Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thought Leaders' Corner: Trends in Korean film

The dialogue around Korean cinema continues to grow worldwide, and I was happy to participate in another edition of Modern Korean Cinema's Though Leaders' Corner. This months edition concerned emerging trends from the industry, and garnered a range of responses from experts around the world. 

This was probably the most interesting entry as it brought to the attention many trends that different people have noticed about the Korean film industry of late, from the style of the films to new forms of marketing, to cultural adjustments and emerging stars. Read on below and thanks again to Pierce Conran at MKR for coordinating it. You can read the full March thoughts here, or my personal mumbling are following the image below.

MKC Thought Leaders' Corner: March 2013

Are you noticing any tends in Korean films these days?

"In recent years I have noticed a steady increase in the presence of 'foreigners' in Korean films. Now English speakers have popped up in Korean cinema for years, often playing English teachers, crazed European travellers or AWOL American soldiers, but this trend is beginning to expand to include non-English speaking foreigners as the film industry reflects the current state of Korean society.'

A Glaring Night, Korean short film

From it being a major plot device in the likes of "Papa", "Hanaan", "Banga Banga", "Haunters", "The Taste of Money", "Bandhobi", "Ashock", "From Seoul to Varanasi", "A Barefoot Dream" and Jeon Kyu-hwan's Town Trilogy, to just simply having a physical presence or background role, this 'multicultural Korea' is starting to get more airtime. The likes of "Punch", "Mai Ratima" and short film "A Glaring Night" are also reflecting an increase in mixed race families or couples, which was probably made most famous in Kim Ki-duk's "Address Unknown". Despite that there is obviously still some xenophobia against this social status, something that still seems very taboo, and is thus often used as a plot twist by Korean filmmakers.

A flyer for Migrant Matters program of films at Cinema on the Park 2011

The likes of Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and African nations are being represented quite frequently in modern Korean cinema, and rather intriguingly, often as fluent Korean speakers. This appears to be as the Korean film industry is becoming more aware of its global status, but also to representing the changing face of Korean society and presence of migrant workers. 

Abu Dod, who starrred in Haunters and Pacemaker

While the big news headlines were made by the likes of Bong Joonho, Park Chanwook and Kim Jiwoon making films in English language, and the likes of Hong Sangsoo bringing English speakers to Korea, there has been just an intriguing change to the face of Korean cinema on the homefront itself."

Update: Read about the emergence of Blacks in Korean Media, from film to music and more. 

Kieran Tully
Artistic Director, KOFFIA Korean Film Festival in Australia
Programmer, Cinema on the Park Korean Film Night Sydney

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