Jump to content

[Movie 2000] Joint Security Area 공동경비구역 J S A


Recommended Posts

  • 3 weeks later...
  • Replies 255
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Daily Movie Image - October 21, 2005

Posted on 10.21.05 by Blake @ 7:03 pm

Park Chan-wook SuicideGirl Interview

Posted on 10.18.05 by Blake @ 6:41 am


“The next film deals more with the confusion of identity. The film after that will be about the existence of the devil, like God versus Devil. It’s more of a religious type theme.” ~ Park Chan-wook on his next films

JSA (2000) South Korea - dir. Park Chan-wook

jsa10002oc1.th.jpg jsa10001rx9.th.jpg jsa10004ze7.th.jpg jsa10003fx2.th.jpg

jsa10006mf5.th.jpg jsa7005qw2.th.jpg

Source: http://www.cinemastrikesback.com/?cat=178

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SKH is indeed the most versatile & best actor around, saw him first in JSA... totally an actor who stood out with oozing talent.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Song Kang-ho tests his versatility again

Song Kang-ho played an eccentric yet strangely charming gangster in "No. 3" (1997), when he gave a funny lecture to his underlings about how to beat up enemies: "A long time ago, there was a man named Choi Young-ui, and he staged a showdown with the entire world, you know. His style is like this. Just walking and walking. Then the enemy tries to - saying 'uh, uh' - block his move. Just then, he grabs the arm of the enemy. He asks, 'Is this your arm?' And he just keeps smashing down the enemy's arm. Until it breaks, you know."

Song's characterization was so dramatic and distinctive that his gesture and accent was repeatedly parodied and imitated on television shows. Song also became a famous star overnight, a feat for an actor who'd made a feature debut just one year before.


Song Kang-ho in "Show Must Go On," to be released on April 5

Fast forward 10 years: Song's stature is now far bigger than a mere Korean star. Just recently, he won the best actor award at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong for his role in "The Host." In the blockbuster horror-family-comedy film directed by Bong Joon-ho, Song played Gang-du, a slob who has yellow hair, runs a food stand and falls asleep at any time. Song's "No. 3" gangster character and Gang-du in "The Host" have three things in common. First, they are fairly dim-witted. Second, they are deeply charming despite their weaknesses. Third, the most important, is that Song has brought to life the peculiar characters with his talented versatility.

Indeed, the 40-year-old actor is versatile. In "Shiri" (1997), he was a good cop; in "The Foul King" (2000), he was a soft-hearted businessman who wants to be a professional wrestler; in "Joint Security Area" (2000), he was a playful North Korean solider; and in "Memories of Murder" (2003), he showcased a skillful kick and much more.

Expectations are mounting over whether he can pull off a commercial and cinematic success again in director Han Jae-rim's "Show Must Go On." Song plays In-gu, a mid-level mob boss who struggles to save his career and family, apparently symbolizing many Korean fathers who battle to survive in a tough society.

In the latest film, Song's In-gu faces a series of problems. He has to kidnap and blackmail a company president to snatch a construction contract, but the scenario does not play out as he expects.

Meanwhile, he drives a big car as a mid-level mobster, but remains worried about lethal attacks from rivals. He feels he's getting old and his confidence in fighting knife-wielding enemies is fast declining.

In-gu's day job is always bordering on criminal acts and death threats, but his role as a father does not have many surprises. He has to take care of his family. His son is studying abroad, which means he has to secure the burdensome schooling expenses just like tens of thousands of lonely Korean fathers who have sent off their family members abroad in the name of getting a better education for their children.

In-gu is despised by his daughter who knows what her father is really up to. But In-gu tries to play the typical Korean father figure, to no avail. He ventures out to meet with the daughter's teacher for discussing her wayward behaviors, but ends up making the situation almost hopeless.

Just like any other Korean father, In-gu also wants to get a decent house for his family. He knows that his wife is having a hard time in the old apartment where taking a shower often means a soap-and-no-water adventure.

The crisis facing a middle-aged Korean father in "Show Must Go On" involves a weakening status in the workplace, soaring education costs for children, an elusive dream to own a big house, and a marriage that is steadily breaking apart.

Whether the dramatic power of the movie is up to the ambitious English title is not certain. What's clear, however, is that regardless of the movie's commercial success, Song will certainly keep exploring his versatile talent.


By Yang Sung-jin

Source: The Korea Herald


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

May 23, 2007

[Talk of the town] New York love letter


Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook, the celebrity director of “Oldboy,” is soon to make a film in New York, along with a dozen or so other directors from a variety of countries. It will be called “New York, Je T’Aime” (New York, I Love You). Park agreed to the project after receiving an offer from the film’s producer, Emmanuel Benbihy.

The film is a sequel to the 2006 omnibus, “Paris, Je T’Aime,” where acclaimed directors like Gus Van Sant and the Coen brothers worked to make an collection of short films using the theme of love and city lights.

For the New York sequel, the producer has gathered a stellar list of directors, many of them darlings of the international film festival circuit. The current line-up includes Mira Nair, who grabbed the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice with “Monsoon Wedding,” and Wang Xiaoshuai of “Beijing Bicycle,” which won worldwide critical acclaim.

Each director will make a five-minute short, which is to be edited into a 100-minute omnibus. The producer plans to have the film ready this year and to present it at next year’s Cannes International Film Festival.

Park rose to fame with his 2000 film “Joint Security Area” and cemented his reputation with “Oldboy,” “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” and most recently “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s O.K.,” all of which were warmly received at international festivals.

By Chun Su jin [sujiney@joongang.co.kr]

Source: English JoongAng Daily


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...


JSA ! Joint Security Area (DTS Version) (HK Version) DVD Region All
Lee Byung Hun (Actor) | Lee Young Ae (Actor) | Song Kang Ho (Actor) | Park Chan Wook (Director) 

Our Price: US$9.99 

April 17, 2008

Joint Security Area is the highest invested film in Korean film history, it is also one of the highest grossed films in Korea ever. It was released in Korea in 2000 and received immediate success due to its controversial subject and the director's decisive critique on the issue.
This film is about a mysterious murder case involving several soldiers who are camping at the border of South and North Korea, an area known as Joint Security Area. One night, two North Korean soldiers were shot to death. A South Korean soldier (Lee Byung-Heon) is the prime suspect. The investigation is carried out by a neutral party headed by Sophie (Lee Young-Ae). Sophie soon discovers that it is not merely a brutal murder, the case is more complicated than she expected as there is a clandestine relationship among several South and North Korean soldiers. 

What makes this film interesting is that the director is able to break the political taboo and deal with the issue in an honest yet peaceful manner. Tension is turned to humors and then to suspense, the director is good at controlling the atmosphere of the story and revolving the reaction of the audience, hence, the film succeeds in raising certain discourse regarding the current situation in Korea and elicits positive responses from the Korean people. For instance, the ending snapshot is a very important motif of the film. It symbolizes the theme successfully. What the director wants to convey is that although South Korea and North Korea are separated, there is nothing that can stop the people of the two countries from getting together. Korea is one nation after all. Fate will put them together no matter what. From the depiction of the intimate friendship among the soldiers, Park Chan-Wook tells us how anxious the Koreans long for reunion of the nation. 

Song Kang-Ho is always a supporting character in other films. In JSA, he is finally able to take the lead role, and he gives excellent performance to substantiate his capability. His role as the North Korean officer beats Lee Byung Heon in terms of every aspect. The bodily gestures, emotions and dialogues are all carried out persuasively. It is no wonder why he could capture various best actor awards with this film. Lee Young-Ae speaks fluent English in the film and succeeds in building up a convincing image of the NNSC officer. 

This film is shot in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The resulted image is so beautiful and serene that you will almost forget you are watching a narrative film. The filmmaker has created a tangible world for the film and heightens the artistic value brilliantly. 

No matter you are Korean or not, there are always something you can gain from watching this film. 

DVD (HK version) - The picture quality is not bad, I am not sure if it is in the original 2.35:1 format or not, but it looks like widescreen to me. Nevertheless, I don't have a 16x9 TV and I heard that this DVD is not real 16:9. For the sound, its ok, but I am not certain if it is my audio system or what, I have to turn up the volume quite a bit to get the desired quality. Overall speaking, with the region free coding, all the special features and bonus materials(postcards and booklet), this DVD is definitely worth to buy! 

Cool guy(s) - Song Kang-Ho

Reviewed by: Kantorates -@ 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Drama Review » Joint Security Area

It started out as a generic military thriller/mystery involving the usual contrasting flashbacks with the added twist of North and South Korea's situation. With a plot revolving around simple detective work, interviews and the usual piece by piece revelation, Joint Security Area could have been written off as an average Korean copy of A Few Good Men or even The General's Daughter for that matter.

But looking past the mystery, the best parts of the film are simply just the moments of character interaction. Not the evil, homicidal type, but the friendly lighthearted side.

Two murdered North Korean soldiers are found dead on their side of the Joint Security Area (the border between North and South Korea) The South Korean soldier who confessed to the killings claims he was kidnapped and he had to escape. In an effort to determine the truth from the conflicting depositions and to figure out why all this happened, a Neutral Nations officer is brought in to solve the case.

Aside from the slightly tedious start, JSA�s strengths lie in the script and the characters. Through early flashbacks we are informed that the conflict arose out of a forbidden act of friendship. Two South Korean soldiers find themselves good friends in two North Korean soldiers, but given the strict division and tension, (demonstrated well in the beginning even for foreign audiences) they are forced to secretly meet in the night.

Easily being able to shift from the fun dialogue between the friends, and the tense political relations, Park Chan-wook puts the emphasis on the characters to make the murders so much more meaningful. We're left very early in the film trying to figure out the intricate aspects of the four soldier�s relationships, even though we understand the eventual outcome.

Most of the drama from the story comes from our connections with the characters. Everything they are doing is right. They are revealing the stupidity behind borders and separation with the message that they can still be friends and have no differences.

Although is sounds like a cheesy after-school special, it really works, giving us a genuine feeling friendship that brings a smile to your face, especially in scenes where they have to do their jobs, while secretly remaining friends.

The sole problem lies in the Neutral investigator actually, who is outshined by the charisma and interaction of the soldiers. I've heard the source material is more focused on the investigator, but in the film, it seems to drag and feel more like filler rather than the initial plot. Still, it's minor, as the character relationships are strong pulls for the whole film once it gets going.

All fine performances by the four main soldiers each conveying their respective character well with their eccentric qualities, such as Kim Tae-woo providing a convincing and strong nervousness to add stress to crucial scenes with Song Kang-ho's counteractive composure. The Neutral officer played by Lee Young-ae is often regarded as wooden and out of place but she's best taken lightly. By shifting focus to the flashbacks it just becomes a minor problem. She isn't awful, but there is no draw to her character.

With subtle technical brilliance, Park tweaks the film just with noteworthy, yet simple editing and transitions . The cinematography is well-done with some fantastic dramatic shots and points of view on opposite sides of the bridge.

With a completely objective view on the situation and focus on the themes and characters' friendships, Joint Security Area comes recommended as a nice introduction to Park Chan-wook, and as a political thriller for people who don't like political thrillers.

Reviewed by Tuna

Credits to http://www.acdrifter.com/Asian-Movie-Revie...urity-Area.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Update highlighted & shared by zashibear at LBH thread

Korean Film Festival 2007

A mixed fare of sagas, action and romance banners The Korean Film Festival 2007 to be presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the University of the Philippines Film Institute, from September 25 to 27 (Tuesday to Thursday).

Five full-length mainstream features comprise the selection, namely, Park Chan-wook's Joint Security Area (JSA) , Kang Je-gyu's Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War , Bae Chang-ho's My Heart, Kim Jeong-kwon's Ditto and Yang Yun-ho's Libera Me.

From the world-renowned director of the "Vengeance Trilogy" (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance , Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), JSA—a dramatic thriller about a tragic shootout at the border of two Koreas—serves as the festival opening film. It is to be followed by the period drama, Taegukgi, about the fate of two devoted brothers forced to fight in the Korean War.

Also in the lineup is My Heart, a period drama of epic proportions, spanning half a century in the life of a heroine compelled to marry a ten-year-old boy at the time when Korea was taking its first steps into the modern age. Offering contrast is Libera Me—the fast-paced action saga that centers on an arsonist terrorizing Seoul and the fire investigators hot on his trail.

Rounding up the festival is Ditto—a time-travel romance in the tradition of the international sensation, Il Mare, which was remade into the Hollywood blockbuster, The Lakehouse. The sci-fi romance is about two university students separated by 20 years, and the love affair that blossomed between them with the help of an old radiophone.

The complete schedule of featured films is as follows:

Sept 25 (Tuesday)

2 p.m. Ditto

5 p.m. JSA

7:30 p.m. Taeguk-Gi

Sept 26 (Wednesday)

2 p.m. Libera Me

5 p.m. Ditto

7 p.m. My Heart

Sept 27 (Thursday)

2 p.m. My Heart

5 p.m. Libera Me

7 p.m. JSA

All films are in 35mm print, with English subtitles. Screenings will be held at the UP Film Institute Cine Adarna , Magsaysay Avenue, UP Diliman, Quezon City.


The Korean Film Festival 2007 is a joint undertaking by the Korean Embassy and the UP Film Institute to enhance cultural exchange between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea. For more queries, interested parties may call the UP Film Institute Cine Adarna at 9263640 or 9262722, or the Embassy of the Republic of Korea at 8116139 to 44 local 575. #

= = =

Synopses of Films

JSA: Joint Security Area

(Park Chan-wook, 2000, 110 minutes)

A tragic shootout at the border of the two Koreas prompts an international investigation team, composed of members from neutral countries, to look into the incident. The events unravel to reveal a story that goes beyond what everyone imagined.

Official Selection for Golden Berlin Bear—2000 Berlin International Film Festival; Best Film—Deauville Asian Film Festival; Best Picture—Grand Bell Awards of South Korea, among other awards and distinctions.

article credit from Korean Film/TV of PEX

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

September 25, 2007

Chungmuro films dominating Asian cinema scene


Clockwise from upper left, The Host, King and the Clown,

Taeguekki: The Brotherhood of War, Swiri,

Joint Security Area and Memories of Murder.

The New York Times ran a story in June headlined "Korea emerges as epicenter of Asian film and music," which focused on the rise of Korean films in world cinema.

The story said Asian genre films, especially those from Korea, have built a steady following in the West since Hong Kong cinema broke out of Chinatown theaters.

The Korean monster blockbuster "D-War," directed by comedian-turned-director Shim Hyung-rae, earned $1.55 million in the U.S. on its opening day Sept. 14. The figure was the highest for a Korean film in the U.S. The flick opened in 2,275 theaters across the nation.

Shim's movie is different from other Korean movies in that it was made outside Chungmuro, a road in Seoul known as the Korean Hollywood.

Chungmuro was named after legendary Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who earned the posthumous title of Chungmugong, meaning "martial subject of loyalty." The "gong" was dropped and replaced with "ro," or road.


Scenes of Chungmuro Subway Station

Movies made in Chungmuro witnessed phenomenal growth in quantity and quality especially after the 1990s. The string of box-office hits included "Swiri" (1999); "Joint Security Area" (2000); "My Sassy Girl" (2001); "Friend" (2002); "Memories of Murder (2003); "Taeguekki: The Brotherhood of War" (2004); "King and the Clown" (2005); and "The Host" (2006).


Seoul Metro's plan to renovate the Chungmuro Subway Station

into a movie theme park. The construction will be complete

by the end of 2008.

Chungmuro has lately seen a decline in violent flicks due to public dissatisfaction with gangster movies. More viewers at home and abroad are opting to see Korean movies about North Korea, the Korean War and homosexuality.

Korean blockbusters have enhanced interest in Korean movies, which naturally has led to higher competition in the domestic film market and improved quality in Korean cinema.

Chungmuro's first movie was screened during the early 1900s of the silent film era. During the 1960s, actors Shin Sungil and Um Aengran shot to stardom in the movie "Barefooted Youth."

Korean cinema declined in the 1970s with the advent of television, but soon saw a revival by winning international cinema awards in the 1980s. Director Im Kwon-taek's "The Surrogate Woman" won the best actress award at the 1987 Venice International Film Festival.

Chungmuro has not only strived to develop better movies, but also to expand its global influence by hosting major film festivals, including the Pusan International Film Festival, Asia's oldest global cinema event.

The Pusan festival will open for the 12th year on Oct. 4 in Busan, Korea's second largest city. This year's edition will feature 275 films, 193 of which are making their international or Asia premiere.

The festival will present a cascade of Asian films, many of them portraying individuals grappling with modern-day problems like war, family trouble and urban poverty. Commercial films from Japan, China and India will also be presented.

The state of today's Korean cinema will be highlighted during the event, with screenings of the latest films by veteran Korean directors. They include "Beyond the Years" by Im Kwon-taek, "Secret Sunshine" by Lee Chang-dong and "The Old Garden" by Im Sang-soo.

By Ro Ji-woong, Korea.net Staff Writer


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest 80slitenite

Finally i saw JSA last nite. i loved it. another great PCW movies. the acting was great. tho the flashbacks were a bit confusing. we were watching Sophie investigate and interviewing and bam all of a sudden it cuts to a flashback something totally different and from another character's pov. so you have to take a couple of seconds to kinda figure out what the heck is going on here. definetly loved the acting the most.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Somewhere over the DMZ



Rating: * * * 1/2

Director: Park Chan Wook

Running time: 110 minutes Language: Korean

Now showing at Hibiya Scala-za and other theaters

Two types of Korean movies used to be released in Japan. One was the art film, usually something dark, raw and intense. The other was the erotic film, usually something dark, raw and intense, but with more rapes and bared breasts. Neither did particularly well at the box office, though the latter had a small, devoted following.


Song Kang Ho (far right)

and Lee Byung Hun (center) in "JSA"

In recent years, however, the Korean movie business has come to resemble Hong Kong's. While still turning out art films, including good ones made by a new generation of talented directors, the industry has become much better at producing exportable commercial films. The first to hit big in Japan was "Shuri" (original Korean title "Shiri," renamed here because it means "bottom" in Japanese). This Kang Je Kyu action-romance about a North Korean agent who falls in love with one of her South Korean counterparts smashed box-office records in both Korea and Japan following its release in 1999, while making Japanese distributors and audiences aware that Korean films have a vitality, dynamism and sheer entertainment value too often missing in the local product.

One reason for this difference: Recent dramatic changes in Korean public life, notably the easing of tensions with the North, have been a stimulus to the film industry in a way no longer possible in Japan, where decades have drifted by in an LDP-induced torpor -- not exactly the stuff of rousing popcorn movies (though some enterprising producer may be developing "Mr. Koizumi Goes to Nagata-cho").

Last year, Park Chan Wook's "JSA (Joint Security Area)," another political drama with a North-South theme, broke the record "Shuri" set at the Korean box office. Now the Japanese distributors of "Shuri" -- Cine Quanon and Amuse Pictures -- have given "JSA" the biggest local release ever for a Korean film. Racking up large numbers after its May 26 release, it will probably rewrite the record book here as well.

All of which makes "JSA" sound like "Shuri Part 2." Not really. Though set on the North-South border and made with a big budget for a Korean film, nearly $ 4.5 million, "JSA" is more concerned with the vagaries of human nature under the stress of an unending Cold War than with its plot or explosions. As a drama, it works quite well, with strong performances from all four of its principals, though the machinations required to bring them together strain belief.

Watching "JSA" I was reminded of "The Bridge," a 1960 German film by Bernhard Wicki that made a huge impression on me when I saw it as a teenager in a Pennsylvania mill town. Set in Germany during the last, desperate days of World War II, this story about the hopeless defense of a bridge by a ragtag squad of boys and old men showed me a face of the Enemy that I'd never seen in a Hollywood war film, in which Germans were either caricatures or faceless, goose-stepping hordes.

"JSA," I think, is serving a similar purpose for a new generation of Koreans and Japanese, who may know North Korea only from photo ops with the Dear Leader or news stories about starving peasants. It is a film that would have been impossible to make not long ago, when any sympathetic portrayal of North Koreans on the screen would have called down the wrath of government censors.

The film's setup is standard thriller stuff: a shooting incident in the Joint Security Area -- a demilitarized zone dividing North and South near the Panmunjom Truce Village -- leaves a North Korean soldier (Shin Ha Kyun) dead and a South Korean soldier wounded. The North Koreans claim their man was murdered, while the South Koreans counter that theirs was kidnapped. To resolve this conflict, with its potential for explosive repercussions, both sides agree to call in an investigator from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, a Korean-Swiss woman named Sophie Jean (Lee Yeong Ae).

A serious, methodical type, Sophie Jean decides to dig harder when the two soldiers involved in the incident, South Korean Sgt. Lee Soo Hyeok (Lee Byung Hun) and North Korean Sgt. Oh Kyeong Pil (Song Kang Ho), contradict each other in their testimony. Then, after she interrogates a witness to the incident, South Korean soldier Nam Sung Shik (Kim Tae Woo), he attempts suicide. Who is lying? Why did Nam pull the trigger on himself? Meanwhile, both sides are pressuring her to report "acceptable" findings that may or may not jibe with the truth.

She slogs on, however, and we begin to see that, instead of facing off across a no man's land, the four principals had been meeting at night at the North Korean guardhouse to shoot the bull, read porn magazines and deepen an uneasy friendship. That friendship, however, had turned to tragedy -- but why?

Though Sophie Jean is less a character than a plot construct, Lee Yeong Ae acquits herself with dignity and poise. Native English speakers, however, may wonder why, after a lifetime in Switzerland, this NNSC officer speaks their language with a strong Korean accent.

The strongest performance, though, is that of Song Kang Ho as the North Korean sergeant Lee Oh. Bluff but good-natured, politically sophisticated after years of overseas duty, but touchy when provoked, Lee Oh is a volatile, recognizably human mix. He gives credibility to the film's central premise -- that Northerners, including those stern-faced soldiers patrolling the world's oldest truce line, want much the same things as their Southern counterparts. Also excellent in the hit comedy "The Foul King," Song has the kind of range and presence that most Japanese actors of his generation can only wish for.

As the South Korean Sgt. Lee, Lee Byung Hun ably embodies average South Korean manhood after four decades of peace: resigned to his hitch in the military, but bored to tears with its routine -- and unconvinced that the guys on the other team wear horns.

None of this will surprise anyone who has studied the American Civil War, in which fraternization was rife, especially when the two sides had been eyeing each other over entrenchments for weeks. Enemies would begin by trading insults and end by getting together for games of cards or communal swims. We can only hope the standoff in Korea will lead to a similar conclusion -- not defeat and ruin for one side, but an erasure of borders -- and a meeting of brothers in arms, without threat of bloodshed.

Source: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ff20010613a3.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

December 12, 2007

Off beat SHIN Ha-kyun Plays The Game


SHIN Ha-kyun – one of Korea's more daring and impressive actors – will next star in the thriller The Game alongside veteran actor BYEON Hui-bong. SHIN's character – a poor artist – will be lured into a dark game involving a large sum of money and the exchange of bodies, made possible through technology. The film opens in January 2008.

YUN In-ho (When I Turned Nine) directs and the cast also features LEE Hye-young (Low Life) and LEE Eun-sung (Dasepo Naughty Girls). BYEON played the grandfather of the girl who was taken by the monster in The Host.

SHIN played eye-catching supporting roles in popular films like PARK Chan-wook's Joint Security Area, and Welcome to Dongmakgol. In addition, he has been outstanding in leading roles in critical acclaimed alternative films, portraying off beat characters, including No Mercy for the Rude and Save the Green Planet.

Yi Ch'ang-ho (KOFIC)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

This is an article found today, I've copied the full text in case anyone becomes confused as where does this is coming from. Refer those specifically in bold.. maybe this is one reason why.. it's so easy for Hollywood (and perhaps, others too) to remake movies from Korea.. like Il Mare, My Sassy Girl, Addiction, JSA, A Bittersweet Life, etc..

JANUARY 15, 2008

Strike Silences Golden Globes Venue

"No Angelina, No Clooney."

The Associated Press reported Sunday the mood of the Golden Globes news conference in Los Angeles. The hotel ballroom that was to have hosted famous nominees cheek-to-cheek at cozy tables was instead given to TV camera crews and reporters. Outside the hotel, it was unusually quiet.

The awards ceremony was replaced by a news conference due to an actors' boycott. Actors stayed away to support the three-month strike by members of the Writers Guild of America.

○ The Academy Awards

Now the focus is on if the Academy Awards scheduled for February 24 will open.

Entertainment Weekly said New York’s Madison Avenue, the heart of the U.S. advertising industry, is where this issue grabs sharp attention. The Oscars charge the most expensive rates for television commercials after the Super Bowl. ABC last year earned 1.5 million dollars for each 30-second commercial broadcast during the ceremony.

Variety magazine estimated that the cancellation of the Golden Globes resulted in losses of 80 million dollars (75 billion won) to the Los Angeles economy, and predicted additional damage of 130 million dollars (120 billion won) if the Academy Awards go down the same path.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis said preparation for the Oscars is underway as planned. Yet the striking writers made it clear that they will not write a script for the awards this year.

Nevertheless, Variety said film industry figures expect that given its name value worldwide, the academy will not be the same.

○ Guild membership reaches 10,500

The guild has 10,500 members, including writers of films and TV dramas and shows. Their strike has virtually paralyzed the U.S. entertainment industry.

The union has demanded since November last year a fair distribution of the proceeds from DVD, online drama and movie sales. Writers receive 2.5 percent of TV series and DVD sales, the same share they received 20 years ago, but get nothing from sales through new media such as the Internet.

The Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild expect to renew their contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by June 30, but are siding with the writers.

The strike has damaged the Los Angeles economy to the tune of 450 million dollars (420 billion won) in losses.

○ The Korean film Industry

How about the Korean film industry?

“It is customary, absurd as it is, that writers sign a contract with the production company depriving writers of their right to claim copyright after they receive payment for their work,” said a representative of the Korea Screenwriters Association. “While American writers are demanding a ‘plus alpha,’ Korea doesn’t even have a writers’ guild.”

Screenwriters in Korea also get nothing when their works are sold overseas.

Source: The DongA-Ilbo


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

March 14, 2008


by Hyang-jin Lee (Writer's Profile) koreaherald.co.kr

Let me entertain you: The identity politics of contemporary Korean cinema

"A crisis in the Korean film industry -- the advance of foreign films." This was the essence of a 2007 report by the Korean Film Council. Is there a crisis in Korean cinema because films are losing half of their 146 screening days? Because of their weak content? Or their heavy dependence on theatrical releases?

"Crisis" seems to be the buzzword in 2008. The local industry's share of the domestic market slid from 63.8 percent to 50.8 percent in 2007. Of the 112 films screened in 2007, only 13 turned a profit. Three out of 2007's top 10 were Korean, compared to seven in 2006. The Korean Wave is also said to be in crisis. The successive failure of Hallyu films in Japan was one of the reasons which led to the slowing of the Korean Wave. It also prevented Hallyu from reaching a broader audience.

Japan is Korea's biggest importer of films. In 2005, Japanese imports comprised 70 percent of Korean film exports. This declined to 42.4 percent in 2006 and 27.0 percent in 2007. Speculative investments and purchases relying on the ticket power of Hallyu stars generated numerous clones of Hallyu films but resulted in huge losses for the industry. The first year of the wave was astonishingly successful. But sacrificing quality for star power soon disappointed even the most ardent of Korean Wave fans. Film is the flagship of the Korean Wave. The growing concerns about the future of Korean cinema in Europe are somewhat similar. Between 2006 and 2007, film exports to Asia declined from 69.5 percent to 56.5 percent, while exports to North America decreased from 8.0 percent to 2.5 percent. In comparison, exports to Europe increased from 20 percent to 37.1 percent in the same period. However, the majority of buyers say that Korean films are not as popular any more. Only a couple of years ago, Korean films were applauded as the trendiest newcomer to the world cinema scene. So what happened?

Minor national cinema can easily disappear if it loses institutional support. At best, it can serve a limited number of art-house filmgoers through transnational cooperation and sponsorship. The success of Korean cinema is a different story. The revival of Korean cinema was possible because it entertained audiences. It started with commercial success. Industrial instability and the necessity for structural changes had been discussed even before the amendment in the screen quota system was announced in 2006. The dramatic revival of Korean cinema was possible despite the prevailing difficult conditions at the time.

In order to provide a diagnosis on the future of Korean cinema, we need to scrutinize its current responses to the changing environment with a longer-term view. In this sense, Korean cinema is now facing new challenges which can consolidate its success in competing with the Hollywood-led global film culture.

New identity politics

The success of Korean cinema offers a new perspective on the homogenizing trends of globalization led by Western cultural commodities. Until recent years, Korea was a Hollywood-dominated market, but it has the world's seventh largest film industry. When the government lifted sanctions on direct importation and distribution by foreign film companies in the mid-1980s, the Korean film industry seemed to be on the point of extinction owing to its vulnerability to the hostile marketing strategies of Hollywood. Despite the relentless protests of local filmmakers, United International Pictures began operations in 1987.

The domestic market share of Korean films sharply declined from 38.5 percent in 1984 to 15.9 percent in 1993. Faced with the threat of the extinction of local films, the public expressed strong support for Korean cinema. As a reaction against Americanization, the Screen Quota Civil Society was established in 1985.

Responding to popular demand, the government increased the mandated number of screening days for Korean films from 121 days to 146 days in the same year. Filmmakers justified the provision on the basis that they were creating cultural commodities to preserve and realize the collective identity of the people, in contrast to the indiscriminate operation of free and fair market principles. The "sense of crisis" surrounding the loss of cultural identity resulted in the revival of the film industry. Accordingly, the thriving film culture in contemporary Korea is the result of cultural resistance to the power of Western-led globalization.

The rise of South Korean films in world markets, especially in East and Southeast Asia, can attest to the role of a minor national film industry in enriching the diversity and multiplicity of contemporary film practices. In the last two decades, Korean film has undergone tremendous changes in its industrial structure, thematic features, generic experiments and aesthetic attributes.

Due to these radical developments, Korean national cinema has seen a dramatic reversal of fortunes since the late 1990s. It has successfully recovered domestic popularity and vigorously penetrated overseas markets. In 2003, Korean films were exported to 56 countries including Japan, Hong Kong, China, Europe and America. The domestic market share of Korean films has also significantly increased since the late 1990s. According to a 2006 report by the Korean Film Council, Korean cinema saw record-breaking ticket sales in the domestic market -- 53.5 percent in 2003, 59.3 percent in 2004, 59.0 percent in 2005 and 63.8 percent in 2006.

The industry has constantly sought to establish an international reputation for its artistic achievements, having won awards at various international film festivals since the mid-1980s. The industry's new sensibility and creativity in representing local history and cultural traditions challenged global audiences familiar with Hollywood films. Furthermore, the film industry was the leading force in spreading Hallyu in Asia.


At the same time, Korean filmmakers have contributed to the creation of a pan-Asian film culture. Among the various international film events staged in Korea, the Pusan International Film Festival, which started in 1996, is the largest and most successful. By focusing on the discovery of works by non-mainstream national filmmakers, PIFF offers a range of new conceptual approaches to global film culture.

The remarkable growth of the Korean film industry was possible due to the democratic transition of its society. South Korea used to be known for its rapid economic development led by successive military governments (1962-1987). The economic miracle demanded the sacrifice of human rights, freedom of speech and expression. The mid-1980s democratization of South Korea ended the dark years, and filmmakers were allowed to explore the colonial/post-colonial years, and the harsh experiences of the "compressed" modernization process.

A new identity politics of Korean national cinema emerged during this revolutionary period. The film industry is no longer subject to the abuse of state power. However, it urgently needs a new identity reflecting the dynamics of social and democratic change. Audiences reject films which reiterate political apathy or cultural conservatism. In order to meet these new preferences and tastes, the new identity politics aim to change the old image of the national cinema into a more progressive paradigm.

By blending familiarity and novelty, the new identity politics express the transitional identity of contemporary Koreans. However, the reality is far more complex. Audiences still exhibit a strong preference for well-crafted Hollywood films over domestically made films. Society as yet cannot provide sufficient funding and institutional support for the filmmakers. Furthermore, international trends in film culture can more easily undermine the national film industry because there is a vacuum left by the former protectionist government. To a certain extent, the democratization of society encourages filmmakers to involve themselves in the new identity politics in order to achieve greater industrial competitiveness and artistic excellence.

The hybridism of commercialism and artistic experimentalism is a significant factor in contemporary Korean cinema as it has successfully created its new identity politics in Asia. The creative adaptation of Hollywood dramatic conventions flavored by locality is essential to capture audiences. The filmmakers exploit history and cultural traditions to create national melodramas. The audience appears to experience more escapist pleasure in the new imaginary space, exposing resentment to the hegemonic ideologies of global powers.

In a sense, the historical and cultural intimacy presented by Korean films tends to gain a wider appeal among audiences. It achieves this through creating an emotional identification of being victimized by Western hegemonic powers by offering nostalgic romanticism, but with a richer, local flavor. When "Shiri" (Kang Je-gyu, 1999) smashed box office records held by "Sopyonje" (Im Kwon-taek, 1993), many Korean filmmakers saw a chance to make a Korean-style blockbuster. Since the success of "Shiri," the record-breaking box-office sales of big-budget historical dramas has clearly marked this new development. The constant success of big-budget films, such as "Joint Security Area" (Park Chan-wook, 2000) and "Friend" (Kwak Kyung-taek, 2001) created a business-oriented filmmaking culture.

"Taegukgi" (Kang Je-gyu, 2004) and "Silmido" (Kang Woo-suk, 2003) ranked first and second at the box office in 2004. "The King and the Clown" (Lee Jun-ik, 2005) sold 12.7 million tickets in 2006. "The Host" (Bong Jun-ho, 2006) remains the bestselling local film ever with 13 million ticket sales -- enough for one-third of the whole population of South Korea to go and see it.

Romantic comedies fusing traditional Confucian family values and gender relations with Hollywood-style gangster films or screwball dramas -- such as "My Sassy Girl" (Kwak Jae-yong, 2001), "My Wife is a Gangster" (Jo Jin-gyu, 2001) and "Marrying the Mafia" (Jeong Heung-sun, 2002) generated the synthesis of different genres for the international bestsellers. These films will be remade in Hollywood. Selling remake rights is one of the ways that Korean filmmakers can access the American film market. "The Host" is one film whose remake rights were sold to Hollywood.

Regarding this phenomenon, the imitation of Hollywood tends to be suggested as the most effective way to challenge Hollywood's dominance in Asia and lead the successful "internationalization" of Korean national cinema. The popularity of "My Sassy Girl" in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam, and "Shiri," "JSA" and "Taegukgi" in Japan seems to support this argument. This shows an interesting contrast to Europe, the second-biggest foreign market for Korean film exports. European audiences prefer the auteur, art-house films, such as films by Kim Ki-duk, Park Chan-wook or Hong Sang-soo.

As noted above, the revival of the Korean film industry cinema is due to the success of its commercial films. However, this remarkable industrial expansion cannot shadow the accumulated achievements of the filmmakers in improving the quality of local films. Since Im Kwon-taek's "Chunhyang" was nominated for an award at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2002, Korean films have constantly received international recognition based on their artistic achievements. They include Im Kwon-taek's "Chihwaseon," which won the Best Director Award at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2003; Lee Chang-dong's "Oasis" and Kim Ki-duk's "3-Iron," which won the Special Award for Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival in 2003 and 2004 respectively; Kim Ki-duk's "Samaritan Girl," which won the Best Director Award at the 2004 Berlin International Film Festival; and Park Chan-wook's "Oldboy." which won the Grand Prix of the Jury at Cannes in 2004. Significantly, these films cover a wide spectrum of genres, themes and film styles.

The various generic experiments and film styles pursued by contemporary Korean filmmakers predict an optimistic future for Korean film, indicating the presence of an alternative film culture for a global audience. However, the future of the Korean film industry is still uncertain. Increased production costs and the theatrical monopoly of a small number of "well-made" films cast serious doubts on the long-term stability and maturity of the film industry. The competition between "Silmido" and "Taegukgi" increased audience numbers and involved the most expensive budgets and marketing costs to date. "The Host" was criticized as having an unfair monopoly on distribution, clearly showing the polarization phenomenon. The spread of uncompromising commercialism pursued by overconfident investors resulted in many films being unable to attract buyers for their release and distribution.

Another warning sign is the negative growth of exports. But the regional differences varied. Whereas the decrease in exports to Asia in 2007 was due to the poor performance of commercial films, exports to Europe, which prefers art-house films, remained the same compared to previous years. Interestingly, exports to Hungary, Poland and South America -- where commercial films are more popular than art-house films -- increased.

In this sense, despite the success of Korean films in recent years, the fear remains. The world film market is still dominated by America, which maintains 85 percent of the international market and 97 percent of its own domestic market. In 2007, the Korean film industry showed the first negative growth in five years.

Film is a cultural commodity and needs to be treated differently from other consumer products. The protection of a minor local film industry is not merely a Korean issue. There are many countries maintaining similar film policies and raising serious concerns on the issue, including France, Spain and Canada. Also, there are countries which sustain a stricter protectionist policy, such as India, China, Egypt and Russia. At the same time, film is also mass entertainment.

The uncertain future of Korean cinema should be critically studied in order to help the industry reflect the everyday lives of its citizens. After all, film viewing should be a unique, cultural pleasure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Indirectly.. related.. mention

The Guard Post


South Korea's meandering border with the North is one of the world's most surreal places, a heavily armed space still trapped in the Cold War. Park Chan-wook's JSA depicted the tension and close proximity of Southern and Northern soldiers at Panmunjeom, a former truce village that is now divided cleanly in half. But elsewhere along the DMZ, the most prominent structures are guard posts (GP for short): large, heavily armored self-contained forts that are strung along the border like pearls on a necklace. North Korea also maintains its own guard posts, which form pairs with those on the South.

The atmosphere in the DMZ (the term "de-militarized zone" is a bit of a joke) is tense. The military sends its strongest soldiers to this area, and imposes the harshest degree of discipline on them. Shots are occasionally exchanged across the border. Suicides or mysterious deaths have been known to occur among the men stationed there, and there was a recent case of a solider in a guard post who became mentally unhinged and slaughtered many of his fellow recruits.

What better place to set a supernatural gore fest? GP506 is a guard post that has fallen strangely silent (each GP is required to send a signal to headquarters every half hour; if the signal is not received, troops are sent in). A neighboring contingent of soldiers enters the post and finds blood on the walls and grossly dismembered bodies strewn in every direction. A military inspector arrives to investigate, and at first the deaths seem to be the result of some inner conflict within the group. The one surviving soldier is severely traumatized and seems unwilling to talk. Eventually, however, more disturbing clues emerge.

Kong Su-chang received both critical praise and commercial success with his debut R-Point (2004), about a company of Korean soldiers serving in Vietnam who are sent to a remote location to investigate a vanished squadron. The Guard Post would appear at first glance to be a virtual redux, with only the setting changed, but it's surprising how different the two films feel. R-Point was a slow-moving, chilling mystery with a slightly arty feel to it. The Guard Post is a roller coaster that wears its genre credentials more prominently on its sleeve, and despite its setting, offers a less developed political subtext. Unfortunately R-Point's greatest strengths -- its pitch-perfect ensemble acting and narrative coherence -- are reproduced far less successfully in the latter film.

The making of The Guard Post turned out to be more of an adventure than the filmmakers hoped. Midway through production, a spreading sense of crisis in the Korean film industry, together with unrelated trouble at the film's production company, caused the film's main investors to back out and shooting to ground to a halt. It appeared for some time that the film would never be finished, but eventually distributor Showbox stepped in and re-started the project.

Viewers beware: The Guard Post is gory! Brains, rotting flesh, self-mutilation -- this movie goes the extra mile (the poor woman sitting next to me at the press screening seemed to only barely make it through the film). Whereas R-Point had sort of a crossover appeal for people who don't like horror films, The Guard Post seems intended more explicitly for fans of the genre.

At two hours in length, the film is not short, and unfortunately the middle section is somewhat flaccid and confusing (some viewers may be annoyed by the constant jumping back and forth between past and present). I also found it frustrating that for all the care taken to build a highly authentic guard post set, the film never takes the time to properly "introduce" it to the viewer. JSA, by contrast, was much better at finding ways to orient and inform the viewer about Panmunjeom. However as its mysteries are sorted out, The Guard Post does finally find its rhythm in the last 30 minutes, and from then on out it's an engaging enough genre splatterfest. (Darcy Paquet)

Source: http://koreanfilm.org/kfilm08.html#guardpost

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Thanks to kdramafanusa at the News thread for the highlight

Director Park Chan-wook on CNN's TalkAsia

A vivid scene 10:07

CNN's Anjali Rao talks to famed director Park Chan-wook.

VIDEO: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/05/14/...tml#cnnSTCVideo

Source: CNN | Added On May 16, 2008

Park Chan-wook: Mild-mannered man of vengeance

By Dean Irvine


(CNN) -- For Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, revenge is a dish best served live.


Park Chan-wook, master of "Asian extreme": "Aren't we all born to this earth without a reason?"

The director most associated with the "Asian extreme" genre and known for his "Vengeance trilogy," once made one of his actors eat a live octopus -- three times.

Many of his films then are not for the faint-hearted, or weak of stomach, but devouring a live cephalopod is relatively mild compared to some of the themes of Park's films.

However, it's the psychology of violence rather than all-out blood, guts and tentacles that has been the focus of much of his work.

"It's the fear and disturbance that comes right before the violent act and the pain that comes after it. ... I am not greatly interested in the action itself. I believe that portraying violence in this way does not really influence audiences to engage in violence," he said.

The 44-year-old filmmaker's skewed view first gained international attention with his "Vengeance trilogy": "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" was released in 2002; "Old Boy" won the Cannes Grand Jury Prize in 2004; followed by "Lady Vengeance" in 2005. Park, however, first found big-screen success in 2000 with "Joint Security Area."

Portraying North Korean soldiers in a more sympathetic light than their South Korean counterparts, "Joint Security Area" became the top all-time moneymaker in South Korea at the time.

It took a liberal view of a previously taboo subject, but did not hint at the stylized and inventive way in which the director took on some dark themes in the "Vengeance" films.

While there are plenty of visceral elements in his films, and some jolting editing techniques (he once described them as "like a knife cutting through tofu"), the considered and soft-spoken director is worlds away from his twisted films' characters.

"Personally, I think that my normality and the fact that I grew up in a very average environment made me grow tired of it all, and make movies to escape the monotony," he said.

Park has said that his early movie education mainly came from watching old Hollywood films. Many influences on his work have come from sources outside of cinema, including Manga comics, one of which was the inspiration for "Old Boy".

"At first when I heard the story, it was about a person who was thrown into the middle of nowhere, without knowing why he was there or how long he would have to stay. I was attracted by this setting. This, for me, was a significant depiction of the condition of human beings. Aren't we all born to this earth without a reason? And we also don't know when we're going to die...I was attracted to this idea for the movie."

Knowing that he wanted to be a filmmaker came towards the end of his student days.

It was his interest in aesthetics as a student of philosophy that led to an initial ambition to be a film critic. It was only when he saw Hitchcock's "Vertigo" for the first time as part of a student film society did he realized he had to switch from writing about film to making it.

Added to that personal epiphany, it was the same day that he met his future wife, with whom he has as 12-year-old daughter.

His last film, "I'm a Cyborg," took a different tack from those used to the depravity of the "Vengeance trilogy". Focusing on a patient in a mental institution who thinks she's a robot, it has an off-beat charm, and the hyper-violence of earlier films was dispensed with in favor of child-like whimsy.

As well as showing another side of Park's character, he has admitted it was also a chance to make a film his daughter could enjoy with her friends. His next work, "Thirst," a vampire film, will be a return to violence and twisted relationships .

"I think it will be the most moral movie of mine ever, because the main character doesn't really want to drink but has to go through the conflict of that and so it will be dark, it won't be the darkest film," he told CNN.

Source: CNN.com


VIDEO [source: CNN | Added May 16, 2008]

Friendship across the border 6:45

Director Park Chan-wook talks about his critically acclaimed film about two soldiers on opposite sides of the Korean border.


'Thirst' 6:19

Director Park Chan-wook shows CNN's Anjali Rao the story board for his latest film, 'Thirst'.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks to the highlight by Janice at LBH thread


Source: http://media.daum.net/entertain/movie/view...068&cp=hani

I think it says that this classic movie JSA by Director PCW will be shown on Sunday June 22 at K1 Channel at midnight (12:50 a.m.)


Reminiscing JSA pictures


courtesy of 宪宪我心 of Baidu

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Although JSA is no longer in the TOP TEN ALL TIME FAVE (i.e. top-grossing blockbuster K-movies) list.. uhh, thanks to 'The Good, The Bad, The Weird' :sweatingbullets: which also stars Song Kang Ho & Lee Byung Hun .. this special movie will always be in our hearts. :blush: One that actually sets the standard and pace for others to follow, in a class of its own.

Korean Movie 101 - JSA's Hall of Fame :wub:

Captures from GBW-cafe.daum




Link to comment
Share on other sites

butter10.gifA treat to read

Our gratitude to the highight by Hyc-EverythingLBH courtesy ylin at ylin.wordpress.com,

a must-read wonderful write-up at YESASIA's YumCha!


Lee Byung Hun - Man of the World

Written by James Mudge


With the seemingly never ending popularity of the Korean Wave continuing to flourish, a number of stars have become household names both at home and all around Asia. Korean television dramas in particular have proved to be a huge success, elevating certain male actors to heartthrob status, especially in Japan. However, Lee Byung Hun is one of the select few who can truly claim to have achieved global stardom, having won over audiences not only in Korea and Asia, but also in the West, with several promising Hollywood roles lined up, and being the only one of his countrymen to currently have US agent representation - no small feat in an industry notoriously resistant to all but the biggest of foreign stars. This should perhaps come as no surprise, as Lee is far more than a mere pretty face, having won praise for his acting skills in a long line of television series as well as starring in a healthy number of blockbuster films, many of which have been international hits. In addition to this, he is somewhat of a renaissance man, being fluent in English and French as well as in his native tongue, making him a natural choice for roles in almost any country in the world.

Early Television Years

Lee Byung Hun was born July 12, 1970 in Seoul. Interestingly, he started off not in the arts, but majoring in French at Han Yang University, something which would stand him in good stead for the future. After graduating, he made an important decision by enrolling at Chung-Ang University to study theatre and cinematography. Having found his true calling, he focused his energies on acting, dedicating himself to a career on screen.


Lee took his first step up the ladder in 1991 after being noticed at the 14th annual public audition held by Korea Broadcast System (KBS). Winning a contract, he made his debut appearance the same year in the television drama Asphalt My Hometown, immediately winning favorable notices for his performance. Over the next couple of years he continued to star in television dramas, gradually raising his profile through the likes of Family, Days of Sunrise, and the mini-series Morning Without Goodbyes. In 1992 he featured in Tomorrow in Love, a top-rated youth drama directed by Yoon Suk Ho (who was later responsible for the classic Winter Sonata series), which edged him closer to idol status.


Although his popularity was growing, major mainstream success still eluded the actor, and he continued to work in television, appearing in more dramas such as The Fragrance of Love and Dream Racers (which was partly shot in the US). In 1995 he made his film debut in the romance Who Drives Me Crazy?, which he followed in the same year with Run Away, a gritty youth drama from director Kim Sung Su, who later made it big with Musa the Warrior and Please Teach Me English. Still, this did not quite usher him to superstardom, and he spent a few more years paying his dues with appearances in hit television series such as the boxing drama Beautiful Woman and youth melodrama White Nights 3.98, and in the films Kill the Love and Elegy of the Earth.

A Harmonious Breakthrough


1999 finally saw Lee get his breakthrough as he starred in the massively successful series Happy Together, which featured an all-star cast featuring Song Seung Heon, Kim Ha Neul, and future My Sassy Girl favorites Jeon Ji Hyun and Chae Tae Hyun. Sunflower, an anthology of love stories which also screened in 1999, saw him performing alongside a similarly impressive ensemble including Choi Ji Woo (Stairway to Heaven) and Yoo Ji Tae (who went on to be a popular actor in his own right, starring in Oldboy, One Fine Spring Day, and other films).


In the same year he also made an impact in cinemas with The Harmonium In My Memory, director Lee Young Jae's adaptation of the best-selling Korean book Female Student. The film was a tender though believable tale of first love, revolving around a schoolgirl in rural 1960s Korea (played by Jeon Do Yeon, recently excellent in Lee Chang Dong's Secret Sunshine), and offered Lee a memorable role as her new teacher, who she develops a crush on. Interestingly, during the same year the actor also showed himself to be multitalented with the release of his music album To Me.


Lee followed this with his biggest and most successful role to date in Park Chan Wook's blockbuster hit JSA: Joint Security Area. A gripping murder mystery thriller set in the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, the film saw Lee in top form, and also featured fine performances from Song Kang Ho (a regular Park collaborator, and who recently starred in Bong Joon Ho's The Host) and actress Lee Young Ae (who later took the title role in the director's Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). It was a commercial and critical smash, ranking as the highest-grossing film at the domestic box office ever at the time, and winning a variety of awards. The film was also popular internationally, particularly in Japan, and won nominations and prizes at several festivals including Berlin and Deauville.


Now officially a film star in his own right, Lee next was given the chance to headline in Bungee Jumping of Their Own, the debut feature from director Kim Dae Seung (later responsible for Blood Rain). The oddly titled film featured a suitably unconventional plot, tackling themes of undying love and reincarnation - in this case following Lee as a teacher who suspects that his long-dead sweetheart may have been reborn as one of his young male students (played by Yeoh Hyun Soo, also in Holiday and Birth of a Man). Despite this awkward premise, the film offered a moving exploration of the real nature of love, and Lee flourished in his complex role, proving himself to be a talented and versatile actor. A winner at the prestigious Blue Dragon Awards in 2001, the film helped raise his profile, and to further his acceptance as a serious thespian rather than just a pinup idol.

2001 also saw the actor continuing his run of television hits with the dramas The Long Way and Beautiful Days, the latter giving him one of his most memorable and charismatic roles. At this time, the Korean Wave was really starting to take off, especially in Japan, and both were popular at home and abroad. As a result, and with Lee now established as one of the most popular Korean stars of the movement, a number of his older series were reissued and aired, all to similar success.

Addicted to Success


After providing one of the voices for the animated film My Beautiful Girl, Mari, next up for Lee was a trio of big screen hits, beginning with Addicted from director Park Young Hoon. A supernaturally themed romance in which he featured with actress Lee Mi Yeon (with whom he had co-starred in The Harmonium In My Memory) as a man who seems to take on the personality of his comatose brother. Skillfully combining themes of possession and obsessive love, the ambiguous film added yet another feather to Lee's cap, and has since been picked up for a rather needless Hollywood remake. Next came Everybody has Secrets, a daring romantic comedy which saw Lee taking on the quite possibly real-life role of a man who seems to be nigh on irresistible to women everywhere. No doubt seeking something a little more challenging, he then reteamed with Park Chan Wook for his Cut segment of the horror anthology Three...Extremes, playing a film director tormented by a psychotic fan.


Never one to be accused of resting on his laurels, Lee somehow also found time in 2003 to star in the television series All In. A gambling themed drama, the show became one of the most popular and talked about across Asia, not least due to Lee's off-screen relationship with his co-star, Korean actress Song Hye Kyo (a television idol in her own right, recently in period piece Hwang Jin Yi).

A Sweet Life


In 2005 Lee worked for the first time with top director Kim Ji Woon, who had just been responsible for A Tale of Two Sisters, possibly the best Asian ghost film of recent years, on A Bittersweet Life. Unfairly, though perhaps inevitably compared with Old Boy on the grounds of it being another noir-style thriller, whilst violent and ambiguous, the film was far more of a character piece, being quietly emotional and surprisingly sentimental amongst all the flying bullets and spraying blood. A deserved critical and commercial hit which earned a widespread international release, playing at Cannes and other high profile festivals, the film also won Lee considerable praise for his effective turn as an obtuse, eccentric killer.


Next in 2006 came a change of pace with Once in a Summer, a romantic drama spanning thirty years in the lives of two lovers, with Lee playing a student in 1969 who volunteers to work in the countryside, where he meets and falls for local librarian Jung In (Soo Ae, also in the television series Love Letter). Switching between past and present, the film works well, mainly due to the fact that it is actually a far more substantial affair than might have been expected, exploring the political turmoil of Korea during the last few decades, using the romance to provide a painfully human perspective on national events.


2007 saw Lee's incredible popularity being highlighted again through his cameo appearance in the Japanese courtroom drama Hero, based upon the successful television series. Although minor, the actor's role made for an attention-grabbing scene, which basically involved the main character travelling to Korea for the express purpose of seeing him. In the same year, Lee was also immortalized by having his likeness used for the Capcom video game Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, again underlining his international appeal.

The Good, the Bad, the Weird and G.I. Joe


Lee's next role sees him joining forces once more with director Kim Ji Woon for the eagerly awaited and eccentric sounding Korean Western The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Boasting an incredible trio of leading men, with Lee playing The Bad, Jung Woo Sung (recently in The Restless and Daisy) playing The Good and Song Kang Ho (naturally) playing The Weird, the film is a tribute to Sergio Leone's 1960s Spaghetti Westerns, set in Japanese occupied Manchuria in the 1930s - all of which is more than enough to make it a mouth watering prospect.


Inevitably, Hollywood came calling, and Lee answered, accepting a role in The Mummy director Stephen Sommers's live action G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. Although acting in a film based upon a children's cartoon and range of toys may not necessarily seem particularly dignified or fitting for such a respected performer, it represents Lee playing by the usual rules and accepting the type of part usually offered to Asian actors in the West. At least with the film being a big budget, blockbuster affair, it will certainly offer the actor widespread exposure, and if a hit will hopefully lead to more offers more befitting his talents. A more interesting international prospect on the horizon is I Come With the Rain, which he recently completed for Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung, who previously won acclaim for Cyclo and The Scent of Green Papaya. A moody private eye thriller, the film has an intriguing cast, including Josh Hartnett, Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue, and Hero star Kimura Takuya.

As if this wasn't enough for Lee's legions of fans, the actor is also returning to Korean television screens with IRIS, the country's most expensive series to date, which he will co-produce as well as star in. Although details of the plot have yet to be released, with Lee involved it is highly unlikely that it will be anything other than yet another hit, and indeed that it will serve only to propel his star even further into the stratosphere.

Published August 18, 2008

Original spource: YESASIA - YumCha!


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..