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Ko - production in Busan
  • In Focus: The Concubine (Hu-gung: Je-wang-ui cheop)
  • by Darcy Paquet /  Jun 13, 2012

    Directed by KIM Dae-seung
    Starring CHO Yeo-jung, KIM Dong-wook, KIM Min-jun, PARK Ji-young, PARK Cheol-min, JO Eun-ji
    Release Date: June 6, 2012
    Tales of palace intrigue set during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) are a staple of both the Korean film and TV drama industries. This latest entry into the genre is from director KIM Dae-seung, a former assistant director to IM Kwon-taek who is best known for his debut film <Bungee Jumping of Their Own> (2001) and the gritty period mystery <Blood Rain> (2005). Marketed as a dramatically modernized, sexually explicit drama, <The Concubine> has secured an early June release, opposite Ridley Scott's <Prometheus>.
    The film's plot centers around Hwa-yeon (CHO Yeo-jung), a determined and resourceful woman who is torn away from her home village -- and her relationship with Kwon-yu (KIM Min-jun) -- to serve in the palace as a concubine. There, the inexperienced and lonely young king (KIM Dong-wook) develops an obsession for her that could potentially give her great influence, but which also places her in danger. Meanwhile, the king's scheming mother (PARK Ji-young) works to control the levers of power behind the scenes.
    Director KIM initially had trouble casting the part of Hwa-yeon due to the sexually explicit nature of the role, but his eventual choice CHO Yeo-jung has ended up becoming one of the film's key marketing points. She first gained widespread attention for portraying the role of Chunhyang in the erotic comedy <The Servant>, which was a strong hit in 2010. Critical consensus after the film's press screening was that her acting had matured in this latest work. Also drawing praise was the performance of KIM Dong-wook as the needy and unpredictable young king.
    Lavishly staged, with cinematography by HWANG Ki-seok (<Duelist>, <Friend>), the film devotes much of its 122-minute running time to power struggles and conflicts among the various competing factions in the palace. There is a distinctly modern quality to both the film's visuals and also the characterization, which some viewers have criticized as being historically inaccurate. As one of the highest profile Korean releases in the month of June, <The Concubine> will be given a wide release by its distributor Lotte Entertainment. Meanwhile, a number of other ambitious period films are being lined up for 2012, including <Masquerade> starring LEE Byung-hun, <I Am the King> starring JU Ji-hoon and <The Grand Heist> starring CHA Tae-hyun
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