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August 21, 2018

 

North Korean media makes rare comment on South Korean spy movie
       
By Jung Da-min The Korea Times

 

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Poster for "The Spy Gone North." Courtesy of CJ Entertainment

 

North Korea's state-run Korea Central News Agency recently commented on the movie "The Spy Gone North," although not directly mentioning the title. It is rare for the North's media to comment on movies or dramas from other countries, especially from the South. 

 

The movie is based on the real story of Park Chae-seo, a South Korean spy who later was found guilty in the South for his shifting allegiances between the two Koreas.

 

The KCNA report highlighted South Korean news agency Newsis' recent interview with Chung Dong-young, who is known to have met Park in late 1990s as an opposition party member.

 

Chung was a presidential candidate and is now leader of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace. 

 

The movie's main focus is on the "Black Venus Case," in which Park was allegedly involved in an attempt to sway voters using the "Northern Wind," the North's political influence on the South.


damin.jung@ktimes.com 

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August 22, 2018

 

Box-office hit overstates 'North Korea factor'

 

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Cast members of the film "The Spy Gone North" smile during a news conference at a CGV movie theater in southern Seoul in this July 3 file photo. Since its opening on Aug. 8, the film has attracted over 4.2 million viewers. / Korea Times file

 

By Kang Hyun-kyung The Korea Times

 

Director Yoon Jong-bin's film "The Spy Gone North" defies common knowledge that the North Korea factor no longer exerts influence in real world politics. 

 

The box-office hit over-blows the "red scare" impact on elections in the late 1990s.

Yoon acknowledged in a media interview July 31 that he was intrigued by the South Korean spy he delved into in his latest film.

 

He said he was shocked when he accidentally learned about Park Chae-seo, a South Korean spy who infiltrated the North in the guise of a businessman with the mission of detecting nuclear sites there. It sent him researching stories about the spy agency for his film project. 

 

Through his new film, the award-winning filmmaker said he tried to raise some key questions about the tragedy of a divided Korea. "Why were the two Koreas divided and what made them confront each other for such a long time? Why do the two sides keep fighting? These are the questions I wanted to ask," he said.

 

His film answers that self-serving South Korean politicians, particularly from the conservative camp, have taken advantage of the tragic history to fulfill their political ambitions. The filmmaker also blames the North Korean elite for the miserable economic circumstances their citizens face. 

 

The spy action film has been a big hit since it opened on August 8. It has attracted over 4.2 million viewers so far and become a box-office hit. 

 

The film, however, has revealed the filmmaker's limited understanding of contemporary Korean history. 

 

"The Spy Gone North" revolves around the secret meetings between some conservative South Korean politicians in 1996 and 1997 and North Korean officials to discuss the North's role to turn the tide in favor of the conservative party ahead of the elections. 

 

The South Korean politicians requested the North Korean military to launch an armed conflict near the border area in return for cash, in order to create a sense of urgency among southerners so they would vote for the ruling party and their candidates in the 1996 National Assembly elections. 

 

Cash-strapped North Korea went along with the South Korean politicians' request, which the film said was a key reason behind the conservative party's sweeping wins in the general election. 

 

The film revealed another clandestine offer from the conservative politicians who fretted over their candidate's falling approval ratings ahead of the 1997 presidential election. 

 

The southerners requested the North Korean army carry out another military provocation― a more lethal one ― on islands in the West Sea to fan the red scare before the crucial election, which this time North Korea snubbed. 

 

"The Spy Gone North" concludes that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's last-minute rejection of launching an armed conflict near the maritime border in 1997 was the key reason behind conservative candidate Lee Hoi-chang's defeat in the presidential election that year.

 

Director Yoon described the "North Korea card" as a panacea that could make or break elections. However, he may be overstating the North Korea factor. There has been a shared belief among political analysts that the North Korea card is an outdated tactic and no longer exerts influence on voters. 

 

While blaming conservative politicians, the filmmaker turned a blind eye to liberal politicians' use of the North Korea card for the sake of their own political gains. 

 

Not only have conservative politicians, but also liberals played this game in crucial elections, albeit their versions were different. 

 

Conservative politicians preferred military tactics that used fear mongering to prod undecided voters to cast their ballots for them. 

 

Meanwhile, liberals prefer the image of peacemakers when playing the North Korea card ahead of elections. Their favorite was holding inter-Korean summits. The 2007 inter-Korean summit took place in October, two months before a presidential election and the latest one was also held before the local elections in June. 

 

Going back to 1997, what really affected the higher-than-anticipated turnout in the presidential election was the economy, not North Korea. 

 

South Korea was hit hard by the Asian Financial Crisis that year and the presidential election took place in December amid the economic malaise, which began in Thailand in the summer with the collapse of the local currency, the Baht, then spread fast to Korea later in the year. In the face of the unprecedented crisis that engulfed the nation, frustrated voters turned out to polling stations and voted against the ruling party candidate.

 

"The Spy Gone North" is based on the real story of Park and the director added some fictional elements to entertain the audience. Unlike the film, the South Korean spy didn't meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in person. 

 

In the film, before he meets Kim, Park is given a drug that lowers his state of consciousness as the North Korean military officials try to figure out whether he is a spy or a businessman seeking a partnership with the North Korean authorities. Park successfully lies about his identity, albeit he being in this state. This opens a debate whether people can really control themselves after being given a "truth serum." 


hkang@ktimes.com 

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August 26, 2018

 

August Movie Star Brand Reputation Rankings Revealed


Source: Soompi  by esspee

 

Spoiler

August Movie Star Brand Reputation Rankings Revealed

 

The Korean Business Research Institute has revealed the brand reputation rankings for film actors for the month of August!

 

The institute analyzed 209,364,728 pieces of big data from July 24 to August 25 and analyzed consumer participation, media coverage, interaction, and community awareness indexes of 50 popular movie stars.

 

As a result, Ha Jung Woo came in first place with a brand reputation index of 10,557,972 and a 376.28 percent increase compared to June.

 

In second place was Joo Ji Hoon who scored a brand reputation index of 8,741,657 and saw an increase of 1,014.48 percent from his index in June.

 

Lee Sung Min came in third place with a total brand index of 7,795,459, which is 1,106.98 percent increase from June.

 

Goo Chang Hwan, the chief of the Korean Business Institue, stated, “As a result of the August 2018 movie star brand reputation rankings, film actor Ha Jung Woo recorded first place. After analyzing the movie star brand category big data and comparing it to the 120,450,353 pieces of big data from June, there was a 73.82 percent increase.”

 

He continued, “‘Along with the Gods,’ which achieved 10 million moviegoers, led the film brand consumption, and all the indexes related to brand reputation increased.”

 

The link analysis for Ha Jung Woo showed words like “amazing,” “surprising,” and “crazy” ranking high, while keywords ”Along with the Gods,” “Kim Yong Bae,” and “Cha Yeon Woo” were highly associated.

 

Check out the top 30 below!

 

1. Ha Jung Woo
2. Joo Ji Hoon
3. Lee Sung Min
4. Park Seo Joon
5. Park Bo Young
6. Gong Yoo
7. Soo Ae
8. Kim Tae Ri
9. Hwang Jung Min
10. Han Ji Min
11. Kwak Si Yang
12. Kim Hyun Soo
13. Park Hae Il
14. Lee Kwang Soo
15. Kim Hyang Gi
16. Song Ji Hyo
17. Kim Young Kwang
18. Ma Dong Seok
19. Kim Da Mi
20. Kim Dong Wook
21. Son Ye Jin
22. Jin Ki Joo
23. Lee Jin Wook
24. Kim Da Mi
25. Ra Mi Ran
26. Jo Jin Woong
27. Kim Tae Hoon
28. Lee Byung Hun
29. Kim Sang Ho
30. Hyun Bin


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August 28, 2018

 

Bollywood Adaptation of ODE TO MY FATHER Started Shooting in July

Starring Salman KHAN, Indian Version BHARAT Brings Back Original Characters

 

by KIM Su-bin KoBiz

 

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The Bollywood adaptation of JK YOUN’s nostalgic drama Ode to My Father (2014) has started shooting in July. The title of this Indian version, Bharat, is a Hindi word that means ‘India.’ Ode to My Father is the third most-watched Korean film in Korea, having attracted 14.26 million moviegoers. The Hindi version of the film will revolve around an ordinary man whose life will lead him through the major historical events that occurred in the region, from the India-Pakistan partition in 1947 to 2000, similarly to the original film which followed Korean history from the Korean War.

 

Characters like Deok-soo, Young-ja, and Dal-goo in Ode to My Father will appear with their names adapted to the Indian context. Well known for the comedy-drama Brother Bajrangi, Salman KHAN will play the role of Deok-soo (HWANG Jung-min), while Katrina KAIF, who appeared in Bang Bang! and Dhoom 3, will play the role of Young-ja (KIM Yun-jin). The film will be helmed by ALI Abbas Zafar, who previously directed Tiger Zinda Hai, Sultan and Gunday. The upcoming remake has finished casting and started production for a June 2019 release. 

 

Since Indian action thriller Rocky Handsome, which was the remake of LEE Jeong-beom’s The Man From Nowhere (2010), the remakes of Korean films are becoming a new trend in Bollywood. The official remake of the Korean thriller Montage (2013), which starred UHM Jeong-hwa and KIM Sang-kyung, had a good run in the country. The list of upcoming Bollywood remakes includes Miracle in Cell No.7 (2013), A Hard Day (2014), Miss Granny (2014) and Tunnel (2016).

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September 12, 2018


[Just out on Blu-ray] Korean Movie "Waikiki Brothers"

 

Source: HanCinema.net

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Korean movie "Waikiki Brothers" is available to order on Blu-ray with English subtitles from YESASIA.

 

"Waikiki Brothers" (2001)

 

Directed by Yim Soon-rye

With Lee Eol, Park Won-sang, Hwang Jung-min, Oh Kwang-rok

 

Blu-ray with English subtitles (Full Slip + Booklet Numbered Limited Edition)

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October 22, 2018

 

Winners Of 55th Daejong Film Awards

Source: Soompi  by J. K

 

The 55th Daejong Film Awards recognized stand-out movies, actors, and professionals from the past year!

 

The Daejong Film Awards (also referred to as the Grand Bell Awards) are given out annually by the Motion Pictures Association of Korea.

 

The event was held on October 22 at the Sejong Center in Seoul, with “Burning” taking the Best Film Award. Hwang Jung Min and Lee Sung Min of “The Spy Gone North” both received the Best Actor Award while Na Moon Hee took home the Best Actress Award for her performance in “I Can Speak.” The late actor Kim Joo Hyuk was the receipient of both the Best Supporting Actor Award and a Special Award.

 

Check out the full list of winners below!

 

Best Film: “Burning”
Best Director: Jang Joon Hwan (“1987: When the Day Comes”)
Best Actor: Lee Sung Min, Hwang Jung Min (“The Spy Gone North”)
Best Actress: Na Moon Hee (“I Can Speak”)
Best Supporting Actor: Kim Joo Hyuk (“Believer”)
Best Supporting Actress: Jin Seo Yeon (“Believer”)
Best New Director: Jun Go Woon (“Microhabitat”)
Best New Actor: Lee Ga Sub (“The Seeds of Violence”)
Best New Actress: Kim Da Mi (“The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion”)
Best Screenwriter: Jun Go Woon (“Microhabitat”)
Best Cinematography: Kim Ji Yong (“The Fortress”)
Best Lighting: Cho Kyu Young (“The Fortress”)

Best Editing: Kim Hyung Joo, Yang Dong Yeop (“Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum”)
Best Soundtrack: Ryuichi Sakamoto (“The Fortress”)
Best Art Direction: Park Il Hyun (“The Spy Gone North”)
Best Costume Design: Cho Sang Kyung, Son Na Ri (“Illang: The Wolf Brigade”)
Technical Award: Jin Jong Hyun (“Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days”)
Best Planning: Lee Woo Jung (“1987: When the Day Comes”)
Woori Bank Star Award: AOA’s Seolhyun (“The Great Battle”)
Special Award: Kim Joo Hyuk

 

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Photo: 참깨 @S35AM3

 

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October 29, 2018

 

Seoul Awards honor the year's best
 

By Yim Seung-hye INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

 

Spoiler

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An array of stars took to the red carpet for the second edition of the Seoul Awards on Saturday evening held at Kyung Hee University’s Grand Peace Palace, eastern Seoul, and some left with several trophies in hand. 

 

TvN’s drama “My Mister,” which featured singer-actor Lee Ji-eun, better known as IU, and film “The Spy Gone North,” directed by Yoon Jong-bin, each received the top honors for Best Work at Saturday’s event. 

 

“My Mister” dealt with an unlikely friendship between a 20-something woman and her colleague in his 40s. The actors’ immersive performances and emotional direction lead to it receiving much praise.

 

“The Spy Gone North” starring Hwang Jung-min, Lee Sung-min and Cho Jin-woong, has been hailed as creating a new type of Korean spy flick. The story is based on a true incident that took place in 1993, when a former South Korean military officer was recruited by the National Intelligence Service to infiltrate North Korea amid leaks that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons.

 

Meanwhile, the Best Actor and Best Actress Awards went to Lee Byung-hun for his starring role in the successful period drama “Mr. Sunshine” and Kim Nam-joo for “Misty” in the television series category. Ha Jeong-woo received Best Actor for “Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds” and Son Ye-jin won Best Actress for “Be With You” for the film category.

 

The Seoul Awards is the first Awards Ceremony here to select the winners by including the public as judges. According to the organizers, public votes account for 30 percent of the final decision in order to “reflect the public opinion in the awards ceremony.”

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November 1, 2018

 

Actor Hwang promotes Korea Post's funds 


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Film actor Hwang Jung-min promotes Korea Post's funds at an event in Seoul, Sept. 3. Yonhap

 

By Park Hyong-ki The Korea Times

 

Hwang Jung-min, an actor known for his roles in various blockbuster movies, has been tapped as the new model for Korea Post, specifically the post office's fund services.

 

The actor has been promoting the national post service's money market, bond and other types of investment portfolio funds that have a low exposure to stocks.

 

He has been appearing in ads for a total of 13 funds that are currently offered at 222 post offices nationwide. 

 

They are mostly for middle- and low-income earners given the funds invest in short-term state debt securities. People who invest have little chance to lose their principal.

 

Hwang assured this by testing the post office's new robot system that suggested which funds best fit his investment characteristics in September. 

 

Korea Post launched the 13 funds Sept. 3 following the Financial Services Commission's approval in June.

 

Hwang was one of the nominees for the Golden Bell Awards in the category of best actor for portraying a spy in the thriller, "The Spy Gone North." 

 

The movie was based on the true story about a South Korean agent trying to infiltrate North Korea to gain intelligence on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program in the mid-1990s. 

 

Hwang played a cop in the action comedy blockbuster "Veteran," trying to solve a brutality case involving local chaebol. The movie was directed by action auteur Ryoo Seung-wan in 2015, reflecting the real-life social problems concerning chaebol.

 

The actor made his debut on the silver screen in 1990 when he appeared briefly in the movie "The General's Son."


hyongki@koreatimes.co.kr 

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November 7, 2018

 

THE SPY GONE NORTH Tops Seoul Awards

SON Ye-jin and HA Jung-woo Take Acting Prizes at 2nd Edition

 

by Pierce Conran KoBiz

 

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The Seoul Awards, honoring achievement on both the big and small screens in Korea, held their 2nd edition on October 27. Taking the Grand Prize in the film section was YOON Jong-bin’s espionage drama The Spy Gone North. 

 

Premiering in the midnight lineup of the Cannes Film Festival this year, The Spy Gone North features HWANG Jung-min as an undercover South Korean operative posing as a business man in the 1990s to acquire information about North Korea’s nuclear plans.

 

The top acting prizes went to SON Ye-jin for the popular melodrama Be With You, a remake of the 2004 Japanese film of the same name, and HA Jung-woo for Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017), the fantasy epic webtoon adaptation that welcomed over 14 million viewers last winter to become the second most successful Korean film of all time. 

 

Busy performer JU Ji-hoon was named Best Supporting Actor for his roles in The Spy Gone North and Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds while Best Supporting Actress was given to YE Soo-jung, for her part in Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds. Breakout sensation KIM Da-mi was crowned Best New Actress for the action-thriller The Witch : Part 1. The Subversion and NAM Joo-hyuk won Best New Actor for the hit period siege action-drama The Great Battle.

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November 27, 2018

 

Korean Movie Actors with highest ticket power

 

Source: Naver via KoreanUpdates! @KoreanUpdates

 

Song Kang Ho claims his spot for 3 year in a row as the Korean actor with strongest ticket power.

 

Based on the survey conducted by portals MyDaily & MaxMovie from November 1 till November 23 involving 12,890 participants.

 

The top 10 actors:

 

1. Song Kang Ho

2. Ha Jung Woo

3. Ryu Jun Yeol

4. Lee Byung Hun 

5. Ma Dong Suk 

6. Kang Dong Won

7. Hwang Jung Min

8. Yoo Hae Jin

9.  Cho Jin Woong

10. Kim Yun Seok

11. Joo In Sung

12. Ju Ji Hun

13. Choi Min Sik

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December 13, 2018

 

Hwang Jung-min says he reflected on his fate as actor through 'Oedipus'
 

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SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- A press conference was held Dec. 11 to announce the production of "Oedipus," a play based on the Athenian tragedy by Sophocles with the same name. The play is set to open at Seoul Arts Center on Jan. 29.

 

Actor Hwang Jung-min is to take the role of Oedipus, a mythical Greek king of Thebes. In the conference, Hwang said his latest theatrical role caused him to reflect on his fate as an actor. 

 

Source: Sports Donga / Segye / StarNews ++

 

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December 13, 2018

 

Movie Stars That Lit Up The Screen In 2018 According to Gallup Korea Poll

Source: Soompi by C. Hong

 

Spoiler

Movie Stars That Lit Up The Screen In 2018 According to Gallup Korea Poll


Ever since 2007, Gallup Korea has held polls to decide the entertainers/movie stars/TV stars/pop stars/sports stars of the year.

 

To kick off the end of 2018, Gallup Korea has revealed the results for their poll on “movie stars that lit up the screen in 2018.” The poll was conducted from November 7 to 30 and included 1,700 men and women over the age of 13 all over the country.

 

Ma Dong Seok took first place in the poll with his role in this year’s hit film “Along with the Gods 2.” The contrast between his tough-looking exterior and his soft personality has also earned him the nickname “Ma-vely” (Ma + “lovely”). The actor is also well-known for his never-ending body of work, many of which go on to become hits at the box office: “Veteran” (2015), “Along with the Gods” (2017), and “Train to Busan.” In 2018 alone, on top of “Along with the Gods 2,” he appeared in “Champion,” “The Soulmate,” “The Villagers,” and “Unstoppable.”

 

In second place was Ha Jung Woo, who also starred in both “Along with the Gods” movies. He is another heavy-hitter at the box office, with films like “The Handmaiden,” “Tunnel,” and “Assassination” under his belt, and has appeared in the Top 5 of Gallup Korea’s “Movie Stars of the Year” poll every year since 2012.

 

Third place was Lee Byung Hun, a global star who kicked off 2018 with the film “Keys to the Heart.” Although he gained acclaim this particular year for his first drama role in years with tvN’s “Mr. Sunshine,” he is still mostly known as a movie actor rather than a TV actor, even appearing in Hollywood productions like “Misconduct” and “The Magnificent Seven.” In 2009 and 2012, he had risen as high as No. 1 on Gallup Korea’s “Movie Stars of the Year” poll.

 

Spoiler

 

Rounding out the top 5 were Song Kang Ho and Joo Ji Hoon. Song Kang Ho has not yet released a film in 2018, with his latest movie “Drug King” awaiting a December 19 release, but is still riding high on his impressive career to date, not least with 2017’s box office hit “Taxi Driver.” “Taxi Driver” catapulted him to the top of the poll in 2017, a feat that he previously accomplished in 2008 and 2013.

 

Joo Ji Hoon also starred in the “Along with the Gods” series, but this has been a landmark year overall in the young actor’s career. 2018 saw the release of two other movies in which he has starred, after “Along with the Gods 2”: “The Spy Gone North” and “The Dark Figure of Crime.”

 

Like 2016 and 2017, the top 5 movie actors chosen in 2018’s poll were dominated by male actors. The last time a female actress appeared in the top 5 was in 2016 (Jun Ji Hyun). The highest that a female actress has ever placed on the poll was in 2012 (Kim Hye Soo was third). Despite 2018 being a landmark year for female-led films in South Korea, the highest an actress placed on 2018’s poll was No. 14 (Kim Hye Soo, tied with another actor), No. 16 (Son Ye Jin, tied with another actor), and No. 19 (Han Ji Min).

 

 

Here are the top 10 movie stars of 2018, as picked through Gallup Korea’s survey:

 

1. Ma Dong Seok
2. Ha Jung Woo
3. Lee Byung Hun
4. Song Kang Ho
5. Joo Ji Hoon
6. Yoo Hae Jin
7. Jung Woo Sung
8. Hwang Jung Min
9. Jo In Sung
10. Cha Tae Hyun

 

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December 30, 2018


Top 10 Korean Films of 2018

 

By Jason Bechervaise The Korea Times

 

With more than 100 titles released each year, it's always a challenging feat to compile a list of the top 10 Korean films of the year. Although 2018 won't go down as one of the most fruitful years for Korean cinema, there have been a number of notable films, not least Lee Chang-dong's stupendous "Burning" that tops this list. 

 

The following top 10 films were released in local cinemas between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018. 

 

1. Burning 

Few filmmakers can consistently make masterpieces, but Lee Chang-dong has managed it. Topping jury grids following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, "Burning" became the best reviewed film ever to bow on the Croisette. 

Based on Haruki Murakami's short story "Barn Burning," it centers on a love triangle between a mysterious young woman and two men. Starring Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo and Steven Yeun, the film's premise is deceptively simple. As Lee Chang-dong pulls his viewers in, the story becomes increasingly layered and perplexing as he puts together an extraordinary narrative depicting the despair among young people. 

Unfortunately, the film failed to strike a chord with audiences in Korea mustering just 528,000 admissions. But it has made history becoming the first Korean film to be shortlisted for the best foreign language academy award, and could well land a nomination. 

 

2. The Spy Gone North 

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The cast of "The Spy Gone North" at a news conference in southern Seoul on July 3. Korea Times file

 

Yoon Jong-bin's slow-burning spy thriller is an enthralling display of espionage that is more reliant on dialogue than set-pieces ― much in the same way as Kim Jee-woon's "The Age of Shadows" and Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Hwang Jung-min stars as a South Korean agent who infiltrates the North in the 1990s to obtain intelligence on their nuclear plans. 

Capturing the current geopolitical climate culminating in a rousing climax, it is arguably one of the best films dealing with inter-Korean relations. 

 

3. Swing Kids 

When it comes to cinematic rhythm, Kang Hyeong-cheol ("Sunny") is in a league of his own. Bringing together a dazzling display of visuals and a vibrant soundtrack in his latest feature, it will spur viewers to tap dance all the way home. 

Set in a POW camp during the Korean War, a tap dance group is set up to improve the image of the camp following violence that breaks out between the prisoners. It stars Do Kyung-soo, Park Hye-su, Jared Grimes and Oh Jung-se. 

Suffering somewhat from a weak ending, it is nevertheless a visual triumph. 

 

4. Microhabitat 

Bagging a number of new director awards, Jeon Go-woon is a talent to look out for. Her feature debut is a distinctive and immensely enjoyable exploration of independence and happiness. 

Esom plays a young woman in her 30s who is content just drinking whisky, smoking cigarettes and spending time with her boyfriend. 

Addressing a recurring theme in Korean independent cinema with a focus on Korea's young people, it's a refreshing and richly stylized glimpse at the choices facing this generation. 

 

5. Ode to the Goose 

Enigmatic and yet also entertaining, Zhang Lu's new feature that premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in October again illustrates his talent as both a writer and director. 

Playing around with national identity, his non-linear narrative structure might be a challenge for some audiences. But starring Park Hae-il and Moon So-ri about an aspiring poet who takes a spontaneous trip to Gunsan with a woman he has feelings for, it's a richly rewarding experience, especially for those who can spot the numerous cameos. 

 

6. After My Death 

Cleverly bringing an intensity to his narrative, this is another very impressive feature debut by a young filmmaker, Kim Ui-seok who tackles the subject of suicide. 

Jeon Yeo-bin who has attracted much attention for her role in this film winning a number of awards is superb as a student suspected of playing a part in the disappearance of a high school student thought to have killed herself. 
Refusing to strive for narrative clarity, Kim masterfully utilises the film's ambiguity to add to its potency. 

 

7. Door Lock 

Based on the Spanish film "Sleep Tight" (2011), Lee Kwon's thrilling feature follows a woman (Gong Hyo-jin) living alone while a mysterious man attempts to get into her apartment. With a strong female lead, it deftly deals with the difficulties facing women in Korea. 
Superbly orchestrated on a mid-sized budget, it's evidence of how the industry is shifting its focus to lower budget films. 

 

8. Little Forest 
There is certainly a place for socially conscious films, but what's so enchanting about this film is how it whisks viewers away and takes them to idyllic rural Korea in which a young woman (Kim Tae-ri) returns to the countryside following struggles in the city. She does a lot of cooking. 
It might be guilty of romanticizing life as a young person living alone in the middle of nowhere, but Yim Soon-rye's delightful film is sure to bring a smile to those who check it out ― and make them rather peckish. 

 

9. Grass

It's not a top ten list without a Hong Sang-soo film on it somewhere. With at least two films premiering at festivals annually, he's as prolific as ever. 
It stars his muse Kim Min-hee as a Seoul cafe patron who writes as she listens in on conversations taking place in the coffee shop. At a brisk 66 minutes he packs in a wealth of substance that's full of his idiosyncratic character, wit and brilliance. 

 

10. Herstory 

Coming later than other films dealing with comfort women such as "Spirits' Homecoming", it was a box office disappointment despite much critical affection for it. 

Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Kim Hee-ae and Kim Hae-sook the film directed by Min Kyu-dong is based on the so-called Shimonoseki trials during the 1990s. The court drama follows a group of former sex slaves who sought an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government.

Less dependent on emotions in empowering the narrative, the film's strong production values, well-written script and superb performances make this an unforgettable viewing experience. 

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Source: Pierce Conran

 

8. The Spy Gone North (공작)

 

Yoon Jong-bin pulled off quite a gamble with his ambitious fifth film. Despite its big budget and stars, this North Korea-themed espionage yarn was light on action and very heavy on dense geopolitical double-talk. Yet this rich and evocative tale was deservedly invited to Cannes (though I still don’t think Midnight was the right place for it). Providing a complex assessment of the relationship between the Koreas, The Spy Gone North strikes emotional resonance in the most surprising of places.

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January 14, 2019

 

HWANG Jung-min Mulling Return as HOSTAGE
Box Office Star Prepares for Screen Comeback with Filmmaker R & K

 

by Pierce Conran KOFIC

 

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Korean star HWANG Jung-min is reportedly considering the project Hostage (translated title), a remake of the Chinese hit Saving Mr. Wu, as his return to the silver screen. The box office magnet was recently on screens in the acclaimed Cannes-screened drama The Spy Gone North (2018) last summer, but hasn’t been on a film set since July 2017. Should he take on the lead role, HWANG would end his well-earned break this spring as production is schedule to get underway in May.

 

Released in 2015, the original Saving Mr. Wu stared Andy LAU as a Hong Kong star kidnapped by a gang of ruthless criminals. The film earned over USD 31 million at the box office. Were HWANG to confirm his appearance in the project, it would see him reunite with the production company Filmmaker R & K, which was behind previous films the star has featured in, such as the RYOO Seung-wan titles The Unjust (2010), Veteran (2015) and The Battleship Island (2017).

 

HWANG was set to return in the upcoming space drama Return, which would have seen him reunite with his Ode to My Father (2014) director JK YOUN and co-star with KIM Hye-soo, but that project has been put on hold as the script undergoes further development. During his time away from film production, HWANG has been busy on the stage, appearing in ‘Richard the 3rd’ last year and scheduled to be on stage later this month in ‘Oedipus’.

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January 8, 2019

 

End-Of-Year Peak Season Scores 
Box Office Results of Korean Films Released in December over the Last 5 Years

 

by HWANG Hee-yun / KOFIC

 

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December is one of the most profitable periods for Korean films, along with summer. Blockbusters with huge production costs flood the market and reap large box office takes on par with their impressive budgets. The period that saw the all-time biggest commercial successes is indeed December. One only need look at a list of the Korean commercial hits of the last five years that were released in December to get a sense of how crucial this period can be. The Attorney (2013), Ode to My Father (2014) and Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017) all managed to get some legs and were still running in the following month, selling over 10 million tickets. In that respect, this year’s slate of December releases, namely The Drug King (Dec. 19), Swing Kids (Dec. 19) and Take Point (Dec. 26), was eagerly anticipated by moviegoers. Add to that the fact that the first two marked the return of SONG Kang-ho and HA Jung-woo, two of the most bankable actors, while the third one was the latest from Sunny (2011) director KANG Hyoung-chul. However, now that the December peak season is behind us and the figures are in, it appears these three movies have performed rather poor. Released a week earlier than Take Point (2018), The Drug King (2018) welcomed 1.86 million viewers while Swing Kids (2018) took in 1.43 million admissions. Take Point, which opened on December 26, also had a rough time as it only sold 1.6 million tickets. Considering that all three movies had production budgets of over KRW 14 billion (USD 12.5 million), this is seen as a major disappointment by people within and outside of the film industry. Because of this box office slump, it was the first time since 2011 that the December admission figures for Korean movies were way behind those for foreign films.

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January 27, 2019

 

WINTER’S NIGHT, MAGGIE and THE SPY GONE NORTH Invited to Rotterdam

Korean Films Head to the Netherlands


by Pierce Conran KOFIC

 

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), which kicked off on January 23, has invited three Korean films to its program this year, YI Ok-seop’s Maggie (2018), YOON Jong-bin’s The Spy Gone North (2018) and JANG Woo-jin’s Winter’s Night (2018).

 

Screening in the Bright Future section, JANG’s Winter’s Night (2018) was one of the Jeonju Cinema Projects that premiered at the Jeonju International Film Festival last May. The film has been doing well on the festival circuit, having won the Best Director and Best Actress Award for SEO Young-hwa at the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn and the Special Jury Prize at the Festival of the Three Continents in Nantes.

 

Also featuring in Bright Future, Maggie (2018) is the debut film of YI and premiered in the Korean Cinema Today-Vision lineup of the Busan International Film Festival last October. IFFR will host the international premiere of the film which stars LEE Joo-young, KOO Kyo-hwan and MOON So-ri.

 

YOON’s period espionage yarn The Spy Gone North (2018) with HWANG Jung-min, LEE Sung-min, JU Ji-hoon and CHO Jin-woong will feature in the Perspectives lineup. The film bowed as a Midnight Screening at the Cannes Film Festival and attracted almost five million viewers in Korean theaters last August.

 

While no Korean film are featured in this year’s Tigers Competition section in Rotterdam, previous Korean prize winners include HONG Sangsoo’s The Day A Pig Fell Into A Well in 1997, PARK Chan-ok’s Jealousy Is My Middle Name in 2003, YANG Ik-june’s Breathless in 2009 and PARK Jung-bum’s The Journals of Musan in 2011 and LEE Su-jin’s HAN Gong-ju in 2014. This year’s IFFR will continue until February 3.

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  • Guest changed the title to Hwang Jung-Min 황정민 - Current Drama 2020: Hush on JTBC
  • Helena changed the title to Hwang Jung-Min 황정민

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