London Korean Film Festival 2018: press release and detailed schedule

The 2018 London Korean Film Festival programme was announced at last night’s final teaser screening. The press release is set out below, and at the bottom of the page is the detailed schedule:

The 13th London Korean Film Festival

London: 1 – 14 November 2018
UK tour: 15 – 25 November 2018

LKFF18 logo

LONDON, 17 September 2018 — Launching its 13th edition today, the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) announced its full programme of films and events. Running from 1- 14 November in London before taking highlights around the country with its annual UK Tour, the festival will feature an in-depth special focus entitled A Slice of Everyday Life, along with an exciting mix of UK and International premieres, guests and events across a diverse set of strands; Cinema Now, Women’s VoicesIndie Firepower, Contemporary Classics, Artists Video, Animation and Shorts.

Korea is regularly in the world news cycle of late due to some tense international political machinations. This year’s festival moves from this global outlook to an intimate view of the day-to-day lives and struggles of the people of the country on the ground. The 13th London Korean Film Festival proudly presents a programme that incorporates and engages with many of the topical conversations taking place in society today, through the international language of cinema.

Highlighting the festival’s dual commitment to championing the work of emerging directors and showcasing the talents of women filmmakers, this year’s Opening and Closing Galas tick both boxes with an intriguing pair of female-led narratives. Opening the festival on 1st November, the UK Premiere of Jeon Go-woon’s Microhabitat (2018, UK Premiere) follows a young woman (Lee Som, Scarlet Innocence) on a journey across the city and back into the lives of her former bandmates after being forced from her apartment. Having already picked up awards at Busan and Fantasia film festivals, this offbeat tour through the troubled lives of Korea’s struggling thirty-somethings raises a number of topical issues relatable to London’s own inhabitants. The festival will close in London on 14th November with The Return (2018) in which director Malene Choi, a Danish-Korean adoptee, blurs the line between fact and fiction to tell the story of a young woman returning to Korea in an effort to track down her birth parents. Lead actress Karoline (Karoline Sofie Lee), herself an adoptee, is captured in genuine interactions adding an emotional heft to this affecting story.

The Return
The Return – LKFF’s Closing gala

Special Focus: A Slice of Everyday Life

This year’s Special Focus: A Slice of Everyday Life aims to escape the overtly dramatic to uncover the profundity found in the day-to-day, showing that skilled filmmaking can reveal the significant emotional moments that affect all our lives. This type of cinema is not unfamiliar to UK audiences with the country’s celebrated history of social realist film, in particular the ‘kitchen sink’ dramas of Ken Loach (Poor Cow, Kes) and Mike Leigh (High Hopes, Secrets and Lies) offering insight into the social and political conditions of the country through the lives of its working class. East Asia offers its own examples, particularly in Japan where the famed framing of Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story, An Autumn Afternoon) expertly captured the charm, humour, tensions and the very essence of typical Japanese life. More recently, Cannes regular Kore’eda Hirokazu has mined the emotion of the everyday, and his quieter films which more closely follow the minutiae of the day-to-day (Still Walking, Nobody Knows) are arguably more successful than his more overtly melodramatic works. With A Slice of Everyday Life, the LKFF will offer up exemplary works from Korea, showcasing a range of life experiences and the power found within them.

The strand opens with the second feature from revered auteur filmmaker Hong Sangsoo, a film twenty years apart from his most recent film, Hotel by the River, which also features on the programme. The Power of Kangwon Province (1998) finds two holidaying ex-lovers reconnecting after years apart, as Hong starts to explore the complexities of male/female relationships that he would so successfully tackle throughout his career. Also from that year, the much-loved Christmas in August (1998) follows the growing connection between a terminally ill man and a regular customer at his photo studio with the subtly affecting direction of Hur Jinho transcending the film’s melodramatic premise, This Charming Girl (2004) then scratches beneath the surface of the everyday life of a post office employee to reveal the hidden depths and unspoken traumas that can be found in those around us.

Life on the margins is examined in Grain in Ear (2005), which finds acclaimed Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu (A Quiet Dream) chronicling the day-to-day existence of an outsider in his minimalist portrayal of a Korean minority woman living in north eastern China, Kim So Yong’s Treeless Mountain (2008) finds an impoverished mother sending her two young daughters to live with an alcoholic aunt in the countryside, and Park Jungbum’s The Journals of Musan (2010) looks at two north Korean defectors scraping though life in the south.

Bleak Night (2010) explores the violently shifting relationships between three high school boys with fine performances from its young male cast, while director Park Jungbum is back again and this time taking the lead role of a construction worker struggling to support his family in his second feature Alive (2014), veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung then stars as an elderly sex-worker who takes a young boy under her wing just as her job takes a dangerous new path in The Bacchus Lady (2015).

The life of a famous actress might not seem ‘everyday’ to most people, yet its reality for Moon Sori who mines the comic tragedy of an aging thesp in a youth obsessed industry for her directorial debut, The Running Actress (2017, UK Premiere). LGBT drama The Poet and The Boy (2017, UK Premiere) sees a male married poet develop unexpected feelings for a younger man working in a doughnut shop, Lee Kanghyun’s award-winning debut Possible Faces (2017, UK Premiere) follows the parallel lives of a couple after breakup, while parental bonds are the focus of Mothers (2017, UK Premiere), the follow up film from Lee Dong-eun, director of last year’s indie success In between Seasons. Winner of the Grand Prize in the Korean Competition at this year’s Jeonju Festival, powerful drama The Land of Seonghye (2018, European Premiere) provides a deeply affecting portrait of one woman’s struggle for survival in our money orientated society.

Cinema Now

Korean Cinema continues to excite as one of the most successful national cinemas in the world, with internationally renowned directors and stars producing blockbuster fare that shakes the box office both at home and abroad. Programmed by film critic and East Asian cinema specialist Anton Bitel, the Cinema Now strand offers the best of these hit titles to London. Yim Soon-rye (Forever the Moment) gets stomachs rumbling with Little Forest (2017), a nourishing foodie adventure into the heart of rural Korea and starring The Handmaiden’s Kim Tae-ri, while equally charming romantic adventure The Princess and the Matchmaker (2018, International Premiere) sees a princess, played by popular comic actress Shim Eun-kyung (Miss Granny), fall for the astrologer tasked with testing her suitors for celestial compatibility. Love+Sling (2017, International Premiere) continues the comedy as popular character actor Yoo Hai-jin (1987: When the Day Comes) takes centre stage as a wrestling obsessed father that gets into trouble when his son’s crush develops an infatuation with him. For darker thrills, Choo Chang-min’s crime thriller Seven Years of Night (2018, European Premiere) serves up revenge reminiscent of Park Chan-wook’s best work when a cruel father seeks vengeance after the accidental death of his daughter, in The Witness (2017, European Premiere) fear of putting his family in danger stops a man from reporting a brutal murder allowing the killer to stay one step ahead of the dogged detective on his tail, there’s courtroom drama in Heart Blackened (2016, UK Premiere) as a wealthy CEO (Choi Min-sik, OldBoy) seeks to use his money and influence to clear his daughter of the murder of his fiancé. Plus, there’s the latest work from Korea’s leading auteur, and director of our opening and closing films in 2017 and 2016 respectively, Hong Sangsoo. Hotel by the River (2018, UK Premiere) is the wintry tale of an elderly poet, his adult sons and two women that arrive on the scene.

Women’s Voices

In recent editions the LKFF has highlighted Women’s Voices in cinema with strands dedicated to the work of women filmmakers backed up by roundtable discussions and panel events featuring directors, actresses, and leading voices in contemporary feminist film criticism. This year is no different as they present selected highlights from Seoul’s International Women’s Film Festival: Kim Bo-ram’s For Vagina’s Sake (2017, UK Premiere) offers a timely, open and vibrant discussion of menstruation countering current myths and outdated views, in Hit the Night (2017, UK Premiere) a woman quizzes a man about his sexual habits with the pretence of researching a screenplay, documentary Grown Up (2017, International Premiere) sees a sister attempting to learn to live with her younger sibling who has grown up in a home for people with severe mental disabilities, A Blind Alley (2017) finds two school girls navigating their budding feelings for each other, Playground (2017) features a nursery school teacher with a traumatic past reacting adversely to a situation in her class, and Testimony (2018) confronts toxic masculinity in the workplace.

Indie Firepower

Asian cinema expert, film critic and commentator Tony Rayns returns with another finely curated selection of the best of Korea’s independent film scene with Indie Firepower. This year the focus is on Park Kiyong and his three fiction feature films focusing on short-term sexual relationships. Co-written with Bong Joon-ho (Okja, Memories of Murder), shot by cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love) and selected for Berlin International Film Festival, Motel Cactus (1997, UK Premiere) peeks behind the curtain of a love hotel in the Gangam area of Seoul, the heavily improvised Camel(s) (2001) offers an acting masterclass as it tells the story of a middle-aged man and woman as they meet for an illicit tryst, while Park’s latest offering Old Love (2017, UK Premiere) is a touching, reflective film that sees two careworn former lovers meet again by chance. Also in the strand are works from two emerging indie directors, Kim In-seon builds on her award winning shorts by mixing comedy and drama to winning effect in debut feature Adulthood (2017, International Premiere) and Choi Changhwan tackles Korea’s version of the ‘zero-hours’ contract in Back From the Beat (2018, European Premiere) and exploitation of immigrant workers in Even No Shadow (2011, European Premiere).

Contemporary Classics – Lee Myung-se and 1990s

With Contemporary Classics – Lee Myung-se and 1990s Dr. Mark Morris takes us back to the not-too-distant 90s to examine a defining decade of Korean cinema via one of its most important filmmakers. As the politically turbulent 80s ended, fledgling filmmaker Lee Myung-se had built up a decade of experience under the tutelage of popular director Bae Chang-ho (the subject of last year’s Classics Revisited strand) and was ready to strike out on his own. He did just that, producing a trilogy of films throughout the decade on the subject of love. My Love, My Bride (1990) bristles with comic energy as it charts the ramshackle romance of a mishap-prone young couple in a novel visual style, including animated thought bubbles inspired by the director’s love of manhwa comics. Flights of fantasy colour First Love (1993) as a young woman from a country town falls, unfortunately, for a boozy older writer. The film presents an early role for fine actress Kim Hye-soo who electrified in last year’s Coin Locker Girl. Their Last Love Affair (1995) charts more racy territory as it navigates an affair between a poet and the writer who critiques his poems. Excitingly, Lee’s latest work, short film, Can’t Live Without You (2017) will also be screened.


Back at the historic Phoenix Cinema to take over their popular Kid’s Club, the festival’s Animation strand introduces young viewers to Korea’s beloved Pororo the penguin as he embarks on a tropical escapade in Pororo, Dinosaur Island Adventure (2017, European Premiere), award-winning The Shower (2017, UK Premiere) breathes new life into a classic short story that tells the delicately moving tale of a little boy and the girl he meets by a stream.

Mise-en-scène Shorts

The best works from the Mise-en-scène International Short Film Festival are on show, with six entries: The Monologue (2018) sees an actress tempted back into the spotlight after retiring to care for her child, Morning of the Dead (2018) revolves around a comic battle of wills between two cinephiles over a limited edition copy of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the DeadShadower (2018) looks at the fallout between two best friends after they’re threatened by bullies, Tail (2018) features a civil servant secretly spying on the North Koreans he helps to resettle, Hysteria (2018) looks at a family’s failure to address their daughter’s mental breakdown and Passing Over the Hill (2018) finds an elderly woman on a venture into Seoul using the poetry of her late son as a guide.

Artist Video

The Artist Video strand, in collaboration with LUX | Artists’ Moving Image, focuses on two distinctly experimental visual artists. The boldly confrontational Kim Kyung-mook, one of Korea’s leading LGBTQ+ filmmakers, gives voice to the voiceless and marginalised of society including, homosexuals, transsexuals, sex workers, North Korean defectors and disenfranchised youth, Grace Period (2015, co-director Caroline Key) is his experimental documentary on female sexworkers as they clash with the police, and Me and Doll-playing (2004) is his confessional debut which addresses his confusion over his sexuality. Kwon Hayoun combines innovative CGI animation with a documentary approach and her works Model Village (2014), Pan Mun Jom (2013), Lack of Evidence (2011), 489 Years (2016) focuses on Korea’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the forbidden border between North and South Korea.

Guests confirmed for this year’s festival and available for interview include:

  • Director Jeon Go-woon – Microhabitat
  • Actress Karoline Sofie Lee – The Return
  • Director Lee Myung-se – My Love, My Bride, First Love, Their Last Love AffairCan’t Live Without You
  • Director Park Kiyong – Motel Cactus, Camel(s), Old Love
  • Director Kwon Hayoun – Artists Video
  • Director Kim Bo-ram – For Vagina’s Sake
  • Director Jeong Ga-young – Hit the Night
  • Film critic & Programmer Jang Byungwon (Jeonju International Film Festival)
  • Author Jeong Yu-jeong – Seven Years of Night

London venues include: Picturehouse Central, Regent Street Cinema, ICA, Phoenix Cinema, Close-up, LUX, Rio Cinema, Birkbeck’s Institute of Moving Image, Kingston University, National Film & Television School, British Museum and KCCUK.

The festival tours to: Glasgow Film Theatre, Edinburgh Film House, Manchester HOME, Sheffield Showroom, Nottingham Broadway Cinema, Belfast Queen’s Film Theatre until 25 November 2018.

Facebook: @theLKFF
Twitter: @koreanfilmfest
Instagram: @london_korean_film_festival

Detailed schedule

Treat the below with a bit of caution. First, there are often last-minute changes to the programme. But more importantly the list below was created by copying from an unsorted pdf listing into Word, editing, exporting into Excel, further editing and sorting, concatenating cells to generate html, and then further editing. So there might be some clerical errors creeping in. But it is a start to give you an idea of where to prioritise your bookings, which are increasingly available on the main cinema websites or via the festival website itself.

Venues in London and Kingston: BM = British Museum | C-up = Close-Up Film Centre E1 6HR | ICA = Institute of Contemporary Arts SW1Y 5AH | KCCUK WC2N 5JR | KU = Kingston University KT1 2QJ | Lux N19 5JF | PHC = Picturehouse Central W1D 7DH | Phx = Phoenix N2 9PJ | Rio E8 2PB | RSC = Regent street Cinema W1B 2UW
Thursday 1 November
18:30Microhabitat (소공녀) +Q&A
Dir: Jeon Go-woon (2017, 104 min)
Opening GalaPHC
Friday 2 November
18:30The Running Actress (여배우는 오늘도)
Dir: Moon So-ri (2017, 71 min)
Slice of Everyday LifePHC
20:45Seven Years Of Night (7년의 밤)
Dir: Choo Chang-min (2018, 123 min)
Cinema NowPHC
Saturday 3 November
12:00The Shower (소나기)
Dir: Ahn Jae-hoon, Han Hye-jin (2016, 48 min)
13:00Treeless Mountain (나무없는 산)
Dir: Kim So Yong (2008, 89 min)
Slice of Everyday LifePhx
13:00The Land Of Seonghye (성혜의 나라 )
Dir: Jung Hyung-suk (2018, 117 min)
Slice of Everyday LifePHC
16:00Forum On Special Focus: A Slice Of Everyday LifeSlice of Everyday LifePHC
18:30Little Forest (리틀포레스트)
Dir: Yim Soon-rye (2017, 103 min)
Cinema NowRio
18:45The Poet And The Boy (시인의 사랑) +Q&A
Dir: Kim Yang-hee (2017, 110 min)
Slice of Everyday LifePHC
Sunday 4 November
13:00Christmas In August (8월의 크리스마스)
Dir: Hur Jin-ho (1998, 97 min)
Slice of Everyday LifePhx
14:00Artist video: Kim Kyung-Mook
Grace Period (유예기간) (2015, 62 min) Co-directed by Caroline Key
Me And Doll-Playing (나와 인형놀이) (2004, 20 min)
Artist VideoLux
14:00Breathless (똥파리)
Dir: Yang Ik-june (2008, 130 min)
Slice of Everyday LifePHC
17:20Back From The Beat (내가 사는 세상)
Dir: Choi Changhwan (2018, 67 min)
+ Even No Shadow (그림자도 없다) Dir: Choi Changhwan (2011, 36 min)
Indie FirepowerPHC
18:30The Bacchus Lady (죽여주는 여자)
Dir: E J-yong (2015, 110 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRio
19:45The Princess And The Matchmaker (궁합)
Dir: Hong Chang-pyo (2018, 110 min)
Cinema NowPHC
Monday 5 November
14:00For Vagina’s Sake (피의 연대기)
Dir: Kim Bo-ram (2017, 84 min)
Women’s VoicesBM
16:00Roundtable Discussion: Exploring female body politics on screenWomen’s VoicesBM
18:30Women’s Voices Shorts Programme
A Blind Alley (골목길) Dir: Oh Suyeon (2017, 27 min)
Playground (모래 놀이) Dir: Choi Cho-ah (2017, 29 min)
Testimony (증언) Dir: Woo Gyeng-hee (2018, 29 min)
Women’s VoicesPHC
20:45Mothers (당신의 부탁) +Q&A Dir: Lee Dong-eun (2017, 107 min)Slice of Everyday LifePHC
Tuesday 6 November
18:30Hit The Night (밤치기) + Q&A
Dir: Jeong Ga-young (2017, 85 min )
Women’s VoicesICA
18:30Mise-en-scène Shorts 1
The Monologue (자유연기) Dir: Kim Do-young (2018, 29 min)
Morning Of The Dead (시체들의 아침) Dir: Lee Seung-ju (2018, 29 min)
Shadower (친구) Dir: Kwak Ki-bong (2018, 20 min)
Mise-En-Scene ShortsPHC
21:00The Witness (목격자)
Dir: Cho Kyu-jang (2017, 111 min)
Cinema NowPHC
Wednesday 7 November
11:30Director Talk With Jeong Ga-YoungWomen’s VoicesKU
18:30Grown Up (어른이 되면)
Dir: Jang Hyeyeong (2018, 98 min )
Women’s VoicesPHC
20:45Mise-En-Scène Shorts 2
Tail (꼬리) Dir: Kim Hu-jung (2018, 28 min)
Hysteria (히스테리아) Dir: Jang Man-min (2018, 26 min)
Passing Over The Hill (그 언덕을 지나는 시간) Dir: Bang Sung-jun (2018, 24 min)
Mise-En-Scène ShortsPHC
Thursday 8 November
18:30The Power Of Kangwon Province (강원도의 힘)
Dir: Hong Sangsoo (1998, 108 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
21:00Hotel By The River (강변호텔)
Dir: Hong Sangsoo (2018, 96 min)
Cinema NowRSC
Friday 9 November
18:20Bleak Night (파수꾼)
Dir: Yoon Sung-hyun (2010, 116 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
20:00My Love, My Bride (나의 사랑, 나의 신부) +Q&A
Dir: Lee Myung-se (1990, 111 min)
Lee Myung-se & the 90sC-up
20:50Heart Blackened (침묵)
Dir: Jung Ji-woo (2016, 125 min)
Cinema NowRSC
Saturday 10 November
12:00Pororo, Dinosaur Island Adventure (뽀로로 극장판 공룡섬 대모험)
Dir: Kim Hyunho, Yun Jewan (2017, 78 min)
14:00Jealousy is my Middle Name (질투는 나의 힘)
Dir: Park Chan-ok (2002, 125 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
15:00Motel Cactus (모텔 선인장)
Dir: Park Kiyong (1997, 90 min)
Indie FirepowerKCCUK
16:30This Charming Girl (여자, 정혜)
Dir: Lee Yoon-ki (2004, 99 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
18:40Grain In Ear (망종)
Dir: Zhang Lu (2005, 109 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
20:00First Love (첫사랑) +Q&A
Dir: Lee Myung-se (1993, 108 min)
Lee Myung-se & the 90sC-up
21:00Love+Sling (레슬러)
Dir: Kim Dae-woong (2017, 110 min)
Cinema NowRSC
Sunday 11 November
12:00Camel(s) (낙타(들)) +Q&A
Dir: Park Kiyong (2001, 91 min)
Indie FirepowerRSC
14:00Artist video: Kwon Hayoun
489 Years (2016, 11 min)
Model Village (2014, 9 min)
Pan Mun Jom (2013, 4 min)
Lack Of Evidence (2011, 9 min)
Artist VideoLux
14:30Director Talk With Park KiyongIndie FirepowerRSC
16:00The Journals Of Musan (무산일기) +Q&A
Dir: Park Jungbum (2010, 127 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
19:00Possible Faces (얼굴들)
Dir: Lee Kanghyun (2017, 131 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
20:00Their Last Love Affair (지독한 사랑) Dir: Lee Myung-se (1996, 106 min)
+ Can’t Live Without You (그대 없이는 못 살아) Dir: Lee Myung-se (2017, 17 min)
Lee Myung-se & the 90sC-up
Monday 12 November
18:30Old Love (재회) +Q&A
Dir: Park Kiyong (2017, 89 min)
Indie FirepowerRSC
20:45Adulthood (어른도감)
Dir: Kim In-seon (2017, 91 min)
Indie FirepowerRSC
Tuesday 13 November
18:30Alive (산다) + Q&A
Dir: Park Jungbum (2014, 175 min)
Slice of Everyday LifeRSC
Wednesday 14 November
19:00The Return (회귀) +Q&A
Dir: Malene Choi (2018, 84 min)
Closing GalaRSC


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

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