A look forward to the events of 2012

Ones to watch out for in 2012: clockwise from top left: Im Kwon-taek, Kim Young-ha, Bae Doo-na, Lee Byung-hun and Hwang Ji-hae
Ones to watch out for in 2012: clockwise from top left: Im Kwon-taek, Kim Young-ha, Bae Doo-na, Lee Byung-hun and Hwang Ji-hae

We had a pretty good year for Korea-related cultural events in 2011. So what can we expect in 2012? Here’s a taster of things that are in planning. And here’s hoping the plans come to fruition.

Film

Im Kwon-taek's 1979 film Genealogy (족보)
Im Kwon-taek's 1979 film Genealogy (족보)

We missed out on a planned Im Kwon-taek retrospective in 2011 owing to a clash of dates with the BFI. But those of you who went to the London Korean Film Festival in 2011 will have noted that Im promised his films would be coming in 2012. Here’s hoping for a rich selection. Top of my wish-list would be Genealogy, based on Kajiyama Toshiyuki’s colonial novel The Clan Records. Seopyeonje of course is a must-see as well.

But with or without an Im Kwon-taek retrospective, the KCC has some pretty exciting plans for their free film screenings which are already in place. Moving from a fortnightly to a weekly schedule, each month will focus on a particular director, and the last screening of the month will include a Q&A with that featured director there in person. We’ve already kicked off with Lee Myung-se, who knows who might follow. Apart from Im Kwon-taek the biggest name who hasn’t been seen in London this century to my knowledge is Lee Chang-dong. And then, there’s Kim Ki-duk who almost made it to the London Korean Film Festival last year. The possibilities are endless, and the only potential downside is that there will be nowhere to go in 2013 if directors with four films under their belts are featured in 2012.

Across the pond there are several Hollywood offerings coming to fruition: here’s hoping that Kim Ji-woon’s Last Stand (probably to be released in 2013) and Park Chan-wook’s Stoker meet expectations. And there’s Lee Byung-hun’s resurrection in G.I. Joe 2, which will be a guilty pleasure, and the slightly more ambitious Cloud Atlas featuring Bae Doo-na as one of the cast.

Music

Storyseller - launching their first album on 10 Jan, playing Camden on 21 Feb
Storyseller - launching their first album on 10 Jan, playing Camden on 21 Feb

After the excitement generated by the commercial bands last year, 21 February will see Indie music being showcased at a Camden club: Pop/rock band Storyseller (formerly known as Bloody Cookie) together with Choi Soo Min will be there with a couple of Japanese bands.

But K-pop won’t be far away. MBC is bringing a number of bands over to a big venue in London in June.

Art

From Bae Joon Sung’s 'Costume of Painter' series - part of the Korean Eye 2012 exhibition
From Bae Joon Sung’s 'Costume of Painter' series - part of the Korean Eye 2012 exhibition

Hanmi Gallery has finally got planning permission from Camden Council to overhaul its Fitzrovia space, so we can look forward later this year to exhibitions which aren’t branded as “interim” any more. We wish Heashin Kwak well on the construction work. To keep her on her toes, Tom Woo’s Hada Contemporary is finding its own dedicated space, moving from its virtual gallery in Albemarle Street. Good luck to Tom on the move. And we look forward to more from Mokspace, now in its second year in its premises opposite the British Museum.

The Saatchi Gallery will be bringing its third Korean Eye group exhibition to London having toured the show to New York and Abu Dhabi in 2011. It will be good to have a showcase of contemporary Korean art while the Olympics are on. For those familiar with the London Korean art scene the show will be a useful reminder, while for new visitors there’s plenty of interest, variety and quality.

Theatre

Yohangza's Midsummer Night's Dream
Yohangza's Midsummer Night's Dream

As part of the Cultural Olympiad, the Globe Theatre is putting on an interesting series of Shakespeare adaptations. Yohangza Theatre Company will be bringing its excellent Midsummer Night’s Dream production, which showed to great acclaim in the Barbican in 2006 and Edinburgh Fringe in 2005.

Horticulture

Hwang Jihae’s sketch of her proposed DMZ garden, to be shown at Chelsea this year
Hwang Jihae’s sketch of her proposed DMZ garden, to be shown at Chelsea this year

Hwang Jihae will return to the Chelsea Flower Show with her DMZ garden. If you haven’t got tickets, join the Royal Horticultural Society NOW as the show sells out pretty quickly.

Further afield

An artist's impression of one of the Yeosu pavilions
An artist's impression of one of the Yeosu pavilions

In Korea, the world expo 2012 will be held in Yeosu, with a maritime theme. I’m hoping to pay Yeosu a visit in late March to see how the preparations are going.

Books

Here at LKL we’re big fans of Kim Young-ha, and so it’s great news that if all goes well his 2003 novel Black Flower will hit the English-speaking bookshops in translation towards the end of the year.

And while on the subject of books, Shin Kyung-sook’s Please Look After Mother is on the shortlist for the Man Asian Literary Prize.

The disappointment

For the second year running, according to their advance publicity Asia House does not seem to be featuring a Korean author in their Festival of Asian Literature. That’s a shame as there are plenty to choose from. I even wrote to them with some suggestions.

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