The 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards

The 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards (청룡영화제)

The 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards (청룡영화제)

The 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards (청룡영화제) were held on a chilly 17th of December in Seoul.

Celebrating the best of Korean cinema over the past 12 months, the ceremony is one of the most prestigious events on the film calendar. Interestingly, the awards bestowed stood in quite stark contrast to the 51st Daejong (Grand Bell) Awards that took place in late November.

Best Film was awarded to politically charged drama The Attorney which also saw Song Kang-ho win for Best Actor and Kim Hee-ae for Best Supporting Actress.

Best Actress went to Chun Woo-hee for her performance in independent drama Han Gong-ju and appeared genuinely surprised by her victory, so much so that she cried upon receiving the award. Her tearful acceptance speech can be seen below. Han Gong-ju also picked up another award, this time for Lee Su-jin for Best New Director.

The award for Best Director went to Kim Han-min for helming The Admiral: Roaring Currents, which also scooped the Audience Award for Most Popular Film.

Meanwhile action thriller A Hard Day scored Best Supporting Actor for Cho Jin-woong, Best Screenplay for Kim Seong-hoon, and Best Editing for Kim Chang-joo.

Best New Actress went to Kim Sae-ron for her role in A Girl At My Door, while Park Yoo-chun scored his 4th Best New Actor victory for Haemoo.

The winners of the best actor and actress categories from the night

The winners of the best actor and actress categories from the night

For the full list of nominees and victors from the ceremony, head to Asian Wiki here.

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'The Bad' Park Chang-yi (박창이) leads bandits on a murderous chase

Superstar Lee Byeong-heon (이병헌) to star in period film, and receive presidential recognition

Renowned actor Lee Byeong-heon (이병헌) has announced his intention to star in a Korean adaptation of ‘The Prince and the Pauper.’

Superstar Lee Byeong-heon (이병현)

Superstar Lee Byeong-heon (이병현)

As reported by Korean Film Biz and Korea Joongang Daily, the incredibly popular star will play both the King of Joseon as well as a pauper who, after discovering they look alike, exchange places. This will be Lee Byeong-heon’s first foray into a period drama, and marks a departure from his usual action role as exemplified with A Bittersweet Life (달콤한 인생) and I Saw the Devil (악마를 보았다). It will be some time before production begins however, as Lee Byeong-heon is currently filming G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation in America before embarking on a tour of Japan.

Additionally, Old Boy scribe Hwang Jo-yoon (황조윤) will write the screenplay whilst Late Blossom (그대를 사랑합니다) director Choo Chang-min (추창민) will helm the production. According to Korean Film Biz, filming will begin early next year with a budget of $8 million/£5.1 million.

In another testament to the star’s influence, 10 Asia has reported (here) that Lee Byeon-heon is set to receive a presidential citation for his role in the development and expansion of Korean cinema. The accolade marks the recognition of the actor’s contributions, as he has starred in some of the most prominent films that have emerged from Korea during the past 10 years and has also appeared in Hollywood action films.

 

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Winter Woman (겨울여자, 1977)

Veteran actor Kim Chu-ryeon (김추련) found dead

The late Kim Chu-ryeon (김추련)

The late Kim Chu-ryeon (김추련)

Actor Kim Chu-ryeon (김추련), who starred in classic films including Lovers in the Rain (빗속의 연인들, 1976) and Winter Woman (겨울여자, 1977), was found dead in his apartment on Tuesday 8th November in an apparent suicide.

The Korea Times reported that Kim Chu-ryeon, 64, was found by the deacon of the church he frequented, as the deacon had received a worrying letter that morning and visited the actor’s home. The actor had been suffering from depression and had been living alone. A note was found at the scene that stated, “It was difficult to handle the loneliness and hardship. I feel sorry for my fans and family.”

Kim Chu-ryeon unfortunately joins the large number of Korean actors and actresses, such as Lee Eun-joo (이은주)and Choi Jin-sil (최진실), that have taken their own lives.  Our thoughts go out to all friends and family.

Winter Woman (겨울여자, 1977)

Winter Woman (겨울여자, 1977)

To watch the classic Winter Woman (겨울여자, 1977), on Video On Demand, please visit here.

Winter Woman (겨울여자, 1977)

Winter Woman (겨울여자, 1977)

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In-ho constantly breaks the rules, and requires punishment

Jang Geun-seok (장근석) defends emasculating role in You Pet (너는 펫)

Jang Geun-seok (장근석) defends his latest movie

Jang Geun-seok (장근석) defends his latest movie

The release of Jang Geun-seok (장근석) and Kim Ha-neul‘s (김하늘) new film You Pet/You’re My Pet (너는 펫) has prompted an outcry and a legal petition from a Korean men’s association. According to the Chosun Ilbo, the association filed the petition as they were offended by the emasculating role played by Jang Geun-seok as he takes on traditional female tasks and acts like a dog for his ‘master’, the intelligent and successful Kim Ha-neul. The men’s association stated that that the portrayal was, “an insult to men’s dignity as human beings.”

The enormously popular Hallyu star was quick to defend his role in the film, positing, “Why wouldn’t you be able to be like a pet if the woman is older, more capable, and the whole dinner menu changes when you please her?” He continued that men shouldn’t feel threatened or that their masculine pride has been damaged, as it’s not a charming quality.

While this news may seem lacking in controversy for ‘western’ audiences, it highlights a growing shift in the deconstruction of gender roles in conservative Korea. As a very patriarchal society, the release of You Pet/You’re My Pet would undoubtedly be deemed as antagonistic by those that consider gender roles to be ‘fixed’. It is wonderful to see that the younger generation of film stars and film makers are challenging such archaic sensibilities, particularly someone as popular as Jang Geun-seok, as while the film may be a romantic comedy it will also serve to raise awareness of gendered stereotyping and the limitations thereof.

UPDATE

The legal petition submitted by the men’s association was rejected by Seoul Central District Court. The injunction had attempted to ban the film completely, but was dismissed in open court. As is often the case, the petition has actually served to increase interest in You Pet/You’re My Pet (너는 펫), which Hancinema claims is riding high at the box office.

You Pet/You’re My Pet is currently in cinemas in Korea, and the trailer is below.

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SHINee to perform at the London Korean Film Festival 2011

Kpop sensations SHINee (샤이니) , whose hits include ‘Ring Ding Dong’ and ‘Lucifer‘,

SHINee at LKFF 2011

will perform the first concert to open the London Korean Film Festival. According to the official LKFF facebook page, SHINee will perform at the Odeon West End in Leceister Square, in screen 2 on November 3rd at 4.30pm. Tickets will go on sale soon and will be £20-30, and can be bought at the official Odeon website here.

You can visit the Hanguk Yeonghwa page on the upcoming festival here, and visit the official LKFF page here.

As a taster of things to come, here’s the music video for (arguably) their greatest hit, ‘Ring Ding Dong.’

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Comedian-turned-director Shim Hyung Rae (심형래) faces bankruptcy

Comedian/director Shim Hyung Rae is in financial difficulty

Shim Hyung Rae (심형래), known throughout Korea for his comedic character Young Gu (영구) and as director on D-War (디 워, 2006) and The Last Godfather (라스트 갓파더, 2010), is facing bankruptcy.

Reporting on August 31st/September 1st 2011, news agencies claimed that the comedian-turned-director had not paid staff at his production company ‘Yonggu Art.’ 43 employees at the company filed a petition for unpaid wages – amounting to 800 million won – which brought to light the financial difficulties Shim was embroiled in. As Shim was unable to pay the outstanding wages, the building in which ‘Yonggu Art’ was located was seized. In addition, Shim Hyung Rae also borrowed heavily from savings banks in order to produce his films, but had been unable to make repayments. In turn, the savings banks have tried to sue him, and the court cases are currently ongoing.

Both D-War and The Last Godfather were critically mauled by the press and word of mouth, yet despite this the hype surroundings his films at the times of their release was immense. However, audience numbers failed to reach expected figures, falling far short of breaking even. The films had been produced with America in mind, hoping to cater to audiences there and therefore increasing audience attendance.

The Korea Times also reported that Shim had a weakness for casinos, and that his gambling addiction was the root of the problem.

As reported hereScott Ross, the co-chairman of inDSP USA and technical director of special effects, claimed that Korean films are:

“very specific to Korean culture, and they’re shot in Korean language with Korean scriptwriters,” and that, “(e)veryone thinks their stories, cultures and movies are global content. But that’s not the case. Hollywood movies are global content.”

Clearly Shim Hyung Rae attempted to follow such advice and break into the American market, yet his failure to do so has ultimately cost him his production company.

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Tae-hoon is demoted due to his arrogance and inability to follow orders

Superstar Rain joins the military

Rain prepares for military service (YONHAP)

Rain (비), real name Jung Ji Hoon (정지훈), reported for military service on the 11th of October.

All Korean men have mandatory military service for two years, and while celebrities reporting for duty is nothing new, the level of coverage surrounding Rain’s departure has been unprecedented. News outlets from various countries have reported the event, including The Korean Times, the BBC, the Guardian, CBS, TIME, the China Daily, and more.

The Guardian’s Justin McCurry even went as far as to compare Rain to Elvis, stating:

‘More than half a century after the US military draft put Elvis Presley’s career on hold, his modern-day South Korean counterpart bade farewell to tearful fans this week as he prepared for two years’ national service.’

Rain at the TIME 100 gala 2011 (wikipedia)

McCurry certainly has a point. At only 29 years of age, Rain’s career has been impressive and diverse. Primarily known for his

dancing and later his music, Rain has also starred in several Korean TV Dramas including Fugitive: Plan B (도망자 Plan B). He additionally broke into film through his role in the Korean film ‘I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK‘ (싸이보그지만 괜찮아, 2006), and even featured in Hollywood fare in ‘Speed Racer (2008), and as main character Rizo in ‘Ninja Assassin‘ (2009). Rain’s popularity and wealth has also allowed him to create his own entertainment company entitled J Tune Entertainment, and has taken the top spot of TIME’s 100 most influential people poll for 3 years running.

With so many achievements, it will interesting to see how Rain’s military service will impact his career.

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