Film reviews and comment

For a complete listing of LKL’s film reviews, click here. For a listing of the top films of the noughties – compiled from the lists of prominent K-film bloggers – click here, and the article was updated here. For LKL’s own list of the top films 2000-2010 (2003 was a bumper year) click here. Otherwise, all our reviews are in publication date order below.

Ji-yeon, a penniless bar girl in Macao in debt to some loan sharks is given the opportunity of a new life if she manages to get a super-rich tycoon to marry her. In league with the tycoon’s estranged son, it seems that with her natural charms and honesty she will win the cantankerous and eccentric […]

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Film Review: Wonderful Nightmare

by Philip Gowman 15 December 2015
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Owing to an administrative cock-up at the Pearly Gates, rich, single, hard-nosed, man-hating lawyer Lee Yeon-woo, whose main client is an evil construction company, meets an early death. She is given a chance to resume her life, but only on condition that she first, for one month only, lives the life of a mother-of-two married […]

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Caught on the plane: Twenty and Memories of the Sword

by Philip Gowman 13 December 2015
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I always look forward to long-haul flights as an opportunity to catch up on all the movies I should have been watching over the past year. And having just returned from an ultra-long-haul holiday, I can heartily recommend Singapore Airlines in-flight entertainment. My only complaint is that there was too much to watch: if the […]

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Festival Film Review: Lee Kwang-guk focus

by Philip Gowman 23 November 2015
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If I had seen no other films at the 2015 London Korean Film Festival, the evenings of films by Lee Kwang-guk would have made the whole festival worthwhile. The first evening featured his second film, the short Hard to Say (2013), along with his debut feature Romance Joe (2012), while the second evening followed up […]

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Festival Film Review: Chung Chang-wha focus

by Philip Gowman 20 November 2015
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Each year the LKFF includes a few golden oldies among its line-up of the latest commercial and art house offerings. This year the festival gave us the opportunity to get to know three films by veteran director Chung Chang-wha, made before he was scouted by Shaw Brothers in 1969. The earliest film to be screened […]

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Festival film review: Love And…

by Philip Gowman 20 November 2015
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Two years ago the revered Korean film critic Tony Rayns asked Moon Sori an awkward question. The question was followed by a sharp intake of breath from the audience who couldn’t believe what they had just heard, and by a few false starts at a response by Ms Moon before she answered fluently. At the final […]

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Festival Film Review: Socialphobia

by Philip Gowman 16 November 2015
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Socialphobia, a debut film from Hong Seok-jae, was one of the fifteen sold-out screenings at this year’s LKFF. For an indie film, it had a strong reception at the Korean box office, aided in part by the actor Byun Yo-han who played in the hit TV drama Misaeng, but also because of its contemporary theme: […]

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Festival Film Review: Sleepless Night

by Philip Gowman 16 November 2015
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There is something slightly hypnotising about seeing a movie which seems to aspire to do nothing more than lovingly record the daily lives of a couple who face the same everyday challenges and questions that most of us face. How and whether to stand up to the boss at work when he seeks to make […]

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Festival Film Review: Collapse

by Philip Gowman 15 November 2015
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The second screening in this year’s documentary strand, this movie left you wondering what the director’s intentions were. Indeed, it made you wonder whether there was another guiding spirit which took over the film-making process, editing and shaping the unfinished work of the director. And then you looked at the credits, and discovered that there […]

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Festival Film Review: The Classified File

by Philip Gowman 12 November 2015
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As goodwill ambassador for Sancheong County, I was delighted when Sancheong’s most famous Buddhist monk, the late Seong Cheol sunim, got name checked in The Classified File as the Seon Master of the Buddhist-trained fortune teller who unofficially assisted the police in the real-life 1978 kidnap case that was the subject of the movie. One […]

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Festival Film Review: Ode to My Father

by Philip Gowman 10 November 2015
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The time is the present. Yoon Deok-su, a grandfather living in Busan but born in South Hamgyong province in North Korea, looks back at his life of hardship which has coincided exactly with the life of the Republic of Korea. Surrounded by his grandchildren, he has managed to raise his family from nothing to relative prosperity, […]

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Festival Film Review: Kim Eungsu — The City in the Water

by Philip Gowman 8 November 2015
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Write down on a piece of paper a list of techniques you expect to be used in a documentary about a controversial episode in recent history. Maybe it will include archive footage; expert talking heads giving their views of the historical problem; interviews with people who lived through it, witnessed it or even contributed to […]

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LKFF 2015: the reviews

by Philip Gowman 7 November 2015
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Here is an index to reviews of some of the films screening at LKFF 2015. I’ll update this article with more links when I find them. Films are listed in order of screening. LKL = London Korean Links | EK = Eastern Kicks | THN = The Hollywood News | HC = Hangul Celluloid Film […]

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CJ Entertainment celebrates its 20th birthday with a special strand at LKFF 2015

by Philip Gowman 2 November 2015
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CJ Entertainment has been associated with some of the biggest and best films since the turn of the millennium. 20 years old this year, it is celebrating its birthday with a big splash at the 10th London Korean Film Festival organised by the KCCUK. [1] Five screenings at this year’s festival are of CJ productions: […]

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Festival Film Review: Hong Won-chan’s The Office at LEAFF

by Philip Gowman 27 October 2015
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The Office was the second of two Korean films to screen at the 0th edition of the London East Asia Film Festival, and came with strong credentials. Though a debut feature by Hong Won-chan, he was the scriptwriter for the well received Yellow Sea and even better received The Chaser. And the movie was Official […]

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Festival Film Review: Ryoo Seung-wan’s Veteran

by Philip Gowman 24 October 2015
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It really didn’t feel like a new film festival. We were opening in a venue that felt familiar, a lot of the faces front of house and on stage were known to the audience, there were plenty of photographers and TV cameras as well as a red carpet outside, and the bar upstairs was full […]

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Festival Film Reviews: the four Korean films at the BFI London Film Fest 2015

by Philip Gowman 17 October 2015
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It was a very pleasing selection of Korean films at the BFI London Film Festival this year. And for the first time that I can remember, I managed to get to all of them. Here are the verdicts. The Assassination 암살, Dir Choi Dong-hoon, 2015. With a fantastic ensemble cast, including Jeon Ji-hyun as the […]

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