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Crossroads of Youth: Korea’s oldest silent film comes to stage at the Thames Festival

This coming weekend sees the return of The Mayor of London’s Thames Festival, celebrating the diverse range of culture and art that inhabits London. As in previous years, Korea is represented by the Korean Cultural Centre UK hosting fun and exciting events at the OXO Tower. This year the KCCUK and Korean Film Archive are proud to present Crossroads of Youth (청춘의 십자로). This film is the oldest surviving cinematic Korean release which premiered in 1934. This print which will be screening has been fully restored by KOFA. The screening time is 8pm on Saturday 10 September 2011.

Crossroads of Youth poster

During the silent film era, movies in Korea were part of a broader entertainment experience. Before and after a screening, there was a variety of performing arts including songs by actresses or singers and performances of actors in the films. This great atmosphere is brought back to life for this special screening with musical performances before, after and during the film.

Though the film is silent the story is still told vocally through a Byunsa (Cho Hee-bong), or narrator. He will sing along with the musical accompaniment of the accordion, violin and contra bass.

1934. Young-bok has married into the family of Bong-sun. There he works hard for 7 years, only to see his wife leave him for another man. Putting this stinging betrayal behind him, Young-bok leaves his; home, elderly mother, and younger sister, Young-ok, to make a name for himself in Seoul. There, Young-bok falls for Kye-soon, a young woman who lives a pitiful life supporting her ill father and younger sister. Back in the countryside, Young-bok’s mother passes away, and Young-ok goes to Seoul to look for her brother. Instead, she meets Kye-chul, who assaults both her and Young-bok’s new love. After hearing about his girlfriend’s plight, Young-bok rushes to Kye-chul’s house, where he unexpectedly reunites with his sister. After hearing her story, Young-bok decides to take his revenge on Kye-chul.

Ahn Jong-hwa made his debut as an actor in the Revolution Company’s 1920 theatre production of Jang Han Mong. His directorial debut came in 1930 with Flower Business and Singing Season. He directed Crossroads of Youth in 1934, followed by Passion Flowing Through the Milky Way in 1935.

A multi-talented director with delicate sensibility, Kim Tae-yong has so far made three commercial feature films and one documentary, all of which garnered critical acclaim. He co-directed with MIN Kyu-dong (Memento Mori), an installment in the horror series Whispering Corridors. Out of the five installments of the series, Memento Mori is considered to have made the highest artistic achievement. Family Ties (2006), which threw a variety of alternative forms of family to the Korean society, which still adheres to the notion of a nuclear family consisting birthparents and their children as the only “normal” family, also received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Late Autumn (2010), set in Seattle and starring HYUN Bin of Korea and TANG Wei of China, is a classic that has been remade many time in Korea as well. He also directed a movie “talk” performance of The Crossroad of the Youth (1934), Korea’s oldest known silent movie.

Young-bok – Lee Wan-yong (1904 – ?),
Lee Won-yong was one of the most popular action-film stars in Korean during the late 1920s. Beginning with Nak Hwa Yu Su in 1927, he appeared in many of Kum Kang Cinema’s productions, which secured his place as a star. His career slumped in the early 1930s, but Crossroads of Youth helped relaunch his career.

Young-ok – Shin Il-seon (1912 – 1990)
Using the stage name Shin Yil-sun, Shin Sam-soon shot to stardom when she appeared in Arirang when she was 16. Subsequent roles in Rat and A Goldfish kept her in the public eye until 1927, when she married and gave up her acting career. She returned to acting in 1934, following her divorce.

Kye-soon – Kim Yeon-si l (1911 – 1997)
Kim Yeon-sil was one of Korea’s best known actresses and singers during the Japanese colonial period. The sister of famous voice-over artist Kim Hak-keun and cinematographer Kim Hak-sung, her acting career began with Farewell (1927) and continued through the mid-1930s.

Year: 1934
Time: 70 min
Release: September 24, 1934 at the Choson Theatre


(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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