Directed by PARK Shin-woo
Cast HAN Seok-kyu, SON Ye-jin, KO Soo
Release Date November 19, 2009
HIGASHINO Keigo, the bestselling Japanese novelist, is well-known for his way of constructing detective stories like a mathematical problem. As the novel runs straight towards the answer without going astray, the storyline is relatively simple for a detective novel and the flow is furious. Such adornment of mathematical calculation in a way means the author refrains from creating any trace of emotions for characters. Although countless characters are complicatedly tangled in his novels, it is rare to find the answers to why such horrible events had occurred or any deep insights into the emotions of the criminals and their pursuers. That is why HIGASHINO's novels are a good material for those who seek the visual aspect, as there is plenty of room for imagination.
His most famous work White Night is just that example. The Korean and Japanese title comes from the Chinese characters, meaning ‘walking in the white darkness', White Night tells a story of a man and a woman who are chased by another man. While investigating a case of a man who was murdered right after his release from prison, a team of detectives discovers that this case is deeply connected to a murder from 14 years ago and visits the detective who was in charge of that case. Instinctively the man realizes the case is related to Yo-han, son of the victim at the time and closes in on him. At the same time, he digs into the secrets of beautiful designer Mi-ho, who is a fiancée to a large corporation CEO. Adding to this, the CEO starts background check on his fiancée, wanting to know everything about her and the truth that was buried for 14 years slowly comes up to the surface.
Already made into a TV drama series in Japan, White Night is a film with much thought and care, trying hard to fill in the blanks of the characters' emotions that HIGASHINO left empty on purpose. While fully adapting the massive story that consists of 3 books, the film also packs itself with psychology of the characters that the novel didn't manage to handle. Directed by a newcomer PARK Shin-woo, White Night powerfully conveys the original story and carries on the ‘melancholy senses' that the TV drama pursued. The film digs into every inch of the case from the beginning and concludes that it was love that was at the center of it all. Because of his love for her, wanting to protect her, the man hides in the dark and is represented by the images of the darkness, while Mi-ho, who wants to walk out into a brighter world because of her scars from her youth, is represented by the image of white light. As darkness and light cannot exist together, their love is doomed from the beginning. Scenes true to thriller film textbook continue on elaborately in the film and it is more sensual and decorative than the novel.
Directed by CHOI Dong-hoon
Cast GANG Dong-won, KIM
Yoon-suk, LIM Soo-jung
Release Date December 23, 2009
WOOCHI is the newest work from the director CHOI Donghoon, who had shown his ample talents as a storyteller with The Big Swindle and Tazza: The High Rollers. WOOCHI borrows its characters from a Korean classic tale and smartly twists away the original story. It is a brilliant reinterpretation of the classic, like how the Coen brothers transformed Homer's Odyssey into O Brother, Where Art Thou, a story of 3 escaped prisoners in 1930s.
Like O Brother, Where Art Thou, WOOCHI continuously tears apart the original story and updates it, transforming it into something uniquely new. Original tale that contained strong social criticisms turned into a flashy Hollywood blockbuster-style hero movie, and the hermit-like characters that walked on top of mountains and clouds shuttle between now and Chosun era show off their Taoist skills and supernatural powers that are impossible to men.
Unlike traditional Robin Hood-type heroes, this interpretation of a hero uses his abilities to have fun and play games. After being framed for stealing half of legendary pipe ‘manpashikjeok', Woochi is trapped in a scroll along with his dog, and is released after 500 years in the modern era. The film spectacularly fills the screen with the story of Woochi, who is resurrected to calm the monster-filled world and the commotion he creates with Hwadam who has the other half of the pipe.
The point of interest in WOOCHI is that it borrows typical elements of Hollywood blockbusters, like heroes, supernatural powers, conflict between good and evil, but at the same time endlessly tries to move away from the customs of genre. Pursuing a very eastern humor, the film does not obsess on one narrative but creates a cheerful stage where accidents and events depicting allegory and humor are all mixed together. The last action scene is like the form of art typical to the Korean plays put on at market places, where in and out of theater are not separated.
The way this film keeps audience's interests with witty gags instead of putting heavy emphasis on the fight between good and evil is also very typical of traditional Korean hero stories. Although the film does not attempt to be experimental in any way, it is a new fusion that subtly blends many things that are considered ‘Korean'. Smartly blending merits of east and west, what makes WOOCHI shine the most is GANG Dongwon's performance in the lead role. With his star quality as a young and promising actor, GANG completes graceful eastern action with his long and curvy limbs. Adding cunningly humorous flavor, a charming hero character is created. While such fusion blockbuster is a rarity, the way it crafted a very straightforward method of creating a hero is rather traditional.
Dance of Time
Directed by SONG Il-gon
Cast LEE Ha-na, JANG Hyun-sung
Release Date December 3, 2009
There are several images that come to mind when the word Cuba is mentioned: Che GUEVARA's revolution, romantic air of Buena Vista Social Club, tango and salsa. That is, a romantic city filled with dance and music. Lured by such atmosphere, director SONG Il-gon had been thinking of a melodrama with Cuba as its backdrop and when he learned about the Koreans who emigrated to Cuba a century ago from ‘History of Koreans in Cuba-Mexico', a book he came across during his research, he left for Cuba without hesitation driven by his curiosity.
The film starts by showing a woman's elastic movements dancing on the breakwater of Malecon, Havana. What thoughts crossed the minds of the ancestors of this woman who rode the boat to South America a century ago? Why couldn't they ever return to their home country and had to settle in a foreign country? Director SONG met up with the descendants currently living in Cuba and traces the faint trails. Those he met were surprisingly well-adapted to the life they belong to. Giving birth to more than 16 children, they lived happily on Eneken farm. The thought of them longing for their homeland is just a prejudice we have. It was ‘time' that allowed their roots to spread and made their lives possible. Now they are living the romantic life in Cuba. The film is like a pretty postcard and romantic travel journal sent to friends by a man who took a glimpse of Cuba's culture from within. It is quite far from a traditional documentary, but it is deliciously enjoyable to peep into someone's diary.
The Descendant of HONG Gildong
Directed by JEONG Yong-ki
Cast LEE Beom-soo, KIM Su-ro, LEE Si-young, SUNG Dong-il
Release Date November 26, 2009
What if the descendant of the HONG Gil-dong, Joseonera's Robin Hood, is still doing ‘something' these days? The Descendant of HONG Gildong began with such notion. HONG Moo-hyuk, who is a 18th descendent of HONG Gil-dong, works as a music teacher during daytime, but turns into a thief and steals at night with his family. It is of course all about helping poor people by stealing from bad rich people while hiding his character and he is struggling with his dual life just like Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. So The Descendant of HONG Gil-dong is a Korean version of super hero film. Screenwriter PARK Jung-woo (Attack the Gas Station, Kick the Moon, Jail Breakers) and the director JEONG Yong-ki, known for his comedy series, have made this an ambitious work. Despite the fact the film is a result from the ‘hit makers', it had only 610,000 audiences at the box office. However, the performances by LEE Beomsoo, who plays HONG Moohyuk, along with the comical presence of supporting actor SUNG Dong-il were brilliant. The structure of the action sequences also looks wellestablished, such as chasing scenes and the ‘Yamakashi' scene.
Directed by JEON Yong-taek
Cast YOO Oh-seong, JEON
Release Date December 10, 2009
Jeok-byuk, Jin-han, Inoki, Hyuki and Baeki are best friends from high school days in their hometown Yeongwol. Among them, Jin-han and Baeki were rivals in terms of ‘fighting,' but only Jin-han became the boss of a gang. He became famous after establishing the scholarship for his high school. For Baeki, it has been a long time since he left his hometown after losing his brother and his parents to an accident.
So all the conflicts start when Baeki comes back to his hometown with his daughter. There is an unsolved past between him and Jin-han. Potato Symphony, which the director JEON Yong-taek also produced, wrote the screenplay and starred in, reminds the film Friend by KWAK Kyungtaek in many aspects.
It deals with a friendship and conflict between the old friends, as well as specific locations of the film. YOO Oh-seong, who also starred in Friend, is an actual childhood friend of the director JEONG and plays Jin-han in this film. Potato Symphony was awarded Grand Prix from Festival Franco-Coreen du Film and also a recipient of a production support from KOFIC in 2006.
Always Be Boyz
Directed by KWON Woo-tak
Cast OH Se-bin, Maximum Crew,
WON Chae-young, AN Ji-eun
Release Date December 24, 2009
Seven, who is a leader of a B-boy team, finds a problem about B-boy in how it is reflected in the society. He promptly begins himself to indulge into reading philosophical books. He insists on being a great Alexander rather than a hungry B-boy, but his team members are reluctant to take his lead while the team can't get any sponsors. One day, Seven goes to a ballet theater, which was established 500 years ago. There, he falls in love with a ballerina as he tries to combine the moves of ballet into his breakdance routine. This film is especially famous for the appearance of the best Korean B-boy team ‘Maximum Crew'. Director KWON Wootak, who is Korean-American, came up with this story when he saw the video about Korean B-boys. This film is based on the idea of combining the issues on the division of two Koreas with the hip-hop culture. The scene of the ballerina and the B-boys dancing at Panmunjom shows such point of his view. The film was awarded the Jury prize from San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in 2008.
Directed by KIM Hyeong-jun
Cast SUL Kyung-gu, RYOO
Seung-bum, HAN Hye-jin
Release Date January 7, 2010
A woman's body parts are found near the Geumgang River. Following the autopsy by Dr. KANG Min-ho, an ecoactivist named LEE Sung-ho is arrested for the murder, with the help from detective MIN Seo-young, who is a former pupil of KANG. It all starts when KANG discovers that his daughter is kidnapped by LEE. As a reward of letting her go, LEE demands to be freed in 3 days as well. He threatens KANG that he would kill her daughter unless he is out of the jail. No Mercy, a directorial debut from KIM Hyeong-jun, looks like a patchwork of a number of past popular thriller films. There is 7 Days in terms of letting a murderer out of jail in time to find a daughter, along with Memories of Murder and The Chaser in terms of KANG's struggles with finding a clue. In addition, the criminal's remark on “Think why I ended up doing this” and the man who must find an answer to such question reminds us of Old Boy. Just like these thrillers, No Mercy also bears an incredible twist in the end. KIM Hyeongjun was a producer of the major broadcasting company, responsible for producing such theatrical releases as Paddy Long Legs and Detective ODD.
The Fair Love
Directed by SHIN Yeon-shick
Cast AHN Sung-ki, LEE Ha-na
Release Date January 14, 2010
Hyung-man is a fifty-something single man who has never dated a woman. He is asked to take care of a college-student daughter of his friend, who died after the bankruptcy. So Hyung-man goes to see the daughter Nam-eun, and Nam-eun also comes by his place often, making excuses of doing her laundry. And the two fall in love with each other. Age means just a number in the light of love. Hyung-man, who used to live a boring life, finds his ‘youth' back. Nameun seems to find her true love, too. So, can they eventually overcome all those ‘glances' and keep loving each other? This love doesn't seem fair just by its conditions, but the film says it does. It is AHN Sung-ki, Korea's most gracious living actor, who can turn in the performance to make this love ‘fair'. He is just a cute old bachelor when he, in his shabby clothes, rushes to see his lover. Mr. AHN waited for 3 years to play the role of an old bachelor in the film, attracted by his character. The Fair Love is SHIN Yeon-shick's second film following A Great Actor, which was invited to Pusan International Film Festival in 2005.
The Fair Love was also invited to Pusan International Film Festival in 2009 as its Gala Presentation.
Attack the Gas Station 2
Directed by KIM Sang-jin
Cast JO Han-sun, JI Hyun-woo, PARK Young-kyu
Release Date January 21, 2010
As a sequel to the mega hit movie Attack the Gas Station in 1999, Attack the Gas Station 2 appears 10 years later with the same title, similar plots and the same director. After the attack by a group of 4 men, called No Mark, the gas station owned by PARK became an “ATM machine” for local scumbags. Sick and tired of being targeted, the owner PARK finally decides to hire mercenary bodyguards to protect the gas station from attacks; a legendary fighter, One Punch; Attack the Gas Station 2 Directed by KIM Sang-jin Cast JO Han-sun, JI Hyun-woo, PARK Young-kyu Release Date January 21, 2010 a misfortunate soccer player High Kick; an unbelievably powerful man, Lifter; a big mouth, Yaburi; these 4 men are selected to defend the station. One day, when confronting local scumbags coming to “withdraw” money, they defeat them and succeed in protecting the gas station. But, the moment of enjoying the victory is brief as another group of attackers are on their way to take revenge on One Punch and the other members, a bus taken by escaped prisoners stops by at the gas station to fuel up, and a SWAT team chasing the prisoners also comes to the place, this gas station turns into a hell once more.
Like the previous one, this film also delivers unique characters and nicely interlocking incidents in a timely fashion.
Directed by LEE Seo
Cast CHOI Myung-soo, KIM Gyu-nam, KIM Ki-yean, BAEK Jin-hui
Release Date December 17, 2009
The stronger dominates; the weaker obeys. This food chain of the jungle also works in the same way in human society. A mystery thriller Missing Person infiltrates silently into our reality, where many beast-like human beings are swarming, revealing the underpinnings of rampant violence in this modern society. Won-young, a real estate broker in a local city borough, appears to be an ordinary person but he hides the instinct of a predator under his skin; having an affair with In-ae, a single mom with a daughter, having a sexual relationship with a underage girl, Da-ye, exploiting the welfare money from mentally disabled Kyu-nam. One day, in this town where hidden violence is committed in the shadows, a series of missing cases occur. The title of this film is straightforward and metaphoric at the same time. The title indicates the missing cases occuring in the movie directly, but can also be an alarm call to this insensitive society that ignores the disappearance of people without a trace, and can be an indictment of this junglelaw dominant society. Through this intense directing debut, director LEE Seo declares that a structure of violence or hidden barbarism underlies our society. The dazzling, lively performance of KIM Kyu-nam should be worth a mention.
What Do You Do?
Directed by GO Dal-woo, KIM Mo-mo
Cast CHO Jun-ho, WHANG Sujung, SOHN Hyun
Release Date December 17, 2009
This music documentary What Do You Do? begins by throwing a disturbing question at the audience; Are you doing what you have wanted to do? Coming across young musicians, organizing a band and performing streets concerts around the country just for the music they like, directors GO Dal-woo and KIM Mo-mo came up with the question and decided to follow a band for a year in order to find the interface of reality and dream. A four-man-band called ‘Joa Band,' consisting of CHO Junho, a percussionist, SON Hyun and WHANG Su-jung, guitarists, AHN Bok-sun, an accordionist, travel around the country busking and performing street concerts. Believing any place would turn into a beautiful stage if it has a street and pedestrians, they go on an invited, but still their own, national tour. Despite the fact that all they have is an old car and high self-esteem, they are never afraid of anything. This film, What Do You Do?, is not about a dramatic success story. Instead, while traveling with the band, the two directors just portray with calmness the tears and joy, the conflicts and reconciliations of young musicians. The passion of those youngsters, who would play music for even an audience of one attracted by their music, touches our heartstrings with their songs.
Directed by LEE Kwang-jae
Cast LEE Na-young, KIM Jiseok, KIM Hee-soo
Release Date Janauary 14, 2010
29 year-old professional photographer, Ji-hyun, seems to enjoy her perfect life. With a remarkable appearance, having a gifted talent as a photographer, close friends sharing all her problems and a chic boyfriend who is deep into her, she has all the conditions for a perfect life. However, one thing is missing for her; she has no memory of her past because she removed her past memory through a very special method. But, the past is, after all, not the kind of thing we can easily eliminate. One day, coming across a 7 year-old boy, Yu-bin, seeking his biological father, Ji-hyun comes to face the past that she wanted to escape from again. As his feature film debut, director LEE tells the story of a transgender, from a male to a female, who encounters her/his biological son. To make his/her son's dream come true, Ji-hyun decides to transform into a man to be his biological father for 7 days.
This film warmly follows the reconciliation of the past of and the present of Ji-hyun throughout 7 short days living together. Beautiful actress LEE Na-young's transformation into a transgender character has kept the nation buzzing.
Directed by HAH Myung-joong
Cast KIM Ki-bum, HWANG Bora
Release Date January 21, 2010
There is a rumor that a ghost lives in a pension around the seaside in Jumunjin. A curious girl Jini manages to find the pension in order to find the truth. Once there, she meets a ghost that may be a real person instead. As Jini begins to make quarrels with him, she begins to feel an attraction towards the ghost. This new film from HAH is his first work in 3 years since Mother in 2007, which came after a long break in film industry. Having made his debut in 1965, he was an ‘influential' actor of his time, also been recognized as a fine director since the film Blazing Sun(1984). Jumunjin is a surprising fantasy romance by this veteran director. KIM Ki-bum, a member of an idol group Super Junior, plays the ghost, who lives like a ghost after losing his lover, while HWANG Bora plays the curious girl, Jini. As its title suggests, the film shows plenty of dreamy and beautiful sights of the rural town Jumunjin.
Directed by YOON Jae-gu
Cast CHA Seung-won, SONG Yun-a, RYOO Seung-yong
Release Date December 3, 2009
The beauty of the thriller genre lies in the hidden piece of a puzzle. Secret starts a game by giving out one crucial piece of a puzzle to all characters. By the way, this film doesn't concern itself with finding out who the winner of this risky game is and giving out hints to audience. Until the moment of truth when the last person completes the puzzle, all we can do is just follow all the characters. An infamous loan shark is killed in the region where Sungryeol, a veteran detective, works. Sung-ryeol finds strange things at the crime scene such as the unique color of the lipstick on glass, a small button, a piece of earring. He soon realizes all the articles belong to his wife, Ji-yeon and conceals them. Later on, the victim turns out to be a brother of a local mafia boss, Jaekal, who declares a vicious revenge on his brother's death when he finds the murderer. Furthermore, one of Sungryeol's colleagues, who has a grudge against him from a past incident, comes to know that Sung-ryeol is trying to hide something in the murder case.
Sung-ryeol keeps asking his wife to tell the truth, but she won't say anything. When Sung-ryeol somehow manages to finds a suspect and closes the case down, a partially damaged surveillance camera is found. But, the part where the image is damaged is delivered to Sung-ryeol with a special proposition; later Jaekal and his subordinates attack the theater where Ji-yeon works when receiving the same image. Can Sung-ryeol save his wife? Does she know the truth of the murder?
The cinematic pleasure Secret provides is derived from the changing roles among characters. As the intertwining plots of his wife and other suspects get complicated, the dramatic tension of the movie increases. But, this dramatic setting is like a two-edged sword. While the chase scene, which is perfectly shot, gives full satisfaction to the audience, frequent use of dramatic settings makes the movie look too artificial. This film is the directing debut of YOON Ja-gu, the original writer of 7 Days, which was a hit thriller in 2007.
Director YOON plans to make a “saving series” including 7 Days; Secret about a detective saving his wife; a horror thriller about saving a man; and a Sci- Fi thriller about people saving Earth.
Directed by KWON Hyung-jin
Cast SONG Yuna, KIM Hyang-gi
Release Date Janauary 14, 2010
strange. As a workaholic, Go-woon used to spend most of her time at work instead of staying with her 9 year-old daughter, Sora. But, she now asks Sora to go with her to an amusement park, skip school, and she buys her an expensive video game and cooks a dish for her daughter for the first time. And suddenly, looking at her face, she sheds tears. Yes, as you may expect, the story is about a mother who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. When the mother realizes she has not much time left, she starts to make a wedding dress for her young daughter. Despite a typically conventional sad story which is dealing with the final moments of a dying mother and a daughter, Wedding Dress describes a heartbreaking separation in a calm manner without any excess emotional notes. But, the brilliant performing of the child actress, KIM Hyang-gi, makes the audience shed tears. SONG Yuna, who starred in the thriller Secret as a woman holding the key to a murder case, turns into a mother delivering true motherly love. This is the third film of KWON Hyung –jin of For Horovitz which portrayed an impressive relationship between an ingenious boy pianist and a teacher in despair.
Don't Feel Small
Directed by KIM Hyung-jin
Cast KIM Jin, IM Yoon-taek, SEO Young-bin, OH Eun-mi, YOON Ji-yeon
Release Date December 17, 2009
Brilliantly debuted as a comedian, KIM Jin hasn't worked properly for two years. His roommate IM Yoon-taek has also failed four times already since he came to Seoul with full of dreams of becoming a comedian. One day, they are offered to take part in for a KBS human documentary program called Human Theater. The program becomes somewhat successful and the expectation is getting high but they are just standing still. In the meantime, the trio, SEO Young-bin, OH Eun-mi, YOON Ji-yeon, which dreams of a singing group also struggles with their lives. They finally go on the stage with a name of SOS.
Don't Feel Small is a film version of a popular TV documentary Human Theater. KIM Hyung-jin, the producer of KBS Media, has directed and did a narration of the documentary as well, while rearranging one of its episodes, Human Theater – Making Laugh makes a Survival that aired on November, 2008. Different from the TV version, which mostly dealt with IM's mission of making laugh, this film shows the lives that have changed before and after the documentary was on the air, also adding the struggling of a 3-girl singing group and their debut stage. The portrait of young people who hasn't got anything but dreams and working hard to fulfill their goals is displayed in selfdepreciating yet humorous ways.
Directed by KIMJOE Kwangsoo
Cast Je-hoon, SEO Ji-hoo
Release Date December 17, 2009
On the way to see his boyfriend Min-soo, who is in the army, Suk-yi gets on the bus with a full heart. He is looking forward to spending a night with Minsoo when his mother suddenly turns up. They introduce each other as ‘just friend'. Both Sukyi and Min-soo stay the night with Min-soo's mother, but get caught when they end up making out with one other, unable to hold down their desires. Min-soo's mother is shocked by their sexuality, while two guys feel that the time goes too slow hiding their love away. Just Friends? is the second film from the director KIMJOE Kwang-soo, who could ‘dare' to make films dealing with homosexuality after his ‘coming out'. After declaring that he would make such films into a series by generations, KIMJOE made Boy Meets Boy in 2008, a short film about a teenage gay couple, and now Just Friends?, an extended short feature about a 20something couple. It is a somewhat sunny film dealing with some of the biggest issues among gay couples, the military, and also the coming out. The start and the end of the film resemble musical numbers, which will no doubt amuse the audiences.
Directed by LEE Seong-han
Cast JUNG Woo, HWANG Jung-eum
Release Date November 26, 2009
Jung-guk, who is often referred as ‘Jjianggu', is a trouble in his family. He is attending an interior commercial high school, which is different from the one attended by his sister and brother with high academic achievements, while dreaming of becoming a ‘No.1 fighter.' The school gang ‘Monster' wants him to join them, which he does after causing havoc out of his temper. Wish is motivated by actual events during the school days of JUNG Woo, who starred as main characters in Spare and Wish, both films by LEE Seong-han. JUNG Woo's real name KIM Jung-guk and his nick name Jjianggu appear in the film as they are, with the locations also being his childhood house and school. Even his real friends played in the film. The story is divided into two parts: the first half is about Jjianggu's school days, while the last half deals with a son whose father is about to die. Although storyline isn't anything new, the characters' performances, their conversations and the film's witty narration provide the laughter from the audience. The film was an official selection for Korean Cinema Today section at 2009 Pusan International Film Festival.