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E J-yong is February’s Director at the KCC. First up, An Affair

After January’s successful focus on Lee Myung-se, February brings another Lee: E J-yong, or Lee Jae-yong (이재용). We start with An Affair (정사, 1998), starring Lee Mi-sook and Lee Jung-jae. It was one of the first Korean films I ever saw, at the 2001 London Korean Film Festival, and got me hooked on the Korean movie scene.

This was the director’s debut feature, and for me the subsequent films of his I’ve seen (Asako in Ruby Shoes and Untold Scandal) haven’t lived up to the promise of An Affair, so I’m looking forward to seeing his latest, the experimental Actresses, and the slightly wacky Dasepo Naughty Girls, as well as re-watching Scandal, to see if it is better the second time round.

And the fact that three of the films to be screened feature one of my favourite actresses, Lee Mi-sook, means that I’ll be there for all four films this month.

The schedule is:

2 Feb: An Affair (1998) (7:00pm at the KCC – book via the KCC website in the normal way)
9 Feb: Dasepo Naughty Girls (2006) (7:00pm at the KCC – book as above)
16 Feb: Untold Scandal (2003) (7:00pm at the KCC – book
23 Feb: Actresses (2009) + Q&A with E J-yong (6:30pm at the Apollo – book via the Apollo website)

An Affair (1998)

Lee Mi-sook and Lee Jeong-jae in An Affair
Lee Mi-sook and Lee Jeong-jae in An Affair

This film, the debut feature by director E J-Yong, is a muted, introspective view of the feelings surrounding an affair. An Affair won an award for best Asian film at the Newport Beach International Film Festival in Los Angeles.

A story about forbidden love. Seo-hyun is a bored housewife living with her architect husband and ten year-old son. But when she meets her younger sister’s fianc’e, Woo-in, her life changes forever. Because her sister Ji-hyun is too busy with work to prepare for her own wedding, Seo-hyun is left with the task of planning the wedding with Woo-in. It is love at first sight for Seo-hyun and Woo-in. The more they meet, the stronger their mutual attraction grows. They begin to have secret rendez-vous together at his place, a video game room, the earth science class room in her son’s school. But Ji-hyun’s arrival from the United States. makes the situation all the more unbearable for the two lovers. The two continue with the relationship, knowing full well the consequences of their deeds.

Dasepo Naughty Girls (2006)

Some of the Dasepo girls
Some of the Dasepo girls

Based on the popular Internet novel, Multi-Cell Girl , the film takes place in No-Use High School , a school renowned for its sexual aberrations. The student body is comprised of sexually ambiguous teenagers, and the student president and vice-president flaunt their taste for S&M. Independent study and supplementary classes are done on homosexuality and transgenderism, and teachers and students alike leave school early because of sexually-transmitted diseases. But amidst this environment, there are some that just can t adapt. Among them: Poor Girl , a student who earns money for her family by sleeping with older men; Anthony , a luxurious prett-boy from Switzerland; One-Eye , the school s sole virgin. Poor Girl falls in love with Anthony at first sight. Meanwhile, Anthony is struck by One-Eye s brother Two Eyes and feels confused about his sexuality.

Untold Scandal (2003)

Lee Mi-sook and Bae Yong-joon in Untold Scandal
Lee Mi-sook and Bae Yong-joon in Untold Scandal

Based on the novel ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses,’ this film is set in aristocratic 18th-century Korea at the end of the Chosun Dynasty. Director E J-yong keeps a familiar story interesting by virtue of unexpected juxtapositions (for example in the soundtrack, a mix of classical European and Korean music), visual elegence, and efficient storytelling. He stays true to the spirit of the original novel while giving it an entirely new aesthetic.

Actresses (2009) + Q&A with E J-yong

Several generations of Actresses
Several generations of Actresses

Director E J-yong mixes reality and fiction by bringing together top actresses to play themselves on screen. On Christmas Eve, in order to shoot Vogue’s special edition, six actresses ranging from their twenties to their sixties come together at a studio. This should be the first attempt in Korea to break the rules of the fashion world.

The Director

E J-yong
E J-yong

E J-yong is known to be one of the representative stylists in the Korean film industry, who boasts a diverse array of works in his filmography that freely cross over the boundary between controlled and beautiful visuals and chic presentation of original ideas. He won awards at many major short film festivals such as Clermont-ferrand International Short Film Festival with Homo Videocus (1990), which he co-directed with Daniel BYUN during his years at Korean Academy of Film Arts. His feature debut, An Affair (1998), was a unique melodrama that introduced minimalism in visual, lines, and emotions, which was unheard of until then. Modern melodrama, adaptation of a French classic novel as a Chosun Dynasty story, a story of high school student filed with cartoon-like imagination, the subject matters and themes of E J-yong’s films run from one extreme to another. Nevertheless, his films are all beautiful, chic, and sensuous. Almost all of his films have been shown at many international film festivals to rave reviews. The Actresses (2009), a new form of film that blurred the boundary of fiction and nonfiction that he worked on with six of Korea’s representative actresses, such as YOUN Yuh-jung, LEE Mi-sook, KO Hyun-jung, and CHOI Ji-woo, was also screened the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival.

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

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