Film Review: Love, Lies (Park Heung-sik, 2016)

An historic album made by a hitherto unknown Korean popular music singer from the colonial period is literally unearthed in a modern-day construction site. Miraculously, although the LP is damaged, audio engineers can restore the sound to something like the original, for broadcast on a golden oldies radio show. But who is the singer, and […]

Review: Kokdu – a story of guardian angels

The death of a grandmother in remote, rural Jindo becomes dramatically intertwined with a stage performance by dancers, court and folk musicians from the National Gugak Centre as they portray the journey of a soul in the afterlife. The unauthorised purchase of a Jindo puppy by her two grandchildren gets them entangled in the drama […]

Festival Film Review: Dark Figure of Crime

In a standard police procedural about a serial killer, a detective – maybe a bit of a loner, often with a drink problem – goes from crime scene to crime scene, from victim to victim, trying to fit together the pieces of the jigsaw that will eventually lead to the murderer, before the next crime […]

Brief review: Crossroads of Youth

Crossroads of Youth, Korea’s earliest surviving feature-length movie, was a great way to start the season of films from Korea’s colonial period. It is a season that could not have taken place 15 years ago, because these films have only recently come to light in the film archives of Beijing, Moscow and Tokyo. Crossroads of […]

Movie review: E J-Yong – My Brilliant Life

A feelgood Korean drama which the main character has a fatal and incurable disease, and who is writing an account for the benefit of loved ones when he is gone? Been there, done that. Well, not exactly: when the director is E J-Yong and the movie is an adaptation of a Kim Aeran novel, you […]

A look back at some of the films of 2018

A wide variety of genres was presented to the London audience this year, from the return of the romantic melodrama (Be With You) to big budget fantasy (Along with the Gods). We also saw #MeToo beginning to have an impact, not just in the themes of movies such as Land of Seonghye and Testimony but […]

Festival Film Review: The Return

I was as delighted as I was surprised when I saw that the London Korean Film Festival had selected The Return for its closing gala screening. The huge numbers of overseas adoptions from Korea is often a sidelined subject and understandably wouldn’t be a natural choice when showcasing Korean culture and arts. But the 2018 […]

Festival Film Review: Microhabitat

Miso just about gets by, living in a cockroach-infested room, earning just enough to pay the rent by taking low-paid cleaning jobs. She has to budget carefully, and can just afford a couple of her little indulgences: smoking cigarettes (preferably foreign brands), and frequenting whisky bars for a drop of single malt on the way […]

Festival mini movie review: Love+Sling

A sporting rom-com involving a love triangle whose vertices are a well-meaning but over controlling single father (Yoo Hae-jin, 1987); his dutiful son (Kim Min-jae) who is obliging his father by training hard in the skill of greco-Roman wrestling; and the pretty girl next door (Lee Sung-kyung), who inconveniently and inexplicably fancies the father rather […]

Festival film review: This Charming Girl

Lee Yoon-ki (이윤기) This Charming Girl (여자, 정혜, 2004, 99 mins). Review by Robert Cottingham. You know how people talk about reality TV, even though there is nothing ‘real’ about it? Well, if you wanted to see actual reality, the sheer day-to-day mundane-ness of the average person’s life, then this film is the closest you […]

Brief review: Comrade Kim goes Flying

The London East Asia Film Festival gives us the second chance this year to see Comrade Kim Goes Flying in the company of two of its directors, Nicholas Bonner and Anja Daelemans. The screening in March was in fact the UK premiere, which came almost six years after its international premiere in Toronto in early September […]

Another World We Are Making: a look at LKFF’s focus on Kim Dong-won

Almost inexplicably, when compared with previous documentary screenings, the KCC’s mini festival of Korean documentaries, spread over two weekends, was over-subscribed, with latecomers for one session needing to sit on the floor. The decision to break out the documentary strand from the main London Korean Film Festival has probably been vindicated, and the strategy of […]

Film review: The Unfair / Minority Opinion

The Unfair (also known as Minority Opinion) screened as the penultimate movie in the Korean Novels on Screen season at the KCC. Based on a novel by Son Aram, it is the only film in the season where the underlying book has not (yet) been translated into English. Although the scenario is based loosely on the […]