seoul to promote the forthcoming movie, "The King's Letters."


The film is scheduled to hit local theaters in July. After having a short break, Jeon was to join the KBS TV series "Joseon Rom-com: Nokdujeon." 


Jeon, 50, had been busy, traveling the country with the touring play "Two Nights and Three Days with My Mother." She was found dead at a hotel in the southwestern city of Jeonju. She was scheduled to perform in the play there Sunday. 


Her agency Boaz Entertainment said the actress had been taking medication for depression. 


"Ms. Jeon had been receiving medical treatment for depression," Boaz Entertainment said Saturday. "Please pray for her, and we hope for the sake of the bereaved, people refrain from spreading unconfirmed rumors or speculative reports about her death." 


Police said they found no evidence of intruders in her hotel room. She checked into the hotel at 1 a.m. after hanging out with fellow actors and staff. The last phone call she made was a brief phone conversation with her father at 1:50 a.m. According to police, their phone conversation was brief, less than five minutes, and she is believed to have died around 2 a.m. No suicide note was found. 


Those who are familiar with the actress said one of Jeon's family members passed away recently and her mother was also sick. 


Jeon, 50, was a veteran actress with 30 years in show business. She debuted in 1989 in the hit KBS drama "Toji, The Land" which is based on a historical novel with the same title.


She appeared in many popular TV series as a supporting actress. "Years of Upheaval" and "Fields of Home" were two of the more popular dramas she acted in. 


Jeon was also active on the big screen and appeared in several hit films, including "Let's Look at the Sky Sometimes" and "Christmas in August."


Despite her prolific career, she once said in a media interview that she felt she was unfit for show business and left it for a while in the 1990s to explore a career in fashion and design, a stint she said was unsuccessful. 


Director Kim Dae-seung's "Bungee Jumping of Their Own" was a turning point in her life and she realized she should return to acting. 


After she was cast in "Memories of Murder," and "Miss Mermaid," Jeon later remarked that she "was meant to be an actress" 


Jeon was cast in many dramas, including "Hwanjini," "Bread, Love, and Dreams," and "Reply 1988." Among the shows, Jeon played the mother of Kim Tak-ku, the main actor of "Break, Love and Dreams" which had ratings of 49.3 percent. 


Jeon won multiple acting awards, including Best Actress at the Korea Gold Awards, and the Excellence Award for the film "Hide and Seek" in 2013. 


She was found dead in the bathroom of her hotel room in Jeonju, at 11:43 a.m. Saturday. Her manager found her lying on the floor and called 119, but she had already passed away. 


A three day memorial is taking place at the Asan Medical Center, Seoul, and the funeral ceremony will take place on July 2 at 5:30 a.m. 



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July 3, 2019


Theater in Honor of Actor Lee Byung-hun to Be Opened

Source: The Chosun Ilbo




A movie theater named after actor Lee Byung-hun will be opened at a multiplex in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province next week, Lotte Cinema said Tuesday.


In celebration of the opening, the movie theater chain will also offer a special screening of Lee's films selected by him -- "Bungee Jumping of Their Own" (2001), "The Good, the Bad and the Weird" (2008), "Masquerade" (2012) and "Inside Men"(2015) -- from July 12 to 18.


Lee will meet fans at the theater in Seongnam, which is his hometown, on July 12 to reflect on his nearly 30-year acting career.


Lee made his debut in a TV series in 1991 and has appeared in various dramas and films along with a couple of Hollywood films like the "G.I. Joe" series and "Terminator Genisys."



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October 8, 2019


CGV to Screen Classic South Korean Films Through October 27th.


Source: HanCinema.net




In recognition of the one hundreth anniversary of South Korea's film industry, CGV will be running screenings from October 14th to October 27th of various classic South Korean films. However, the films in question will skew toward more recent releases, namely major box office performers of recent years, and some of the more well-known titles from the Hallyu Wave period of the late nineties and early two thousands.


The box office section will feature "Haeundae", "The Thieves", "Miracle in Cell No.7", "The Admiral: Roaring Currents", "Veteran", "Train to Busan", "A Taxi Driver", "Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds", and "Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days". The melodrama section will include "The Contact", "Christmas in August", "Bungee Jumping of their Own", and "The Classic". The manly section will include "The Big Swindle", "The New World", "The Unjust", and "Inside Men".


Tickets for these movies will only cost six thousand won, half the price of a full priced ticket. Showtimes can be confirmed on CGV's homepage, and free tickets for regular movies will also be handed out to participants in the promotion.


Written by William Schwatz

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