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The Avatamsaka Sutra: more Buddhist-themed film at the KCC

Sometimes known as “Passage to Buddha”, The Avatamsaka Sutra (1993) from director Jang Sun-woo continues the Buddhist theme at the KCC this month. Tony Rayns explains:

Hwa-om-kyung is the Korean name of the Avatamsaka Sutra, a Buddhist scripture from the 5th century BC. Ko Un’s novel of the same title is an imagined biography of the sutra’s protagonist Sonje, following him through a series of encounters as he quests for nirvana. Jang Sun-woo has had the idea of transposing the book’s narrative from ancient India to present-day Korea, measuring Sonje’s spiritual progress against the human and environmental costs of the country’s social development. The result is not a Buddhist film but a film about Buddhism and the modern world: it explores the fundamental concepts of Buddhism with the same clarity that it brings to its view of people and their predicaments. It is extraordinarily beautiful, and very affecting.1

And now for the press release:

Film title: The Avatamsaka Sutra (Hwa-om-kyung), 115mins
Director: Jang Sun-woo
Cast: Won Mi-kyeong, Oh Tae-kyung
Genre: Drama
Venue: Multi-purpose Hall, The Korean Cultural Centre, Grand Buildings, The Strand, London WC2N 5BW
Time: Thursday, 22nd April, 7:00pm

The winner of the Alfred-Bauer Prize at the 1994 Berlin Film Festival

Before this film screening, guests will be invited to enjoy a Korean tea tasting with traditional snacks.


Abandoned as an infant, Sonje is foundand raised by Moon-su, an ex-convict with a colourful record. When Moon-su dies, Sonje begins a search for his mother. On his journey, Sonje experiences love, sorrow, equality, wealth, and sexual desire through the people he meets: Beob-woon who gives him a flute, Ji-ho a philanderer, Hae-woon a fishing village doctor, Ina the blind singer, Manee the vamp, the long-term prisoner Hye-kyung. He is reunited with Ee-ryun who confesses the love that she has kept for him for so long. They share a night together during a rain storm and Ee-ryun becomes pregnant.

Source: KMDB

Booking is required, please RSVP to [email protected] or call 020 7004 2600
Admission is free.

  1. Seoul Stirring: 5 Korean Directors, ICA, 1994. []

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