The theme for this month’s films at the KCC film club is Director Lee Chang Dong (right).
Im Sang Soo is practically the only director now making films that take a long look at the lives of contemporary Koreans without losing their historical sense … There are few texts as good at understanding the sensibilities and concerns of modern Koreans as the films of Im Sang Soo.
Strike out Im Sang Soo and replace with Lee Chang Dong and you have a statement with even greater validity. Having started as a writer Director Lee learned film-making on set as assistant director on Park Kwang-su’s To the Starry Island, and after three solo films joined Noh Moo-hyun’s government as Minister for Culture and Tourism. He returned to film-making in great style last year with Secret Sunshine / Milyang.
For July, the KCC have selected the two most historically-aware of Lee’s films. This Thursday, 10 July, we have the opportunity to see Green Fish – 초록물고기 (1997), an early film to feature Han Suk-kyu, who later achieved superstardom in Korea’s first blockbuster, Shiri. In Green Fish, Han plays a young man returning from military service who finds his family in decline as all around them the landscape is dug up to make way for Korea’s economic development. The only way for him to provide for his family is to become a small-time gangster.
Later in the month (24 July) we will see the film which brought Lee international recognition – Peppermint Candy (박하사탕), which opened the Busan film festival in 1999. Sol Kyung-gu plays a character whose life is an extended slow motion train smash. We trace the chronology of his decline in reverse order, picking up key moments in recent Korean history along the way, from the 1997 “IMF crisis” through police repression under the military dictatorship to the Kwangju Uprising in 1980. Essential and richly rewarding viewing.
As ever, pre-registration with the KCC is required
(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.