Event reports and reviews

When you tuck into your bowl of warming chueotang muddy loach soup, with its tangle of green vegetables, shoots and mysterious fishy bits suspended in a tangy reddish-green-brown broth, the condiment you reach for to give it that extra taste sensation is a liberal sprinkling of sancho powder. The pungent, fragrant taste rounds out a […]

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Festival film review: Yourself and Yours

by Robert Cottingham 18 November 2016
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Hong Sang-soo (홍상수) Yourself and Yours (당신 자신과 당신의 것, 2016) Review by Robert Cottingham. You can tell from the opening titles exactly the kind of film this is going to be. Black Korean calligraphy on a white background suggests an intelligent and possibly artistic film and the lively classical music hints at a sophisticated comedy on […]

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BFI Festival Film Review: Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing

by Philip Gowman 16 November 2016
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Na Hong-jin can sure put you through a mental wringer. Mysterious and very bloody murders, extremely nasty skin conditions: who or what is to blame? The choice seems to be between a mind-altering magic mushroom concoction and a strange Japanese guy who lives in the forest, fishing and living off the land. And what of […]

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Review: Bongsu Park’s Crossing Over – Ritual of Grief

by Philip Gowman 14 November 2016
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Bongsu Park’s two-part work, Crossing Over – Ritual of Grief, is an ambitious piece lasting for almost two hours which saw its first performance spread over two weekends in two different locations during August. It blends contemporary electronic music with traditional Korean music, and contemporary dance with traditional Korean dance such as Salpuri. Appropriately enough […]

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Festival report: Park Hong-min Q+A after the screening of “A Fish”

by Robert Cottingham 12 November 2016
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Park Hong-Min was in London yesterday for a 3-D showing of his first film A Fish (2011). He gave a short Q-and-A after the screening. Transcribed by Robert Cottingham. Tony Rayns: I’ll get things going. I take it this film is not based on your own experience? Park Hong-min: Yes, it’s definitely not based on […]

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Brief festival film review: Eoh Woo Dong

by Robert Cottingham 11 November 2016
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Lee Chang-ho (이장호) Eoh Woo Dong (어우동, 1985, 110 mins). Review by Robert Cottingham. Eoh Woo Dong translates as “entertainer,” a rough approximation of the duties of 14th-century Korean courtesan Eoh Yoon Chang. After a lifetime “in service,” Eoh Yoon Chang retires to a faraway village. Meanwhile, her powerful father, ashamed of his daughter’s lifestyle, […]

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Gig Review: Kyungso Park and Andy Sheppard in the Albert Hall’s Elgar Room

by Philip Gowman 9 November 2016
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Recent collaborations between British and Korean musicians have not always been successful. A planned experiment between jazz trumpeter Guy Barker and Samulnori founder Kim Duk-soo never happened because the latter went awol when Barker came to visit. Instead, having already been booked for the 2008 Dano Festival in Trafalgar Square, Barker appeared briefly on stage […]

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Brief Festival Film Review: Kai

by Robert Cottingham 8 November 2016
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Lee Sung-gang (이성강): Kai (카이, 2016, 96 mins) Review by Robert Cottingham Snow Queen Hattan casts a spell over the peaceful village where Kai lives, and covers everything in ice. The River Spirit who is the protector of the village gives the brave young Kai the only key to fighting off Hattan and asks him […]

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Festival film review: Crush and Blush

by Robert Cottingham 7 November 2016
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Lee Kyoung-mi (이경미): Crush and Blush (미쓰 홍당무, 2008) Review by Robert Cottingham. Right near the beginning of Crush and Blush, the main character Mi-seok stands digging a deep hole in a schoolyard. I thought that it was a punishment used in South Korean schools, but if not it could be a visual metaphor for […]

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Festival film review: The Truth Beneath

by Robert Cottingham 6 November 2016
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Lee Kyoung-mi (이경미): The Truth Beneath (비밀은 없다, 2016) Review by Robert Cottingham Lee Kyoung-mi got her start in films working with Park Chan-wook, and from watching this film it seems she has taken his lead when it comes to violent revenge. When a politician’s daughter goes missing the scandal threatens to upset his ambitions […]

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LKFF report: the opening night and The Truth Beneath

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2016
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The eleventh of the London Korean Film Festivals organised by the KCCUK opened on Thursday with a little sprinkling of stardust. Jung Woo-sung, who electrified the audience during the 2014 festival where he was the headline attraction, came to the opening night as just a regular guy wanting to watch a movie. But that didn’t […]

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Park Chan-wook at LEAFF, talking about Handmaiden, octopuses and more

by Philip Gowman 24 October 2016
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I’ve now lost count of the number of times that Park Chan-wook has come to London. But it’s always nice to see him, especially when there’s his latest film to enjoy as part of a retrospective of his work at the London East Asia Film Festival. We got to see the amazing Handmaiden at the BFI […]

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Jambinai at the Oslo Hackney – a second-hand mini-review

by Philip Gowman 13 October 2016
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We didn’t manage to get to Jambinai at the Oslo Hackney as this year. Nor it seems did the Guardian or Resonate, who have been diligent reviewers of the other K-Music gigs. Jambinai were certainly one of the highlights of last year’s festival – and I would have loved to have got to see them […]

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Gig review: Patients + Idiotape @ Rich Mix

by Philip Gowman 11 October 2016
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Sometimes you enjoy an event but don’t know what to say about it. Rock music is not one of my own core competencies. I know when a band enthuses me, but if asked to describe the style or genre, or to compare the musicians with other, possibly Western, reference points I’m usually at a loss. […]

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Film review: The Lovers and the Despot

by Philip Gowman 10 October 2016
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The way you watch Ross Adam’s and Robert Cannan’s The Lovers and the Despot is likely to depend on whether you know the story or not. To those who are coming to it afresh, this is an extraordinary tale which is another example of the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction: one of South […]

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Brief review: Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden

by Philip Gowman 9 October 2016
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I’ll leave others to do the detailed review of Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden (아가씨), which screened at the London Film Festival this week and which will return later in the month at the London East Asia Film Festival. Suffice it to say that it’s gorgeous-looking, both in terms of costume and interiors, great story-telling and totally […]

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Brief review: Train to Busan

by Philip Gowman 8 October 2016
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What can you say about Train to Busan that hasn’t already been said? When everyone tells you it’s a fantastic thrill-ride you try to go into the screening with lowered expectations just in case everyone is delusional and you come away disappointed. No need to fear. It’s pretty much non-stop entertainment from start to finish, […]

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