The London Korean Film Festival 2010

Now in its fifth year, the London Korean Film Festival is to bring an exciting range of Korean films to one of London’s most prestigious venues, The ICA. The festival looks to promote the most essential contemporary cinema that Korea has to offer, covering a wide spectrum of subjects and genres including war, action, period drama and children‟s entertainment. The LKFF will feature 21 screenings at 3 different venues in London including a talk chaired by the Sight & Sound, East Asian cinema critic Tony Rayns with some surprise guests.
The festival will also premiere Korea’s biggest films, The Man From Nowhere and I Saw The Devil for it’s opening Gala at the Odeon Westend, Leicester Sq as well as celebrating one of the country‟s best contemporary directors, Jang Jin, with a four film retrospective featuring an appearance from the director at the Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly.

Venue: Odeon Westend, Leicester Sq London Piccadilly Circus, London The Mall, London
Date: 5th November 2010 – 6th November 2010

(Opening Gala)

“The Man From Nowhere” plus
a Q&A with Director Lee Jeong-beom
Friday 5 Nov, 6.30pm

The London Korean Film Festival kicks off its fifth year in style with an Opening Gala film at the Odeon Westend, Leicester Sq The Man From Nowhere: Tae-sik (Won Bin) is a former highly trained agent and convict who, attempting to live with what he has done in the past has shut himself off from the world. But, somehow, a young girl, So-mi, who lives next door manages to breakthrough his defences and the two quickly bond as if brother and sister. Things are not all sweetness and light for long as So-mi’s Mother, a hopeless addict who slings dope for a local gang, decides to steal some of the product she sells and entrusts Tae-sik with it. Her bosses find out and kidnap So-mi and her Mother. Tae-sik must come to terms with who he is to be able to save the only person that has ever cared for him.

Featuring a young but talented cast with Won Bin, recently seen in the beautiful Mother, and Kim Sae-ron, from the award winning A Brand New Life. The Man From Nowhere is a revenge story that only Korea can produce. Much like its brothers in arms, Oldboy and A Bittersweet Life, The Man From Nowhere is more than an action film discussing ideas of human trafficking, organ harvesting and drug smuggling but still, even with all the dark and gruesome underworld surroundings the characters find themselves in, at the heart is a touching story of the bond between a man and girl.
“I Saw the Devil” Includes Director KIM Jee-won Q&A
Saturday 6 Nov, 6.00pm

The LKFF is to preview a very special screening of the controversial film, I Saw The Devil. The screening includes a Q&A with the Director, Kim Jee-woon
Kyung-chul (Choi Min-shik) works as a school bus driver during the day and at night he is one of the most dangerous and sadistic killer that Korean has ever known. One day he targets a young woman who he brutally murders. Her boyfriend (Lee Byung-hun) is destroyed by his lover’s death and vows to inflict the same ordeal that his girlfriend experienced on the monster responsible for her death.

Proving why they are the two biggest acting powers in Korean cinema today this film is a bloody but brilliant portrayal of two deeply disturbed individuals.
“A film like I Saw the Devil makes quality filmmakers stand out like a sore thumb. As cliché as the thriller is, it was captivating from start to finish, and features some of the most brilliantly directed sequences of the year.” Brad Miska – Bloody Disgusting

“Kim’s pic is so beautifully filmed, carefully structured and viscerally engaging.” Rob Nelson – Variety

Venue: Apollo Cinema,Piccadilly Circus, London
Date: 8th November 2010 – 9th November 2010

(The Jang Jin Retrospective)
“Guns & Talk” (Killerdeului suda) plus a Q&A with Dir Jang Jin
Monday 8 Nov, 6.00pm
The story of a group of professional assassins for hire: Sang-yun is the cool-headed leader of the group, Jung-woo the specialist in custom-made bombs, Jae-young the unmatched sniper, and Ha-yun the computer whiz. They’re not your typical wise guys, but run a private business where people from all walks of life can seek their services.

After they meet their clients and discuss the time, place and method by which they want their targets to be eliminated, they sign a formal contract. They even have a discount rate for students.
Then, one day, they leave a trail behind on a big job, and Inspector Cho, a cop who has had the quartet in his sights for some time, hunts them down. While he is hot on their trail, Sang-yun meets a client and is confronted with a dangerous order he can’t turn down.
The client wants someone killed in the middle of a sold-out performance of ‘Hamlet’ which will be attended by high-profile businessmen, politicians and law officials.
Inspector Cho learns of this, and sends the whole police force to catch them in the act. Still undaunted by the risks, Sang-yun leads his group in what could be their last mission.

“Good Morning President” plus an Introduction from Dir Jang Jin
Monday 8 Nov, 8.45pm
Three successive presidents of South Korea face political and personal issues including special pardon for an ex-president, diplomatic tension and a marriage crisis.
Kim Jeong-ho is an elderly President with 6 months left in his term. Dubbed the ‘President of the People,’ the veteran politician has led a life of integrity and devoted himself for democratization and integration of the country. His enjoyment of life consists of watching TV dramas and occasional drinking soju. One day, he places an entry in a new sports lottery at its launch event promising to donate the money in the unlikely chance that he might win. As his luck would have it he later learns that he hit the jackpot of 24.4 billion Won (equivalent to 13 million British pounds). He agonizes over whether to donate his winnings for a good cause as promised, against his desire to secure a comfortable life for his later days.
Korea’s youngest president-elect and a single father, Cha Ji-wook is a charismatic new leader with firm principles. He is strong-lined when it comes to politics and diplomacy, but he is a shy man around his childhood sweetheart, the former President’s daughter, E-yeon. Only a year into his tenure, the young President’s career hangs in the balance with all-time low popularity ratings and a straining political situation. He is attacked by a mysterious young man during a visit to a market and is faced with a serious dilemma about his attacker’s request.
Han Kyung-ja steadily rose up the political ladder, serving as the minister of Justice and head of the opposition before becoming the first female President in history. An ambitious leader with a soft charm, she dedicates herself to bringing changes to the country. However, her outgoing husband, Choi Chang-myun has a hard time adjusting to his role as a presidential spouse. His love for drinking and hanging out with friends gives rise to all kinds of trouble which eventually leads to the biggest crisis in the President’s career – as the first President to face a divorce during the term.

“Someone Special” (A neun Yeo ja) plus a Q&A with Dir Jang Jin
Tuesday 9 Nov, 6.00pm

Despite having dated a number of women, professional baseball player Dong Chi-sung has never been in love and has never been loved. Sure enough, his latest girlfriend dumps him, and on the same day, he goes to the doctor and finds out he has a malignant tumour, with only three months to live. With his mind in a tailspin, he goes to a friend’s bar to drink away his pain.
Not a heavy drinker, Chi-sung quickly passes out and wakes up to find himself in a hotel room with the strange female bartender that had been serving him all night. She is a rather quirky woman that he has mostly ignored until now. Confused about the strange room he finds himself in, with the strange woman and the possible strange things she might have done to him. He asks how she managed to bring him to the hotel room and she tells him she folded him up and carried him in a box. He quickly makes his exit.
The next day he goes to baseball practice, completely unable to concentrate. On his way home, he hears an oddly familiar story being told on a radio program devoted to ‘confessional love stories.’ Someone calling herself “Writing Princess” is talking about carrying a man in a box to a hotel room, and talking to him there.
Chi-sung angrily confronts Yi-yeon about the radio incident, but provides her with an opportunity. One radio station sends her a free mobile phone as a gift. Chi-sung has recently lost his, so she stops by his home to give it to him. Another radio station sends her free movie tickets, so she takes him along. More and more opportunities present themselves for her to spend time with Chi-sung forcing him to look passed her strange behaviour and asking himself if this could be ‘someone special’?

“Murder Take One” plus an Introduction from Dir Jang Jin
Tuesday 9 Nov 8.45pm

A homicide investigation concerning the death of a famous copywriter, Jung Yoo-jung is aired ‘live’ on TV. Prosecutor Choi Yeon-kee interrogates a suspect, the only suspect, Kim Young-hoon who is quickly arrested, but something about the case just doesn’t sit well with Yeon-kee. One by one, Yeon-kee starts to put the pieces together, and finally awaits the moment of truth. Just as the culprit is about to be revealed, the producer at the TV station suggests a shamanic ritual to summon the copywriter’s soul – a showcase to boost TV ratings. Yet, this proves to be pivotal as crucial information is revealed by the summoned soul.

An intense thriller and also satirical jab at the current media obsession with reality television, director Jang Jin accomplishes what he does best with taking tried and tested film scenarios and adding a unique and fresh take on the subject.

Venue: ICA, The Mall, London
Date: 10th November 2010 – 14th November 2010
Harmony (Ha-mo-ni)
Wednesday 10 Nov, 6.16pm

Jeong Hye (Kim Yoon Jin) is handed a ten-year sentence after accidentally killing her abusive husband. In prison, she gives birth to a beautiful baby boy who brings light into not only her life but also those of her cellmates, all of whom have unfortunate stories of their own. Jeong Hye is only allowed to keep her baby for a short period of time, and the days are counting down quickly. To earn the chance to be allowed a day out with her son, Jeong Hye decides to start a prison choir, despite not being able to hold a tune herself. Resistance is high and singing talent low among the inmates, but the tone-deaf choir slowly find their groove and their sense of self as they come together. But the day that Jeong Hye proves herself with the choir is also the day she has to give up her son.

The Servant (Bang-ja-jeon)
Wednesday 10 Nov 2010, 8.45pm

A historically based, erotic comedy from the writer of Untold Scandal sees Bang-ja a servant of a noble man, Mong-lyong, fall in love with a woman named Choon-hyang. The problem is Mong-lyong also falls in love with her and orders Bang-ja to arrange an encounter between them. Bang-ja seeks out the advice of his elderly roommate Ma who teaches him the art of seduction. Bang-ja does win over Choon-hyang but with one condition, he has to help her marry Mong-lyong.

Bedevilled (Gim-bok-nam Sa-rin-sa-geo-nui Jeon-mal)

Thursday 11 Nov 2010, 8.45pm

Arriving she finds her childhood friend Bok-nam (SEO Young-hee). Ecstatic to see her old friend, Bok-nam begs her to help her and her child escape from the island. Perplexed Hae-won ignores her pleas but is shocked to witness the horrific torment that Bok-nam endures every day. Each woman is stretched to their limits and it is only a matter of time before one finally and gruesomely snaps.

Secret Reunion (Ui-hyeong-je)
Friday 12 Nov 2010 6.15pm

A young undercover North Korean agent, Song Ji-won (Kang Dong-won), assists a deadly assassin to kill North Korean defectors. But when faced with the task of killing a young child he refuses to carry out his orders just when a group of South Korean special agents led by Lee Han-kyu (Song Kang-ho) burst in and begin a deadly gun battle.
Six years later both Ji-won and Han-kyu have been unceremoniously fired and shamed with Ji-won banished to South Korea, separated from his wife and child. Han-kyu, now a private detective specialising in runaway mail order brides, stumbles across Ji-won and they form an uneasy alliance, each hoping to use the other to regain their honour.

Bestseller (Be-seu-teu-sel-leo)
Friday 12 Nov 2010 8.45pm
For the last decade Hee-soo (Uhm Jung-hwa) has been a bestselling author but at her peak of fame she is accused of plagiarism and overnight her career and life are in ruins. She dives into a deep depression for two years but with help from her friend and publisher she builds the courage to write again. Hee-soo drives to a remote cottage in a small town with her daughter, Yun-hee and begins to experience strange goings on. Yun-hee talks to a mysterious and unidentified figure, telling her strange and unusual stories. Desperate for ideas Hee-soo writes down these tales from the imaginary friend and turns them into her comeback bestseller.
Green Days plus a Q&A with Dir An Jae-hoon & Hye-Jin Han
Saturday 13 Nov 2010, 1.00pm

Described as a Korean cousin to Studio Ghibli in style,
Green Days
uniquely illustrates the universal themes of the highs and lows of adolescence. Arang, a young competitive relay runner who dreams of becoming a professional athlete, orchestrates a collapse in the middle of a relay race rather than crossing the finish line in second place. At the same time, Soo-min transfers in from Seoul and meets Cheol-soo, who dreams of becoming a scientist, quickly forming a special bond. They are all young and believe that they will become what they all dream about but with life and insecurities confronting them at every turn will they be able overcome these and turn their dreams into reality?

In this warm-hearted animation the directors, Han Hye Jin and An Jae Hoon, vividly bring to life the dreams and fantasy of adolescence through the encounters between the impossibly aspiring kids. Set in the ’80s and ’90s, the dreamy world and youthful imagination reminds its audience of our lost past and dreams. The film has a beautiful and unique way of evoking the childhood ‘dreams’ that we have lost through old age.

A Little Pond (Ja-geun-yeon-mot)
Saturday 13 Nov 2010, 4.00pm

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning article revealing that in the summer of 1950, during the Korean War one of the worst massacres occurred at the No Gun Ri Bridge. Under orders, American soldiers gunned down 300 refugees believing that North Korean spies were hidden among them. With very little known of this tragedy, even in its native country, this true story has proved to be highly controversial, subsequently receiving an incredibly limited release in Korea due to the content. A Little Pond finally clears up some of the mysterious circumstances that surround these horrific killings.

Saturday 13 Nov 2010, 6.00pm

It is rare when a film like this comes around, not just because it is helmed by one of the very few female Korean filmmakers Park Chan-ok (not to be confused with Oldboy‘s Park Chan-wook) but also because of its deeply rich and layered narrative. With a style which has only been seen in a small amount of work by Korean directors such as Hong Sangsoo.

An activist in 1996, Joong-shik (Lee Seon-gyun), accidently causes a horrifying injury to his lover‟s infant son and flees from the police to Paju, a small developing town north of Seoul. He lays low but eventually falls in love and marries Eunsoo (Shim Yi-young) who lives with her younger sister, Eunmo (Seo woo). Sadly Eunsoo dies in an explosion which causes her sister to runaway to India.
Eunmo returns in 2003 to find Joong-sik now a leader of squatters who violently battle against the demolition of an apartment complex. Reuniting with her brother-in-law stirs up all the mixed emotions of hate, resentment, envy, love that she had for him which become even more complex when she begins to believe that Joong-sik might be responsible for the death of her sister.

Saturday 13 Nov 2010, 8.30pm
Based on the popular internet comic of the same name, Moss, sees Ryu Hae-guk attending his father‟s funeral in a remote village. With suspicious circumstances around his father‟s death he decides to investigate but soon uncovers a vast, diabolical conspiracy that the villagers are willing to kill to keep hidden.The internet comic has been heralded as a great thriller with its layers and layers of character depth and story structure. The director, Kang Woo-suk is best known for his Public Enemy Trilogy dealing with conspiracies and political corruption was an inspired choice to helm this project and has attracted a talented roster including Park Hae-il from Bong Joon-ho’s The Host and Memories of Murder to bring this slightly different comic adaptation to life. The film and talent behind this project definitely show that there is more to comic books than muscles and capes.

71 – Into the Fire
Sunday 14 Nov 2010, 1.30pm
At the beginning of the Korean War the North’s army were raging through the South and in retaliation every able bodied man was quickly enlisted. With the war progressing so quickly there was little time to give proper military training to the new recruits leading many to the slaughter. The film deals with the real events and people involved when 71 students found themselves fighting back numerous waves of North Korean soldiers and how they dealt with the overwhelming situations they found themselves in.

Blades of Blood (Gu-reu-meul Beo-seo-nan Dal-cheo-reom)
Sunday 14 Nov 2010, 4.00pm

(Closing Gala)
“The Housemaid” includes Director IM Sang-soo Q&A
Sunday 14 Nov 2010, 6.30pm

Im Sang-soo’s remake of the classic Korean 1960‟s film of the same name was a huge hit at this year‟s Cannes Festival and a worthy successor of the original. It follows Lee Eun-yi (Jeon Do-yeon, Secret Sunshine) a naive and innocent young woman who takes up the position of junior housemaid in an overly luxurious mansion. She tends after the two owners, Hoon and Hae-ra, as well as their creepily perfect daughter Nami. She soon becomes embroiled in a deeply erotic affair with Hoon unleashing the hidden desires Eun-yi never knew existed. The consequences of this affair soon catch up with the maid, falling pregnant and victim to the viciously jealous wife.

With universal themes that transcend the original setting to one much more contemporary, director Im Sang-soo has created a masterfully sensual film that surpasses his past erotic thriller film A Good Lawyer’s Wife.

“a ‘Housemaid’ highlights the human being’s most basic, essential desires…always with a smile on her face, a character who looks empty-headed and naive…but what is it that she couldn’t endure for the life of her?” (IM Sang-soo)

Featuring an all star cast and the director of the biggest Korean box office film The King & Clown, Lee Joon-ik‟s Blades of Blood is a stylish adaptation of the 1994 graphic novel, Like the Moon Escaping from the Clouds. In 1591 the Japanese are moments away from landing on the Korean shores looking to conquer its people all the while the King‟s court is embroiled in internal struggles between the East and West Councils. A young and rebellious politician, Lee Mong-hak (Cha Seung-won) tires of the bickering and creates a new faction that unites the East and West to run Mong-hak out of the court for treason.
Exiled, Mong-hak raises an army to overthrow the government to bring order to the land and fend off the impending Japanese invasion. But even with the most noble of intentions Mong-hak loses sight of his goal and leaves a wake of blood and betrayal on his journey to the King. One of those betrayed friends, Hwang (Hwang Jung-min), a blind swordsman, decides that Mong-hak needs to be stopped and quickly hunts his old friend down.

A film with excruciating suspense leading to a gore leaden whirlwind of violence starts with Hae-won (JI Sung-won), a middle management woman who with the increasing pressures of work and home situation decides to take a break from it all and return to the pleasant, remote island where she spent happy summers with her grandparents.

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