21st Bucheon Fantastic Film Festival to Honour Jeon Do-yeon

Poster for 'Contact, JEON Do-yeon' presented by the 21st BIFANAcclaimed actress Jeon Do-yeon is to be honoured at the 21st Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan) this year, in celebration of her 20 year career that began with Contact back in 1997.

Entitled ‘Contact, Jeon Do-yeon,’ the special program is dedicated to the revered actress and will feature highlights from her incredible filmography, including Secret Sunshine – for which she won ‘Best Actress’ at Cannes Film Festival – tense drama The Housemaid, gangster/action film No Blood, No Tears, time-travel drama My Mother, The Mermaid, period-actioner Memories of the Sword, thrillers Countdown and The Shameless, and more to be announced.

In addition, BiFan will also hold a press conference, a special Q&A between Jeon Do-yeon and the audience, an exhibition of the posters in which she starred alongside stills of the famed actress, and an exclusive collectors book for fans.

Jeon Do-yeon is undoubtedly one of the most talented – and internationally celebrated – artists in Korean cinematic history, and as such the program is a great boon for audiences and the festival alike, allowing fans old and new to revisit her extraordinary filmography.

BiFan will run from July 13th ~ 23rd.

Official Poster of the 21st Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival

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Silenced (The Crucible) (도가니)

‘Silenced’ (도가니), the controversial true-life story, shakes Korea

The release of ‘Silenced (도가니) (aka ‘The Crucible’) has caused an unprecedented level of controversy in Korea.

Poster for Silenced/The Crucible (도가니)

Depicting the true-life story of the shocking sexual abuses that occurred in 2000 at a school for disabled children by the staff – including the principal – Silenced has enraged the public to such a degree that policies and laws are changing. Watch the trailer here.

Released on Sept. 22nd, the film tells of the story of teacher Kang In Ho (강인호) who joins Inhwa school for the hearing impaired in Gwangju. As he begins to learn about the terrible atrocities being committed, he joins Seo Yoo Jin (서유진), a humans rights activist, to help bring the case to the attention of the authorities. Worse still, the six offenders received incredibly lenient sentences; only two received prison sentences, while the other four had suspended sentences or were not punished due to the statute of limitations. The school continued to operate – and some of the accused even returned to the school to teach. It is not known exactly how many victims, or even how many perpetrators, there are as Korean law requires the victims make a complaint.

The outrage surrounding the film has sparked calls for sexual offenders to be prosecuted more severely, and for the statute of limitations to be removed altogether. The public have asked for the case to be reinvestigatedEditorials have been written condemning the leniency given to sexual offenders. Politicians, eager to side with public opinion, also addressed the issue to the point where even President Lee Myung Bak (이명박) stated:

“It is necessary to make legal and institutional supplementations to prevent a similar incident from happening again.”

This in turn has opened an even wider debate on criminal background checks on teachers. The Education Ministry began a consensus asking for details from 189,759 nurseries, schools and private academies. Only 85.2% of teachers submitted details to the Ministry, while 17,891 refused. Currently, foreign teachers must have a criminal background check in order to teach in Korea. Additionally, the punishment sexual offenders has come under review with measures calling for harsher fines, jail terms, and expulsion from the education profession. A list of the measures are reviewed here.

Further still, prosecutors have used this momentum to examine sexual assaults in more depth, such as when, where and who are involved. The ongoing and expanding outrage even led to a report on the issues raised in The Economist.

It’s incredible how Silenced/The Crucible has achieved such notoriety to the point where policies are being examined and laws changed, especially considering it was based on a novel that had been in circulation for years prior. It has remained in the top spot since its release, with current figures suggesting nearly 4 million people have watched it thus far. Initially, director Hwang Dong Hyeok (황동혁) didn’t want to make the film due to the distressing content, however with the triumphant change in policies to protect children across Korea, it’s a very good thing he did.

Film News Uncategorized

Greetings from Hanguk Yeonghwa!

Hello everyone! 안녕하세요 여러분!

Welcome to Hanguk Yeonghwa (한국 영화) – or Korean film, if you prefer.

This blog is dedicated to the cinematic endeavors of Korea, where the films are often referred to as an exciting, innovative, and challenging alternative to Hollywood.

Most Korean films that make their way to foreign shores are often labeled as ‘extreme cinema’ due to the violent and/or sexual themes contained within. As such, the majority of audiences are aware of the horrors and thrillers produced, including the likes of Oldboy (올드보이, 2003), Thirst (박쥐, 2009), and the films of Kim Ki Duk (김기덕).

This is unfair, as in addition to the crime and revenge thrillers Korea produces an incredibly large amount of melodramas, comedies, and war films exploring the relationship with their northern cousins. While these films have a slowly increasing level of awareness in Europe and North America, they are extremely widespread throughout the rest of Asia to the point where the immense popularity has been designated as ‘the Korean Wave’ or ‘Hallyu’ (한류). The films, TV dramas and celebrities have an enormous following in Japan, Thailand, The Philippines and beyond, to the point where tour dates are sold out within minutes and actors learn different languages to make appearances on national television. The Korean Wave is expanding into new territories however, thanks to the innovation of those within the entertainment industry, expats, and of course the internet. Today, Korean actors such as Lee Byeong Heon (이병헌), Rain (비/real name 정지훈), and Jeon Ji Hyeon (전지현) are appearing in Hollywood, with director Kim Ji Woon (김지운) at the helm of the upcoming Arnold Swarzenegger film ‘Last Stand’ (2013).

This blog is also riding the wave and will feature film news, festival highlights, and reviews of both past and present, familiar ad unfamiliar. Hopefully, upon reading the reviews you will be curious enough to seek out, or re-watch, some fascinating moments from an ever-changing industry.

But make no mistake, these reviews will not simply be gushing praise simply because of their country of origin. They will be objective, impartial, and compared with counterparts from other countries.

Therefore, if you are interested in Korean film then this is the place to be. There will be no idol gossip about celebrity scandals however; instead, film fans can voice their opinions about the film productions from ‘the land of the rising calm.’ So if you have a few minutes free, sit back and enjoy the posts! (^.^)

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