Film Series Offers Sweeping Look at Korea's Eclectic Cinematic HeritageThe Korean Film Archive will hold a special series of film presentations in Seoul starting in April. Sponsored in part by this non-profit organization, the series presents one Korean film a month through December. All of the films have been introduced to foreign audiences through international film festivals and will have English subtitles.
The first film to be presented will be "Story of Chunhyang" by the legendary Korean director Im Kwon-taek. Based on the 18th century Korean classic, "Chunhyangeon," the story depicts the forbidden love between Mongryong, the son of a governor and Chunhyang, the daughter of a retired courtesan. A Korean version of "Romeo and Juliet," this much-loved romantic epic has been revised into narrative format and complemented with pansori, Korean traditional music. Depicting Im's particular interpretation of Korean eroticism, the film stirred up controversy for casting an underage actress in a role involving explicit sex scenes.
Two other films directed by Im Kwon-taek, "A Buddhist Ascetic Mandara," also known as "Mandara," and "Adada" will be showcased. One of Im's earliest works, "A Buddhist Ascetic Mandara" depicts the spiritual journey of a Buddhist monk who experiences a contradiction of life at the temple. "Adada," which has been featured in several film festivals depicts the troubled life of a hearing-impaired woman in a patriarchal society.
Apart from these works, last year's most talked about film, "Joint Security Area," will be shown in May. The story of four sentry guards from South and North Korea, this film recently won awards at the Deauville Asian Film Festival and attracted a great deal of attention for examining the division of Korea from a humanist viewpoint.
Bae Chang-ho's "The Winter of that Year Was Warm" traces the traditional form of Korean drama, while Byeon Jang-ho's "Potatoes," based on the novel by the pro-Japanese writer Kim Dong-in, depicts the tragic story of a woman in the process of watching her life slowly collapse.
The 1970s classic by Lee Man-hee, "A Road to Sampo" portrays a haunting reality of contemporary Koreans who look for the meaning of "home" in modern Korea. "Eu Wu-dong," one of Korea's earliest erotic dramas is part of the series.
All films will be accompanied by a question and answer period after the screening. The discussion will be led by Dr. Cho who is a lecturer at Yonsei University. For more information contact the Korean Film Archive on 02-763-9483. English service is available. Korean Film Archive is located within the same complex as the Seoul Arts Center.
by Park Soo-mee