The Korean Film Archive is a great place to get information about Korean film history and culture. Not only does the archive have a wealth of resources, but it also includes a number of DVDs, including some of the best Korean movies. I’ve had the opportunity to review a few of the titles available, including Lee Man-hee’s “Aimless Bullet” and Choi In-gyu’s “The Seashore Village”. If you’re interested in learning more about Korean films, check out these articles!
Ahn Sung-ki’s “The Age of Success”
Ahn Sung-ki is a Korean actor with a lengthy film career. He debuted in a 1957 movie called Twilight Train at the age of five. After finishing junior high school, he enrolled in the school of Foreign Studies at Hankuk University. While there, he was offered a scholarship to study at Korea University Graduate School, and later volunteered for the army. In 1974, he entered the artillery and served as a first lieutenant.
He won the best actor award at the Baeksang Arts Awards four times, a feat that was repeated in 1985. This feat has made him one of the most recognizable actors in South Korea, and he is also a UNICEF ambassador. Having married artist Oh So-young since 1985, he has two sons.
Choi In-gyu’s “The Seashore Village”
In honor of the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF), which takes place November 1-14, there will be a retrospective of Ha Gil-jong’s The Seashore Village. It’s a cinematic marvel and it’s also one of the first successful munye films. This isn’t the first time a Korean film has made the list, but it’s certainly the first time it’s come to the UK.
In this classic film, the seaside village is home to a community of widows. But what happens when the women start trying to build a new life for themselves in the big city?
Ha Gil-jong was an iconoclastic auteur in the early 70s, but his penultimate film, “The Seashore Village” (or, as it is also known, “The Stableman” or “The Housemaid”), is the best of the bunch. As the film’s name implies, it tells the story of a young woman living in the coastal town of a village of widows.
Shin Sang-ok’s “A Flower in Hell”
The Korean film A Flower in Hell is an intriguing example of early South Korean cinema. It is a grim melodrama, but also a remarkable visual document of the devastation that followed the Korean War.
The film is a fascinating commentary on Korean culture. At times, it resembles American outsider cinema. But it has a distinctive Korean voice.
Shin Sang-ok, a Korean filmmaker, wrote the screenplay and directed this 1958 film. It was filmed in three locations. He was a political refugee who was forced to live in North Korea. His wife, Choi Eun-hee, was abducted.
Although A Flower in Hell is not a classic, it should be better known among Western audiences. Shin had a reputation for making ludicrous films that were not in his comfort zone. However, he also had a penchant for making movies about real people.
Lee Man-hee’s “Night Journey”
Lee Man-Hee’s A Day Off is an exquisitely acted film that offers an insightful and compelling look into 1968 Korea. It has been restored and is available free online.
The film is about an urban girl who has been forced to move into the country. She becomes friends with a country boy.
During the 1970s, a huge number of young people moved to Seoul, but many were vulnerable to exploitation. This gloomy mood is portrayed in the film, which was banned by the government.
The plot of the film is a little unusual. There is a child who has strange feelings. He is taken into a foster home. While his parents try to restrict the gifts that he receives, he is given a magic trick that brings him fame.
Lee Man-hee’s “Aimless Bullet”
Lee Man-hee’s “Aimless Bullet” (1975) was a groundbreaking neo-realist film about post-war Korea. Its unique structure juxtaposes political and poetic images of contemporary political protests in Korea.
The film is set in a destitute neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea, where North Korean refugees have gathered after the War. Each refugee is afflicted with internal struggles. One is a former soldier who has been wounded in the War. He is unable to integrate back into society.
Another is a stern disciplinarian father. He encourages his son to learn judo. But his son is not interested in the sport. Instead, he ties his judo skills to his self-defense.
Aimless Bullet is a fusion of film noir and neo-realist drama. It’s also a bleak portrait of the extreme class division in Korea. Despite its reputation as a cynical movie, it’s a must-see for fans of Korean cinema.