And one more, this one being country-themed: it’s all films from South Korea.

  • 환상속의 그대 (Hwansangsog-ui Geudae/Dear Dolphin, South Korea, 2013)

Dir. by Kang Ji-na.

Hwansangsog-ui Geudae is the most surreal offering on the recently announced programme for Jeonju International Film Festival, but that’s precisely what makes it so intriguing. It’s about three characters, Cha-kyung, Hyuk-geun and Ki-ok. Cha-kyung and Hyuk-geun are a couple, while Ki-ok, Cha-kyung’s best friend, is secretly in love with Hyuk-geun. Then Cha-kyung dies. Ki-ok continues to hide his feelings until a year has passed when, suddenly Cha-kyung appears in front of them again. It’s surreal, remember?

  • 은밀하게 위대하게 (Eunmilhage Widaehage/Secretly Greatly aka Covertly Grandly, South Korea, 2013)

Dir. by Jang Cheol-soo.

Note: That’s not the official film poster, but the cover of the webtoon that the film is based on.

Only a teaser, but it has earned its place in this Trailer Weekly nonetheless: it’s the next film of Kim Soo-hyun. The young, up-and-coming actor plays one of three North Korean spies (some synopses describe them as “handsome”, why that matters I’m not too sure), who infiltrate South Korea by pretending to be a village fool (Kim), a wanna-be idol (Park Ki-woong) and a high school student (Lee Hyun-woo) respectively. One day they receive an order from their government… I don’t expect Eunmilhage Widaehage to be particularly engaging on an intellectual level (and I do wonder if it can come to any sort of meaningful conclusion), but it looks like the kind of fun-filled ride that often makes a summer blockbuster – perfect for its June 2013 release date. Even better, with a role split into two personas – a hardcore spy and a bumbling idiot (wonderfully reminiscent Kim’s country bumpkin Song Sam-dong in the K-drama 드림하이/Deurim Hai/Dream High, 2011) – Kim Hyun-soon should be well able to show off his acting chops and get himself even meatier roles in the future.

Update 22/4/2013: A first film poster is now available. I see it’s closely modelled on the webcomic cover, except that we get Kim Soo-hyun’s endearing village fool face grinning at us (yeah, I can see why they would make that change!). That makes it slightly less mysterious though, and emphasises the comedy element of the film (I do wonder how much comedy there is in the source material).

Covertly Grandly (film)

  • 힘내세요, 병헌씨(Himnaeseyo, Byeongheonssi/Cheer Up Mr. Lee, South Korea, 2013)

Dir. by Lee Byeong-hun.

I have no a trailer, but a video clip only (and no poster either) for Himnaeseyo, Byeongheonssi,  a film which I read about in one of Hanguk Yeonghwa’s various reports on the Jeonju International Film Festival. Information on Himnaeseyo, Byeongheonssi seems rather scarce still but we do have a basic synopsis available: it’s a sort of docu-/mockumentary about Beyong-heon, a young man who aspires to become a filmmaker but keeps encountering setbacks. That’s not much plot to go on, but, who knows, it could be worth watching.

  • 마이 라띠마 (Mai Ratima, South Korea, 2012)

Dir. by Yoo Ji-Tae.

Mai Ratima received quite a bit of press when it first premiered at a film festival in South Korea last autumn (cinematic release still has to follow). I can’t remember the details (I think the critical reception of the film was mixed), but what was interesting about it was that it tackles sensitive and probably still rather taboo topics. The titular character, Mai Ratima, is a Thai woman who enters into an arranged marriage with a Korean man because she needs money to support her family. Life in Korea however is nothing like she imagined, as she suffers abuse (verbal, physical, sexual) and discrimination from the people who are now meant to be her family. Further troubles are ahead when Mai Ratima enters a relationship with another man who initially saves her from deportation but is too much an outcast of his own to provide her with anything even vaguely resembling a normal life. Another interesting fact is of course that Yoo Ji-Tae is directing – he is, of course, much better known as an actor in Korea.

  • 의형제 (Uihyeongjae/Secret Reunion, South Korea, 2010)

Dir. by Jang Hun.

This one is not an upcoming release, but a film from a few years back. However, it stars Kang Dong-won, who is pretty much my favourite Korean actor, despite the fact that I have only seen two of his films and one of his dramas. What can I say? Somehow, Kang Dong-won has got ‘it’: he is as beautiful as it gets – not just generally (shallowly) speaking, but also in an artistic sense (I’m not sure how to explain this really). He always has a fabulous screen presence too, regardless of whether he plays a crackpot wizard with too big an ego, a spoiled super-rich kid or a mysterious swordsman. Plus, I really like that he does what he wants  – slipping off into the army quietly and exiting with just as little fanfare, being selective with his film choices and, most of all, refusing to return to the world of Korean television dramas despite repeated requests from fans and surely producers and directors as well (Kang Dong-won has not made a TV drama in nearly ten years, stating that the infamous Korean live-shooting system simply doesn’t work for him: “I don’t like the fast tempo on set. I work slowly — I’m the type that needs a lot of time with my acting”).

I have an excuse today to thrown in some Kang Dong-won pretty into a post. :-)

I have a valid excuse today to thrown in some Kang Dong-won pretty into a post. 🙂

In any case, I need to (want to – it’s not a chore! :-)) work myself through his filmography, which features roles in movies of all sorts – action-packed thrillers, blockbuster summer comedies, heart-wrenching melodramas and totally idiosyncratic fare a la 형사 (Hyeongsa/Duelist, South Korea, 2005).

In Uihyeongjae Kang Dong-won plays a North Korean spy, Ji-won, who is betrayed during a shooting and becomes a target himself. Years after the shooting, he runs into a fellow former spy who asks that he work for him. Ji-won agrees, but the past is still unfinished business for both men.

Bonus Bits

  • A non-Korean bonus bit: apparently Miyazaki Goro, son of Studio Ghibli co-founder Miyazaki Hayao, announced this week that he is working on a new animated feature film, which he aims to complete in 2014. No information on the (working) title or plot are available yet. Even with a near-total lack of details, that’s exciting news!