Korean Cinema

Night and Day, 2008

In a way, Night and Day continues the narrative bifurcation of Hong San-soo’s earlier work while converging towards Luis Buñuel’s late period films in conflating reality with sublimated desire. A married, middle-aged painter, Sun-nam (Kim Youngho), having impulsively run off to Paris in order to avoid a confrontation with police following a pot smoking incident,… read more »

Woman on the Beach, 2006

After observing Hong Sang-soo’s previous three films bucolically retreating within a predictable safety zone of recurring preoccupations and reflexive encounters illustrated through linear narratives in somewhat uncharacteristic fashion following what had been his most structurally experimental film to date, Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, it is refreshing to see Hong crystallize his now familiar… read more »

A Tale of Cinema, 2005

Hong Sang-soo makes a refreshing – and much welcomed – return to form with his most structurally complex, insightful, and thematically multilayered, yet deceptively facile and satisfying film since Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors in Tale of Cinema. The curious introduction of a narrative voice-over and the appearance of formalized, zooming into close-up –… read more »

Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, 2000

A dashing and affluent man named Jae-hoon (Jeong Bo-seok) arrives alone at a hotel resort and begins to occupy his time lazing about (and cursorily inspecting the ventilation system of) the empty, comfortable suite until the anxious distraction of a telephone call from his mobile phone – auspiciously ringing the tune of a tin-pot, synthesized… read more »

The Power of Kangwon Province, 1998

Aboard a crowded overnight passenger train bound for the seaside resort of Kangwon province, an exhausted, half-asleep, standing commuter momentarily drifts into annoyed consciousness after having been bumped into by an oblivious, bespectacled, casually dressed man named Jaewan (Chun Jaehyun) on his way back to an adjoining car after purchasing refreshments and snacks from a… read more »

The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, 1996

A struggling, self-absorbed writer named Hyo-sub (Kim Yui-seong) visits the home of a former colleague, ostensibly to retrieve a submitted draft for further editing (although, more likely, to probe into the possibility of receiving a writing fee advance on the authored piece). Having arranged a meeting with his occasional lover, a young woman named Min-jae… read more »

Time, 2006

On the surface, Time is perhaps Kim Ki-duk’s most brash, confrontational, and bituminous film since The Isle, an admirably crafted – and unexpectedly refreshing – return to his more familiar gothic, cringingly blunt, provocateur form after immersing in such aesthetically impeccable, but slight romanticized allegories riddled with obtuse, pseudo Zen mysticism and disjointed orientalism. Ostensibly… read more »

The Bow, 2005

One aspect of Kim Ki-duk’s filmmaking that I continue to find problematic is his penchant for introducing elements of pseudo-mythical orientalism in his films: a kind of exoticized mélange of stereotypical, yin-yang images of Eastern culture that would have audiences believe that when a Buddhist priest attains enlightenment, he also acquires a certain level of… read more »

This Charming Girl, 2004

In 2003, South Korean filmmaker Park Ki-yong followed up his atmospheric and textural debut feature film Motel Cactus with the even more haunting, visually austere, and understated Camel(s), a film that subtly, but incisively, articulates the desperateness of (failed) connection between two emotionally unfulfilled people through ordinary gestures, uncomfortable silence, and anonymous – and ultimately… read more »

Oasis, 2002

A flighty, aimless man named Jong-du (Sol Kyung-gu), insufficiently dressed in a summer shirt on a brisk winter day, arrives at a major city thoroughfare to wait for a bus, biding his time by cursorily scanning through a rack of inexpensive sweaters peddled on the sidewalk. Arriving at his intended destination, a multi-level urban residential… read more »