London Korean Film Festival Announces Full Programme for 2021

Following last year’s hybrid edition, the London Korean Film Festival returns entirely in cinemas taking place at venues across the city from 4th to 19th November. This year’s edition features a special focus on actress Youn Yuh-jung in particular showcasing her work with director Im Sang-soo.

Opening: Escape from Mogadishu

North & South Korean diplomats are forced to set ideology aside to escape the increasing violence of the Somali Civil War in the latest action drama from Ryoo Seung-wan (Die Bad, Battleship Island). Review.

Closing: Heaven: To the Land of Happiness

The latest film from Im Sang-soo whose The Housemaid and A Good Lawyer’s Wife are also screening as part of the Youn Yuh-Jung Focus. Youn again stars alongside Choi Min-sik and Park Hae-il as a man with an incurable illness (Park) who cannot afford his treatment goes on the run with a white collar criminal (Choi) who has less than two weeks to live.

Special Focus: Youn Yuh-Jung

  • Woman of Fire – Kim Ki-young’s second take on The Housemaid stars Youn Yuh-jung as the arrival of a young woman causes disarray for a composer and his wife living on a chicken farm.
  • The Housemaid (2010) – Im Sang-soo’s contemporary update of Kim Ki-young’s original starring Youn Yuh-jung as an ageing housekeeper to a wealthy family who hires a new au pair (Jeon Do-youn) only for her to be seduced by her employer (Lee Jung-jae)
  • A Good Lawyer’s Wife – Youn stars an older woman having an affair with an old friend while her son (Hwang Jung-min) is also cheating on his wife (Moon So-ri) with whom he is sexually incompatible in another steamy drama from Im Sang-soo.
  • Canola – Youn stars as a cheerful Jeju island grandma who was raising her granddaughter until she suddenly disappeared one day without trace only for a young woman to return some years claiming to be the missing girl.
  • The Bacchus Lady – Youn stars as an ageing sex worker who agrees to help a regular client end his life. Review.
  • Documentary Youn Yuh-Jung – documentary focussing on the career of the legendary actress.

Cinema Now

  • In Front of Your Face – drama from Hong Sang-soo in which an actress trying to restart her career after spending time abroad meets a director looking to cast his latest film.
  • Aloners – an isolated young woman begins to re-evaluate her living circumstances when a neighbour dies a lonely death.
  • The Book of Fish – An “evil learning sinner” and a fisherman fixated on Neo-Buddhist thought butt heads while compiling an encyclopaedia of fish in Lee Joon-ik’s contemplative period drama. Review.
  • Shades of the Heart – an author returning to Korea after a failed marriage begins to change the story he is writing after encounters with friends and colleagues.
  • Josée – Korean adaptation of Seiko Tanabe’s short story Josee, the Tiger and the Fish in which a student befriends a young woman isolated by her disability.
  • Spring Song – musical drama directed by and starring Yu Jun-sang as a singer heading to Japan to make a music video.
  • Collectors – a tomb raider prepares a daring heist to retrieve a precious artefact.
  • Recalled – thriller in which a woman recovers from an accident with psychic powers but no memory at all of her husband.

Indie Talent

  • Limecrime – two young hip hop fans try to find their voice.
  • Made on the Rooftop – LGBTQ+ rom-com in which a recently dumped man moves in with his DJ friend.
  • Rolling – Covid-era drama in which a young woman takes over the family kimbap shop.
  • Awoke – social drama in which a disabled man is forced into a bureaucratic nightmare after being judged “fit for work”.

Women’s Voices

  • After Me Too – series of documentary shorts from female filmmakers Park Sohyun, Lee Somyi, Kangyu Garam, and Soram exploring the impact of the Me Too movement on Korean society.
  • Snowball – The previously close friendship between three teenage girls is disrupted by shame and societal repression in Lee Woo-jung’s cruel story of youth. Review.

Documentary

  • Sister J – documentary following a factory worker’s quest for justice after being fired from the job they’d held for 30 years.
  • Sewing Sisters – documentary interviewing a series of now elderly women who left the countryside to work as seamstresses in Seoul but encountered dangerous and exploitative working conditions.

Animation

  • Climbing – 3D adult animation in which a mountain climber’s pregnancy anxiety turns into a living nightmare.

Mise-en-Scène Shorts

  • Feel Good Story (Lee Kyoung-mi, 2004)
  • The Perfect Fishplate (Na Hong-jin, 2016)
  • Enemy’s Apple (Lee Su-jin, 2007)
  • Forest (Um Tae-hwa, 2012)
  • How to Operate a Polaroid Camera (Kim Jong-kwan, 2004)
  • The Cursed (Huh Jung, 2010)
  • Don’t Step Out of the House (Jo Sung-hee, 2009)
  • Be With Me (Kang Jin-a, 2009)

Artist Video

The London Korean Film Festival runs 4th to 19th November at venues across the city. Full details for all the films as well as screening times and ticketing information are available via the official website and you can keep up with all the latest news by following the festival on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.