As you settle into your seat before a screening at the London Korean Film Festival there’s a familiar set of brief films you watch before the main feature starts: first the official trailer, and then three short promotional videos for the sponsors. Of these, the one that probably sticks in the mind for all the right reasons (including its Billy Fury soundtrack) is that for the Corinthia Hotel, which has been supporting the festival since 2012, opening their doors to the actors and directors who come over for the gala screenings and Q+As.
The Corinthia is relatively new to London, having opened as recently as 2011 in a building formerly occupied by the Ministry of Defence on a triangular plot between Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall Place, close to the river. From the outside, it is understated and discreet. But inside it has the unmistakable feel of quality. There’s no bling (though the Full Moon chandelier in the Lobby lounge is pretty spectacular), but you know that the interior cost serious money and is the result of a lot of thought.
For A-list guests from Korea there are certain attractions which make their stay memorable. First, for the smokers (of which there are many), there’s the interior courtyard which feels as snug as a normal lounge, with open fires, sofas and more – a place to come to drink and smoke after a Q+A, rather than having to loiter outside in the street for the nicotine fix.
Another plus is the spa, which extends over four floors: somehwere to be pampered and relax. During last year’s festival, the VIPs enjoyed the spa so much that they decided to cancel a day’s sightseeing in order to luxuriate in a privacy that their celebrity status would not allow them back home. They turned up for the red carpet looking well groomed.
The Corinthia brand has been around since the 1960s, but as a new arrival to London’s competitive hotel scene the opportunity to support the London Korean Film Festival gave it the opportunity to differentiate itself in a new way. The partnership is logical given the proximity of the Korean Cultural Centre at the other end of Northumberland Avenue.
Among the stars to have stayed in the hotel are Jung Woo-sung, Choi Min-sik, Moon Sori, Im Kwon-taek, and – this year – Hwang Jung-min. To have these big names staying gets the hotel noticed back in Korea. And when the star has a fanbase in China too – like Super Junior members Donghae and Eunhyuk, who stayed there last year – so much the better.
The London Korean Film Festival wouldn’t be what it is without its sponsors – Asiana to fly the stars over, Corinthia to accommodate them, and this year for the first time Hyundai to drive them around. Thanks are due to all three of them and here’s hoping the sponsorship brings as much success to them as it does to the festival.
Disclosure: LKL won three nights at the Corinthia in a raffle after the opening screening of this year’s LKFF, but has not had the chance to enjoy the splendid prize yet. Thanks to Ivy Jenkins (the Corinthia’s Head of Sales – Asia) for the guided tour which enabled the above article to be written. All images supplied by the Corinthia apart from Hwang Jung-min which is courtesy of the KCCUK.