Episode 121

(10 Jun, 2011)

Kevin Lee: South Korean Cinema

Transcript for Kevin Lee: South Korean Cinema

The Jeonju Film festival in South Korea is one of the most exciting festivals in Asia. Our contributor Kevin Lee from Fandor.com reports.

This is the Jeonju International Film Festival located in South Korea, one of the most amazing movie scenes in the world today. Now, South Korea is only the eleventh largest country in Asia, but its movie industry looms large producing big budget blockbusters to award winning art films, but suprising story lines and characters are unlike anything that you’ll find anywhere. 

Quentin Tarentino fans should already know about Old Boy, it’s one of his favorite recent films. A man is masteriously held prisoner for fifteen years. Suddenly he is released to track down his kidknapper and seak revenge.
The movie it self seems to take revenge on everything that’s boring and predictable in Hollywood action movies. Watching it, you will have no idea what will happen next.


Old Boy was a runaway hit, but South Korea’s all time blockbuster is The Host, about a family that battle a giant man eating creature. It’s not just a monster movie, though, Director BonJu Ho shows Korean Cinema what it does best. Mixing different elements, Sci-Fi and slapstick comedy, family drama and even some political satire into something totally original and wildly entertaining.

Poetry, which won last years Korean Academy Award for Best Picture, is another movie that defies definition. It starts as a simple tale about a woman late in her life who wants to learn to write poems, but then we see both her life and her mind, slowly falling apart. She’s forced to see her world in a completely new way in order to find meaning and justice. It’s a film with a dark, distinct sense of mystery that will have you looking at life through new eyes.

South Korea is not just about blockbusters and prestige pictures, it also has a thriving indipendent scene led by directors like Hong Sang-soo, Korea’s answer to Woody Allen and Eric Rohmer. His film Woman on the Beach is about a film director who steals his assistance girlfriend right from under him only to be caught up in another love triangle. The film traces the sexual mind games between men and women with a laser precision that is hilariously on the money.


Now you don’t need a ticket to Jeonju to watch these films, they’re all available on DVD and online streaming so if you want to try some outstanding movies with a different kind of flavor have a taste of South Korean cinema.

Thanks, Kevin.