The London Korean Film Festival kicks off its 14th edition in London on 1st November and runs until the 14th at venues across the city before touring to Edinburgh Film House, Watershed Cinema Bristol, Belfast Queen’s Film Theatre, Glasgow Film Theatre, Manchester HOME, and Nottingham Broadway Cinema from 18th to 24th. This year’s special focus is dedicated to Korean cinema history in celebration of its centenary and will feature a series of classics many of them making their UK cinema premieres.
- The Seashore Village – Opening for the first time with a retrospective title, the festival will pay tribute to veteran director Kim Soo-yong with his 1965 literary adaptation The Seashore Village in which a community of women left largely alone after losing husbands at sea have learned to support each other in the absence of men. Review. Director Kim will be present in person to discuss the film as well as his long career in the Korean cinema industry.
- Scattered Night – the festival will close on Nov. 14 with Kim Sol’s 2019 drama chronicling the dissolution of a family seen through the eyes of the children.
Special Focus: 100 Years of Korean Cinema
- A Hometown in Heart – touching drama from 1949 in which an orphaned child monk bonds with a widow.
- Piagol – Lee Kang-cheon’s 1955 drama was originally banned for its sympathetic depiction of Communist soldiers as they wage war under a severe commander.
- The Flower in Hell – Shin Sang-ok classic from 1958 in which a sex worker tries to find escape by seducing the younger brother of her boyfriend who makes a living stealing from the US military.
- Aimless Bullet – bleak portrait of post-war life from Yu Hyun-mok. Review.
- A Coachman – a single father struggles to provide for his family in Kang Dae-jin’s 1961 drama.
- A Woman Judge – Moon Jeong-suk stars as a young woman determined to become a judge in the face of fierce social opposition. Review.
- Bloodline – Another literary adaptation from Kim Soo-yong, Bloodline revolves around three families in a small courtyard in which the young long for freedom and a brighter future only for their parents to lament their declining authority. Review.
- Goryeojang – 1963 drama from Kim Ki-young revolving around the ancient practice of abandoning the old in times of famine.
- Ieoh Island – Kim Ki-young drama from 1977 in which a murder is committed on an island inhabited only by women.
- The Devil’s Stairway – Hitchcockian drama with shades of Les Diaboliques from Lee Man-hee in which a doctor (Kim Jin-kyu) offs his inconvenient mistress (Moon Jeong-suk) to marry the boss’ daughter only to be haunted (or not?) by the memory of his transgression. Review.
- Homebound – Moon Jeong-suk, the director’s then muse, stars again for Lee Man-hee as a middle-aged woman finds herself trapped between personal desire and social convention when she falls for a young reporter (Kim Jeong-cheol) and considers leaving her embittered, bedridden war veteran husband (Kim Jin-gyu). Review.
- A Day Off – legendary, long believed lost drama from Lee Man-hui originally banned for its bleakness in which a young couple find themselves in an impossible situation. Review.
- Ticket – ’80s drama from Im Kwon-taek exploring the lives of three young women working in a “ticket” bar “coffee delivery” shop. Review.
- The Man with Three Coffins – 1987 drama from Lee Jang-ho in which a man wanders the country looking for a place to scatter his wife’s ashes.
- A Pillar of Mist – a young couple grow apart over time in Park Chul-soo’s 1986 drama.
- The Age of Success – Ahn Sung-ki stars as a salesman at a sweetner company who falls ill after battling a competitor and comes up with a genius idea to get back at them while in the hospital.
- Why Has Bodhi-Darma Left for the East? – drama exploring the lives of three monks shot over seven years.
- North Korean Partisan in South Korea (Nambugun) – 1990 drama inspired by the life of war correspondent Lee Tae.
- A Single Spark – biographical drama about a Jeon Tae-il, a worker who self-immolated to protest unfair working conditions.
- The Day a Pig Fell into a Well – debut from Hong Sang-soo in which a married man on a business trip gets stranded and ends up having a weird encounter with a sex worker.
- Three Friends – debut from Lim Soon-rye in which three misfits report for military service.
- The Contact – romance in which love blossoms over the airways.
- Peppermint Candy – modern masterpiece from Lee Chang-dong in which a disappointed man looks back over his life.
Hidden Figures: Ha Gil-jong
- The Pollen of Flowers – Ha Gil-jong’s debut makes a subtle jab at the repressive Park Chung-hee regime as a businessman introduces his male secretary into the home he shares with his mistress.
- The March of Fools – 1975 drama which begins as campus comedy and then gets progressively melancholic and reflective. Review.
The Ascension of Han-ne – in the 19th century a woman is saved from suicide but ostracised by her community after a shaman pronounces her bad luck.
- Grass – Hong Sang-soo drama starring Kim Min-hee as a writer eavesdropping in a coffee shop.
- Birthday – powerful drama following a family bereaved by the Sewol ferry tragedy. Review.
- A Resistance – historical drama inspired by the life of a teenage independence activist. Review.
- Idol – neo-noir in which a bereaved father tries to expose the true facts surrounding the death of his son while a politician attempts to maintain his squeaky clean image. Review.
- Extreme Job – broad comedy in which bumbling policemen open a fried chicken joint as part of a stakeout only for the place to take off. Review.
- The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale – a weird family adopts a zombie after discovering his bite has healing qualities in Lee Min-jae’s hilariously surreal comedy. Review.
- Height of the Wave – latest from Park Jung-bum following a policewoman transferred to a remote island.
- Youngju – a young woman looking after her brother becomes involved with the man who killed their parents.
- A Boy and Sungreen – a schoolboy and his friend attempt to track down his absent dad.
- A Bedsore – grandma’s bedsore exposes the cracks in an ordinary family.
- Yukiko – chronicle of a family scarred by war.
- Water Utilization Tax – documentary from 1984 following the four month struggle of farmers in Gurye.
- Blue Bird – 1986 doc interviewing farmers about their working conditions.
- The Night Before the Strike – 1990 doc following factory workers’ attempts to unionise.
- A Story of Hong Gil-dong – 1967 classic adapting the traditional folktale.
- Astro Gardener – fantasy adventure with an ecological message.
- Freckles – bittersweet tale of first love.
- To Each Your Sarah – a woman rebuilds her life after leaving her husband.
- Goodbye Bushman – brothers discover a “bushman” in the woods.
- Milk – a hotel maid commits a crime to pay for baby food.
- Yuwol: The Boy Who Made the World Dance – musical following a young boy with an urge to dance.
- Camping – a woman is kidnapped from a campsite.
- The Stars Whisperer – a young girl with hearing difficulties makes a new friend.
- The Lambs – a pastor and a member of his congregation share an obsession with a dead woman.
- Songs from the North – Yoo Soon-mi’s documentary portrait of the North.
- Dangerous Supplement – early work from Yoo Soon-mi showcasing the theme of memory.
- Sets – Park Chan-kyong’s examination of the North’s vision of the South.
- Flying – Park Chan-kyong explores the North/South divide.
- Believe it or Not – Park Chan-kyong narrative piece inspired by those who have crossed the border.
The London Korean Film Festival runs 1st – 14th November in London before touring the country until 24th. Full details for all the films as well as screening times and ticketing information will be available shortly via the official website and you can keep up with all the latest news by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.