[KS] film/drama class suggestions

Stefan Ewing sa_ewing at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 26 12:44:47 EDT 2005

Dear KS list members:

In reply to Hyung Pai's request, I could suggest the website Koreanfilm.org 
(http://www.koreanfilm.org/) as a starting point.  The site has numerous 
features, including reviews of films from 1946 right through to 2005; 
bibliographies; biographies of actors, actresses, and directors; and 
information on some TV dramas.  (A similar site is Korean Cinema Edition 
(http://www.cinekorea.com/), with quite a bit of information as well; but it 
was last updated in 2004.)

The site contains a brief synopsis of the history of Korean cinema 
(http://www.koreanfilm.org/history.html); a longer history (but written in 
1998), "An Introduction to Korean Cinema", may be found at at the website 
_Hors Champ_ (http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/9810/offscreen_essays/korean.html).

Koreanfilm.org also features a long list of contact information for Korean 
film companies, distributors, marketers, etc. 
(http://www.koreanfilm.org/contacts.html), as well as a links page 
(http://www.koreanfilm.org/links.html) to other sites.  A number of the 
links are to articles touching on historical aspects of Korean cinema, 
including a 1999 _Koreana_ article by Yu Gina, "Renaissance of Korean 
Movies," on the early beginnings of the Korean Wave.

Another link is to the syllabus for a 1999 UC Irvine course on Korean film 
taught by Kyung Hyun Kim (http://eee.uci.edu/99s/20655/syllabus.html).  
(Don't be put off by the recurring date 1999: the Koreanfilm site is very 
much up-to-date, and includes a number of reviews for films released in 

Another linked site is the Korean Film Archive 
(http://www.koreafilm.or.kr/main/index.asp; English: 
http://www.koreafilm.or.kr/english/index.asp), "dedicated to preserving, 
collecting, restoring and exhibiting Korean films and other related 
documents."  A cursory glance at their site reveals a database on Korean 
films produced since 1919 (http://www.koreafilm.or.kr/db/db_01.asp; English: 

The UCLA Film and Television Archive 
(http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/collections/collections.html) includes among its 
collection of Hollywood films, a number of Korean films.  A topic/genre 
search for "Korea" yields the following results: 
  (Check especially the list under "Korean film": 
  Most of the titles appear to be non-circulating, but perhaps they loan to 
fellow UC faculty?

As for individual films, I have my personal favourites, but I am not in a 
position to say that A is better than B and therefore should be included in 
your course.  Nevertheless, my impression is _Shiri_/_Swiri_ 
(http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm99.html#swiri) is important in historical 
terms, for its release in 1999 either kicked off--or at least coincided with 
the beginning of--the Korean Wave.  It was the first wildly successful, 
domestically produced action blockbuster.

The pre-Wave, 1993 film _Seopyonje_ 
(http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm90-95.html#sopyonje) is notable in that it 
broke all previous Korean box office records, despite the expectation that 
the film would lose money.  (The review claims that Im Kwon-Taek was only 
allowed to make the movie because of the success of his previous film, _The 
General's Son_).  It is a beatiful, poetic movie, set in the  countryside 
and rich with traditional motifs.

Another film of historical note may be the 1989 film _Why Has Bodhi-Dharma 
Left for the East?_ (http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm80s.html#bodhi), notably 
mainly because it was, evidently, for many years the *only* Korean film 
discussed outside of Korea (and, as I recall, the only Korean film available 
for a long time in my local specialty video store), and won the award for 
Best Film at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival.

Prior to all of these, I suppose the most "important" film would be the 
country's first domestic success, the 1926 production _Arirang_, a 
metaphorical critique of Japanese colonial power.  A review may be seen 
here: http://www.koreasociety.org/TKSQ/Book&FilmReview/Arirang.htm.

Hoping this is of help,
Yours sincerely,
Stefan Ewing


>From: Hyung Pai <hyungpai at eastasian.ucsb.edu>
>Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>Subject: [KS] film/drama class suggestions
>Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 21:18:47 -0700
>Dear members,
>I am in the process of developing a class on Korean film and TV  drama. I 
>would appreciate recommendations for new books, articles,   and appropriate 
>films for an introductory class targetted for  undergrads who are majoring 
>in East Asian studies. I would also like  to know about web sites and 
>contact info for vendors who sell DVDs or  videos. Sources on the Korean 
>Wave phenomena and its cultural impact  on Japan, China and other countries 
>would also be appreciate either  in English or Korean.  Thank you.

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