South Korea

Kwon-taek Im – Seopyeonje (1993)

Quote:
This heart-rending and accessible melodrama concerns the relationship between two children and their adoptive ‘father’/master, a travelling – necessarily poor – pansori musician. The pansori, a traditional music of aching love laments or upbeat festive songs, performed to the accompaniment of a lone drum, gives the movie its elegiac tone. Flashing back to the early ’50s, it follows the three on their journeys through the loving photographed by Korean landscapes, in all seasons, as they fight for a living, while their music is literally drowned out by the emerging fashion for Western sounds. It’s a film of looks, rhythms, intimations and feelings, expressed in pure cinematic terms, and it’s almost impossible not to be moved by it. The sopyonje is a song described as sorrowful and tender – there are few films more tender, if not more sorrowful than this. Unmissable. — TimeOut. Read More »

Kun-jae Jang – Han yeo-reum-ui pan-ta-ji-a AKA A Midsummer’s Fantasia (2014)

Split into two parts, shot in black and white, the opening chapter First Love, Yoshiko follows a Korean director (Lim Hyung-kook) who is scouting for locations for his next film in the Japanese rural town of Gojo, and is joined by his assistant director Mijung (Kim Sae-byuk) who interprets for him. There he meets the locals including an elderly lady and a civil servant (Ryo Iwase) who helps him tour the area. The second part, Well of Sakura, captured in colour, is inspired by a story told in the opening chapter of a romance between a Korean woman and a local man. Mijung is now an actress while the civil servant is a persimmon farmer as they walk around the town and learn about each other. Read More »

Sang-soo Hong – Gangbyeon hotel AKA Hotel by the River (2018)

Synopsis
It is the dead of winter and a poet invites his sons to join him at a hotel for a reunion. The hotel also hosts a newly single woman who has a friend keep her company and with whom she shares a room, strolls and conversations. The poet is drawn to the beautiful girls and cannot resist the temptation to discover more. Their lives intersect, connect and disconnect and potentially become a metaphor for modern life. Read More »

Kwon-taek Im – Chunhyangdyun (2000)

Summary:
Mongryong marries the beautiful Chunhyang without telling his father, the Governor of Namwon. When his father is transferred to Seoul, Mongryong has to leave Chunhyang and finish his exams. Chunhyang, being the daughter of a courtesan, is also legally a courtesan. She is beaten and imprisoned when she refuses to obey the new Governor Byun, as she wishes to be faithful to her husband. After three years, Mongryong passes his exam and becomes an emissary to the King. He returns to Namwon, disguised as a beggar, just before Chunhyang is to be flogged to death at the governor’s birthday celebration. Read More »

Hyun-mok Yoo – Obaltan AKA The Aimless Bullet (1961)

Synopsis
A lowly clerk at an accountant’s office, Yeong-ho (Kim Jin-kyu) is the head of a household that consists of his mother (Noh Jae-shin), who lost her sanity in the war and sporadically cries, ’’Let’s go!’’ his extremely pregnant wife (Moon Jeong-suk), who is suffering from malnutrition; his younger sister (Seo Ae-ja), who has become a prostitute for U.S. soldiers; and his younger brother Cheol-ho (Choi Mu-ryong), who is an unemployed war veteran. Unfortunately, his meager salary is barely enough to support his large family, and he does not even dare to go to the dentist even though he suffers from a toothache. His brother Cheol-ho tries to overcome their desperate reality by robbing a bank, but fails in the attempt. Yeong-ho receives a phone call from the police informing him of his brother’s arrest. Read More »

Ji-won Lee – Mi-sseu-baek AKA Miss Baek (2018)

Quote:
A woman’s past as a convict follows her everywhere and because of this she doesn’t open up to others. But then she strikes up a friendship with a broken child who has suffered from domestic violence and decides to save the girl from the cruel world. A man who holds feelings for the woman, tries to protect her in his own way. Read More »

Gee-woong Nam – Daehakno-yeseo maechoon-hadaka tomaksalhae danghan yeogosaeng ajik Daehakno-ye Issda AKA Teenage Hooker Who Died and Became a Killing Machine (2000)

A sadistic teacher discovers one of his teenage students is a prostitute and blackmails her into becoming his sex slave. When she becomes pregnant, he arranges her demise. His henchmen (who are kind of like the Three Stooges) murder her and chop her up. At this point a mysterious, sunglasses-wearing Dr. Frankenstein-like character intervenes and rebuilds the remains into a cyborg (with the aid of a sewing machine). Now robotically revived, her memory comes back from a shock she had from her chest injury during a fight, and she sets out to avenge herself, going after the teacher and the three henchmen who committed the murder. Read More »