Korean wave laps at Norwegian shore

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Korean wave laps at Norwegian shore

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Although it has been 47 years since South Korea and Norway formed diplomatic ties, citizens of the two countries do not know each other very well. According to the Korea Tourism Organization, only 1,645 Koreans visited Norway for business or pleasure last year while 7,274 Norwegians came to Korea.
That may change as cultural ties begin to form ― the Korean wave has been lapping at Scandinavian shores, and now the Norwegian Film Institute will hold “Korean New Cinema,” a film festival of 18 works, at the Filmens Hus from Friday to Feb. 19.? The movies include director Lee Chang-dong’s “Peppermint Candy,” Kim Ki-duk’s “Samaritan Girl,” Hong Sang-soo’s “Woman is the Future of Man” and Park Chan-wook’s “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.”
“Korean cinema is one of the most exciting national cinemas in the world at this time,” said Jan Langlo, the head of the Cinematheque at the Norwegian Film Institute, in an e-mail interview. He said that the institute has been following Korean films for several years at international festivals and through DVD releases and film magazines, and thought that this was a good time to hold a Korean film festival because several Korean films were released last year in Norway, including “Old Boy” and “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring.”
“Norwegians are starting to discover Korean films,” said Mr. Langlo.
He also found energy and vitality in many new Korean films. “Korean films handle matters of sex and violence in original ways, and are not afraid to touch sensitive political subjects.”
The opening films of the festival will be Song Il-gon’s “Magicians” and Yim Pil-sung’s “Antarctic Journal.” The two young directors were also invited to attend the festival.? “Magicians” was screened at the Pusan International Film Festival and the Jeonju International Film Festival last year as a 42-minute short film, but an extended 95-minute version will be shown at this festival. The extended version is scheduled to open in Korea next month.
The institute decided to invite the two directors because they are considered to represent “the new vitality in Korean cinema,” and will talk more about the future of the Korean film industry, Mr. Langlo said.
“I’m happy that ‘Magicians’ was chosen as the opening film and introduced to Scandinavia. As I don’t know much about Norwegian films, which are less well-known than Danish or Swedish films in Korea, I think this will be a good chance to find out more about them,” said Mr. Song.
“I think this is a great chance to increase the recognition of Korean culture, as well as its films, in the Scandinavian nations, because there has been no image of Korean culture in the region,” said Mary Katherine Olsen, the president of MK International, an exporter of Korean films and the co-host of the festival.
Along with the screening, there will be a reception where Korean directors and outstanding Norwegian figures in cinema can get together for a cultural exchange. There will also be an exhibition of film posters and photos of Seoul, sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. In addition, 11 Korean films will be screened at the Prinsen Cinema and the Rosendal Theatre in Trondheim, northern Norway from Feb. 6 to Feb. 10.


by Park Sung-ha
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