Extra! Korea

May 25, 2009

“Thirst” wins jury prize at Cannes film festival

Filed under: movies — extrakorea @ 9:23 am

Park Chan-wook’s “Thirst” has won the jury prize at the Cannes international film festival.

“Thirst,” the first Korean film to be co-produced and distributed by major Hollywood studio Universal Pictures, has been sold to more than 10 countries, including France, Greece and Brazil, for screening worldwide later this year.

“Thirst” is about a priest who travels abroad, hoping to do good. However, he contracts a fatal disease, and things become even worse after a blood transfusion from an unknown donor.

April 26, 2009

Korean films and filmmakers to appear at Cannes film festival

Filed under: movies — extrakorea @ 5:40 am

Top Korean movie directors have been invited to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival running from May 13 to 24.

The festival delegation announced the list of this year’s competitors and jury members Thursday through the festival’s official Web site ― they included Koreans Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho and Lee Chang-dong.

According to the list, Park’s “Thirst” will vie for the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded to competing films at the event. This is the second time that one of Park’s films has been nominated, the first being “Old Boy” in 2004. The movie won the Grand Prix at Cannes that year. The thriller “Thirst” tells the story of a priest who becomes a vampire and falls in love with his friend’s wife. It’s slated for release here on April 30.

[ snip ]

Fellow filmmaker Bong will also join Park at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section with his new film “Mother.” Bong won the award for Best Director at the 2007 Oporto International Film Festival for his monster film “The Host” (2006). This is his third invitation to the event. Mother stars veteran Korean actress Kim Hye-ja as a distressed mother who fights to prove her son’s innocence against false charge of homicide. The film is slated for release in May.

Meanwhile, Lee Chang-dong (“Secret Sunshine,” 2007) will be part of the jury, headed by French actress Isabelle Huppert, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi and American director James Gray. Lee’s “Secret Sunshine” was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2007, while “Oasis” (2002) won the Special Director’s Award at the Venice Film Festival in 2003.


(More here.)

April 24, 2009

Was the movie “JSA” prophetic about choco pies?

Filed under: movies, North Korea — extrakorea @ 7:16 am

In the movie “JSA” actor Song Gang-ho played a North Korean soldier who became enamored with the South Korean snack called “choco pies.” If you’re Canadian, you’ll recognize them as being very similar to the much older snack called Wagon Wheels.
It turns out that North Koreans really do love choco pies.

If there’s one South Korean product that all North Korean workers in the Kaesong Industrial Complex know about, it’s Choco Pie. According to factory owners in the Kaesong complex, some businesses there began passing out the snacks to their North Korean workers in 2005 to boost morale, which led to explosive popularity of the product among workers, and now most businesses there have followed suit.

[ snip ]

The Choco Pies are then brought out of the industrial park through unofficial channels and sold in black markets near Pyongyang. One South Korean government official said North Korean authorities tried to stop Choco Pies from being smuggled out of the complex, but this has proven too difficult to do, and they are now turning a blind eye, the staffer said.

He added Choco Pies were “sweet symbols of capitalism” for North Koreans.

Perhaps you’re heard of the Sunshine Policy, the policy of engaging North Korea that was pursued for two consecutive presidential terms, and whose abject failure has lead to, among other things, North Korea’s rocket launch, the restarting of its nuclear program, and continuation of human rights violations. As blogger G.I. Korea noted, Dr. Andrei Lankov, an expert on Korea, advocates a radically different kind of policy, one that, in years to come, may be referred to as the Choco Pie Engagement Policy.

March 27, 2009

Sub-titled movies to be screened regularly from March 27

Filed under: expatriates, movies — extrakorea @ 3:29 am

Until now, Korean movies were rarely screened with English sub-titles. Usually, one had to wait for the DVD to come out. That’s set to change from March 27.

Two theaters in Seoul will be providing English subtitles to Korean movies released this year.

The service, which started this week, is available at two theaters of the local cinema chain Cinus.

One is in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, and the other in Gangnam, the southern part of the city.

[ snip ]

An opening ceremony will take place tonight [Friday, March 27] at 7:30 p.m. at Cinus Myeong-dong.

The main event will be a preview of the English-subtitled Korean movie “Private Eye.”

Read all about it, including information about how to get to the theaters, here.

March 20, 2009

Director Park Chan-wook (of “Old Boy” fame) releasing new movie “Thirst”

Filed under: movies — extrakorea @ 11:02 pm

If you liked director Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy (“Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” “Old Boy,” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance“), then you might like his new film, “Thirst.” (You can see a trailer here and a brief description here.) It’s scheduled to be released in South Korea in April.


There’s more information in this article, including a look at the original movie poster and its revised, less racy version.

Further Update:

Here is an article about the movie, focusing on the main actress, Kim Ok-bin.

[“Thirst”] will be released in Korea on Apr. 30.

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