Im Kwon-taek Is Taking His Latest Film Abroad

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Im Kwon-taek Is Taking His Latest Film Abroad

"Chunhyang," the film by Im Kwon-taek that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last year, will soon go into international release despite its commercial failure in Korea.

The film is an operatic love story based on a classic Korean tale set in the 18th century. It traces the passionate, outlawed love between Chunhyang, the beautiful daughter of a former courtesan, and Mongryong, the haughty and handsome son of the provincial governor. When Mongryong is sent away to finish his studies, he unwittingly leaves his lover vulnerable to the sadistic designs of the district's new governor, a cruel and corrupt man.

The movie stars Cho Seung-woo and Lee Hyo-jung and is the 98th film made by Mr. Im, the 64-year-old icon of the Korean film world, since he began in 1962.

"Chunhyang" is scheduled for release in France on Nov. 22, in Japan in mid-December, in the United States on Dec. 29 and in Australia, Spain and Switzerland next year, according to Song Hae-ryun of Taehung Films. It has also been submitted for consideration for
next year's Academy Awards.

Thrillingly narrated by a pansori singer, with guttural whoops and an emotional register to rival Maria Callas, "Chunhyang" finds a master director working at the top of his form in a film that exalts a Korean theatrical tradition even as it vividly recalls the more modest legacy of the Hollywood musical.

A novel method of telling a story on screen, "Chunhyang" unfolds like a stage play complete with audience and narrator. Despite being slow-moving at times, the work has its gripping moments and never leaves the viewer bored.

When the movie was shown in Korea, it some groups lambasted it for its nude scenes. The protesters charged that Mr. Im, an icon of the Korean film scene, had exploited his Ms. Lee, his 16-year-old lead actress. The complaints also focused on the actress's eager and active interpretation of Chunhyang's sexuality.

by Kim Jae-seon

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