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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh Hae-Young Again" Episode 1

2016/05/02 | | Permalink

Hae-young (played by Seo Hyeon-jin) is an administrative restauranteur with chronically rotten luck who shows neither determination nor despair at her many setbacks in life. Do-kyeong (played by Eric Moon), a sound effect designer for movies. Not a composer, a sound effect designer. His sister Soo-kyeong (played by Ye Ji-won) is Hae-young's boss, and both siblings share the same penchant for cruel behavior to subordinates in the name of getting the job done right...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 6

2016/05/02 | | Permalink

If you enjoy murder mysteries, then welcome to some Cluedo-like fun in episode six of "Vampire Detective", as our team tries to solve a death of the past. The incident is personal to Goo-hyeong and this means we finally get to see him act like a human being instead of a womanizing cardboard cutout. Yo-na is still around, but neither San or we know what she wants. She is sadly falling victim to plot stretching, which will hopefully end soon...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.04.29 ~ 2016.05.01

2016/05/02 | | Permalink

Marvel's "Civil War" takes no prisoners...

Marvel Studios' much-anticipated "Captain America: Civil War" arrived in Korea last Wednesday and over the weekend this blockbuster was the only game in town. The film was allocated an incredible 1,990 screens and attracted 2.7 million filmgoers for a whopping 90.5% of the box office pie. Already "Civil War" has amassed 3.9 million admissions in Korea alone ($28.7 million), and globally Marvel's latest superhero flick has banked over $200 million. Western superhero films are very popular the world over, and Korea is no exception, and its dominance over the weekend left very little for the rest of fray to fight over...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Village: Achiara's Secret"

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

Mysteries are rarely done well in drama. It seems to be a combination of complicated ideas and little time given due to the filming system, but they are also usually simple in concept and easy to guess as well. The creators of "The Village: Achiara's Secret" were very confident before the drama began airing. Stay until the end, they said. We will show you something good. Dramaland has lied to me a lot, but it just makes the rare truths all the more satisfying...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Spirits' Homecoming"

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

During the Japanese Occupation of Korea, Jeong-min (played by Kang Ha-na) and Yeong-hee (played by Seo Mi-ji) are mostly unremarkable teenage girls who live in the countryside with their parents. The prospects of the young women take a radical turn in 1943, when Japanese soldiers arrive looking for sources of comfort to comrades stressed out and rendered borderline insane by the neverending war in the Pacific. Insanity proves to be a recurring theme in "Spirits' Homecoming", as Jeong-min and Yeong-hee struggle to avoid it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Upside Down"

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

"The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol" was the immediate incredulous reaction to the South Korean government's poor handling of the Sewol tragedy. "Cruel State" was the protracted, despairing reaction as time went on and surviving family members were belittled for wanting an explanation. And now, we have "Upside Down", a documentary which, two years later, tries to find out how the families are holding up, and what the best explanation is, now that there has been ample time to test out all sorts of theories...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Big Picture"

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

In 2007, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean picture book authors collaborated for a large project dedicated to exploring the concepts of war and peace. Kwon Yoon-duk's contribution to this project was a story called Flower Grandmother, which deals with an old woman who was forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers in the days of the Japanese Empire. While most of the products of the peace project had an easy time getting published in all three member countries, Flower Grandmother stalls in the Japanese market, for reasons that are probably fairly obvious...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Seogwipo" April 19th-21st

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

Aside from the usual manmade structures Seogwipo also has much more conventional scenery. Pictured above is the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall (천지연폭포). It's surrounded by a huge park (Chilsimni) to the southwest corner of the Seogwipo's main urban center and, as you can see, even in April it's a popular tourist site. The scope of the Cheonjihyeon Waterfall is impressive enough up close, but I prefer looking at it in wide angle for the sake of seeing how well it fits into the broader landscape...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

Bong Joon-ho and Tilda Swinton are working together on "Okja" for Netflix, KOBIZ has an infographic on popular Korean series films, CJ CGV's ScreenX takes filmgoing to the next level at Cinema Con, and learn about Korea's "Grand Master" of eroticism...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

Get a taste for Korean-American cuisine with the "Koreatown" cookbook, Korea's J-shaped ice-cream cones head to L.A., discover what new dish is trending in Korea, and get some advice from travel bloggers on how to shop and eat local...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

Celebrate if your next layover is at Incheon International, some courageous Russians climb Korea's tallest building, discover 8 great places to travel in Asia as a single lady, and get some tips on budgeting for a trip to the Land of the Morning Calm...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

See how Korea's pet culture is evolving, consider joining a summer program at a Korean university, research shows Korea's demanding work culture is relaxing, and read what one traveller learned about her own culture from living and working in Korea...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/04/30 | | Permalink

See how some Korean couples enjoying matching wardrobes, a South Korean abstract painting sets a new record at auction, look out for Korea's "Tiger Bullion" series that's coming in June, and the Smithsonian looks at megacities through artists' eyes...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Seogwipo" April 16th-18th

2016/04/29 | | Permalink

Located on the southern tip of Jeju, Seogwipo (서귀포) is the only other location on the island which can really be called a city. Technically the entire southern half of Jeju is Seogwipo, just as the entire northern half of Jeju is Jeju City, but for the sake of argument the current run of articles is going to focus only on the city of Seogwipo- to the extent it can really be called a city at all. Tourist-directed though the local industry may be, the area is very quiet and peaceful. Even random schoolyards radiate a sort of quiet majesty...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entertainers" Episode 4

2016/04/28 | | Permalink

Despite wavering ratings, "Entertainers" continues strongly. Ji Seong is just hitting this role out of the park. Kang Min-hyuk had the chance to really open up as Ha-neul truly lets himself feel the after effects of the horrors in his life. We get some backstory on Green. And that pesky mystery, it just keeps throwing curve balls at us. Honestly, I could just sit here all day and watch this fledgling band bicker and rehearse all day. The romance really isn't necessary...at all. You think I'm joking.

When Seok-ho leans in close in order to make a point, Green is shaken by his nearness and overpowering masculinity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Master - God of Noodles" Episode 2

2016/04/28 | | Permalink

Gil-do is well on his way to winning a one-man moral limbo dance by going lower every day, our hero has revenge and food in mind and we have some new character introductions. Episode two pushes Myeong towards a very dangerous path and it will not be long before he has to start evading the truth to reach his target. The reunion hits him hard and the memories harder. Manly tears and noodle slurping ensue...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Master - God of Noodles" Episode 1

2016/04/27 | | Permalink

If you think your life is tough, welcome to the world of revenge dramas. "Master - God of Noodles" offers hot noodle dishes and heaps of the famous dish best served cold. The creators waste no time and give us the full backstory between our hero and villain, all the way to the awkward reunion in the present. This is one impressive, stylish and exciting premiere episode. You could cut the tension with a knife. Enter the noodle jokes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entertainers" Episode 3

2016/04/27 | | Permalink

As with all of the strongest dramas, "Entertainers" has begun to put together the one thing that always grabs at hearts and convinces the viewer to invest into it. It has created a family, a band family. A group of hurting misfits band together (pun intended) for the love of music, and will most certainly learn to love each other. Even ruthless Seok-ho is starting to show his gooey center. Perhaps that is helping the climbing rating - a 7.2%.

While Seok-ho endeavors to pick his life and career up off of the ground, so do Ha-neul, Kyle (Gong Myeong), and Green...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 10

2016/04/26 | | Permalink

Everyone give the flashback fairy a round of applause, because she is here and she brings a lot of backstory with her. Episode ten gives us a little look into Deul-ho's and Hae-kyeong's less than blissful life together, as well as his musical interrogation room meetings with Dae-soo. I find myself with more questions than answers, but the past is returning and maybe bringing those answers with it. Chairman Jeong's time has come yet again...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 10

2016/04/26 | | Permalink

This episode of "Jackpot" brought it up to 8.9% and into second place. There was some romance, a smidge of character growth, and plenty of revenge. Despite all fo that, I was extremely disinterested in the episode. It was very explanation oriented and lacked the action that defined earlier episodes. I never thought I'd say that.

What was solid about this episode was the direction...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 9

2016/04/25 | | Permalink

"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" can go heavy on the sugar-coating and feel-good approach at times, but I cannot blame a show for trying to give some hope and joy. The time has come for our food criminal to get her just des(s)erts in this case and Deul-ho is definitely eager to provide. Eun-jo is hanging onto her dream and desired mentor, but life is not so peachy when you are broke. Hire her already...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 9

2016/04/25 | | Permalink

"Jackpot" came in at the bottom of the pack at 8.0%, but the quality of the show is better than it has been. There is plot movement, character development, action, and political happenings that aren't deadly dull. Not to say that the show doesn't have flaws, but the tone has settled alongside the no-longer-erratic pacing.

The biggest flaw in the show is that both King Seokjong and In-jwa are nearly omniscient...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 5

2016/04/25 | | Permalink

While the vampire side of things remains benched, we have some welcome forward movement in character development in episode five, sparked by what is probably the most interesting guest character yet. The case itself is very entertaining and nicely presented, giving us plenty of suspects and inviting us to a guessing game. Worry not, Yo-na is still around and she is very eager to have a piece of San, figuratively and very literally so...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.04.22 ~ 2016.04.24

2016/04/25 | | Permalink

"Time Renegades" stays put at the top...

kwak Jae-Yong's thriller "Time Renegades", starring Im Soo-jeong, Jo Jeong-seok and Lee Jin-wook, retained pole position over the last weekend despite a slight drop in its dominance from 29% to 25%. Last weekend Kwak's film entered the fray and attracted 336 thousand to its screens (733); its second weekend out, however, saw that figure slip to 239 thousand, moving its total tally now to just under a million admissions ($6.7 million)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 16 Final

2016/04/24 | | Permalink

The balance between inevitable tragedy and familial contentment is rather off as the ending to "Marriage Contract" is frustratingly open-ended. It's not even ambiguous or anything- most of the conflicts are straight up left unresolved, and there's no epilogue. Just a recap of what's happened. For a sense of perspective, the last we see of Seong-gook, he's randomly throwing things. We don't get to see what happened to Jeong-hoon at all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Master - God of Noodles"

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

Revenge has been taken in all manner of ways in a genre very favored by Korean drama. The basics of these premises remain very similar, something which sadly extends to their entire plots sometimes. Worry not, however, because a new type of revenge has arrived. An apron is his cape and a rolling pin his weapon. It sounds funny, but do not underestimate "Master - God of Noodles"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister"

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

Korean dramas making abrupt changes is something audiences have grown used to, but one of the latest variations of this bad habit has been radically changing a drama's presentation and tone from the cheerful to the melodramatic very early on. "Please Come Back, Mister" felt like such a refreshing change to that. The drama does a lot of things well. Unfortunately, it also makes so many big mistakes that it ultimately ruins a lot of the good it had previously managed to build...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 15

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

There's this real magnetic quality we get from Lee Seo-jin and UEE. No matter how bad the situation gets, no matter how obvious it is that this story will have a tragic ending, as long as Ji-hoon and Hye-soo are together, they will not give up. "Marriage Contract" is their story of sheer determination. It hits all the harder because we've seen Ji-hoon and Hye-soo alone and know that absent positive reenforcement they struggle to achieve the simplest tasks...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Time Renegades" + *** Tickets Giveaway *** (USA)

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

"Time Renegades" the time-travel film from Director kwak Jae-Yong ("Daisy", "My Sassy Girl") came in number one its opening weekend and for good reason. It was a slick piece that balanced the two worlds it depicted and the relationship between dream-tied strangers realistically and with plenty of suspense. It premiered in South Korea on April 13, 2016, and had its North American release by CJ E&M on April 22, 2016...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Insane"

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

Nam-soo (played by Lee Sang-yoon) is a producer working for a late night horror show that involves ghosts. Not real ghosts, just actors in ghost make-up. Nam-soo is irritated by the low prestige nature of this work, and quickly takes up the track of investigative journalism when a freak discovery at a shooting location begs a lot of important questions. This trail ends up leading to a mental patient (played by Kang Ye-won) who is identified in hospital records as Soo-ah. The extent to which any of these records are accurate, well, that's part of the mystery...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Love, Lies"

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

During the Japanese Occupation of Korea, So-yool (played by Han Hyo-joo) and Yeon-hee (played by Cheon Woo-hee) are friends raised together as proper gisaengs, inheritors to Korea's traditional musical culture. The prospects of the young women take a radical turn in 1943, when they meet Yoon-woo (played by Yoo Yeon-seok), an aspiring songwriter who wishes to break the yoke of Japanese oppression by using music, as a weapon...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Frankie and Friends the Movie: The Tree of Life"

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

The official website for Frankie and Friends describes the franchise as an "eco-friendly growing up story". In short, the television show's main operating gimmick is that the characters live in a world where food has to come from a specific place- their garden. The usual kids' show moral lessons all come from that vein, and the film version, "Frankie and Friends the Movie: The Tree of Life" is no different. It's a story about how if you wastefully throw away food, a witch will use the energy of the food's unfulfilled souls to power super beetles devoted to absorbing immortality sap from the tree of life. Magic mushrooms are involved...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Jeju City" April 14th-15th

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

In addition to simple landscapes and modern doodads, Jeju City also has plenty of traditional cultural locations. Which are to a certain extent also modern inventions. Take the statue pictured above. This is a Dolhareubang (돌하르방)...oh my goodness a lot of these Korean words really do look hideous transliterated to English don't they? Well, this one is a little clunky in Korean, too, what with the Jeju Dialect (which is really more its own distinct language) being involved. There are other names which look equally as strange in written English, so I'm just going to call them Guardian Statues, which is usually what they come out as literally anyway...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

Park Chan-wook is back in the spotlight as "The Handmaiden" heads to Cannes, Inverse has a compelling take on the relationship between South Korean cinema and the country's socio-political reality, KOBIZ shares an infographic showing the locations of Hong Sang-soo's films, and Pierce Conran asks if there is still space in multiplexes for romantic dramas...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

South Korea sets a good example by cutting food wastage, My Korean Kitchen will help you make fish cake soup, the 'war on sugar' hits Korea, and one North Korean defector believes "the reunification of our country starts at the table"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

Visit a Korean karaoke room and just let it go, two young women seize the day in Seoul, Lonely Planet lists some of the best historical sights to visit, and would you travel to Korea to get your fortune told?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

See what marketers can learn from the success of the Korean Wave, Conan O' Brien visits a PC Bang in Seoul, Asian Heritage Month inspires a flashmob, and South Korea to get its own version of IDOLM@ASTER...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/04/23 | | Permalink

The Seoul Museum of Art has an avant-garde photography exhibition coming up, a South Korean photographer captures a waterfall in Iceland that will be shown in London, browse some stills from David Brandon Geeting's photography book on Korea, and explore some Korean art online through the Google Cultural Institute...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Special 3

2016/04/22 | | Permalink

"Descendants of the Sun" aired its last special today and it was full of the goodies I wished that the first two had contained. We got interviews, behind the scenes, stories, cute moments, history, and more. It was a fun hour of insight into the insanely popular show whose ratings climaxed at 38.8%, whose Chinese views reached 3 billion, and who has had countless parodies made of its memorable scenes.

The last special was full of interviews with Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, Kim Ji-won-I, and Directors Baek Sang-hoon and Lee Eung-bok...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Jeju City" April 12th-13th

2016/04/22 | | Permalink

In anticipation of the 1st International Peace Film Festival in Gangjeong (which starts today), I impulsively grabbed a plane ticket to Jeju. From inside Korea traveling to Jeju is actually quite cheap. Although maybe it just seems like that because April is an off season. I can see why. For most of these early days spent in Jeju City, the weather was pretty balmy, with nary a fluffy white cloud to be seen in the blue sky. Still, I have to admit that from atop the many mountain parks that dot the landscape, the coastline looks pretty cool in any climate...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entertainers" Episode 2

2016/04/21 | | Permalink

"Entertainers" came in at 6.6%, but the rating does not reflect the quality of this show, its premise, or the performances of the cast. If episode 1 was dead on in its pacing and emotional delivery, then episode 2 can only be described as blowing the first episode out of the water. The desperation of hitting rock bottom gives birth to hope, and that's what Seok-ho and Ha-neul feel about their potential partnership. They have a long way to go, but I'm so excited to see them get there...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Special 2

2016/04/21 | | Permalink

For those of you hoping for more recaps of the second OTP pairing between Myeong-joo and Dae-yeong, this second special did throw in a few of their juiciest bits. However, it mostly focused on Si-jin and Mo-yeon and on the trials that Si-jin suffered for his country and his woman...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entertainers" Episode 1

2016/04/20 | | Permalink

Wow. I really like "Entertainers". It delivered the necessary introductory episode with panache and Ji Seong hit his character Sin Seok-ho right out of the park. Hyeri as Green, who doesn't look like she's just recovered from a very serious disease, it just as powerful as she was in career-maker Answer Me 1988. Kang Min-hyuk as the quiet, brilliant Ha-neul seethes with intensity. The world crumbles around these three characters, Seok-ho, Green, and Ha-neul, starting them on a journey that I'm intensely looking forward to.

The SBS drama came in at a decent 6.2% for its first episode, but what really made it work was the deft combination of humor, gravity, meta jokes, and swift setup...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Special 1

2016/04/20 | | Permalink

For those of you dearly missing the grand romance of "Descendants of the Sun", this special is for you. It recounts the key moments of Si-jin's and Mo-yeon's relationship from the moment they met until the moment they parted after the earthquake...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Perfect Sense"

2016/04/20 | | Permalink

Ah-yeon (played by Choi Soo-young) is a blind English teacher. "Perfect Sense" is mostly dedicated to demonstrating how this condition, being blind, is not as big a deal as it may seem. Consider the opening scene at the ice skating rink. Ah-yeon skates better than I can, no doubt about that, because there is more to proper navigation than just what you can see. So it is with life- the most important parts of the world have to be understood through more than just the eyes alone. Even if Ah-yeon needs an adorable service dog to help out...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 8

2016/04/19 | | Permalink

Another case is almost done and "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" keeps doing what it does well. A lot of Deul-ho's successes rely on good people doing the right thing and bad people not taking things further, but there are lessons to be found in this idealistic view. Aside from morals and case solving, I believe one of our antagonists may be worse than I thought. Let me know if I am being oversuspicious...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 8

2016/04/19 | | Permalink

Although Jackpot's rating lowered to 8.7%, it's plot has stabilized and become much more cohesive. Save for a few moments, it has ditched the exaggerated antics that defined it in its earliest episodes. There are a lackluster backstories for our characters, especially on the part of Dae-gil's teacher, Kim Che-geon (Ahn Kil-kang). These took a backseat to the huge learning curves that brothers Dae-gil and Yeoning are suffering through.

Despite the fact that they walk similar paths, both brothers have distinct strengths and weaknesses based upon personality differences and in the way they were raised...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 7

2016/04/18 | | Permalink

"Jackpot" has calmed in its erratic plot flailings and settled into a steadier pace, which was very welcome. It came it a 9.1%, higher than the last episode, but still behind its Monday competitors. The calmer pacing allowed for the actors to step out of the texture and show their abilities, especially Jang Geun-seok.

What strengthened the episode was the parallels that it made between the two brothers, both keen and driven, but lacking in the skills to overcome their mutual enemy, Lee In-jwa...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 7

2016/04/18 | | Permalink

Deul-ho finally discovers his true calling beyond the case of Michael Jeong and Eun-jo incorporates herself in our team, which is always welcoming her presence. Episode 7 marks the opening of a case not related to our main villain, at least not so far. Most importantly, Deul-ho's triumphant return faces some problems, as he struggles between his role as a father and a newfound hero for the people...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Tomorrow Boy"

2016/04/18 | | Permalink

Tae-pyeong (played by N) is a high school student who is poor in possessions yet rich in spirit. The first couple of episodes chronically repeat this point, showing Tae-pyeong engaged in a variety of odd jobs while still taking time out of his day to do typically heroic stuff whenever the opportunity arises. It is through such noble virtue that Tae-pyeong meets Ah-ra (played by Kang Min-ah), a bored, lonely girl who ineffectually tries to get Tae-pyeong to pay attention to her...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 4

2016/04/18 | | Permalink

You know, for being investigators and therefore quick-witted and curious by trade, our team are very slow to address San's condition. I understand initial denial, but his vampirism is starting to feel like a gimmick, when we are one third into this show without it having played a significant role. The episode's plot and some other parts of the main story thankfully progress much faster, however, as our villainess has come out to play...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.04.15 ~ 2016.04.17

2016/04/18 | | Permalink

Local films stage a comeback led by "Time Renegades"...

The second weekend of April (8-10) had just the one local film in the top ten, Lee Cheol-ha's "Insane", but Korean films have made a comeback as three new homegrown flicks entered the fray. Last weekend it was Lee's mystery thriller that took pole position with just under 30% of the box office pie, but it was kwak Jae-Yong's thriller "Time Renegades" with Im Soo-jeong, Jo Jeong-seok, and Lee Jin-wook that took the honours over the past weekend...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 14

2016/04/17 | | Permalink

Ji-hoon has been beset by small annoyances for most of "Marriage Contract"'s run. In the early stages Hye-soo and Eun-seong were a major part of these annoyances, but they at least meant well. Now, with a better understanding of the warmth of Hye-soo's spirit, Ji-hoon has finally asked himself whether it's worth dealing with a family that puts such disproportionate effort into trying to cut each other down. From there, the story is a question of how, no matter the diagnosis, for the moment Ji-hoon would rather spend every possible moment with Hye-soo and Eun-seong...More

[HanCinema's Exclusive Interview] Jasper Cho + 3 Signed Photos Giveaway

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

Hello HanCinema fans! I am so pleased to bring you our interview with Jasper Cho, the talented young actor who just finished an amazing run as Dr. Daniel Spencer in the hottest drama of the year, "Descendants of the Sun". Thank you to all of you who asked questions. Please read on to find out which two lucky fans had their questions answered by Jasper and to see what he had to say about working on "Descendants of the Sun", how he broke into the industry, and much, much more...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 13

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

Now that he knows the details of Hye-soo's medical condition, Ji-hoon has also discovered a compromise to constantly pining over an apparently uninterested Hye-soo. He will let her go just as soon as there's some assurance Hye-soo will survive her nearly terminal illness. It's exactly the psychological focus that Ji-hoon needs. Deep down Ji-hoon feels emotional gratitude to Hye-soo, and as a man with lots of money, does not consider a basic financial reward to be proper recompense...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun"

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

The Korean drama industry is constantly looking for hits, like any business does. As pre-produced shows have not done well in the past, creating something like "Descendants of the Sun" was a risk. In this case, the risk paid off in a major way. The series is a big global hit. As a reviewer, however, my job is not to gush over success. The drama has its virtues, but it is definitely not on the meatier side of entertainment. So here is my own take on it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Su Saek"

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

Yoon-seok (played by Maeng Se-chang), Sang-woo (played by Gong Myeong), Won-seon (played by Lee Tae-hwan), and Ho-yeong (played by Lee Jin-seong-I) are four friends living in the squalid neighborhood of Susaek. You know, I lived in Susaek for awhile. It wasn't the most photocentric high-living neighborhood, but it wasn't a mess of official corruption and violent teenagers either. Granted, "Su Saek" takes place some fifteen years ago, so who knows, maybe the situation has improved since then...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Upstanding Man"

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

When watching a performance, we're not supposed to be privy to the real thoughts of the actor. "Good" acting means that the performer convincingly inhabits the persona of a character which in theory has no relation to his personality, although in practice this is almost never true. One argument Orson Welles made when people accused him of egotistically taking larger-than-life roles was simple. If the commanding actor had ever tried to take a role that wasn't huge, it would simply look strange...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Single Determination"

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

Father Joo Gi-cheol was a martyr for the Presbyterian faith during the Japanese Occupation of Korea. The specific crime that warranted his torture and eventual death was activism against the practice of Shinto shrine worship. That might not sound like much on its own, but straight up worship was going farther than was warranted by a Biblical creed of render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Father Joo Gi-cheol saw on a daily basis how the so-called godly figure of the Japanese Emperor could not provide for Korea. Though willing to work within the system to an extent, for Father Joo Gi-cheol, idolatry was the last straw...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Seoul" April 5th-11th

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

I had lots of reasons for going back to Seoul even though I didn't especially want to- the one I most want to discuss is the Chunsa Film Art Awards. Because I have pictures, you see, of Yoo Ah-in getting all misty-eyed as he accepts his top acting prize for "The Throne". Really, the man seemed absolutely touched that he actually won. Which seems reasonable. He was up against Choi Min-sik, Jeong Jae-yeong, Lee Byung-hun, and Ahn Seong-gi. And don't say Yoo Ah-in won by being young and handsome, since that same night Ra Mi-ran of all people won the audience popularity award...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

South Korea's ScreenX returns to CinemaCon in Las Vegas to wow audiences, the Dongyang Arts Center opens in Seoul to screen Chinese films new and old, Inverse has a list of their top 7 horrors from the last decade, and Yeon Sang-ho's third animation ("Seoul Station") has its international premiere in Brussels...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

Discover what single Koreans eat on "Black Day", The Washington Post explores the foods found at restaurants owned by North Korean defectors, new "yogurt mobiles" are causing a stir, and My Korean Kitchen has steps for making pork belly BBQ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

Song Joong-ki becomes an honorary ambassador for tourism following "Descendants of the Sun", Businessmen and women gather to 'decipher the puzzle that is Korean online travel', visit a jjimjibang with insights from Lonely Planet, and have you ever stayed at a Korean "love hotel" before?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

See how some Korean businesses are challenging the prevailing top-down culture, discover how Korea's military culture is infused with daily life, Korea's beauty brands are gaining ground in Chinese markets, and note four insights about Korea to avoid any culture shocks...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/04/16 | | Permalink

Make your own "polygon art" for a unique decoration, explore the ceramic artwork of veteran artist Lee Hun Chung, catch contemporary Korea through the lens of eight Korean photographers, and see one Australian photographer's shots of daily life in Korea...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Suwon" April 3rd-4th

2016/04/15 | | Permalink

Away from the palace, Suwon is filled with little oddities. Like this King. Straddling the side of a busy street (really is quite impossible to take a picture without cars in the shot somewhere), this statue provides...a photo opportuntiy. No really, that's it. The little seal to the right is a Photo Zone. You or a friend sit there and pretend like you're just chilling out with the King while traffic passes by. In context it's all a little silly but hey, it is a pretty cool-looking statue...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 16 (final)

2016/04/14 | | Permalink

"Descendants of the Sun" has come to an end and that fact feels a bit surreal as well as its rating of 38.8%. Not just as a viewer, but as a reviewer. Not just as a reviewer, but as an international drama fan watching the waves that this drama has made in the world of drama, and in the world itself. This drama is more than its story. It is enveloped in a hype that is currently unparalleled. In some ways, the show is well-worth its worldwide prestige. In others, it is not.

Let's break down this final review into parts...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 16 Final

2016/04/14 | | Permalink

This is it, the final confrontation, where among other things, the full background behind Gi-tak's death is confirmed. After the rather goofy way Yeong-soo died I have to admit I never really considered the idea that Gi-tak's death was anything more complicated than what it looked like- a high speed chase gone wrong. That notion seemed bolstered by how Gi-tak himself lost interest in searching for his real killer fairly quickly. Yet in the end, Gi-tak is forced to decide whether he's willing to break the revenge rule or not...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 15

2016/04/14 | | Permalink

I find that watching "Please Come Back, Mister" without a sense of context tends to be instructive for getting a feel of the drama. As per the last cliffhanger, there was a big car accident and Yeong-soo, rather than do the sensible thing and go to the hospital, stumbles around through sheer force of will to his intended destination. One might think from that much that there was a serious romance going on between him and Da-hye, rather than the deliberately ambiguous mess we actually ended up with. And then Gi-tak shows up using the cute "dearest spouse" form of personal address...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 15

2016/04/13 | | Permalink

In its penultimate episode, "Descendants of the Sun" tops itself with 34.8% ratings in spite of the fact that it was competing with South Korean elections. This drama suffers from too many tonal shifts, but the tone of this episode was so solid that it was a tight, emotive watching experience even though it didn't quite match the rest of the drama.

Let's just get the not-so-great stuff out of the way so we can then focus on all the awesome things this episode got right...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 6

2016/04/13 | | Permalink

So many important and intense things happen in episode 6 that I actually needed a break and a glass of water before starting my work on this piece. Eun-jo has finally made her big decision about life as a lawyer and we are moving past the introduction. Ji-wook and Hae-kyeong just entered the delightful grey zone, there are wins, losses, regrets and redemption. The future of "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho"? Unknown, but I will be anticipating it with glee...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 6

2016/04/12 | | Permalink

Ratings are dropping steadily for "Jackpot". Today's episode clocked in at 8.4% and I can't blame viewers. Besides the beautiful music and solid cast, this drama doesn't have a lot going for it right now. It's what I feared when I saw Writer Kwon at the helm. If you don't know what I mean, I'll explain it to you.

"Jackpot" is full of potential...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 5

2016/04/11 | | Permalink

Although there was a strong sense of the ridiculous in "Jackpot"'s fifth episode, there was a touch of realism as well. It could be because of Yeo Jin-goo's spot on acting or a bit of logical writing from Kwon Soon-gyoo. Jang Geun-seok does well with what he is given, but I think we'll see better from him once his character loses the hysterics.

Most of this episode centered around In-jwa physically and emotionally breaking Dae-gil in order to motivate him to change his path in life...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 5

2016/04/11 | | Permalink

"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" is relentlessly pursuing the right to be quirky and sometimes downright weird, as our hero creates larger-than-life schemes to protect his client. Eun-jo's new position as his rival in a case close to her heart gives us her backstory and leads her on the path we know she will take. Last, but not least, Park Shin-yang's granny pampering quota keeps being filled and yes, it is still adorable...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 3

2016/04/11 | | Permalink

Our vampirically fortified team continues to coincidentally land cases related to the vampire underworld and San draws closer to his past. Episode 3 finally gives us a better look at our villain and solves a big question. Why hide the obvious from us? It turns out, our villain is hidden for excitement. Get ready for that feeling, as she might be making her grand entrance in the next episode...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.04.08 ~ 2016.04.10

2016/04/11 | | Permalink

Local thriller "Insane" comes out on top as DC's heroes free fall...

The aftermath of "Batman v Superman" has not been kind to DC's crossover collision as admissions counts continue to drop despite the film's initial hype and massive fanbase. Last weekend the bombastic action of DC's latest enjoyed its second weekend out atop the Korean box office, but week three for Zack Snyder's superhero film was incredibly underwhelming...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 12

2016/04/10 | | Permalink

While I've liked the melodramatic love story in "Marriage Contract", the drama has about reached the point where it's gotten a tad repetitive. This episode marks the second straight one where Hye-soo spends nearly the entirity of the runtime simply turning Ji-hoon down without explanation. Even granting that Hye-soo has her reasons, it takes such an extended slog for the dynamic to change with new information that by the end I mostly felt exhausted...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 11

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

Much as he's smarting from Hye-soo's rejection, Ji-hoon is still dealing with too many problems with regard to his mother to take in the insult all at once. He's suspicious of Hye-soo's motives, but absent concrete evidence, Ji-hoon is hesitant to respond too strongly. Well, evidence or affection anyway. It's pretty hard to escape how brightly Ji-hoon lights upon being reminded of Eun-seong and her kitties in nearby proximity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Assembly"

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

Politics is not exactly wholesome family fun, but it is a part of our everyday lives. At the same time, it is a challenging concept in fiction. Either entirely demonized or overly sugarcoated, it is usually a tool for stories not political at heart. "Assembly" might be honest in portraying a lot of what is wrong with our current systems of power, but it is at its core a simple "what if" story. What if a good man did not get tainted or rejected by these systems...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Unconfessional"

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

Byeong-cheon (played by Bae Seong-woo) is a film director who uses interviews as his preferred format for exploring the human condition. Byeong-cheon's questions tend to skew toward the weird and uncomfortable. This is good, sort of, in that such an interrogatory style can provoke honesty. But then it's also sadistic and destructive for the sake of being sadistic and destructive. Although really, what would we expect from a guy who owns a baseball bat yet no baseballs?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Korean in Paris"

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

Sang-ho (played by Jo Jae-hyeon) is a South Korean man trawling around Paris meekly asking random prostitutes if they've seen the woman in a photo he carries around. When Sang-ho's motivations are explained in flashback, we get to see a more well-shaven yet still socially maladjusted man not really enjoy Paris's more touristy attractions so much as reluctantly acquiesce to his wife's desire to give him blow jobs. Which I consider to be an accurate description of "A Korean in Paris" overall- it makes blow jobs look awkward and unpleasant...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "DongJu, The Portrait of A Poet"

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

Once upon a time DongJu (played by Kang Ha-neul) was a young poet living under Japanese Occupation, one place or another. The thirties, sadly enough, were the apex of empire-building the world over, and there are certain ethical questions DongJu runs up against constantly. Is it morally acceptable to help the Japanese Empire in any capacity? Is it ethically sound to be a poet rather than a doctor in an age where doctors seem way more important? Is it wise to express political opinions at all? How far can one go in the name of resistance before fighting back becomes foolhardy?...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Suwon" April 1st-April 2nd

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

The big tourist attraction in Suwon is the Hawseong Fortress (화성). Which is redundant, by the way, since "seong" means fortress in Korean. But I digress, especially considering that the above image is not, in fact, an image of the fortress. Rather, it is a fairly nice-looking wall painting I found nearby. And below this paragraph, you may find a random rock cairn I found somewhere around the outer rim of the fortress, off the beaten trail...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

South Korea's ScreenX excites advertisers, find out what film festivals are taking place this spring, keep an eye on Variety's coverage of the Jeonju International Film Festival, and CJ CGV absorbs Turkey's biggest cinema chain...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

My Korean Kitchen has steps for making a spicy seafood noodle soup for all seasons, two bloggers have a video that highlights some of the differences between South and North Korean food, find out what South Korean cuisine has to offer aside from kimchi, and is the country's coffee boom finally coming to an end?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

Find out about one American couple's experience travelling and working in Korea as teachers, Korea's street food is the number one thing tourists are interested in when they visit, a Lifestyle blogger reports on five cities around Korea that are worth exploring, and catch ten signs North Korea is probably not going to be featuring in your next vacation plans...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

"Let's Dance" tackles a tough cultural issue on screen, the BBC looks at South Korea as a cultural superpower, webcomics are an exciting new aspect of the K-wave, and watch Park Heung-sik's new film "Loves, Lies" for insight into the origins of K-pop...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/04/09 | | Permalink

Get a glimpse into Korea's Shamanic rituals with a photographer Kim Soo-nam, see a series of black-and-white portraits of Seoul's 'cool kids', one painter took on North Korea's leader through the power of art, and the Centre Pompidou to open an exhibition in Korea next year...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Nightmare Teacher" Episode 9-12 Final

2016/04/08 | | Permalink

The fifth contractee ends up getting so entwined with Ye-rim and Sang-woo that when the time comes for her to go through to the mirror universe, Ye-rim and Sang-woo mostly remember what happened. This sets up the final contract, in which the question of who Bong-goo is and why he keeps getting students to sign contracts is...not really satisfactorily resolved. Bong-goo remains enigmatic as ever...More

[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Seoul" March 27th-March 31st

2016/04/08 | | Permalink

Well! Once more I'm back in Seoul...Good ol' Seoul...yes, sir! Good ol' Seoul...how I hate it! All right, honestly, Seoul isn't all that bad, but I'm not a fan of big cities. They're crowded, and every so often this leads into some pretty ridiculous imagery. Like the lead-in picture. Namdaemun (남대문) is an artifact of a long dead age back when border walls were considered a serious foreign policy strategy. Thank goodness those awful times are behind us!...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 14

2016/04/07 | | Permalink

For the second time in its fourteen-episode run "Descendants of the Sun" has experienced a ratings drop. It came in at 33.0%, 0.5% decrease. Perhaps it is the fact that the glamour and excitement of the foreign country was no longer present. Perhaps it was the broaching of the sensitive North/South Korea conflict that is more tense than ever. Perhaps it was just the simple fact that the cliffhanger wasn't really a cliffhanger despite the fact that the show only has a week left (save for the bonus goodies to be offered after its run.)

The strongest part of the episode was the relationships, namely the friendships...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 14

2016/04/07 | | Permalink

Gi-tak is dangled in front of the fire like a damsel in distress here, and while he's not quite exactly a damsel, the fact that Gi-tak looks like a damsel does make matters somewhat awkward. The sexual tension between him and former gangster buddy Ji-hoon has always been noticeable, and there's some pretty unsettling transgender questions at play here. When you like the woman you like because she reminds you of a guy, and is in fact simply that same guy in a woman's body, does that make you gay?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 13

2016/04/06 | | Permalink

Our crew of loveable characters has landed back in Korea and served us up another ratings hike. Episode 13 earned at 33.5% on the Nielsen Korea chart and the sheer number of adorable couple moments and character beats support it. Yoo Ah-in's sardonic cameo also probably helped. Then there was the witty, zippy, and fun dialogue along with the more relaxed feeling that comes with a much needed homecoming.

I just have to get this out of the way, however...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 13

2016/04/06 | | Permalink

It turns out that Han-na was just trying to see her real dad, Yeong-soo, all along, in typical chidlike uncertainty. The payoff for all that extended running around ends up being more tender scenes as Yeong-soo tries to do right by his family and with a little supernatural help, is able to comfort them somewhat about the fact that he's dead. It's all kind of sweet, actually, albeit somewhat annoying since there's not much left in the way of plot progression...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 4

2016/04/05 | | Permalink

Deul-ho continues to be one crazy son of a gun and he keeps making that work to his advantage. Episode 4 concludes Byeon Ji-sik's (Kim Gi-cheon) story, but the fight against Chairman Jeong (Jeong Won-joong) is far from over. Instead a new case presents itself and while clumsily connected to all of our key characters in terms of writing, it keeps the show moving forward...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 4

2016/04/05 | | Permalink

Episode 4 of "Jackpot" saw some marked improvement in structure and intrigue, but the ratings don't reflect that. It dropped below "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho"'s 11.3% to a single-digit 9.5%. Perhaps it's the unexpected slapstick humor that threw viewers off. However what grabbed me was the sense of family scattered throughout the hour.

Dae-gil and his father and adopted grandfather are a rather silly trio...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 3

2016/04/04 | | Permalink

The power of Byeon Ji-sik's words may have hit Deul-ho and Eun-jo hard, but it is surprisingly the latter, supposedly the more naive and oblivious of the two who understands what she feels and what this means to her first. Episode 3 continues with the trial, but we also get more backstory on some of our characters, including our guest father and son...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 3

2016/04/04 | | Permalink

"Jackpot" is still on top of the Monday/Tuesday pack coming in at 11.6%. The appearance of the long awaited Jang Geun-seok can't have hurt the rating, but it was Lee Moon-sik who really stole the show. After the hustle and bustle of the first few episodes, his character settles down and really allows the actor to shine...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.04.01 ~ 2016.04.03

2016/04/04 | | Permalink

DC's superhero showdown loses steam...

Zack Snyder's "Batman v Superman" has grossed over $682 million worldwide and become the country's film of choice when it arrived in Korea late March by capturing nearly 70% of the box office pie. Week two for Snyder's showdown was significantly less impressive; although the film still managed to retain the top spot, it did so with just 344 thousand admissions (35%) and was almost denied a second week in pole position by the Disney's "Zootopia" on 293 thousand (29%)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 2

2016/04/03 | | Permalink

Tensions rise and dangers multiply as our hero is faced with some frightening changes to his body and perception. "Vampire Detective" is progressing quite steadily, focusing on different cases and going deeper into the main story in the process. Gyeo-wool plants her roots into the team and the ever intriguing relationship between San and Goo-hyeong is looking more and more complex...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 10

2016/04/03 | | Permalink

Whether Hye-soo had a financial motive in latching on to Ji-hoon as she did last episode is a debatable point. What is clear, though, is that Hye-soo's no fool. Whatever her personal feelings are, the idea that she's after Ji-hoon for his money is a legitimate one. And honestly, Hye-soo does need money. The debt collectors may be gone, but right now, Hye-soo still needs to provide for Eun-seong's future. That means getting the expensive medical treatment Hye-soo needs by whatever means necessary...More

[HanCinema's Fan Event] Ask Jasper Cho!

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

Hello HanCinema readers! We are very pleased to inform you that HanCinema will be interviewing Jasper Cho (aka Cho Tae-gwan or 조태관 in Hangul) who plays Dr. Daniel Spencer alongside Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, and Kim Ji-won-I in "Descendants of the Sun"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 9

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

Mi-ran's escape is short-lived- as it turns out, Ji-hoon has a very good idea of where she's planning to go. Really, there's only one place Mi-ran can go, feeling so humiliated and ashamed about the sacrifices her son is willing to make. Mi-ran goes to see her parents- to whom her own filial loyalty was less than inspiring. In practice and form, Ji-hoon ends up taking a much needed break from the dysfunction of his family to try and enjoy some time with his mother. Hye-soo and Eun-seong tag along to help...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Elephant in the Room"

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

In the first segment of "Elephant in the Room" (Chicken Game), we're introduced via a charming animation of chickens helplessly trying to escape a meteoric apocalypse. From there we move on to a somewhat similar situation involving three mostly unrelated wayfarers who get stuck in a bad situation involving a car. They alternate between trying to get help and fighting each other. Typically they fail in their efforts, on account of the characters all being dumb crazy psychos one way or another...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Lightning Man's Secret"

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

The Lightning Man (played by Jeong Hyeon-jin) derives his powers from lightning. That's about all there is to him really. Even when starring in a film called "The Lightning Man's Secret", we get almost no backstory explaining who the Lighting Man is, or where he came from. Instead, the focus is on Han-na (played by Luna), a scientist who dreams of flight via jetpack and sings songs. Then there's the Distinguished Devil (played by Song Wook-kyeong) who wants to steal the Lightning Man's powers for some reason. Also he sings songs...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Pororo, Cyberspace Adventure"

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

Retro video games are so chic these days it was perhaps inevitable that Pororo, the lovable penguin mascot of Korean kids' television, would devote a whole movie to the topic of entering the video game world. In that regard "Pororo, Cyberspace Adventure" is probably exactly what you're expecting. Pororo and friends go to the computer kingdom, and save the virtual princess in the virtual world. There's just one problem. The characters in the virtual world aren't really virtual. They're full on characters, even though they are but the arbitrary creation of Eddie designed to amuse his friends...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

Learn more about the K-drama that's making serious waves at home and away, North Korea releases a terrible propaganda video, KOBIZ has a great feature on South Korean short films, and get to know one of South Korea's most influential directors with Sense of Cinema...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

Grab a beer with your next McDonald's burger in Korea, a self-proclaimed "fat girl" has some suggestions on where to go in Seoul, My Korean Kitchen has a sweet snack packed with Nutella to try, and find out where in America you can go to find the best Korean cuisine...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

Find out what it's like to spend your holiday in a traditional Korean village, Seoul's N Tower is simply a must-see, discover the best places to catch the cherry blossoms blooming, and while you're doing all that spare a thought for tourists somewhere over the DMZ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

See how young South Koreans are embracing the hanbok, K-pop is helping to grow China's plastic surgery industry, take a trip back to Korea Joa 2015 with Raine with a visit to a Korean temple, and learn how a Korean "imagineer" is hoping to add more substance to how Koreans experience and relate to their culture...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/04/02 | | Permalink

Enjoy a selection of cheeky images from photographer Hansol Choi, W Magazine has a great gallery of stars from Seoul Fashion Week, see the rise of minimalist art in Korea, and enjoy some traditional artworks in a short video by Cath News Korea...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Click Your Heart" Episodes 5-7 Final

2016/04/01 | | Permalink

Ju-ho (played by Baek Ju-ho) is Min-ah's ex-boyfriend (geez she has an ex-boyfriend already?) who constantly gets into fights, but means well. Chan-hee (played by Kang Chan-hee) is an unnaturally smily and upbeat young man who dances around Min-ah offering random reassurance. The B Path of "Click Your Heart" pairs Min-ah with one of these two, and mild spoilers, it turns out that one such ending has some rather...otherworldly implications...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Nightmare Teacher" Episode 5-8

2016/04/01 | | Permalink

Eom Gi-joon really does a good "enigmatic villain" here. Note how Bong-goo always manages to subtly pressure the students into signing the contracts, by giving them just enough taste of the magical artifacts that backing down ceases to be an option. In the long-term sure, the situation will blow up spectacularly. But in the short-term, the students will be humiliated by the sudden disappearance of their surprising recent boons...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 12

2016/03/31 | | Permalink

"Descendants of the Sun" is a master at sparking emotion. No matter how illogical the plot may become, the emotional barometer is insanely high. This must be why Nielsen Korean is clocking this drama at 33% for episode 12, a whole 1.1% higher than last night's episode. Wow. It is the human element that "Descendants of the Sun" is really learning to master that makes is so addictive - for me and the rest of the world.

Before I go any further I have to say, "Oh my gosh, the feels!"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 12

2016/03/31 | | Permalink

So, it turns out that Hong-nan is not just some random identity that Gi-tak made up to explain how his new female body could know so much about Gi-tak's life. Hong-nan is, in fact, Gi-tak's actual estranged sister from childhood, and by sheer dumb coincidence, it turns out that Da-hye is the real Hong-nan. If you're wondering why this revelation is important, well, keep wondering. All "Please Come Back, Mister" does with this new information is set up a few tender scenes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 11

2016/03/30 | | Permalink

"Descendants of the Sun" tries to pack in a lot of action by having our heroes face weapons trafficking, plagues, gun standoffs, earthquakes, kidnapping, and politics. No matter what happens, this show seems destined to best itself - and it did. It came 0.3% higher than the last episode at 31.9%. More than anything, however, it was the acting in this episode by our leads that made it worthy of that rating.

Jin Goo proved his mettle as his expressed Dae-yeong's worry for Myeong-joo with previously unparalleled intensity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 11

2016/03/30 | | Permalink

Week after week I watch "Please Come Back, Mister" mostly just feeling a little puzzled about the way the story progresses. Yeong-soo romancing his wife shortly after his death in a new man's body. That's pretty unaccountably weird, and most of the early part of this episode is just dedicated to that rather unusual and somewhat unsettling prompt. As a romantic comedy, "Please Come Back, Mister" is consistently more funny strange than it is funny ha-ha...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 2

2016/03/30 | | Permalink

"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" has had one pretty impressive first week with episode two continuing to build our characters and their strengths and weaknesses, giving us a better look into our villains and delivering on the comedy as well. Most importantly, it is potentially a major turning point for Deul-ho and Eun-jo, showing us a glimpse into their future together...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 2

2016/03/29 | | Permalink

"Jackpot" is once again the highest rated of the new shows at 12.2% for episode 2. From the outside, the drama is all glitz and glitter: beautiful choreography, stunning naturescapes, keen camera storytelling. But its insides are messier: jumpy character sketches, repetitive themes, and illogical schemes. These may work themselves out with time as many introductory episodes can lack clarity in the rush to introduce the drama.

This drama is going the way of most sageuk, or historical dramas, in that it is focusing on the backstory of the main characters before it delivers the handsome leads in their fullest glory...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Nightmare Teacher" Episodes 1-4

2016/03/29 | | Permalink

Ye-rim (played by Kim So-hyeon-I) and Sang-woo (played by Lee Min-hyeok-I) are a couple of high school students who get on each other's nerves in a way that obviously shows they like each other, even if they won't admit it. But that's not the kind of drama "Nightmare Teacher" is. Ye-rim and Sang-woo are just observers in an anthology story, one where Bang-goo (played by Eom Gi-joon) engimatically offers students the means to achieve their dreams. Or does he?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Click Your Heart" Episode 1-4

2016/03/29 | | Permalink

The prologue of "Click Your Heart" sets up Min-ah (played by Kwom Min-ah) as a high school girl whose acquaintances have this bad habit of falling into very unfortunate...accidents. Not that this is given much focus. "Click Your Heart" makes a point of prioritizing concept. Two clicks later from you the viewer, and Min-ah will have a boyfriend. On the A Path, the choices are baseball player Ro-woon (played by Kim Ro-woon) and childhood friend Da-won (played by Lee Da-won). Similarities to idols entirely coincidental, of course...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jackpot" Episode 1

2016/03/28 | | Permalink

In the new slew of dramas "Jackpot" came in on top at 11.8% again "Monster - 2016" (7.3%) and "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" (10.1%). Director Nam Geon's directing style is grand and direct, while Kwon Soon-gyoo's writing takes on its trademark meandering style. The two don't quite fit together, but the epic quality of the first episode cannot be denied, especially not with the exquisite background score and crisply filmed scenes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 1

2016/03/28 | | Permalink

"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" is here and he aims to seek justice with every fiber of his homeless attire. He will troll you into submission and make you pay for your wrongdoings - in servings of spare ribs. Park Shin-yang is in town, folks, and he is back with quite the entrance. There is no better indication of a promising show than laughing, crying, cheering and fangirling all in one episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 1

2016/03/28 | | Permalink

"Vampire Detective" starts out with a bang and a bite, as our heroes and villains are introduced, mysteries are opened and relationships established. The series offers a lot of action and crime solving, but there is more than meets the eye to the story and characters involved in it. I have questions, a lot of them and if a series can create enough investment for one to have them, I call that a solid start...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.03.25 ~ 2016.03.27

2016/03/28 | | Permalink

"Batman v Superman" overruns "Zootopia"...

DC's much-anticipated superhero brawl, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice", has made millions over the past few days as filmgoers and comic book fans around the world flocked to their closest theatres to catch these two iconic titans clash. In Korea, the film was released on Thursday and was given an incredible 1,696 screens, from which it attracted 1.1 million admissions to capture 68% of the box office pie. Worldwide, "Batman v Superman" has already grossed over $424 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 8

2016/03/27 | | Permalink

Now that Seong-gook has a good idea of what Ii-hoon is doing, the older man feels that it's necessary to create order and force Ji-hoon to make proper personal sacrifices for the greater good. This, of course, is complete nonsense, but Ji-hoon lacks the force of will necessary to really fight about this point. After all, provided it's possible that Ji-hoon can have everything he wants, isn't that close enough to happiness?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho"

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

There is so much meta goodness in a shunned star actor playing a shunned star prosecutor who is out to rediscover the fun in his work after taking a tumble. The goodness is even greater when the promotion for this new piece uses these events for some fun humor. "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" is Park Shin-yang's return to Dramaland. Hopefully he can bring the fun back with him...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 24 Final

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Throughout all his trials and tribulations, Yeong-sil has remained a surprisingly good sport. There's good reason for this. As bad as jail might be, Yeong-sil at least has his sketchbook, which gives him a chance to think over matters of science. That's always good for a nice matter of calm, even if this time, Yeong-sil's friends can't help him. There's just disgrace and corporal punishment, while Yeong-sil sulks and starts to hate the world...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 7

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Right away another secret is exposed- Hye-soo is sick. While Hye-soo is not sick in such a way as to be an impediment to Mi-ran's surgery, the hospital scene and the trip home gives Ji-hoon an excellent chance to be sensitive and caring in a way we haven't really seen yet- to Hye-soo. Bit by bit he's seeing her less as a financial instrument and more as a person who deserves to be treated with decency and respect, if only because Hye-soo is all alone. She needs somebody...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Twenty Again - Movie"

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Min-gu (played by Kim Seung-woo) is a small time movie director who, like so many small time people in the industry, somehow manages to land on a film festival jury. This incidentally provides him with an excuse to spend a week in Italy. I don't know how much money the Italian Tourism Board gave writer/director Park Heung-shik to make "Twenty Again - Movie", but it was well-earned. At the slightest excuse the film veers off to another random location in Italy as its characters find excuses to talk about how great Italy is...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Welcome to Playhouse"

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Director Kim Soo-vin's parents exposed her to a wide variety of mostly English speaking cultures, and encouraged Kim Soo-vin to live life on her own generally free-spirited terms, just so long as she maintains the maturity of a well-grounded adult. In the first frame of "Welcome to Playhouse", we see that Kim Soo-vin has become pregnant, from a serious long-term monogamous relationship. Kim Soo-vin has a career, yet is not quite done with her education. So how exactly should a well-grounded adult act in that situation?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ordinary People"

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Jae-pil (played by Han Seong-cheon) is an ordinary salaryman with problems in life. Let's put it this way. He has the kind of terrible bosses who do not accept "wanted for police questioning" as a valid reason for Jae-pil's being unable to deliver on after work commitments of dubious legality. And what does Jae-pil have to show for all this hard work? A lousy home life and no friends. Jae-il's family members alternate between absent, hostile, and unable to get in touch for a very serious conversation...More

[HanCinema's Korea Town Travelogue] Introducing Koreatowns

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Outside of Korea, it's not easy to find places to sit down and dine in an authentic Korean restaurant, find Korean groceries, and feel like one is walking along a street of Seoul. Many of us have to turn to the burgeoning internet market to find Korean goods and atmospheres. In a large country like the United States of America, there are a few enclaves of ethnic Korean populations and Korean-run businesses that can be defined as a "Koreatown" or a "K-town". These places can transport those of us outside Korea, ethnic Koreans or Korea appreciators, to a place where we can be immersed in Korean culture in a way that the internet cannot imitate...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Shim Hyung-rae's "D-War" will get a Chinese-made sequel, The Hollywood Reporter reviews "Ktown Cowboys", KOBIZ looks at the evolution of major Korean actors, and a Korean vlogger has six films to get you into Korean cinema...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

Seoul Eats shares their five favourite kimbap joints, Korean cuisine to get the Michelin treatment, Girl Eat World has ten traditional dishes to try, and are Korean soldiers getting good grub?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

See Seoul's hottest attractions with new K-bus tours, Korean dramas help boost tourism at home and away, read Soo Kim's travel retrospective about Seoul, and hit Korea's highways and byways with a road trip around the country...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

BBC World weighs in on South Korean culture, Texas to enjoy K-culture at the Annual Culture Symposium, get to know more about Irene Kim and Seoul Fashion Week, and celebrate spring in Seoul with the country's best dance companies...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/03/26 | | Permalink

See what Korean webtoons are making waves in China, a teacher/mother shows us how to make paper disks to play a traditional Korean game, enjoy some stunning black-and-whites images of Somaemuldo Island by Chris Cusick, and browse a gallery of noteworthy images from around Asia from the past week...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 10

2016/03/24 | | Permalink

With the romance firmly cemented by episode 9's romantic antics and kisses, episode 10 introduces some major plot points to yank the drama back into action. Not that its ratings need more action - they're consistently on the rise. This episode clocked in at 31.6%, 1.2% higher than last night's episode. "Descendants of the Sun" is battling itself episode to episode for best ratings. Fancy choreography, intricate camerawork and a viral disease are in another tussle; one for the most exciting moment of the episode. It doesn't lose the romantic flavors of last episode, but the hot points are definitely the action...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 10

2016/03/24 | | Permalink

Da-hye finally directly addresses the creepiness inherent in Yeong-soo's position of trying to constantly hit on a widow. While this doesn't smooth over all the ethical problems involved in Yeong-soo's behavior, I'm grateful that "Please Come Back, Mister" is at least acknowledging the very uncomfortable position in which Da-hye has been put. Some self-awareness can go a long way to making a problematic story seem more harmless and less deserving of over-analysis...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 9

2016/03/23 | | Permalink

If there is one thing that can almost always bolster ratings it is a good kiss...or two! Hello 30% ratings - 30.4% to be exact. The Song-Song couple not only shared two very romantic kissing scenes (and a good roll in the hay,) but the episode was bolstered by the high-intensity romantic moments between Song-Song and Myeong-joo and Dae-yeong. There were a few small moments, those beautiful moments that showcased themselves during the thick of the earthquake, that colored this romantic episode for the better...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 9

2016/03/23 | | Permalink

Yeong-soo really does not appear to have thought through the ramifications of his trying to romance Da-hye in Hae-joon's body. Da-hye is a grieving widow. It would be a little disconcerting if she was actually into Hae-joon's attempts at sexual harassment. Compared to Hae-joon, Ji-hoon's come-ons are fairly tactful. After all we've seen him do, I never expected Ji-hoon would come out looking like the better man this episode. Naturally, it helps that even if Yeong-soo succeeds, Da-hye would just be heartbroken again since Hae-joon will have to disappear without explanation, lest Yeong-soo break the rules...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 50 Final

2016/03/22 | | Permalink

Having whetted our appetite for an epic final fight, "Six Flying Dragons" does not disappoint, providing us with a suitably vicious and climactic battle. Then it drags us down by pointing out the obvious- what's the point of being a supremely powerful swordwielder when a single hero can't win a war, or even their own battles? While Sa-gwang is the more obvious failure, Bang-ji's harsh self-assessment is just as accurate. Little wonder so many of the characters here simply retire here. Until "Deep-rooted Tree" anyway...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 49

2016/03/21 | | Permalink

In between real history and "Deep-rooted Tree", there isn't really anywhere "Six Flying Dragons" can go plotwise. We know that for the most part all the main players will live to fight another day. The dramatic tension is instead on how specifically these choices will be made. Bang-won quickly commits to child torture as part of his new regime. Oddly enough this is less jarring than the fact that, with the exception of Boon-yi, he's completely sold out an organization that used to be on his side...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.03.18 ~ 2016.03.20

2016/03/21 | | Permalink

"Zootopia" gets more screens and scores...

"Zootopia" was released in Korea mid-February and for the first three weeks it sat in third place; after its America release, however, the film shot to number one. This past weekend "Zootopia" (also known as "Zootropolis") banked another 358 thousand admissions ($2.5 million) to bring its total tally in Korea now to 2.8 million ($18.7 million; 30%). Worldwide, Byron Howard and Rich Moore's "Zootopia" has grossed over $591 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 6

2016/03/20 | | Permalink

Hye-soo isn't really anywhere near actually doing the transplant surgery yet and she's already constantly getting exposed. This is an aspect of the pacing in "Marriage Contract" I rather appreciate. I was expecting the surgery would be rushed and the drama would be about everything after that. Instead it looks like we're in the opposite situation- the tension is based on whether or not the liver transplant surgery will happen at all. Which makes sense, because doctors try not to rush this kind of thing if it can be avoided...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 23

2016/03/20 | | Permalink

Yeong-sil struggles with another of the usual engineering problems for his current clock design as he works on a deadline. In an ideal world, this is all Yeong-sil would have to worry about. But in "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama", the scientist ends up being forced to think in terms of geopolitical questions. This time around, after deciding that they find Yeong-sil's super diorama clock to be more cool than morally offensive, the Chinese attempt to poach him as their own scientist...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Vampire Detective"

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

Vampire themed works have had their ups and downs in Korean drama. We do not have all that many of them, but there is a world of difference between "Vampire Prosecutor" and "Blood". As a gimmick, vampirism is starting to get kind of old. Until Lee Joon and Oh Jeong-se came along to be complete bromantic goofballs for our pleasure...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 5

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

The thaw between Ji-hoon and Eun-seong continues. Whether Ji-hoon is actually a good person at heart remains a metter of debate, but in short order Hye-soo lays out several compelling arguments for why the guy at least deserves a chance. However incidental his motivation may have been, Ji-hoon did a huge favor for Hye-soo and her daughter. What's more, he clearly appreciates the sacrifice Hye-soo is willing to make for the sake of Mi-ran. So, too, does Mi-ran appreciate the degree to which Ji-hoon and Hye-soo want the older woman to remain alive...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 22

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

Once again, Yeong-sil lounges around just in the peripheral issue of major political questions, this time out on the frontier. Nothing immediately important happens. There ends up being a timeskip following a somewhat anticlimactic death scare for King Sejong, leading me to believe that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" focuses on certain historical incidents more out of obligation than because of actual relevancy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Signal"

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

Having a love for suspense, mystery or any other genres outside of romance, family, period and melodrama can be hard when a Korean drama fan. Crime shows are aplenty now, but few really achieve great quality in an enthralling presentation. "Signal" is nothing new. The timeline communication element is reminiscent of works such as Hollywood film "Frequency" and the rest is a suspense and crime series. Yet what makes "Signal" work is something Korean drama creators tend to forget. Quality matters...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Steel Flower"

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

Ha-dam (played by Jeong Ha-dam) is a young homeless woman living on the streets of Busan. "Steel Flower" never explains who Ha-dam is or where She Came From. Neither does Ha-dam herself, although there are a couple of good reasons for this. First, she might be on the autistic spectrum, or have suffered from severe avuse. Ha-dam rarely ever speaks, and when she does, her answers are often made in brute force. The second more relevant reason is that no one ever asks Ha-dam what her deal is. At best, they give her money for doing odd jobs...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Chosen: Forbidden Cave"

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

The opening scene of "The Chosen: Forbidden Cave" takes place at a psychiatric hospital. From there we cut to Jin-myeong (played by Kim Seong-gyoon), who helpfully explains that supernatural forces can help people do tasks which are obviously impossible, like when old shamans are able to make improbably high standing jumps. Jin-myeong neglects to explain more directly relevant quandaries, such as why his assistant Ji-gwang (played by Kim Hye-seong) stands behind a plant every time Jin-myeong talks to a victim of demonic possession...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Death in Desert"

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

Do-kyeong (played by Kim Min-gi) is a doctor preparing to get married to the daughter of a colleague. Somewhat inconveniently, this happens simultaneously with his rekindling an old relationship with Ga-in (played by Ko Won). At the start of "Death in Desert", Do-kyeong passively aggressively calls the affair off after the extended opening sex scene while Ga-in increasingly pathetically begs for him to treat her like a partner rather than a sex toy. Rather tellingly, Do-kyeong manages to come off as the more sympathetic person in this situation even though he's the cheater...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

Jason Bechervaise explores the rise of colonial-era films for The Korea Times; Hangul Celluloid reviews Choi Dong-hoon's "The Assassination"; KOBIZ highlights the success of films and dramas coming out of Jeollabuk-do Province; and KOFIC announces incredible rebates for foreign filmmakers...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

My Korean Kitchen has some Korean-style chicken wings to baked; Holly from Beyond Kimchee stirs together a delicious brown butter sauce for your asparagus; explore Toyko's K-Town for a bite to eat; and see why one blogger loves Korean food and thinks you should too...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

South Korean travel agencies encourage locals to explore their homeland; discover five stunning festivals to celebrate Spring; travel Korea with your tummy in mind; and Korea cracks down on substandard tours...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

K-pop cultural academies to run in twenty countries from March to September; Soul Beats puts Korea's pet culture in the spotlight, Google takes down a Korean grandmaster in Go; and see how Korean cinema is being used to help promote K-culture in developing countries...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/03/19 | | Permalink

The New York Times explores Korean art on home soil, science is helping to piece together pottery fragments and reveal new artworks from the past, find out about the state of Korea's art scene, and see how Korean-American adoptees deal with identity in a black-and-white series of photographs from The Huffington Post...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 8

2016/03/17 | | Permalink

If the last episode of "Descendants of the Sun" was about the small moments, this one was about the small windows of time that allows our characters and those around them to see the world more clearly. The world is also seeing this drama quite clearly as it shot up 0.5% to 28.8%, mere percentage points away from the big three-oh.

Si-jin and Mo-yeon are developing nicely although Mo-yeon's fear of losing him to his job still tends to dominate her emotions and behavior...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 8

2016/03/17 | | Permalink

Yeong-soo and Gi-tak had a pretty successful run last episode in terms of accomplishing their goals. The problem that brings up is, if they've already mostly accomplished what they needed to do, then why are they bothering to stick around in the world of the living? Yeong-soo and Gi-tak will have to go back sooner or later. And until then they're at risk of breaking one of Maya's rules- a penalty which is finally elucidated and which Yeong-soo and Gi-tak will have to struggle to avoid enacting...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 7

2016/03/16 | | Permalink

"Descendants of the Sun" rode atop romance and angsty separations for its first six episodes, but this episode saw a sudden turn. It began to look inward, to inspect the minutiae of humanity and the beauty found in the smallest of human connections. Perhaps the lack of intense romantic interaction is what kept the show from pushing into the 30s, but it came in at a hugely respectable 28.3%, just 0.2% less than last episode.

The little moments built this episode from the ground up...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 7

2016/03/16 | | Permalink

It turns out that Ji-hoon really is somewhat villainous. At first I was wondering whether "Please Come Back, Mister" was doing the whole thing where the turncoat you know is worse than the explicitly evil bad guys, but no, as it turns out, the explicitly evil bad guys are still pretty explicitly evil. This is somewhat impressive considering how a lot of their villainy is by accident. When it comes to I-yeon's crooked relative by marriage Hyeok (played by Park Min-woo), I doubt we'd even care about his gangster problems except that Gi-tak mnaged to get sucked into that situation somehow...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 48

2016/03/15 | | Permalink

The big grotesque irony about the fight between Bang-ji and Muhyul is that it's completely pointless. For that matter so were Yeon-hee's actions which precipitated the struggle. By the time either Bang-ji or Yeon-hee had any inkling that something was going to happen to Do-jeon, they were already too far away to offer any support. This, oddly enough, is Bang-won's central political argument. Now that it's impossible to stop him, won't striking back simply be wasted effort against the greater good?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 47

2016/03/14 | | Permalink

The time has finally arrived- one bloody night, where Bang-won dispatches his most powerful political enemies one by one. And he's only just getting started. Going by the preview the day after is probably going to be even worse. As much as "Six Flying Dragons" has jumped around from making Bang-won seem sympathetic to evil and back to sympathetic again, somehow I just did not feel adequately prepared for the sheer brutal carnage here. The almost manic humor of the situation doesn't help matters...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.03.11 ~ 2016.03.13

2016/03/14 | | Permalink

Disney's "Zootopia" claws its way to the top...

Walt Disney's "Zootopia" arrived in Korea mid-February and for the first three weeks it has steadily occupied third place. Films like "A Violent Prosector", "Deadpool", and "Spirits' Homecoming" have managed to outperform Disney's latest, the company's 55th animated feature, but the film found new impetus in the wake of its American release (March 4) and has now climbed to the top of Korea's box office during its fourth week out...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 21

2016/03/13 | | Permalink

I don't really feel that bad for Hee-ji considering how often he manages to get embroiled in life-or-death situations, and then proceeds to enravel all the nearby characters in those same crises. Aside from how generally dangerous Hee-ji is as a friend, he has this bad habit of sucking the oxygen out of the room with his own mostly irrelevant storylines. There's a great montage here that's pretty much a greatest hits collection of Hee-ji either being a jerk or being interrupted by a conspiracy whenever he tries to act a little more senxible for a change...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 4

2016/03/13 | | Permalink

While Ji-hoon has done a diligent job of preparing every possible angle of his fake marriage story, ultimately, it's unsurprising to see that the most basic questions are the ones that easily trip him up. Ji-hoon struggles with the question of how to make a proper effort. What ultimately moves Ji-hoon to the right direction is unexpectedly realizing he has something in common with Eun-Seong. Both are fiercely protective of their mothers...More

[HanCinema's Exclusive Interview] Sam Okyere

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

Hello everyone! I'm very pleased to present HanCinema viewers an exclusive interview with rising Ghanaian star, Sam Okyere. Sam is a humble, intelligent man who is a go-getter and knows how to make things happen. He's worked hard to become the successful Korean entertainer and t.v. personality that he is and HanCinema got to hear all about it first hand. Now you will, too...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 16 Final

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

At long last "Madame Antoine" reaches the true form of Soo-hyeon's bad psychological attitude. It ends up being about his...dad. Wait, his dad? Have we even seen Soo-hyeon's dad up until now? I can barely even recall the man being discussed, yet now all of a sudden he's the villain upon whom we can safely blame every single problem. Even when a flashback eventually justifies this sentiment, I was caught a little off guard when right in the middle of a meal Soo-hyeon starts unloading following some very slight provocation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 3

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

The relationship between Ji-hoon and Hye-soo remains icy. They don't like each other very much, and it's easy to see why. Ji-hoon legitimately has trouble so much as processing Hye-soo's motivation, which is suitably ironic given that he himself is motivated entirely by motherly love. It's just that in Ji-hoon's eyes, saving Mi-ran is more a goal he should be striving for than one of emotional merit. Ji-hoon's pointed verbal attack against Mi-ran at the end really stings in part because he's right. The situation is in fact her fault. Mi-ran is a hard character to pity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 20

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

Hee-ji struggles with whether to honor his love for science or his love of not being threatened with murder by his political allies. It's taken awhile, but I think I'm finally appreciating Hee-ji as a sort of tragic character who debates which side is the right side for the sake of progress. I wonder whether the historical Hee-ji actually had to deal with problems anything like this, but whatever. I'm partially relieved if only to learn that for the most part the various characters in "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" are in fact based on real people, what with the brief credits scene...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap"

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

Like all adaptations of successful original works, "Cheese in the Trap" had been under quite a bit of scrutiny in the time leading to its airing date. Things eventually turned out well and everyone was happy. Unfortunately, everything went awry again when the controversy sprung up. The drama's troubles started way before that, however. "Cheese in the Trap" deserves to be looked at like any other work, isolated from outside production debacles and scandals. When looking at it that way, its problems begin way before the infamous ending. What do I think about said ending? Well, read on...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "You are my Sunshine" + DVD Giveaway

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

The time is the early nineties in rural South Korea. Eun-ha (played by Jeon Do-yeon) is satisfied with just working as a pseudo prostitute for the foreseeable future. Seok-joong (played by Hwang Jeong-min) is satisfied just hanging out with his prize cow, but his mother (played by Nah Moon-hee) pushes him to get married so he can talk to actual human girls for a change. Yet rather than accept marriage for the sake of marriage, Seok-joong is determined to push for love- and Eun-ha is his object of affection...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "For Eternal Hearts" + DVD Giveaway

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

In 1979 Soo-yeong (played by Jeong Kyeong-ho) is a student going to university in South Korea. Not very much appears to be happening save for the occasional demonstration (violent or otherwise) to which Soo-yeong is paying very little attention. After a few conversations wherein Soo-yeong's general indifference to anything is discussed, Soo-yeong slowly meets other people and becomes aware of the fact that something isn't quite right at the university. But what?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "With a Girl of Black Soil" + DVD Giveaway

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

The village of Kanwon is slowly dying. Once energized by the mining industry, those jobs are drying up, and its employees are getting old. Yet for all this, life isn't necessarily all that bad. An early scene depicts a family playing with snow. Does the backdrop look generally bleak and desolate? Sure, but it's kids playing in the snow. What kind of a heartless person can't see the joy in that? Although that's easy for me to say. I don't have to live in Kanwon after all...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

Lotte and Busan City create a multi-million dollar fund to help support commercial and independent films, learn more about Shin Sang-ok from the "What's Korean Cinema?" podcast, film critic and journalist Pierce Conran reviews a horror from the late 90s, and see how KOFIC is ensuring that art films get the airtime they deserve...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

My Korean Kitchen has simple steps for making fried rice, a South Korean snack makes for good business in the Philippines, Holly at Beyond Kimchee has a chicken dish worth digging into, and what's the deal with Spam in Korea?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

A traditional-style hotel to be built in Seoul by 2020, explore Korea's traditional villages from Seoul to Jeju, spoil yourself at one of Korea's many luxury hotels, and find out more about what to do and where to go in the coastal city of Busan...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

The Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) recognises a special tea-brewing technique as a cultural heritage, the BBC looks at North Korea to separate fact from fiction, get a glimpse of Korea's thriving startup scene, and don't forget how big gaming is in modern Korean culture...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/03/12 | | Permalink

Explore and enjoy Korean art at an exhibition in Sloseburg, South Korea's Dinosaur Expo is nigh upon us, go postmodern with Seoul's "Trick-Eye" museum, and Impakter interviews Kim Jung Gi about his incredible work and artistic vision...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 15

2016/03/11 | | Permalink

Soo-hyeon gets his just desserts as Hye-rim finally (apparently) gives up on him. It's legitimately really hard to feel bad for the leading man here given that he's been begging for this treatment for pretty much the drama's entire run. Ironically enough, his main sympathetic moment here comes courtesy not of Hye-rim, but rather his mother. While it's easy to feel sympathetic to her in the present day, as Soo-hyeon points out, her actions caused some pretty huge psychological issues that can't simply be ignored...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 6

2016/03/10 | | Permalink

Yeong-soo continues the mission here to harass his wife and co-worker regarding a perceived romantic entanglement between the two. When it comes to Ji-hoon (played by Yoon Park), I can almost be all right with it, because Ji-hoon is definitely up to something suspicious. But Da-hye is a grieving widow working in a department store that may have murdered her husband. Doesn't the woman have enough to deal with? Is this really the time for abusive pep talks? Even bearing in mind that Yeong-soo has friendly moments too they don't cancel out his often terrifying disposition...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 6

2016/03/10 | | Permalink

This is seriously baffling. "Descendants of the Sun" episode 6 blasted ratings precedents with 28.5%. The drama is most definitely not about action and is all about the romance, the Song Joong-ki stare, and the manufactured drama. I admit to welcoming the earthquake and the chaos it fosters because it pulls the drama out of its extremely romance heavy focus.

What detracts from the high-budget beauty of the episode is the circular happenings between both couples...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 5

2016/03/09 | | Permalink

Despite its lack of action, the romantic play of "Descendants of the Sun" has earned it another record-breaking rating: 27.4%. I find this rating rather incredible, but Song Joong-ki is a strong lead with the skills and the looks to carry the show along with Song Hye-kyo. The show also knows just how to pull the romantic strings to keep the interest going...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 5

2016/03/09 | | Permalink

For their superficially wildly different personalities, Yeong-soo and Gi-tak have one thing in common- they're both prone to jumping to wild outrageous conclusions based on limited evidence. Come to think of it they even acted this way back in the first episode, when they were still alive. It just didn't come off as quite so ridiculous back then because Kim In-kwon looks like a pathetic guy who can be intimidated, and Kim Soo-ro looks like an ultra-masculine man who is not to be trifled with. Rain and Oh Yeon-seo, by contrast, look like they should have some shred of classy dignity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 46

2016/03/08 | | Permalink

The characters in "Six Flying Dragons" are counting down the days. Bang-won's opportunities to even so much as talk to fellow sympathizers in the government are severely limited, so dates for possible conspiracy have to be fixed and adhered to on a strict schedule. These dates are historical ones, the likes of which can be found in textbooks. That much explains why "Six Flying Dragons" is being specific with the timescale now when normally the exact timing of certain dramatic events has until now been left intentionally vague...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 16 (final)

2016/03/08 | | Permalink

"Moorim School" ended its run with a flurry of bow-tied ends, a good amount of confusion, and plenty of good feels. A happy ending was bestowed upon all characters, deserving or not. The Chintamani found a predictable end. Friendship and faith in oneself was the message that had to be dictated because it most certainly hadn't been shown.

While all the characters received a happy ending, the way that the happy ending was achieved was, to be quite frank, completely nonsensical...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 45

2016/03/07 | | Permalink

The irony in "Six Flying Dragons" has reached a boiling point. By pushing for military solutions, Do-jeon and Seong-gye have betrayed those most basic principles that got them to fight against Goryeo in the first place. While their intentions and long-term goals are certainly much more defendable that those of the early antagonists in "Six Flying Dragons", what good is intent when the potential pitfalls are so catastrophic? Check the climax for an example of how intent is meaningless when everyone is busy brandishing swords in a panicked manner...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 15

2016/03/07 | | Permalink

It's episode 15 for "Moorim School" with one more episode to go. The search for the Chintamani is an all out race to the finish. Most of the secrets hidden within the school and the hearts of its inhabitants have been made public. Chi-ang's father manipulated him into the enemy of the school and Si-woo discovers his true role in all of this. Chae Yoon, Si-woo and Seon-ah's father gets to jump in and play a bigger role as well...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.03.04 ~ 2016.03.06

2016/03/07 | | Permalink

"Spirits' Homecoming" still rules ahead of International Women's Day...

Cho Jung-rae's timely drama about the treatment of Korean women during Japanese occupation, "Spirits' Homecoming", retained the top spot over the weekend ahead of International Women's Day on Tuesday. "Spirits' Homecoming" dislodged "Deadpool" at the top when it was released late February, and week two for Cho's touching tale saw it retain pole position with 600 thousand admissions (26.6%) which moveds its bottom line to $16.5 million (2.6 million admissions)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 2

2016/03/06 | | Permalink

My mistake- Ji-hoon isn't really a chef, he just runs the restaurant. Kind of. Ji-hoon's best friend Ho-joon (played by Kim Kwang-gyoo) manages the restaurant on a day by day basis, so Ji-hoon is more the money guy. The lack of official responsibility on Ji-hoon's part probably has a lot to do with his brooding attitude. The man evidently loves music- consider the excellent ambience. Yet with nothing else in life to focus on, Ji-hoon can only stare helplessly at the face of his mother's imminent death. And how Ji-hoon, like his mother, has given up on having people to care about...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 19

2016/03/06 | | Permalink

Eight months later, Yeong-sil is making decent progress on his scientific endeavors. Hee-ji, though, he just skulks at home having flashbacks of past fire-related incidents, grumbling about the obvious superiority of Yeong-sil and, I kid you not, projecting his weird fixation issues on a makeshift Joseon-era mannequin. It bears repeating. In terms of personality and inner conflict, Hee-ji is the real main character of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama". Hee-ji is the one always making difficult decisions while Yeong-sil just tries to think of a better way to build a clock...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Marriage Contract" Episode 1

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Ji-hoon (played by Lee Seo-jin) is a handsome high-tier chef in his late thirties, and heir to a decent family fortune. While Ji-hoon is an eminently eligible bachelor he's not that interested in relationships because, well, Ji-hoon doesn't really want much in life except what he already has. What's more, Ji-hoon can be paranoid when it comes to that stuff. That is what ends igniting his to date antagonistic interactions with Hye-soo (played by UEE), a widowed young mother with financial troubles...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 14

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Another episode, another lecture on the importance of the experiment, another thinly-veiled revenge scheme that just comes off as psychologically unhealthy. Ironic, given how once upon a time the main high concept of "Madame Antoine" was a pretense toward somewhat serious psychological discussion. The main comfort at this point is that with two episodes left, there isn't really that much more erratic behavior to endure between Hye-rim and Soo-hyeon. Even if the preview hints at things going a tad too far...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 18

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Hee-ji suffers from his usual character conflict here. Yeong-sil is such a genius, Hee-ji feels eternally incompetent, so Hee-ji must struggle between his love of science and his desire to burn things. Again with the fire! Forget about clocks, King Sejong really needs to do something about public services. One of these days someone is going to try to burn something important, and at that point, he's going to wish there was a fire brigade to deal with the problem...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "My Little Baby"

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Babies could easily be characterized as the most wonderful and terrifying stage of a person. Little tiny humans with barely any control of their little tiny humanity and in need of close care and protection. Now imagine how scary they must be to someone whose concept of care and protection involves weapons and armlocks. Welcome to MBC's "My Little Baby"...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Please Come Back, Mister"

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

While ratings behemoth "Descendants of the Sun" is plowing through the drama season, this means little to fans outside of the Korean and Chinese markets. After all, a good drama fan should know that numbers do not measure individual enjoyment or cover all viewer tastes. "Please Come Back, Mister" might not be getting the spotlight, but this is not stopping it from being fun...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Descendants of the Sun"

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

The long awaited, fully pre-produced "Descendants of the Sun" is here and boy, has it made an entrance. With domestic and foreign ratings, sales and buzz soaring high, the drama is undoubtedly a huge success. At the same time, it is really not a story with something for everyone and has its share of issues which range from tolerable to frustrating. For those who like the type, however, this is one fun ride...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Long Visit" + DVD Giveaway

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

In the present day Ji-sook (played by Park Jin-hee) is happily married and has a daughter. But recent events have Ji-sook looking backtoward her hometown. Ji-sook's mother (played by Kim Hae-sook) is the eternally suffering type, although she does her best to put a bright face on bad situations. Ji-sook's father (played by Jo Yeong-jin) is physically abusive, and while Ji-sook finds the situation appalling...well, that's just a very rural old-fashioned attitude is all. The things mother will put up for our sake...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Love Exposure" + DVD Giveaway

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Jeong-wan (played by Lee Mi-yeon) is a freelance photographer currently having a love affair with married doctor Yeong-hoo (played by Kim Joon-seong). Jeong-wan's best friend Hee-soo (played by Lee Tae-ran) is herself married to Hyeong-sik (played by Yoon Je-moon). One might think that as a married woman Hee-soo would disapprove of Jeong-wan's behavior. To the contrary- Jeong-wan and Hee-soo are women of the modern age, who are so relaxed about frank sexual discussion they even watch pornography together...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Never to Lose" +DVD Giveaway

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Hong-joo (played by Kim Min-joon) is a cop obsessed with trying to collar as many perpetrators as possible. It doesn't matter if he's on vacation, or at a dance club, or even walked outside for a smoke. He needs those handcuffs at all times. Hae-rang (played by Nam Sang-mi) has the opposite problem. She's passionate about working in the field, but for ill-defined sexist reasons is frequently stuck behind a desk. Together, they fight crime...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

"Spirits' Homecoming" tops the charts in time for International Women's Day, KOBIZ has a retrospective on one of Korea's most influential directors, see how Korea's VFX studios have grown over the last twenty years, and catch six soul-scratching Korean films on Netflix if you dare...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Korea seeks to reduce its food waste, Beyond Kimchee shares steps for making a simple lemon syrup, read one blogger's journey into South Korean food, and would you watch someone eat their dinner online?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

See how South Korea's passport ranks compared to others, Incheon is planning a multi-billion dollar initiative to boost tourism, the Peterson family visit a market in Seoul, and the Melting Pot enjoys a day out in the capital...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

Discover how South Korea's culture attracts the working world, The New Yorker asks if South Korea can win a Nobel Prize in Literature any time soon, a recent report from the WEF places Korea high on educational equality, and is the country's work culture starting to relax a little?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/03/05 | | Permalink

See the stunning Songwon Artwork Centre in Seoul, Lee Ufan forgeries are circulating Korea's art market, Kotaku features work by Won Chun Choi in an awesome gallery, and South Korea has the mostly privately funded museums in the world...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 13

2016/03/04 | | Permalink

For all Soo-hyeon's ominous voiceovers, it turns out that he doesn't really know what to do at this point with his hopelessly flawed study. I'm not sure, by the way, why the lynchpin for all this is a very specifically designed video. I always assumed that the clip we saw from the first episode was that woman's own personal spontaneous declaration of love, not the outcome of a very awkward sounding request. Even if Hye-rim wasn't familiar with the previous experiment Soo-hyeon discusses the request in a way that always sounds really suspicious...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 4

2016/03/03 | | Permalink

"Descendants of the Sun" shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. It is only in the second week and it is pulling in ratings of 24.1%. A mixture of the hype, the star power, the whopping budget, and the intensity of the plot and romance is the reason for its success. Writer Kim Eun-sook always likes to keep her viewers on their toes, and this drama proves to be no exception...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 4

2016/03/03 | | Permalink

First, the good news. It would appear that the epilogue segments which involve Yeong-soo's Rain doppleganger getting railroaded so as to avoid interference with the main plot will in fact be a recurring feature in "Please Come Back, Mister". There's just something so delightfully sadistic about watching this poor man deal with constant artifically induced crises. Especially since it gives him almost as many excuses to take his shirt off as it does for Yeong-soo...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 3

2016/03/02 | | Permalink

After a long week of waiting, "Descendants of the Sun" has graced us with another episode that came in at an unheard of 23.4%. Again, I can't iterate enough how slick and gorgeous it is or how fantastic the actors are in their roles. Song Joong-ki, despite his pretty face, is 100% masculine and in charge of his character while Song Hye-gyo owns the drastic change in hers. Not to mention that we finally get to see the beauty of Greece that plays the role of the country Uruk where the drama takes place. Please be sure to stick around for some home grown insight about Greece from Orion, HanCinema's own Greek goddess. ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 3

2016/03/02 | | Permalink

As it turns out, the background for "Please Come Back, Mister" still isn't completely fleshed out, although by the end of the episode Yeong-soo and Gi-tak have managed to progress to the level of zany schemes against conspiratorial villains. It helps that they become aware of each other's existence here, finally realizing that they're in this game together in a scene that proves to be a bit of an out-of-body experience. Yes, that was a dumb joke. So are most of the ones in "Please Come Back, Mister"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 16 Final

2016/03/01 | | Permalink

Given all the fuss about how "Cheese in the Trap" was preproduced, I'm a little surprised that the finale manages to fall into traps generally associated with the live shooting system. Characters make major decisions in the blink of an eye, critical plot information falls out of nowhere, huge life-threatening accidents terrify half the cast, and the epilogue just sort of tapers off into mundane life with no real kick. "Cheese in the Trap" is the rare drama that manages to feel too short- I feel like we're missing at least four episodes of context here...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 14

2016/03/01 | | Permalink

I'm still trying to sort through what just happened in "Moorim School"'s episode 14. The plot was relatively straightforward, but I have no idea what the show is trying to tell me about the characters.

I thought a while of how to analyze this and this is what I've come up with: Chi-ang is supposed to be divided by his loyalty as a son to his morally-impaired father and by his love for his friends who have seen him (according to exposition) through thick and thin. We're shown a montage of him with Si-woo compiled mostly of their first days together...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 44

2016/03/01 | | Permalink

The rivalry between Bang-won and Do-jeon is stymied by one unfortunate problem- Bang-won and Do-jeon continue to act like this is just an interpersonal rivalry, where the goal is to dishonor and humiliate the other. That's not what's at stake here. Seong-gye has to constantly remind everyone that the entire future fate of Korea hangs on actions in the present day. Bang-won and Do-jeon are trying to win battles rather than the war, which is why one or the other keeps managing to slip away...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 15

2016/02/29 | | Permalink

With Seol's encouragement at his back, Jeong is finally able to make a sincere effort to not take a scorched earth policy to his enemies. This ends up not being all that helpful. Jeong's icy personality has always been the real problem rather than the way he lashes out, because Jeong has always been pretty good about only lashing out against people who deserve it. So unfortunately this potentially interesting character conflict doesn't have much hope of being resolved, given how this is the penultimate episode and all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 13

2016/02/29 | | Permalink

All of the clunky mechanizations of "Moorim School" have cobbled themselves together to reveal several truths and leave our characters reeling. The school is in utter chaos as per the bad guys' nefarious plans. The kids are struggling to come to terms with the revelations and they are not yet ready to reach out for help and comfort.

While the individual brooding and thinking and crying is actually well-deserved, the sequence of events that lead up to these depressing activities is awkwardly formed...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 43

2016/02/29 | | Permalink

One timeskip later Bang-won and Muhyul have finished their China adventure. Aside from that cool-looking facial hair what's changed? Not that much really- the perception gap is mainly on our end. Without Bang-won hanging around ordering the murder of anyone who gets in the way, Do-jeon is having more and more trouble looking sympathetic. He's attacking political enemies less because they're doing anything bad and more out of long term concerns that may end up being self-fulfilling prophecies...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.02.26 ~ 2016.02.28

2016/02/29 | | Permalink

"Deadpool" makes way for "Spirits' Homecoming"...

Marvel's manic man "Deadpool" had to take a step back this past weekend in the wake of Cho Jung-rae's timely drama on Korea's 'comfort girls'. "Spirits' Homecoming" tells the tragic tale of a group of girls who were abused during Japan's occupation of Korea and the relationships that helped carry them through. The film was released last Wednesday and from the 793 screens allocated it accumulated 766 thousand admissions (30.4%). This touching and important drama stars Kang Ha-na, Choi Ri, Son Sook and Seo Mi-ji and is the third feature by Cho after "Foulball" (2015) and "Du-re Sori Story" (2011)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 17

2016/02/28 | | Permalink

While this episode certainly has its share of ominous brooding when it comes to authority figures of dubious reputation, fortunately, for the most part no one actually tries to cash in on the threats. Yeong-sil presents a simple, easily understood alternate scientific theory, and from there it's just a matter of put up or shut up. Good clock design can only get a man so far when the amount of possible elaboration is such that a near infinite variety of models is possible...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 12

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

There are moments when "Madame Antoine" actually manages to be pleasant enough to be passable romantic comedy material. Ji-ho's obsessing over Yoo-rim is absolutely adorable, and the sheer absurdity of the visuals over their meeting in the cafe was a delight in and of itself. But time and again we're dragged back into reality and I'm forced to remember that the actual lead characters go through these horribly dramatic mood swings over the most trivial topics...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 16

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Hee-ji belatedly feels some guilt here about jealously trying to use violence to drive Yeong-sil out of the field of science. It's lucky Hee-ji didn't go all the way, even if he was technically operating at the behest of a conspiracy. I continue to find the scientific conspiracies the most baffling part of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama". They don't even have hired goons or anything, the bad guys are perfectly fine with beating people up in broad daylight while still wearing their fancy clothes. Eggheads have never been so scary...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Goodbye Korea Joa, And Thank You!

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Korea Joa 2015 organized by KOFICE happened in October 2015. It is now February 2016 and I've only now finished my articles on that wonderful adventure. It feels like it is only now ending. In case you're new to my Korea Joa coverage, HanCinema was invited as one of fifteen world sites on Korean culture, Kpop, K-drama, and K-film to represent the international journalist community...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Like for Likes"

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

If you're looking for a cute, feel-good film then look no further than "Like for Likes", a film directed by Park Hyeon-jin ("Lovers of 6 Years") and starring an incredibly gifted cast. It focuses on dating in the internet age where activity on social media can make and break relationships. The film released in South Korea February 17 and will open in New York February 25. In Korea, its first week resulted in fourth place at 12.2% on box office charts with 320,000 moviegoers. Afterwards, the film will screen in 17 major locations in North America...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Make It Big" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Seong-hwan (played by Song Seung-heon), Woo-sup (played by kwon Sang-woo), and Jin-won (played by Kim Young-joon) are three high school students with a dream in life- they're gonna be huge! All-powerful! Rich! Sexy! And bros forever! How they actually intend to accomplish these goals when the boys are dumb and immature is not really explained. Then, as luck would have it, fortune rains upon them from above, so the boys quickly try to figure out how to cash their winnings...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Forever the Moment" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

In preparation for the Athens Olympics, Hye-kyeong (played by Kim Jeong-eun) does her best to put together a crack handball squad. In practice this just ends up being a bunch of middle-aged women from previous handball teams and some kids who haven't a chance to specialize in a different sport yet. As if this weren't frustrating enough, Hye-kyeong also ends up being forced to participate with Seung-pil (played by Eom Tae-woong), a former lover who's also a jerk...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "No Mercy for the Rude" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Killa (played by Sin Ha-gyoon) is a man of few words who guns for the big bucks by working as an assassin. Killa likes to think of himself as cool, and even has a bunch of assassin friends who have little presence in "No Mercy for the Rude" except to establish one essential point- that assassins are goofy dorks who overestimate the extent to which their unusual job choice actually makes them interesting. As a film critic, I can appreciate the sentiment...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Recently discovered films from Russia and Germany show Japan's colonial activities, "Spirit's Homecoming" depicts the tragic fate of Korean comfort women, the Japanese version of "Miss Granny" to be released in April, and is South Korea's push for blockbusters threatening smaller productions?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Make your own 'army stew' with My Korean Kitchen, discover why Korean soups are a healthy option to consider, Holly has a simple pasta and avocado dish that's divine, and see what America's Koreatown food culture is like through a new book by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Cool Hunting reviews one of Seoul most luxurious hotels, find out what you can get up to if you're on a layover in Incheon, consider staying in a traditional Korean hanok for your next trip, and have you ever visited an "Alive Museum"?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

Korean nerd culture gets the respect it deserves, see how cultural diplomacy helps foster new economic relationships, the Jakarta Globe gets behind the Korean Wave, and the Seoul Global Culture Centre has lots of activities and classes planned for the month of March...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/02/27 | | Permalink

See the rise of K-Art on the world stage, Jung-hwan's realist paintings are a pleasure to behold, The Korea Herald features news on photography exhibits you can catch in Seoul, and Anne Lee captures life on Korean streets in a minimalist style...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 11

2016/02/26 | | Permalink

There's a great scene this episode where Ji-ho, apparently having changed his borderline autistic mind about which women he can like, attempts to start again with Yoo-rim. But Yoo-rim just gets angry at him. Why? Beause Ji-ho is borderline autistic and has been disregarding her feelings for pretty much the entire drama up until now. Yoo-rim behaves like any normal, sensible person would when faced with an obviously manipulative suitor. And that makes me wonder- why can't Hye-rim act like that? Are she and Soo-hyeon really going to go back and forth on who's really lying for the entire drama?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 2

2016/02/25 | | Permalink

If episode one of "Descendants of the Sun" was about introductions, episode two, coming in on top at 15.5%, fleshed them out and added the rest of the teams that support Si-jin and Mo-yeon. Romance was the priority, but it didn't feel like the show was beating us over the head with it. Instead, the romance that blossomed hit very real walls that were acknowledged by two adults who hold themselves to different belief systems and lifestyles. We all know that will change. The adventure is watching them learn what we already know...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 2

2016/02/25 | | Permalink

Maya (played by Ra Mi-ran) is the individual in charge of sending dead people back to the world of living temporarily. She's frustrated by how Yeong-soo and Gi-tak have interrupted her planned vacation, and warns these two that the reliving process is a fairly unsatisfying one with many arbitrary rules. Following that Maya nonetheless plops Yeong-soo in the body of Hae-joon (played by Rain), and Gi-tak in the body of Hong-nan (played by Oh Yeon-seo)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 1

2016/02/24 | | Permalink

It's finally here, folks! KBS's first pre-produced, star-studded drama "Descendants of the Sun". The drama dominated the charts at whopping 14.3%. It's Song Joong-ki's first drama after his mandatory military service, which is all too fitting. He as Soldier Yoo Si-jin is joined by Song Hye-kyo as war doctor Kang Mo-yeon, Jin Goo as Soldier Seo Dae-yeong, and as war doctor Yoon Myeong-joo, Kim Ji-won-I. From the trailers we knew that romance is the thread that will weave through the story, but war and it's trials and horrors will drive the plot as it brings people together and tears them apart. We've been teased for months, and now, without further ado, I bring to you my review of episode 1...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister" Episode 1

2016/02/24 | | Permalink

Yeong-soo (played by Kim In-kwon) is a nebbish department store manager who belatedly realizes his bad night was in fact much worse than just a drunk blackout. He soon meets up with Gi-tak (played by Kim Soo-ro), an ex-convict turned chef who is now in the same mortal predicament. Together they...flash back to the days right before the opener, because as this is the first episode, "Please Come Back, Mister" has to explain its premise and more importantly, why we as viewers should care...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 14

2016/02/23 | | Permalink

Second leads never have it easy in dramas, but In-ho knows more than most that he really is in a completely impossible position. At best all he can do now is try not to act creepy. In-ho forces Seol to acknowledge the awkwardness and makes a request that's probably more unreasonable than it sounds. His position is a pretty good argument for why it's better to just keep your mouth shut when it comes to confessing to someone you like and see on a regular basis...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 12

2016/02/23 | | Permalink

The truth is what drives episode 12 of "Moorim School". The students are driven by their individual motivations to prepare and compete in the school's competition, but the for the main four, the truth behind the actions of adults and behind their pasts are the real driving force.

Chi-ang is the most exposed in this quest for truth, which is a relief after too many episodes of silent brooding and staring that was difficult to read and interpret...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 42

2016/02/23 | | Permalink

Joo-che (played by Moon Jong-won) is the provincial ruler of Yan. His birthright is powerful enough that he could conceivably seize control of Ming China, making him the third emperor of the world's largest nation state. In fact, we know from the subtitles that this is exactly what Joo-che does, eventually taking the title of Yongle Emperor, leaving a mixed legacy of effective government coupled with despotic brutality against all enemies be they real or imagined. Remind you of anyone we already know?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 11

2016/02/22 | | Permalink

"Moorim School" episode 11 is all about looking within to find the answers. There is a big competition going on and everyone is vying to win, but winning isn't the answer. To attain the keys to the Chintamani is the outward goal, but the true teachers at the Moorim School want their students to find strength within to protect those dear to them.

Si-woo is struggling to control a rare power that he possesses...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 13

2016/02/22 | | Permalink

In my first review for "Cheese in the Trap" I incorrectly described Seol's friend Eun-taek as being the boyfriend of her best friend Bo-ra. My assumption was presaged on how they act ridiculously flirty around each other, such that I was surprised to finally realize they weren't actually dating. Why? Well, because Bo-ra's mostly arbitrary requirements regarding possible boyfriends rule Eun-taek out. In this episode, that issue is finally realized...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 41

2016/02/22 | | Permalink

Bang-won's moral compass has been difficult to defend lately, although I was struck by how in this episode "Six Flying Dragons" rather subtly makes an important point- lately the ancient conspiracy hasn't really done anything all that bad. While these people are obviously not to be trusted overall, so far all Bang-won has done is talk to them in lieu of the fact that he can't talk to Do-jeon. In Bang-won's worldview, honor and respect are what matters and lately he hasn't gotten much of either from his actual or metaphorical father figures...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.02.19 ~ 2016.02.21

2016/02/22 | | Permalink

"Deadpool" dislodges "A Violent Prosector" at the top...

For the past two weeks Lee Il-hyeong's crime drama "A Violent Prosecutor" has been flying high atop Korea's box office, but week three for Lee's blockbuster saw that string of pole positions broken by the latest superhero film to come our of Marvel Studios...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 15

2016/02/21 | | Permalink

Now that Yeong-sil is apparently dead, all anyone can seem to talk about is what a great smart guy he was. Which is awkward, considering that the principal men involved in the assassination attempt on the poor scientist still have their government positions, and just can't seem to escape the fact that even in death Yeong-sil is way smarter than they are. "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" has the kind of villains who seem pathetic even when they win, because their competence begins and ends with cloak and dagger conspiracies...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 10

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Having finally obtained concrete information on Soo-hyeon's experiment, Hye-rim has to decide whether to attack quickly or slowly. Once she's made that decision, we're then treated to more of the usual doubting about whether Soo-hyeon is really that bad a guy or if there are some emotional truths mixed in with all the logical lies. This leads up to a cliffhanger where Hye-rim is surprised to learn information I thought she already knew, the next follow-up stage being more wackiness...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 14

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

This episode opens up with Yeong-sil and his science buddies admiring the stars and pondering over the mysteries of the universe as Jang Yeong-sil's scientific bagpipe music plays in the background. It's a capstone to a whirlwind of successful research, and I really hate these scenes because they mostly just remind me of the story that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" could be telling, except that now it's time for the requisite unnecessary violence on the part of science-hating extremists...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Descendants of the Sun"

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Hold on to your hats and other detachable wearables, because "Descendants of the Sun" is coming, almost a year after it first got viewers excited over its existence. The drama is a fully pre-produced work partially filmed in Greece and features a powerhouse hallyu-fueled cast and crew. Expectations are high and emotions even higher. Are you all ready for the big reveal...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Please Come Back, Mister"

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Body swapping is nothing new in Korean drama, but you have to admit that the idea of turning Kim In-kwon and Kim Soo-ro into Rain and Oh Yeon-soo sounds very fun. The series is shaping up to be a hilarious and hopefully heartwarming one too, as "Please Come Back, Mister" deals with life and death situations quite literally...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hwang Jin Yi" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Jin Yi (played by Song Hye-kyo) eventually becomes one of Korea's greatest poets, though she is technically a fallen woman, having become a courtesan with the somewhat unusual background of an upper class education. But once upon a time, Jin Yi was just a little girl with curiousity about the world. This curiousity ends up mingled with horror, as Jin Yi discovers the darkness hidden behind the opulence of wealth, and even the secret of her own birth. From there, Jin Yi feels like she has only one choice- to find her own way...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Romance - Movie" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Depression can come in many forms. For veteran cop Hyeong-joon (played by Jo Jae-hyeon), it's the feeling that he failed as a husband and a father, and that no amount of heroic behavior can ever redeem him. For the well-bred Yoon-hee (played by Kim Ji-soo), it's having the promise of a rich high society life with a devoted significant other and yet being incapable of flashing a sincere smile. These two are ready to give up on life- and then they find each other...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Twins" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Myeong-soo (played by Jeong Joon-ho) is a street rough who gets into fights. The energy is not a complete waste, though, because Myeong-soo's identical twin Hyeon-soo (also played by Jeong Joon-ho) has managed to take advantage of Myeong-soo's low maintenance costs to get a good education and eventually a prestigious legal career. The main consequence of this being that, every so often, Myeong-soo has to pretend to be Hyeon-soo for the greater good. Really, just to help Hyeon-soo's career...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

KOBIZ talks to the president of Technical Art Studio Cell about their work in "SORI: Voice from the Heart" and other films, see how female leads are faring in Korea's film industry, learn what films have come out on top over Lunar New Years, and five promising Korean films to look out for in 2016...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

My Korean Kitchen has a recipe for making rice cake skewers, South Korea's government dissuades citizens from supporting North Korean restaurants overseas, Holly has an amazing looking curry to try, and McDonald's in Korea will soon be offering...beer?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Conan O'Brien spends five days in Seoul soaking up the culture, Korea's railway adds nostalgic snacks to their carts, catch Christine's video for some travel trips for Seoul, and find out where you want to be when the blossoms bloom...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

K-pop fans in Seoul enjoy holograms of their favourite stars, BBC Arts tries to understand South Korea's culture boom, K-culture groups in Russia support hallyu, and see how some North Korean defectors are finding themselves in front of the camera...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/02/20 | | Permalink

Artnet has a great list of exhibitions and galleries to catch if you can, Robert Koehler gets caught in the snowy streets of Seoul, find out how one joke about MERS went viral, and the Korea Times interviews Jang Tai-san about the challenges he's faced in the digital age...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 9

2016/02/19 | | Permalink

It's hard to take Hye-rim and Soo-hyeon's lovey dovey scenes all that seriously considering that Soo-hyeon is still conducting his mostly unscientific experiment. Why he's even bothering with that pretense at that point isn't clear- I'm pretty sure that for all the problems uncovered so far, taking an MRI test at the subject's demand seems pretty useless. This much is especially true considering that Hye-rim obviously has the ability to manipulate the results for whatever arbitrary outcome she wants...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 20 Final

2016/02/18 | | Permalink

There's two essential parts to the final episode of "Remember"- gratifying revenge and sadness. The sadness actually ends up coming from an unexpected angle, though. While Jin-woo's loss of memory is not glossed over or dismissed in any way, this material ends up being covered relatively shortly in the ending. Instead, we're left with grief at how everything managed to turn out so poorly, thus necessitating the elaborate revenge scheme...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 19

2016/02/17 | | Permalink

Gyoo-man is hard at work trying to alienate every possible character he can. I'm surprised that even the security guards are willing to put up with it anymore. Every scene we see them, those poor extras look massively uncomfortable. They don't even try to manhandle Gyoo-man's victims anymore, because he's gotten so public with the violent outbursts that odds are good they're going to show up on someone's cell phone camera too...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 10

2016/02/17 | | Permalink

Dare I say it? I do believe this show has gotten better. There is still a fair amount of brooding and staring, but even so, the characters are actually beginning to express their thoughts and emotions rather than make us guess.

Everyone is at the Moorim School for a reason...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 12

2016/02/16 | | Permalink

I struggle with trying to decide whether the Yeong-gon storyline is overdone or not. The thing is, there are people in real life who will do that- just keep doing the same action and somehow expecting different results, not realizing that certain effects are cumulative. In this case, even after getting an opportunity to smooth social relations over with fellow students who have turned very cold to Yeong-gon over his stalking behavior, Yeong-gon is still at risk of being sabotaged by an unseen enemy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 40

2016/02/16 | | Permalink

Given how so many of the characters in "Six Flying Dragons" are trying to pull off secret deals on an international scale, it was really only a matter of time before they accidentally ran into each other and alerted their opposites to what was happening. This is bad news for Bang-won's team, because his secret scheme has no official sanction. Do-jeon is, for all his greater ethical values, still working as an agent of the current King of Joseon. Bang-won hasn't even clued in all his brothers to what's going on yet...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 9

2016/02/16 | | Permalink

"Moorim School" is back after a pause for the celebration of Lunar New Year. After the midway point it's starting to jump into why the kids are at the school and what roles they have to play. It's not just about a love triangle, but about the road they will pave for themselves despite the pressures of adults.

Chi-ang's father has been sketched to be a leading bad guy and this episode outlines the potential for Chi-ang to follow in his footsteps ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 11

2016/02/15 | | Permalink

Early on Seol ends up choosing which antagonistic character to support when a fight unexpectedly breaks out. What's significant about Seol's thought process is that she could just choose not to get involved. But in the end Seol makes a moral decision to the effect that that deliberately manipulative behavior is more deserving of public censure than performing worse on the arbitrary metric of social rules...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 39

2016/02/15 | | Permalink

We already know that Bang-won is willing to do anything to hold on to power, but this episode the other younger dragons struggle to reconcile the increasingly cold and heartless Bang-won of the present day with the young man whose first priority was always justice. Muhyul gets the first crack at that problem, and he barely has time to reminisce about how they just made a deal with former enemies when an ethical conflict comes up. One where Bang-won doesn't even feel the need to pretend like he cares about wanton bloodspill...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.02.12 ~ 2016.02.14

2016/02/15 | | Permalink

"A Violent Prosecutor" cruises to 8 million over Valentine's Day weekend...

Lee Il-hyeong's "A Violent Prosecutor" retained pole position after putting in another dominate performance at the box office. Last weekend the film capture 73.7% of the box office pie, and week two for Lee's hit saw it claim and additional 1.3 million admissions (61%) to move its bottom line now to 8 million admissions, or $53 million. That's an incredible effort as the film races towards the 10 million admissions mark in record time...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 13

2016/02/14 | | Permalink

A major scene in the early part of this episode does a good job explaining the contradictions of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" as a whole. We start out with Yeong-sil working, idly wondering about the political situation but mostly just puzzled as to why his current astronomical calculations aren't working. Then a bunch of aristocratic bullies show up and force a physical confrontation. Wrestling moves are involved. At long last Yeong-sil inadvertently comes up with a breakthrough and rushes back to inform his team...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 8

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Soo-hyeon's insistence on rationalizing all of his actions in context of the experiment is seeming less like anything resembling a pretense of science and more a weird psychological fixation. He gives Hye-rim a major passionate kiss, and when she finallys recovers enough of her senses to fight him off, right away Soo-hyeon is back in defensive mode. That means more lying, mixed in with barely enough truth to be persuasive in the face of of Hye-rim's immediate inquisition...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 12

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Yeong-sil has learned a valuable lesson from the constant apparently unnecessary attempts on his life. While it's great that Yeong-sil has managed to gain an official scientific position within the Joseon, nobody likes him. The other scientists don't really have a good reason for doing so, but that's besides the point. Pecking orders aren't based on logic. Up until now science has been a means of social advancement in Korea, and King Sejong can't change that overnight...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum"

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

"Healing dramas" is a term tossed around a lot lately. The idea is that dramas are no longer just about fleeting pleasures and fairytale stories, but about showing real human pain and soothing the viewers' soul through the characters working out their issues. Unfortunately, the term is just a way of sugar-coating the bad habit of every drama, even those in light genres turning into a tear-fest. "Bubble Gum" has a lot of quality to it, but it ends a different drama to what it starts out as...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Bold Family" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Myeong-seok (played by Kam Woo-seong) and Myeong-gyoo (played by Kim Soo-ro) are a couple of brothers with the usual problems associated with middle age. Mostly it's a matter of money. As it happens, their father Joong-yeop (played by Sin Goo) has a decent amount of land, and is close to dying. But as a man whose hometown lies on the wrong side of the Korean border, Joong-yeop dreams of reunification, and meeting a daughter Joong-yeop has not seen since her infancy. So Myeong-seok and Myeong-gyoo do the natural thing in the situation, and concoct an elaborate scam to trick their father into thinking reunification is just around the corner...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Boy Who Went to Heaven" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

The opening scene of "A Boy Who Went to Heaven" takes place in a house located high in the sky. A couple of kids decide to go out to play while the adults in the room are making out, and sprout wings for this purpose. This inexplicable scene makes slightly more sense once "A Boy Who Went to Heaven" concludes having provided more context. Until then, though, the opener is a bit of misdirection as the action quickly settles upon Nae-mo (played by Kim Kwan-woo), a boy living in early eighties Busan with his mother...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Little Brother" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Han-i (played by Park Ji-bin) is the annoHan-ing younger brother to Han-byeol (played by Seo Dae-han). They live in typical sibling conflict, such that when Han-byeol expresses discomfort and apparent sickness, Han-i is dismissive and just decides to play video games rather than do anything useful. Unfortunately for the brothers and their parents, Han-byeol really is very sick. From there "Little Brother" quickly turns into a waiting game to see whether or not Han-byeol will die...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

KOBIZ chats to Jeon Soo-il about his 2015 film "A Korean in Paris", see how well South Korea's film industry did in 2015, short films are a great way for up-and-coming talents to shine, and Variety sits in on a co-production event in Paris that highlights the success of Bong Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Discover what Koreans enjoyed eating on the road over Lunar New Year, Holly has some simple steps for making your own roasted seaweed, find out what JinJoo's favourite New Year dishes are, and get a glimpse into North Korea and their food preferences...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Find out what Jeju Island has to offer during the colder months, flag Seoul's top malls for your next spree, Korea's film industry seeks to cash in on the chilly season with its locations, and are Chinese tourists changing the way Japan and South Korea do tourism?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Learn 8 ways to make a great first impression in Korea, The Grand Narrative looks at Korean culture around contraceptives, the Seoul Hanok Expo is almost upon us, and find out more about Yoon Mee-hyang book on Korea's 'comfort women' and the rally that inspired it...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/02/13 | | Permalink

Learn more about the rise of South Korean webtoons, browse a gallery of propaganda posters from the Korean War, North Koreans in the South find ways of connecting to their families past and present, and Robert Koehler captures the setting sun at Ongnyeobong Peak...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 7

2016/02/12 | | Permalink

Extended focus on the somewhat shaky premise of "Madame Antoine" has forced me to admit that Soo-hyeon's obsession with the experiment is a tad nonsensical, and the more he explains his reasons the less coherent the story's overall thrust sounds. Soo-hyeon's reasons for continuing the experiment simply aren't all that persuasive, and I find myself wondering why "Madame Antoine" even bothers with that angle when the production is obviously a classically styled romantic comedy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 18

2016/02/11 | | Permalink

Jin-woo's embarrassing moment of memory loss notwithstanding, it turns out there is in fact a crucial, subtle inconsistency in the black box video. I hadn't noticed it before, but then again I don't recall if we were ever actually shown the video in full context before either. Well, no matter. The point is that once Jin-woo gets reasonable doubt, he's able to get the gangsters to cooperate and from there it's one leg of the conspiracy down, with several left to go...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 17

2016/02/10 | | Permalink

In short order "Remember" tacks on a second trial to the first one. Which is a bit of a shame- I actually mostly like the rape storyline. The fact that it's taking a relatively long time to conclude doesn't even bother me so much because it makes sense for Gyoo-man's legal team to use delaying tactics. It takes time to manufacture evidence and bully witnesses into giving false testimony. What's more, this tactic has become increasingly ineffective since In-ah knows how they operate...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 38

2016/02/09 | | Permalink

It's very tempting to just dismiss Bang-won's actions as being those of a crazy person. Unfortunately, what we're really seeing here is the culmination of a very slow burn. From the very beginning of "Six Flying Dragons" Bang-won has thought his way out of tough spots by acting generally impulsive and borderline psychotic. Back when the antagonists were more indisputably evil, this wasn't that big a problem. But here, Bang-won is using military force to subdue non-violent, principled scholars. The effects of this will be mixed at best...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 37

2016/02/08 | | Permalink

Bang-won spent much of the last episode agonizing over his decision to murder Mong-ju. By contrast, here he easily comes to term with the decision- for entirely the wrong reasons. Do-jeon's statement about how Bang-won has made his own unsavory place in the New Joseon plan was not intended as a compliment. Yet the farther away Bang-won gets from the original context, the easier it is for him to convince himself that he's just a guy making touch decisions...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.02.05 ~ 2016.02.07

2016/02/08 | | Permalink

"A Violent Prosecutor" shows No Mercy at the top...

Lee Il-hyeong's "A Violent Prosecutor" dominated its first weekend out by capturing 73.7% of the box office pie and banking nearly $16 million. This comedy crime drama stars Hwang Jeong-min as a wrongful accused investigator who gets help in prison from a fraudster (Kang Dong-won) in an attempt to clear his name. The film was allocated a massive 1,701 screens (close to double that of its closest rival) and from them attracted 2.3 million filmgoers to top the chart and dislodge last weekend's number one, "Kung Ju Panda 3"...More

[HanCinema's Concert Review] Infinite in New York City

2016/02/07 | | Permalink

A K-pop concert is a very unique concert-going experience. Unlike the many rock, R&B, and classical concerts that I have attended, K-pop concerts have a certain sense of unity amongst fans that is unparalleled. At the Infinite concert at New York City's Playstation Theatre on January 19, 2016 the sense of unity was awesome. It was the last leg of the North American tour and fans had waited for hours and hours in the 17°F weather to make sure that they got up close and personal with their idols.

Infinite is one of the top K-pop acts in Korea and in the world...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 8

2016/02/07 | | Permalink

"Moorim School" is getting heavy into the mystery of who Si-woo and Seon-ah and why they are important to the bad guys. Moreover, it is purposefully vague on who those bad guys may be. Is it the kindly Dean Hwang who watches over his students? Is it the blatantly obvious father of Chi-ang? Maybe it's a combination thereof. In any case, the drama is much more stimulating than it was for the first six episodes. Perhaps it is because the drama was cut down by four episodes and the action needs to be pushed along. This is the pace the drama should've been moving at.

The main intrigue is the building question of what the Chintamani is, why people want it, and what the main characters have to do with it and its retrieval...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/02/07 | | Permalink

KOBIZ highlights some of their animal stars (real and imagined) that have featured in South Korean films over the years, find out more about the author of the bizarre and surreal "Vegetarian", learn about the couple that were kidnapped and taken to North Korea to make films, and have you explored the Korean Cinema Today, yet?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/02/07 | | Permalink

Get to know your Korean side dishes with Beyond Kimchi, one woman is doing her best to keep dogs off the menu, Sue over at My Korean Kitchen shares a Luna New Year dish, and The Korea Times features the story of a North Korean defector who recently opened his first food truck...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/02/07 | | Permalink

Find out about Lunar New Year customs in Korea, the Korea Tourism Organisation reveals upcoming attractions for 2016-2018, enjoy Korea from the comfort of your saddle, and what's the best time to visit the peninsula?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/02/07 | | Permalink

Find out more about the history and future of K-pop, Korean 'concept' fashion finds footing in New York, hear from a North Korean defector about her journey South, and is South Korea heading for a crisis with their low birthrate?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/02/07 | | Permalink

See the results of an awesome mashup between Japanese warriors and "Star Wars", get a glimpse of Korea's recent past, South Korean minimalism taps into a growing global market, and one talented postmodern Korean artist recently hade his first solo exhibition in the UK...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 6

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

Yoo-rim (played by Hwang Seung-eon) is Hye-rim's younger sister and I'm spotlighting her this time because she's the main character who tries to do something different this episode by being sneaky like a normal person instead of a psychic / psychological genius. It's lucky for her that Ji-ho is so fantastically ignorant he'll entertain any ridiculous proposal she comes up with just for the sake of science. Personally I suspect someone put pressure on the production team to work more kisses into the story somehow...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 11

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

After a large scale and mostly unnecessary swordfight the Chinese portion of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" concludes, as usual leaving me asking the wrong kind of questions. Is anybody else noticing the irony here? Song Il-gook is in an action-heavy drama, as a guy who logically does not know how to fight and spends most his time in the action sequences chronically dodging hits? When even the token woman picks up a sword and starts hacking away I have to wonder whether "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" would make more sense if it just ignored logic entirely and made Yeong-sil a kung fu scientist. For all we know, he might have been one...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Signal"

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

Crime shows are no longer something new in Korean drama, but they still largely follow a formulaic approach, such as any other genre. Placing style over substance is a common issue and especially some of the episodic dramas of the type seem repetitive. It is therefore fortunate that tvN's "Signal" not only seems to have a strong main plot, but that it is off to a great start with its two main features...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] K-Pop Festivals in Korea

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

One of South Korea's biggest cultural exports is K-pop. But that's not all, it's also a phenomenon within the country itself. All over the country there are festivals, concerts, collaborations, and music shows. For international fans like myself, such ready access to Korean musical acts is rare indeed. A trip to Korea allows for the kind of musical exposure international fans would have to spend years gathering...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Imaginary Cat"

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

Love for animals is an important element of human nature. When considering the fan base of Korean drama, it is also safe to say many love cute young guys. A drama combining the two is a very people pleasing one and would have to really work hard in order to fail at it. "Imaginary Cat" has some fun ideas and a good premise, but the rest is up to a viewer's tolerance of bad decisions...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Melody to Remember" ***Free Tickets (US Only - First-Come, First-Served)***

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

Films set in wartime often focus on the horrors of war, the violence and ruin, and the small fonts of hope that spring up in the most unlikely of places. "A Melody to Remember", released internationally on January 29, 2016, is no different in that respect. What makes it a film worth watching is its magnetic pull that is created by the well-cut scenes, the heartfelt acting, and the music that inspired the real-life choir to come together and perform during one of the most devastating times in Korean history...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Herb" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

Sang-eun (played by Kang Hye-jeong) is twenty years old, but under that normal pretty visage lies a mind that is a tad mentally challenged. It can be kind of hard to tell sometimes, because even though Sang-eun has elaborate fantasies about princes, these fantasies are so elaborate they end up becoming hip and post-modern. We all just want to meet our prince, after all. And in this case, the prince is rookie cop Jong-bom (played by Jeong Kyeong-ho) who has a bit of an attitude problem but that's OK, because so did Beast in Beauty and the Beast....More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Bunt" + DVD Giveaway

2016/02/06 | | Permalink

Dong-goo (played by Choi Woo-hyuk) is a dimwitted child who goes to school with a smile on his face and a beat in his step every day because he has the very important job of being the designated water carrier for his classroom. It is not a high prestige job. The other kids don't like carrying water because it's heavy but Dong-goo doesn't care because it's one of the few tasks at school he knows how to do. Joon-tae (played by Yun Chan) sits at the other half of Dong-gu's desk, and resents Dong-gu's oblivious joy for life...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 5

2016/02/05 | | Permalink

Seong Joon is really good in the lead role here. Note how it's always (mostly) easy to tell whether or not Soo-hyeon is actually being sincere, and the main times there's ambiguity is when Soo-hyeon himself isn't totally sure what's going on. The only times Soo-hyeon is able to get Hye-rim's guard down is when he's making mistakes. His increasingly complicated lies just come off as increasingly suspicious. Besides, the premise of Soo-hyeon's experiment doesn't even make sense...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 16

2016/02/04 | | Permalink

Dong-ho, having finally quit his position as Gyoo-man's scumbag lawyer, finds some difficulty here in making amends and getting back on the right side. Personally I'm surprised anyone in Jin-woo's firm is willing to entertain the prospect of Dong-ho's helping at all. Yeah, we know that Dong-ho has meant well this whole time. But it's not like Jin-woo had any way of being aware of this save for the occasional oblique hint...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 15

2016/02/03 | | Permalink

Why does anyone ever cooperate with Gyoo-man on any task whatsoever? He doesn't even pretend to be friendly, the guy just barks orders out practically at random, and  when he does reward loyalty there's always this thick veneer of condescension. Gyoo-man's family money is good, but it seems like there's only so much Gyoo-man a character can tolerate before deciding, you know, forget the money, I'd really much rather punch him in the face...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 10

2016/02/02 | | Permalink

Even though "Cheese in the Trap" was filmed completely in advance of airing, I get the impression that the editing part of the production team still messes around with the presentation. A scene from the episode nine preview only shows up now in episode ten, and the timing is much better given how the drama will be on break next week. Min-soo finally breaks down. And even after having apparently "won", Seol is not in any kind of victorious mood. There's just no cause for it, when Jeong isn't around...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 36

2016/02/02 | | Permalink

Bang-won is no longer at the point where he can reasonably acquiesce to the orders of Do-jeon and Seong-gye. He's not even at the point where he can pretend to acquiesce to the orders of Do-jeon and Seong-gye. As is laid out right in the beginning, everything about the plan to take down Mong-ju came straight from Bang-won. He can't care if anyone hate him or even tries to kill him if what happens at the bridge is going too far, because Bang-won is out of options...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 35

2016/02/01 | | Permalink

One problem with having the story of the founding of Joseon fictionalized with epic swordfights is that every so often we're left wondering why it is that the political leaders can't just rely on their hired muscle to solve every minor inconvenience. This episode tackles that problem by devoting much of the philosophical discussion to the question of why our lead characters fight. They're all in a fairly unnatural situation, really. Normally humans fight to live. In this case, living for the sake of living is not seen as enough...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 7

2016/02/01 | | Permalink

Episode 7 of "Moorim School" is the strongest episode by far. There was major character development and in the mystery that has only been hinted at before. A breath of fresh air has touched this drama and blown it away from the painful setup that characterized the first six episodes.

While the teachers and Yeop-jeong could use much more development, Chi-ang, Ha-o, and the mysterious coma man, Chae Yoon, saw some honest-to-goodness screentime...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 9

2016/02/01 | | Permalink

We open up with a replay of the class presentations. Seol has learned her lesson, and decides that it's better for her to be a cruel jerk than risk everyone's academic prospects on Professor Kang's whims. The gambit works, as far as the classroom is concerned. Unfortunately, such smart strategizing is of less help in Seol's personal life. The same can be said of just about every other character in "Cheese in the Trap", as they take stupid actions based on logical yet flawed premises...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.01.29 ~ 2016.01.31

2016/02/01 | | Permalink

"The Revenant" falls hard as "Kung Fu Panda 3" hits...

DreamWorks Animation's third installment of the "Kung Fu Panda" series of films came to Korean screens last Thursday and dominated proceedings over the weekend. "Kung Fu Panda 3" had a massive 1,364 screens from which to pool and from them captured 63% of the box office pie (1.3 million admissions). The film was made for around $145 million, and worldwide the film has already grossed $116.7 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 10

2016/01/31 | | Permalink

Hee-ji (played by Lee Ji-hoon) is the actual main character of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" at the moment, on account of the fact that he's the only Korean character who actually has any idea what's going on in the Chinese portion of the story. I feel like I'm constantly repeating myself on this point but...why exactly is Yeong-sil the main character when he doesn't know what's going on, no one wants to tell him what's going on, and it doesn't even seem to matter whether or not he knows what's going on?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 4

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

Most romantic comedies sublimate sexual tension into some kind of other non-gendered competition. "Madame Antoine" does the exact opposite. Soo-hyeon intentionally courts Hye-rim in the most weirdly unnecessary confrontational way possible. While Soo-hyeon is in theory running a scientific experiment, he interprets any intermediate results of the experiment very personally. As much as Soo-hyeon thinks in terms of petty revenge, he's really looking at a much more terrifying prospect- the notion that he is not the smartest man in the room...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 9

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

Having finally managed to escape the cutthroat environment of Korean politics, so that he can study astronomy in China, Yeong-sil at long last manages to arrive in China to discover that...there are also violent bureaocratic elements at play in Chinese astronomy. And much as was the case in Korea, Yeong-sil has only the faintest awareness of what's going on. He just expresses surprise and curiousity regarding a few novel scientific devices, and proceeds to stumble clumsily into more random death plots and sword fights...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "D-Day"

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

The disaster genre is an ambitious one. For one, a pure disaster work can be very expensive to make, depending on the event which brings about said disaster. It is also one which depends a lot on sustaining suspense. Attempting such a work in the form of a Korean drama is quite the brave move on behalf of its creators. Whether this hybrid of a series counts as a success depends on how far one expects its bravery takes it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Phone"

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

In the unremarkable year of 2014, lawyer Dong-ho (played by Son Hyeon-joo) lives a somewhat alcoholic and harassed life with his wife Yeon-soo (played by Eom Ji-won) and daughter Kyeong-rim (played by No Jeong-ee). One tragic turn of events and a year-long timeskip later it's 2015. Dong-ho has sobered up a little and is a tad more depressed, but otherwise life is tolerable. Then he gets the opportunity to change what has become the defining moment of his life back in 2014...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hi, Dharma" + DVD Giveaway

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

Jae-gyoo (played by Park Shin-yang) is a gangster sub-boss whose unit gets sucker-punched in the opening minutes of "Hi, Dharma" by a rival gang. Having only barely managed to escape that situation with their lives, and lacking reliable telephone access, Jae-gyoo's hang is forced to hide out at a Buddhist temple. And from there, the story of "Hi, Dharma" is simple character clash comedy. They're gangsters, the other guys are monks. How will they ever get along?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "May 18" + DVD Giveaway

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

Jin-woo (played by Lee Joon-ki) is a high school student in Gwangju, circa 1980. Sin-ae (played by Lee Yo-won) is a local nurse who goes to his church. Min-woo (played by Kim Sang-kyeong) is his older working brother. Heung-soo (played by Ahn Seong-gi) is her father, a former military officer. They all live fairly normal lives. But a meeting with history ruptures this destiny, as a military crackdown provokes a full-scale resistance movement lasting for a full week...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

See what Korean films are currently screening at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Lee Joon-ik talks about making Korean period pieces, find out which two Korean films will screen in Berlin in February, and Modern Korean Cinema presents its list of the most anticipated Korean films of the year...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lovers' Lane

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

See where Korea's oysters come from and how they're harvested, Beyond Kimchee has steps for making chilled cinnamon ginger punch, see Korea's awesome delivery service in action, and My Korean Kitchen has a scrumptious snack for the Lunar New Year...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

Get some suggestions on where to eat, shop and stay, Korean Air implements a new law in the wake of the "Nut Rage" incident, the Eat Your Kimchi Crew says goodbye to Korea and heads to Japan, and hear from one travel agent why Europeans should consider Korea as their next holiday destination...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

Check out what one of Korea's cutest stores has to offer, Vogue looks at Bae Doona's success on and offscreen, there are rehabilitation camps in Korea for those battling internet addiction, and get an insiders take on Korea's work culture...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/01/30 | | Permalink

The Jeonju International Photography Festival announced its new exhibition director, get a glimpse at some banned photographs of North Korea, see the lengths some will go to improve their looks, and National Geographic explores the wildlife around the DMZ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 3

2016/01/29 | | Permalink

Hye-rim, being a generally observant woman, has little trouble cutting to the center of Soo-hyeon's scheme. Unfortunately, while Hye-rim is able to identify Soo-hyeon as the source of all the weird stuff that happened last episode, she's genuinely at a loss as to why Soo-hyeon would engage in such bizarre activities. What's more, because Seung-chan (played by Jinwoon) and Ji-ho (played by Lee Ju-hyeoung) are somewhat more naturalistic in their approach, Hye-rim is completely incapable of grasping the big picture...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 14

2016/01/28 | | Permalink

Having moved very quickly through similar but mostly unrelated plot points the last several episodes, here "Remember" is forced into that most dreadful of contrivances- when a drama is forced to repeat its own moral conflicts to evade the fact that there's not much more plot to get through. Try taking a count of how many characters enter into discussions regarding the wisdom of current day decisions on the basis of backstory. It comes up a lot...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 13

2016/01/27 | | Permalink

At one point here the possibility is broached for an obviously adorable romantic scene between Jin-woo and In-ah. And the moment this possibility came up, I asked myself what was more likely- that we would actually get to see this adorably romantic scene, or that writer Yoon Hyeon-ho would once again find a way to end the episode the episode with borderline absurd melodrama? If you can't already guess the answer to that question, well, you probably have not been watching "Remember" up until now...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.01.22 ~ 2016.01.24

2016/01/27 | | Permalink

"The Revenant" keeps going despite "A Melody to Remember"...

The grizzly and gruelling "The Revenant" survived a narrowed encounter with Lee Han's "A Melody to Remember" (starring Si Wan and Ko Ah-seong) to defend the top spot over the weekend. "The Revenant", director by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, has been nominated across an impressive number of categories for the upcoming Oscars, receiving twelve nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and (here's DiCaprio hoping) Best Actor...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 8

2016/01/26 | | Permalink

Min-soo (played by Yon Ji-won) used to be an apparently irrelevant background character in Seol's class, but she became more noteworthy last episode by taking the somewhat creepy step of trying to perfectly mimic Seol's personal appearance. This episode expands greatly on Min-soo's motivation. She's lonely, she wants friends, doesn't know how to get them, but Seol seems to be nice and she also has positive personality traits. Who does this remind you of?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 34

2016/01/26 | | Permalink

Mong-ju has made himself some rather powerful enemies by attempting to use a legal runaround to (eventually) kill off Do-jeon and eliminate the threat our intrepid dragon poses to the Goryeo regime. For those of you who have trouble keeping track of all the characters- Mong-ju is the respected minister with no particular allegiance to secret societies who is Do-jeon's spiritual and intellectual equal. It's for this reason that his betrayal especially hurts, and why Bang-won is unlikely to ever take an understanding big-picture appraisal...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 6

2016/01/26 | | Permalink

The manga-like storyline continues as each step of the plotline is detailed by teacher-fueled narrative. Romance buds and builds, pasts bubble up from pained psyches, and the students and teachers face a very, very strange exam season.

Let's begin by dissecting the midterm exams...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 5

2016/01/26 | | Permalink

"Moorim School" should be cut down to forty-five minute episodes so that the filler material isn't so oppressive. The way the show struggles, the recent disputes between the producers, JS Pictures, and the broadcasting station, KBS, come as no surprise. There is so much recap material scattered throughout the episode that it drags and the ratings reflect that. But between the elongated brooding moments and the flashbacks there are a few tasty morsels to gnaw on.

The martial arts aspect of the school hasn't been played up, however this episode finally made use of it and it was extremely cool...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 4

2016/01/26 | | Permalink

This episode was all about the building of friendship. Chi-ang and Si-woo look past their massive prides and see the good in each other. The kids at school learn via guilt that their treatment of the boys was cruel and uncalled for. And under all of that "Moorim School" continues to plod along pedantically.

The show spoon feeds emotions to its audience rather than create situations that can wrench them from viewers...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 7

2016/01/25 | | Permalink

Yeong-gon (played by Ji Yoon-ho) is Seol's stalker. Initially he just comes off here as a somewhat vicious villainous character and after some flashbacks...well, Yeong-gon still doesn't come as particularly sympathetic. What makes these scenes awkward is that as obviously appropriate as it is for us to hate Yeong-gon, acting antagonistic doesn't really help. Yeong-gon has somewhat perversely managed to convince himself that his behavior isn't actually aggressive. So both sides of this dispute see it as based on one-sided attacks...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 33

2016/01/25 | | Permalink

The overall tone of this episode is of waiting. No physical action, but lots of plotting and scheming. What's more, this plotting and scheming is not at the behest of the heroes. People are upset abut Do-jeon taking extra-legal action to deal with the land reform issue. It's ironic yet all too appropriate that they end up working rather narrowly within the confines of the law- and completely manage to blindside Do-jeon as a result...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 12 Final

2016/01/24 | | Permalink

I've been able to appreciate "Riders: Get Tomorrow" somewhat better by watching the drama more as an unfocused romance rather than a story about rickshaws. Unfortunately the final episode of "Riders: Get Tomorrow" complicates both interpretations of the plot. Let's start with the romance. All the lovelines are resolved fairly decisively. Unfortunately they are not resolved especially satisfactorily...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 8

2016/01/24 | | Permalink

The extended opening of this episode is simply a direct continuation of the cliffhanger from last time. Yeong-sil is stuck in a noose, reliant entirely on the whims of the weather to confirm whether or not his heretical scientific theory is true and thus, can release Yeong-sil from the risk of death. For all of King Taejong's established authoritatiran attitude I'm still at a bit of a loss as to why he takes these issues to such a ridiculous extreme. It's almost like King Taejong takes issues of bad science personally...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 2

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

It would seem that Soo-hyeon has made it his mission to teach Hye-rim a lesson. Not in the literally helpful way of better explaining psychology, but in the metaphorical sense of humiliating her. Soo-hyeon isn't just evil- he's petty evil, and his weirdly obsessive attitude is creepy, simplistic, and most gallingly of all, anti-scientific. Experiments, even obviously unethical ones, work best with subjects who don't know what's happening to them. For a laywoman, Hye-rim is actually pretty knowledgable...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 7

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

I'm increasingly getting the sense that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" is less about the actual titular scientist and more about the political struggles that were necessary for King Sejong to manage the important reforms that marked his reign. It's clear that several of the events we see in major focus were actual real historical watermarks in King Sejong's early career (he's still not actually King yet). Although this is mostly a hypothesis on my part since once again Jeong-sil has very little screentime in his own story compared to other characters who aren't very good at staying alive in difficult historical times...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl"

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

Korean drama has come a long way and at a very swift pace. Some things have not changed, of course. The adherence to certain production habits, thematic approaches as well as the reluctance to leave a desired comfort zone are still there, but works always appear from time to time that are willing to do something different. "Awl" is a series which, true to its name, goes beyond expectations in a most impressive, bold and inspiring way...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mood of the Day"

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

Soo-jeong (played by Moon Chae-won) is a working woman in a ten-year relationship. After some rather ineffective communication Seo-jeong heads off by train for a work trip where she meets Jae-hyeon (played by Yoo Yeon-seok), a man who acts friendly and flirty with every woman he meets. Unluckily for Soo-jeong the train is so crowded that changing seats isn't really practical, so she has to just stolidly endure Jae-hyeon's chatty requests for a...one-night-stand...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Himalayas"

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

"The Himalayas" is, in fact, not really a story about mountaineering and its perils. To be sure, there is quite a bit of mountaineering and very deathly perils, but that is not the focus of Director Lee Seok-hoon's ("Pirates") alpine piece that is based on a true tale. Rather than an exploration of the cold wonders of the Himalayas, it is an exploration of friendship that survives extreme physical and emotional duress and transcends death.

The promotional poster of Hwang Jeong-min's smiling face embodies the heart of the film: friendship ...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale"

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

The year is 1925, the place Jiri Mountain, in the deep Southern part of Korea. The Japanese are pushing through on their plan to eradicate tigers and all other wild carnivores from the Korean countryside. Why? Well, officially because tigers are dangerous. Unofficially, the Japanese seek to defeat the tigers to prove once and for all that their new modern ways are superior to the old traditional ones. In this way "The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale" proves itself as backstory to the age-old question- why doesn't South Korea have any wild animals?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Tour of Duty"

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

The United States spends more on its military than every other country in the world put together, much of it being used to maintain overseas armies. These armies tend not to be very helpful when it comes to doing...whatever it is they're supposed to do. But one major economic benefit comes with nearly every single overseas American military base. The local prostitution market is able to make good business. Oh those whiny Koreans- who ever said we don't do them any favors?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 3

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

It finally hit me in episode 3. "Moorim School" reminds me of a Taiwanese drama mashed together with a manga adaptation. It's not meant to be taken too seriously and with that thought in mind the show becomes more fun to watch. It becomes an episodic adventure of enemies turned allies and how those around them learn to accept them despite their blatant personality failings.

Those two enemies, Chi-ang and Si-woo, are both egotistical young men whose intense personal circumstances have shaped their prickly exteriors and isolated them from socialization typical of their age...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - Hongdae + Lee Min-ho Photo Set Giveaway

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

Hongdae may easily be one of the hippest places in Seoul. It's where musicians and artists roam, create, and socialize. The young can find solace in the fast-paced atmosphere, delicious food, and hoards of people their own age. It's especially known for its indie artists: musicians, dancers, and other street performers. There is always a show in a club or on the streets. And don't forget the flea market, fun specialty shops, and pet cafes scattered everywhere. K-pop star and actor Jeong Yong-hwa recommends it as a must-see place for anyone visiting Seoul...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

KOBIZ looks back at 2015 to see how local films competed with their international counterparts, find out what an Australian filmmaker's experienced of North Korea's propaganda machine, "The Throne" was voted Best Film of 2015 by reporters, and the Seoul International Women's Film Festival calls for entries...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

Kevin Virgil explores North Korea's food markets, find out why metal chopsticks are so popular in Korea, see how Korea is experimenting with new ways to help minimise food waste, and Beyond Kimchee has a simple recipe for a healthy 'snake bean' dish...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

One blogger reflects on her two-week trip from west to east coast, get some great tips for travelling around South Korea, watch a documentary about Korea's food and travel sector, and find out how to make the most of The Land of the Morning Calm while you're studying abroad...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

Watch a short animated documentary about what transpired with the Sewol disaster, get schooled on Korean cosmetics and its relation to K-pop, catch a glimpse of Hongdae's vibrant youth culture with some street-side jamming, and see what the new Asian Culture Centre in Gwangju has planned to develop innovation in the country's capital...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/01/23 | | Permalink

Korea has the most private museums in the world, Jaewoon U has some incredible landscape photographs for us to marvel at, Ann Lee hits the streets to capture humans and objects, and what do you know about Korean pansori?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Madame Antoine" Episode 1

2016/01/22 | | Permalink

Soo-hyeon (played by Seong Joon) is a psychologist with an appallingly bad attitude. His scientific experiments are highly unethical, and to what end? So he can prove that love isn't real. Enter Hye-rim (played by Han Ye-seul), a fortuneteller who rather transparently uses cold reads to scam anyone who walks into her parlor. Yet Hye-rim is consistently able to make her patrons feel good about themselves- a fact which Soo-hyeon finds offensive, since the whole point of psychology is to make people appreciate their own depressed miserable existence...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 12

2016/01/21 | | Permalink

Don't be fooled by the generally light overall tone of the episode. Sure, in the immediate sense it's all fun and games as Jin-woo's team celebrates their opening legal victory. There's even cute romance- an element that's been all too lacking since the early episodes, mainly because the revenge and melodrama have been hitting such a high point that there just hasn't been any space for it. But just round the corner there's always some new morbid plot twist...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 11

2016/01/20 | | Permalink

After taking a moment to remind us that Jin-woo is still grieving, "Remember" proceeds to demonstrate why Jae-hyeok's culpability as a convicted murderer actually creates as many problems as it solves for the villains. See, now that Jin-woo has no hope of saving his father, that means there's nothing stopping him from eliminating as many people on his list in the short term as possible. They were only ever useful to the extent they could exonerate Jae-hyeok. Now they're just enemies...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 6

2016/01/19 | | Permalink

The opening dream sequence demonstrates a lot of the contradictions at play in "Cheese in the Trap". Seol is paranoid that there's something not quite right about Jeong, yet the fears in her imagination frequently have little if anything to do with Jeong's actual character conflicts. Jeong is sweet and thoughtful even when Seol isn't around- but only when thinking about Seol. That's because Jeong genuinely doesn't seem to like any other character in "Cheese in the Trap"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 32

2016/01/19 | | Permalink

In addition to being heroic, Bang-won also manages to be quite noble. While it's easy enough for us to sit here in the future and question the efficacy of Bang-won's technique, in the immediate term Bang-won is always thinking in terms of self-sacrifice and personal appeal. The irony here is that Bang-won doesn't want to sacrifice himself in such a way that will make future sacrifice impossible. Bang-won can give up on Boon-yi and still live to fight another day. But it really is quite impossible to see how the fight for Joseon can succeed without Bang-won's continued assistance...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 5

2016/01/18 | | Permalink

Some very dark story elements come into play in this episode of "Cheese in the Trap". Surprising though it may seem, they don't actually have that much to do with Jeong, our oftentimes spooky first male lead, but rather In-ho, the second male lead who seems to be much more on the level. Director Lee Yoon-jeong appears to be making the point here that superficial appearances can be deceiving, and the point is well taken...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 31

2016/01/18 | | Permalink

Bang-won has a bit of a hero complex. Normally when stories portray this as a bad thing, it's in the immediate sense. Like, our would-be hero is so completely dedicated to rescuing people that he completely disregards his own safety in the process, that kind of thing. In Bang-won's case, the problem is shaping up to be long term- our protagonist is so dedicated to saving Korea he can't stand the idea that someone else will do it instead...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.01.15 ~ 2016.01.17

2016/01/18 | | Permalink

"Star Wars" disappears, "The Himalayas" begins its descent, and "The Revenant" rises...

The Oscar-nominated "The Revenant" (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) entered at the top of the Korean box office this past weekend. This gritty and intense thriller arrived last Thursday and topped the weekend chart with 694 thousand admissions (35.2%) from across 966 screens. Critics and fans alike have praised director Alejandro G. Iñárritu's efforts, and the Academy recently confirmed its excellence by nominating it in twelve categories, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 6

2016/01/17 | | Permalink

We start out with kidnapping and a swordfight, as I slowly resign myself to the fact that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" really does seem committed to telling a standard political Korean drama story only the main character is a scientist for some reason. It's really bad timing for that, because "Six Flying Dragons" is already telling a fairly similar story, with several of the same historical characters, and "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" can't really measure up in comparison. Yeong-sil being a peripheral character to the action just makes it too hard to get invested...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 11

2016/01/17 | | Permalink

While the characterization in "Riders: Get Tomorrow" can be interesting, from a certain perspective, at the end of the day this is still a drama that requires the pretense of a plot. And that's where the conflict is ending up in preparation for the last episode. The rickshaw company has to struggle with financial backing, and once this problem is identified, the rest of the runtime is spent not quite solving it. Incidentally, don't watch the preview. It (probably) spoils the ultimate resolution...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 20 Final

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

We find out who Deok-seon's husband is, and you'll probably be surprised at the groom's identity in the grand wedding setpiece. Not that this is all that important. The main thrust of "Answer Me 1988" has always been on the powerful sense of community. This, oddly enough, is the most important part of wedding preparation presented here- the characters have to come to grips with the fact that they're leaving their parents' home, to start out on something new...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 5

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

After a weird opening setpiece where Yeong-sil's personal problems and the greater political situation randomly come into violent agreement, we get a few interesting scenes of Yeong-sil trying to make a go of life with palace scientists. Yeong-sil ends up making enemies by stupidly expressing his opinion and then backing it up with factual evidence. That's a really big problem in a scientific infrastructure where qualifications are considered more relevant than facts...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Signal"

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

Regular viewers of tvN may have noticed that the station likes to keep its usual actors and creators close. Here to take this one step further is "Signal", the approach of which brings back memories of the station's "Gabdong - The Serial Killer". The drama will be the second tvN show based on the Hwaseong serial murders, but unlike its predecessor it comes with a supernatural twist...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Cheese in the Trap"

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

"Cheese in the Trap" has been a very eagerly expected show. Being based on a popular webtoon followed by devoted fans who clearly care deeply about the drama adaptation means that the series has a lot to prove. While mostly promoted as a standard romantic comedy with perhaps a slightly sinister twist, "Cheese in the Trap" has some interesting and quite surprising aspects to it at this point...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 2

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

"Moorim School" episode 2 plays out like a typical school drama with bullies, puppy love, competition, and burgeoning hopes and dreams and comes in with a shaky Nielsen rating of 4%. It is heavily laden with character stereotypes and a predictable plotline. But what it does have going for it is the inclusion of the international cast and the promise of intrigue.

The elements of mystery surround Si-woo's past and mystical abilities, Chi-ang's family issues, and the story behind Moorim itself...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Moorim School" Episode 1

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

KBS's "Moorim School" hit the ground running on Monday, January 11, 2016. The twenty episode drama directed by Lee So-yeon-I ("Prime Minister and I", "Ad Genius Lee Tae-baek") and written by Yang Jin-ah ("Vampire Prosecutor") began its run with a busy introductory episode. There were plenty of abs, pretty faces, action sequences, and enough dramatic back stories to fill any drama quotient...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Inside Men"

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

In recent years the domestic political situation in South Korea has taken a turn for the worse. The two major political parties have never gotten along that well, but public expressions of bald contempt are now all too common. I bring this up mainly to explain why "Inside Men" exists in the form it does. "Inside Men" is a classic Korean-style gangster drama disguised as a political thriller. Even so, several factors give away the film's true form- the violence, the sex, and the general motivation...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dear Dictator"

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

On the northeastern rim of Seoul a sorry looking group of miserable young people cope with the fact that they have terrible lives. They don't live in the glitzy parts of Korea that get featured in marketing by the Ministry of Tourism. No, they live in a slum neighborhood with unreliable parents. There's no sanitation, lots of booze, hideous architecture, and what few employment opportunities there are manage to be pretty degrading. This is the South Korea your typical North Korean defector runs into- the place where no one has any money...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Eyelids"

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

On an island in the South Sea lives a monk (played by Moon Seok-beom) who walks around in ratty clothes, takes phone calls, and interacts with animals. Occassionally other people come to this island. They hang out with the monk briefly, and then through some ominous photographic fakery they're gone. Not dead, I don't think, just gone. And then it's back to regular mountain life, where nothing of much apparent relevance happens. Yes, that's right. "Eyelids" is one of those films- the kind that make no sense whatsoever unless put under the lens of excessive interpretation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 16 (Final)

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

Despite my annoyance with "Twenty Again", this finale did a lot of explaining and brought the drama to a satisfying close. No-ra figured out how she wanted to live her life, Hyeon-seok let her do it, and Woo-cheol figured out how to chase his dreams without stepping on others to do it.

The other characters also came full circle ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 15

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

I admit to being baffled by episode 15 of "Twenty Again". I just don't understand what No-ra is thinking. After all the romantic back and forth, and after how hard she's worked, it's difficult to fathom why she chose the path she did.

Since the beginning, No-ra has worked towards figuring out who she is ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

Find our what films made Cindy Zimmer and Pierce Conran's list of the top Korean films of 2015, the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video announced their winners, The Hollywood Reporter takes us through some of the highs and lows of Korea's film industry in 2015, and why was "Sherlock" so popular over Christmas?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

My Korean Kitchen shows you how to make sweet pancakes Korean style, Bon Appétit has some restaurant recommendations worth checking out, make sure you know what's what when eating out at a Korean restaurant, and the Korean Food Gallery has 10 essential ingredients for those of you who enjoy making munchies with your own hands...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

Explore Seoul's underground with a subway tour, Korean Class 101 has some phrases for you to learn before arrive, see how one adventurer made the most of two days in Seoul, and have you ever been to one of Korea's cat cafes?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

What to expect at a Korean wedding, Taekwondo for peace, K-Culture continues to spread the love, and see how two South Korean films beat the record-breaking "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/01/16 | | Permalink

See how K-art is moving in on global markets, it's going to be an exciting year for art lovers in Seoul, take a walk around Jeju with photographer Kristine Sergejeva, and Lisa Speakman snaps up The Korean Bell of Friendship...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 19

2016/01/15 | | Permalink

The wrap-up for "Answer Me 1988" begins, as we close here with a sort of pre-epilogue. Nothing is fully resolved quite yet, and indeed, as the cliffhanger reminds us, most of the adult characters really aren't even aware of what's going on romance-wise. That's because the major setpiece is a love letter to the parents of "Answer Me 1988"- the ones who did their best for their kids, and each other, and who will always have a loving community in thanks for that...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 10

2016/01/14 | | Permalink

While the story in "Remember" moves in a fairly predictable pattern, it's a pattern that changes and reorients itself so often that I'm constantly forgetting when the drama just did the exact same plot point practically a few minutes ago. Writer Yoon Hyeon-ho is without a doubt the master of distracting out-of-nowhere segues. Fainting? Never mind that there's legal adventures to be had! Witness intimidation? Wait, there's a gangster showdown at the junkyard! Look, more improbable courtroom theatrics! Melodrama! Witness intimidation again!...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 9

2016/01/13 | | Permalink

The cliffhanger from the last episode ends up being solved with surprisingly little urgency. Which is to be expected, given the obvious misstep on the part of the gangster. It's one thing to kill ordinary people while on the payroll of the vast corporate conspiracy. Going after an actual prosecutor though, that's, that's just a really bad idea. Even bribed officials have to go after those crimes seriously, lest every two bit hood with a piece of string starts to try and avoid legal troubles by murdering cops...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 30

2016/01/12 | | Permalink

Sa-gwang (played by Han Ye-ri) is yet another important antagonistic character in "Six Flying Dragons". You know, it bears repeating- this drama has way too many characters to keep track of. It's relatively easy to remember who Sa-gwang is mainly because to date we haven't had any other women swordfighters. But back when Sa-gwang was just Yoon-rang I couldn't even figure out why she was in the story at all. Shoot, I didn't even notice she was being played by Han Ye-ri, who normally works in film...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 4

2016/01/12 | | Permalink

I've seen the whole "awkward first date" trope play out so many times in fiction that I'm used to it being, well, theatrical, with everything going horribly wrong. Seol and Jeong's first date is more...real-life awkward. Like, the movie they end up going to watch is a little weird, there's odd little nitpicks about pricing which they don't discuss. There's never a conversation about actual date stuff. In short, Seol and Jeong don't seem to have any idea what they're doing. Why is that?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 3

2016/01/11 | | Permalink

In-ho (played by Seo Kang-joon) is the last central character in "Cheese in the Trap", and like the other characters in this drama In-ho struggles to serve any particularly obvious purpose in the story. This is mostly because "Cheese in the Trap" is quite light in the story department, something I appreciate much better now having read the first few chapters of the webtoon. One interesting change I've noticed- in the webtoon, Jeong is noticably less creepy and suspicious. At the beginning anyway...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 29

2016/01/11 | | Permalink

The focus is on adventure here, as lots of problems have been identified with no easy solutions. First off, Boon-yi needs to survive an icy standoff with a man who's main distinguishing characteristics are that he is excellent at fighting, and also he doesn't much care to identify himself. Once that matter is settled, it's on to more traditional action material as the dragons make an effort to hit the new strong point of their antagonists...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.01.08 ~ 2016.01.10

2016/01/11 | | Permalink

"The Good Dinosaur" comes out on top, "The Himalayas" still strong, and "The Force" has run its course...

Disney and Pixar's latest, "The Good Dinosaur", doesn't quite live up to the high standard these studios have set in the past, but that didn't stop this prehistoric adventure from rising to the top of the pile in South Korea over the weekend. For the past few weeks, "The Himalayas" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" have been battling it out at the top (with the former firmly holding the high ground), but the second weekend of the year saw a slight slowdown in terms of the number of admissions sold as "The Good Dinosaur" and a re-release of "Inside Men" took the honours on offer...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 10

2016/01/10 | | Permalink

As meditation on how different personality types tend to gravitate toward completely different styles of romantic relationships, "Riders: Get Tomorrow" actually has a fair amount of interesting material. Up until now I always thought that Gi-joon was just kind of a creep when it comes to romance, but as we see with his mother this episode, Gi-joon does have a decent excuse for being clueless. The poor guy's used to seeing women in an adversarial light. Even when they seem nice they're probably being sneaky somehow...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 4

2016/01/10 | | Permalink

Yeong-sil continues to struggle with authority this episode, as the climax involves him getting into a violent altercation with an official and eventually using the power of science to spring an elaborate trap. As good as Song Il-gook is at action scenes, I can't help but find it a tad absurd how "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" is apparently taking the position that Yeong-sil could have or should have used his scientific abilities to win fights. That much sounds like a running sketch idea for a late night comedy program...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 14

2016/01/10 | | Permalink

"Twenty Again" hasn't been the fastest paced drama in the lineup. A lot of what has come to pass could've been trimmed down to move more quickly. But, we've finally arrived at the meaty romantic bits and where Woo-cheol and his mistress get their just desserts.

Woo-cheol and his mistress have been playing a dangerous game, cheating behind No-ra's back and expecting everything to work out in their favor...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 13

2016/01/10 | | Permalink

Episode 13 of "Twenty Again" focuses on realization, mostly on Woo-cheol's part. For nearly the entirety of his relationship with No-ra he has tried to mold her and their life to cater to his lofty career aspirations. Although his conscience pricked at him, he catered to his needs and hurt No-ra and his son on his path to achieving his goals.

When Woo-cheol and No-ra met, he went out of his way to care for her and impress her...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 18

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

It's the little touches that makes all the difference in "Answer Me 1988". Pay close attention to the set design here. It looks like the characters are just hanging around in the same neighborhood and the same houses they were this entire time and yet somehow, everything looks a tad shinier. A tad cooler. Especially the characters themselves. Note how Taek very nearly appears cool and attractive now, even though he mostly acts the same. What's causing these changes? The haircuts? The beer? Or just...the nineties?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 3

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Like most historical persons from the early Joseon period, we don't actually know very much about the life of the real Jang Yeong-sil- so a lot of the story ends up having to be completely made up. I didn't mind this so much in the first two episodes of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama", since by and large these were just kid Yeong-sil having adventures with science. And there's elements of that here too, as the production team gets into fifteen century clocks. Suffice to say, accurate timekeeping was much more difficult back before everything was digitized...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - M! Countdown

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Music shows are one of K-pop's most important forms of artist exposure and fanservice. They showcase the new acts, the returning acts, and give fans one more way to connect to their idols. There is a music show every day of the week and artists often hit many of them in order to promote new singles, mini-albums, and albums. Internationally, they allow fans to see their idols live on a weekly basis. In Korea, attending music shows is an involved process that gives fans many opportunities to see their bias groups live.

I was lucky enough to attend a live broadcast of Mnet's M! Countdown episode # 446 on October 8, 2015...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Joseon Magician"

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Hwanhee (played by Yoo Seung-ho) does stage magic. Not just any old stage magic- the slick kind. There really is something delightful about watching Hwanhee pulls balls out of nowhere, pull off convincing disappearance acts, manipulating pulley systems, and faking his death. Yoo Seung-ho really charms in this role, so it's little surprise that Hwanhee is able to catch the attention of Cheong-myeong (played by Ko Ah-ra). She's an incognito princess who resents her mandated destiny...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Overman"

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Do-hyeon (played by Kim Jung-hyun) is a high school gymnast who has trouble getting along with people- he's got this bad habit of getting into fights. His problems are more teen angst than anything else. Do-hyeon's family life, while not miserable, has its problems. Do-hyeon's mother (played by Seo Young-hwa) is suffering from dementia, and his father has moved on to a background role. It's from this backdrop that Do-hyeon sneakily identifies a girl (played by Kim Ko-woon) as Se-yeong- a girl who checks out lots of books at the library where he's been forced to volunteer. These two then slowly progress from mild antipathy to friendship...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Where Is My Son?"

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

In the rural outskirts of Andong a seventy-year old man pushes his ninety-five year old mother home in her wheelchair. And that's about all there is to "Where Is My Son??"- a documentary focused almost entirely on ambience. There's the love between a son and his mother, the sense of peace that comes as the elderly mother slowly but steadily moves toward the end of her life, and then there are the visuals of rural Andong, where traditional architecture and greenery overwhelms every shot...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

See how K-culture was depicted on the American satirical TV show Family Guy, Netflix (finally) arrives in South Korea, Variety tells us how South Korea's box office went in 2015, and Pierce Conran takes a closer look at "The Himalayas"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Luxury buses heading to Korea later this year, Time Out puts Garosugil in the spotlight, 10 reasons to love Busan, and find out what's happening in Jeju for amazing winter activities...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Get to know all about Korea's edible alcohol treat "Ewhaju", a world-class chef in New York is bringing K-food into fine dining, see the hottest recipes and post from My Korean Kitchen in 2015, and Maangchi has a recipe for making "Abalone porridge"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Take a look back at the top K-pop tracks of 2015, Time Out has some vintage stores for hipsters to visit, Korean beauty myths debunked, and is everyone happy with the recent Korea-Japan agreement over 'comfort women'?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

See one Korean artist's cute depiction of love, a map of Korea highlights the country's major cities, Kim Jong-un in (strange) pictures, and what will 2016 hold for Korean webtoons?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 12

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

Our main characters were twenty once, but it was a long time ago. Some of the powerful, virulent emotions that overtake youngsters have begun to plague the grown "adults" of "Twenty Again". No-ra hasn't felt the flutterings of a crush in twenty years. Woo-cheol hasn't felt intrigued by his wife in just as long. Hyeon-seok is reliving the love from his youth.

These youthful emotions overtake the adults quickly, and they almost flounder save for the fact that their experience tempers them...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Assembly" Episode 5

2016/01/09 | | Permalink

It is all about learning curves in episode 5 of "Assembly". As everyone settles into their new roles they discover that there really is no such thing as "settling" into a political office. It's a constant whirlwind of struggle that needs experience and finesse to get through.

Experienced players of the political field like In-gyeong, Secretary General Baek, and Sang-pil's adversaries are skilled in the nuanced dealings of the National Assembly and all the politicking that goes with it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 17

2016/01/08 | | Permalink

The theme this episode is on pain, and how we recover from it. On the literal level it's just physical pain. Seong-gyoon is still smarting from his wound, and elsewhere other characters also deal with disabling accidents. But on the more powerful metaphorical level the main topic under discussion is emotional pain, as every potential romantic couple separates save for one. Then, one cute time slip montage later, we've jumped five years ahead to 1994...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 8

2016/01/07 | | Permalink

Jin-woo's initial plan to deal with his trumped-up murder charge is to just blow through everything and expose the conspiracy in its entirity. This plan fails mostly because if it worked we wouldn't have any more story to go through. So contrivance after contrivance is the rule of the day here as "Remember" moves to its mostly preordained conclusion- figuring out who the actual murderer is in the short term so Jin-woo can start up again from scratch...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 7

2016/01/06 | | Permalink

Yeok-kyeong (played by Jeong Hye-seong) is Gyoo-man's sister and I think she's the secondary love interest for Jin-woo although I'm not really sure. Yeok-kyeong is kind of a jerk, and yet there's no love lost between her and Gyoo-man. Yeok-kyeong clearly enjoys prodding him just as much as she does the heroes. As one of the few people Gyoo-man can't physically attack, Yeok-kyeong milks this advantage for all its worth. Soo-beom (played by Lee Si-eon) is Gyoo-man's gopher, and unfortunately enjoys no such immunity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 2

2016/01/05 | | Permalink

What a difference a mere change in tone can make...gone are the eerie, mysterious ominous musical chords that director Lee Yoon-jeong had been using to imply that Jeong is a creepy little sneak who's up to no good. Granted, Jeong still smiles like a serial killer but it's hard to be mad at a guy who's so aggressively nice. Jeong even manages to act pushy in a way that doesn't seem all that pushy by ackowledging how he's being a tad too forward...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 28

2016/01/05 | | Permalink

The heroes start out by raiding a monastery that is actively being used as a place of worship, then we move on to the torture chamber where they're still trying to bloodily squeeze information out of a guy who just isn't talking. The discordance between Do-jeon's philosopher kingdom ruled by justice and wisdom and the actual kingdom that is being ruled by threat of military force is getting wider all the time. Until the current conflict is resolved, though, Do-jeon is limited in options for how to respond peacably...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 1

2016/01/04 | | Permalink

Seol (played by Kim Go-eun-I) is a normal everyday college student, who has to deal with normal everyday college student pressures like being pressured to eat weird food, avoiding tardy penalties in class, and racing with other students to enroll in favored classes as quickly as possible. That may not sound like much in the way of conflict or excitement but then that's kind of the whole point of college- dealing with light responsibilities as long-term preparation for real ones...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 27

2016/01/04 | | Permalink

Mong-ju (played by Kim Ee-seong) is the new primary villain of "Six Flying Dragons", and he's a pretty unsatisfying one. It's one thing to fight against guys who want to start unnecessary wars and force peasants into serfdom. But Mong-ju is a scholar- an intellectual of similar mental weight and moral standing to Do-jeon. He's also quite possibly the first person who even understands what Do-jeon's greater plan is. A pity that Mong-ju thinks these goals can still be accomplished within the system...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2016.01.01 ~ 2016.01.03

2016/01/04 | | Permalink

"The Himalayas" enjoys its third week at the top while The Force fades...

Lee Seok-hoon's thrilling drama "The Himalayas" retained pole position moving into 2016. For the past two weeks, Lee's fifth feature has managed to quell "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" to deny this transnational sub-guzzler the right to rule in Korea over the festive season...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 9

2016/01/03 | | Permalink

The opening portion of this episode involves no rickshaws whatsoever, as the three main couples just spend time with each other in varying capacities. I was actually all right with that, because exploring these character relationships on a one-on-one level ends up telling us quite a bit about these people that we didn't know, and which matches up quite well with what we do know. For example, Yoon-jae not only knows how to fight, he also lacks the sense to know when to stop...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 2

2016/01/03 | | Permalink

As much as Yeong-sil loves science one fact is unassailable- his cultural background is unimpressive. So while other better pedigreed kids in the family study all day, Yeong-sil has to do hard labor and wait until nighttime to do science, which is fortunate because this episode Yeong-sil decides to learn everything he can about the moon. In this case "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" takes an unusual approach to the scientific method by using it to explain wrong science- specifically, geocentrism...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Cheese in the Trap"

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

The ever increasing popularity of Korean webtoons within and outside of Korea means drama adaptations of them are becoming a standard. These shows are also bringing in new genres, such as "Incomplete Life", "Last", "Awl" and more. At the same time, romance remains a drama staple and therefore a genre adapted often. "Cheese in the Trap" is tvN's latest live-action adaptation of a popular romantic webtoon.

Premise

Hong Seol (Kim Go-eun-I) is a hardworking poor student. She meets Yoo Jeong (Park Hae-jin), a senior who is a seemingly perfect and a good looking young man with a good personality. However, Yoo Jeong is also hiding a dark secret...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 1

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

Yeong-sil (played by Song Il-gook) first appears as a decrepit old man moving across a vast field for one purpose- to view an eclipse. While the action soon moves into flashback mode eclipses remain an important plot point. While technically irrelevant to daily life, knowing when and how an eclipse will happen is a sure sign of scientific advancement. Under New Joseon, currently led by King Taejong (played by Kim Young-cheol), science is a pretty big deal...More

[HanCinema's Report] Underground K-Drama's Women of K-Drama Awards

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

With 2015 now over, drama awards are plentiful. From the channel organized ones, such as the SBS, MBC and KBS drama awards to the fan-made ones, now is the time to acknowledge the efforts and excellence of those who make Korean drama a reality for its viewers. The wonderful ladies of Korean drama, from PDs to actresses to musicians, are a big part of their success and also one many of its viewers can most relate to.

This is where blog "Underground K-Drama" comes in. Since 2013, its members have been running the "Women of K-Drama Awards", where fans can not only vote on their favorite women of Korean drama, but also participate in creating the nominations. The awards are already created for 2015, so if you would like to vote as well, click on the link at the bottom of this post...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Goodbye and Hello"

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

Do-wan (played by Seo Ha-joon) is a young swimming athlete. Though handsome, Do-wan is chronically grumpy and frequently fights with his father (played by Choi Jong-nam). The reason for this angst is that Do-wan's mother died when Do-wan was a child- water was involved. And that really just about does it for plot in "Goodbye and Hello" - there's no greater conflict or anything like that. It's just, will Do-wan ever stop being grumpy and get along with his dad?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Anxious Day Out"

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

Ever since university Yun Gi-jin and his wife Hwang Sun have worked toward the reunification of North and South Korea. Their chosen method of approach is by trying to talk to like-minded Koreans from the other side of the border. While such behavior is illegal under South Korean law, under the Sunshine Policy these laws were not generally enforced. That changed with the election of Lee Myeong-bak. Yun Gu-jin quickly became a prosecutorial priority, and for the crime of talking to North Koreans was imprisoned and separated from Hwang Sun and their two daughters pending appeal...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Battle of Gwangju"

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

The time is May 18th, 1980. Following frustration over Chun Doo-hwan seizing control of South Korea in a military coup, a student protest in Gwangju quickly escalates into a full-scale uprising. Not just students but common citizens too ask themselves whether they should just accept the junta as a fact of life and keep their heads down, or find weapons and fight back. "The Battle of Gwangju" is a dramatization of a group of people who decide to fight back, eventually pushed back into a single critical building which they will inevitably lose...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

Discover what South Korean directors had to say about the new "Star Wars", Variety's Justin Chang reviews "A Korean in Paris", Modern Korean Cinema presents their top ten films of the year, and KOBIZ wonders if webtoons are better than their cinematics counterparts...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

Discover the hottest restaurants in town with Time Out, 10 Magazine catches foreigners reactions to Korean canned foods, Korean street food revealed, and where can a vegan go nowadays to get a bite to eat?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

Find out the best places to catch the morning rays in Korea, Lonely Planet has a great guide to country's mural villages, Eat Your Kimchi has some tips if you're planning a visit, and are Japanese tourist in Korea in decline?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

Time Out lists 6 unique museums worth checking out, Beyond Hallyu takes a critical look at TC Chandler's 2015 list of beautiful faces, Japan and South Korea reach a compromise on "comfort woman", and find about the Korean Wave and what it entails...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2016/01/02 | | Permalink

South Korea, China and Japan find common ground in art, South Korea's new Director of the National Modern Art Museum responds to his critics, explore Korea's best contemporary museums, and see how one photographer uses reflections and light to create some surreal images...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Puck!"

2016/01/01 | | Permalink

Joo-man (played by Lee Gwang-soo) is a gangster. Specifically his job title is collector. People take out debts, and when they don't pay, Joo-man shows up at their door to rough them up and make clear the consequences for continued welching. It's a daily grind. Joo-man doesn't exactly hate the work, but he feels like a jerk just often enough that beating people up doesn't grant him much of a release. Joo-man impulsively ends up joing a college hockey team technically for the sake of a specific job but more practically because the man realizes he needs a hobby...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Assembly" Episode 4

2016/01/01 | | Permalink

Episode 4 of "Assembly" sees Sang-pil's first venture into politics. He gets involved with a financial committee whose policies and functions are beyond his knowledge and education. All around him people hope to use his ignorance to their advantage. It is only In-gyeong whose moral compass fights the political pressure. The others, including handsome Gyoo-hwan, believe Sang-pil to be a selfish pushover who betrayed his union mates and his cause. They believe him to be deserving of any suffering forced upon him.

This belief does not exclude Sang-pil...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 11

2016/01/01 | | Permalink

No-ra's journey thus far has been about growing up, exploring her independence, and rediscovering her passion from her youth. Although Hyeon-seok has had eyes only for her, it has not been the same for her. She's had the changes in her life, but her difficulties at home to deal with. Only now does a bright new romance occur to her as she discovers her burgeoning attraction for puppy-faced Hyeon-seok.

It comes as a surprise to her when physical attraction hits her over the head...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 10

2016/01/01 | | Permalink

This is an episode of empowerment and realization for No-ra. She's experiencing what it's like to be a appreciated woman, a friend, and mother. She has always coasted through life in the background and has been undervalued by her family. But now she's changing that herself and proving herself a strong, viable woman.

As she opens up, Hyeon-seok, Woo-cheol, and her son, Min-soo, all respond differently...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 9

2016/01/01 | | Permalink

This episode of "Twenty Again" centered around how the truths of the lives of our characters ground them and affect those around them. These truths require nuanced acting, which Choi Ji-woo and Lee Sang-yoon do so well, pulling heartstrings and inspiring laughter.

No-ra has always wanted to be a dancer, and she put that dream on hold to become a mother. She has never let go of that dream...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 8

2016/01/01 | | Permalink

Twenty Again 5

The halfway point of "Twenty Again" is here and rather than a huge physical battle, we've come to the apex of a high-tension set of emotions. It's also where the characters begin to see No-ra for who she truly is, unfettered by the emotional shackles Woo-cheol gave her years ago.

It is not only No-ra that we begin to see more clearly, but Hyeon-seok as well...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 26

2015/12/29 | | Permalink

One frustrating fact quickly becomes clear in the aftermath of the massive battle- whoever's bankrolling this operation has enough clout to keep his identity from being discovered. While we don't see too much of the sentiment this episode, it's clear that for the long term the characters, and Bang-won in particular, are going to keep getting sucked into paranoia. There's really not any other way to react when the enemy could quite literally be anyone...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 25

2015/12/28 | | Permalink

The first portion of the episode deals with the political power players sharing information and discussing political philosophy, until Do-jeon finally figures out what we knew from the beginning. Those guys hiding in the back room with axes aren't planning to liven the party up with a logsplitting demonstration. Bang-ji always suspected something strange was going on, but for the wrong reason. It's hard to be excited to break bread with a guy you so desperately want to violently murder...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.12.25 ~ 2015.12.27

2015/12/28 | | Permalink

"The Himalayas" proves insurmountable for "Star Wars"...

J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" continued its record-breaking run worldwide over Christmas; the film, the seventh in "Star Wars" series, has now grossed an incredible $1.1 billion since its release mid-December (the fastest to do so), but only $18.6 million of that has come from South Korean audiences...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 8

2015/12/27 | | Permalink

In this episode "Riders: Get Tomorrow" explores what it means for someone to be a bad friend, and somewhat incidentally a bad employee. Yoon-jae broke off an appointment with Tae-ra to go out with So-dam instead. This was a very jerkish thing to do, especially since So-dam's first two choices were also people that Yoon-jae knew. Unlucky for Yoon-hae that he has this tendency to think of every possible encounter as being a date...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 16

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

With this episode "Answer Me 1988" attempts to explain why its story, to the extent this drama has a story at all, moves so slowly and with so little apparent inertia. Somewhat paradoxically, the reason for this is that the characters are mostly doing all right. They're happy. And the surest way to risk destroying happiness is through radical change. Making a love confession requires courage, not because we're scared of rejection, but because we're scared that the possible potential change could be for the worse...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Love Guide for Dumpees"

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Jeong-hoon (played by Yoon Kye-sang) has to go to his ex-girlfriend's wedding. Why does he have to go? Because uh...society I guess? No, in all likelihood it's because Jeong-hoon hates himself for being a failure at romance and wants to bathe himself in misery. That's when he meets Si-hoo (played by Han Ye-ri), a woman who is also bitter and resentful about her implied failures. Si-hoo moves beyond just self-hatred though- she has an actual plan for revenge. Unfortunately it's a pretty stupid plan...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Life is But an Empty Dream"

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

The Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival is a yearly festival in Incheon which features rock and roll. What kind of rock and roll? Why, happening artists like Orange Range. All right I never heard of this band before watching "Life is But an Empty Dream", nor most of the others featured. Their music seems pretty legit though, which is fortunate since "Life is But an Empty Dream" is more-or-less just an advertisement for the the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival with some weak plot dashed in as a framing device...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Twinsters"

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Samantha Futerman is an American actress- somewhat more successful than most, given that she's had speaking roles in a couple of movies you've probably heard of. She also shows up in YouTube comedy videos. And that's where the story of "Twinsters" starts- see, Samantha Futerman was born in Korea and adopted overseas. Through an Internet video, Anais Bordier, another Korean adoptee raised in France, sees Samantha Futerman and discovers, to her shock, that the two appear to be identical...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - Road Tripping in South Korea

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Road trips in the United States, like everywhere, are comprised of long hours on the road, scenery that ranges from monotonous to stunning, and pit stops that are defined by sketchy bathrooms and dubious food. As an avid traveler, I've been on many road trips, especially in my native Florida. I thought I'd seen it all and considered myself a pro road-tripper. I've seen over half of the fifty states, eaten their native foods, seen their native attractions. On my forays into other countries I've done much the same. But none of those places can top road tripping in South Korea...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Modern Korean Cinema presents their top ten films of 2015, Korea's plan to build a Universal Studios finds new life, find out what films made waves in November, and KOBIZ recaps the industry's award ceremonies of 2015...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Find out exactly how bizarre fried chicken dishes can get in Korea, North Korean refugees are active in Britain's kitchens, Shake Shack is coming to Korea in 2016, and Time Out presents their restaurant suggestions if money is no problem...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Watch one blogger's video list of 25 things to do in Seoul, the Television Nomads share their travel highlights in one awesome video, take a look at the top Christmas-themed hotels in Asia, and Visit Seoul has tourists covered with all the right information...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Find out why more Koreans are spending Christmas home alone, a South Korean company gives pet owners a chance to have their pets cloned, see the rise of Korea's 'super dads', and what is an expat Christmas like?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Get your academic brain in gear as Crystal explores colour in K-pop; see how one blogging couple captured their trip of a lifetime; a photographer shares his story about shooting in North Korea, and see how the world got ready for Christmas this year...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Assembly" Episode 3

2015/12/26 | | Permalink

Episode 3 of "Assembly" is really what pushes the main characters onto the paths that they will follow. They commit themselves to decisions they were previously unsure of. Gyoo-hwan (Taecyeon) deviates from his chosen path, while Sang-pil feels renewed commitment towards his.

Politics has always been a skewed subject that has made for plenty of story fodder...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 15

2015/12/25 | | Permalink

Story has never really been a strong point of "Answer Me 1988". There's very little conflict to speak of, and what conflict we do get tends to be solved without much aplomb. Note how Seon-woo's reaction to the big emotional discoveries of the last episode is to...play catch with Taek's dad. Even bearing in mind the rather mild twist that comes out of that exposition, there's not really much more to that scene than what's right there on the surface...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 6

2015/12/24 | | Permalink

When last we left off Jin-woo was impeaching the credibility of an alleged sexual assault victim by bringing up a past boyfriend...no, don't go, hard as it may be to imagine "Remember" does manage to deal with this subject matter tactfully. Mainly because the direction clearly indicates that the basic thrust of Jin-woo's argument is in fact fairly scummy. Even bearing in mind that the guy is probably innocent it's hard to imagine a woman willing to go this far out on the basis of sheer spite...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 5

2015/12/23 | | Permalink

Writer Yoon Hyeon-ho seems pretty committed to the melodrama angle. Jin-woo's first on-screen case is barely even a case at all, he just storms into the courtroom, makes his argument, and then there's a big dramatic tearful moment on the courthouse steps where good and evil and justice and heartlessness are contrasted with the reality of the legal system. That's not even getting to the very violent high-strung violin music, which hits its harshest point in the final scenes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 24

2015/12/22 | | Permalink

Among Ryeon's more eccentric abilities is face reading. While this probably comes off as kind of gimmicky it's actually the most important thing Ryeon does this episode- once the dragons are able to regroup and pull victory out of nowhere all Ryeon is left with is the knowledge of what he's learned about the major players. As usual, it's going to be a long time before we get much of a payoff on this but what do you want? We're not even at the halfway point yet...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 23

2015/12/21 | | Permalink

Ryeon (played by Jo Hee-bong) is the first villain in "Six Flying Dragons" who we can be sure has long-term staying power. In addition to his colorful exposition in the last episode's cliffhanger, Ryeon effectively manages to spend most of this episode slinking about in the shadows, only revealing enough of his plans to keep the exposition engaging. This gives him quite an advantage over Do-jeon, who acts openly and gives speeches...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.12.18 ~ 2015.12.20

2015/12/21 | | Permalink

"The Force Awakens" in Korea to a lukewarm reception as "The Himalayas" comes out on top...

 J. J. Abrams' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has been shattering box office records as millions flocked to catch the latest in this billion-dollar franchise. Already the film has made over half-a-billion dollars worldwide ($517 million), but how strong was the force in South Korea? Surprisingly, it was not Abrams saber-spangled spectacle that captured the hearts and minds of Koreans this past weekend; instead, it was Lee Seok-hoon's down-to-earth drama "The Himalayas" with Hwang Jeong-min...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Splash Splash Love" Episode 2

2015/12/20 | | Permalink

I tried watching the second and final episode of "Splash Splash Love" with more of a relaxed mind. As tempting as it is to attack the drama for illogical character reactions, the premise is a high school girl who teleports by jumping through puddles. One of the highest-tier Korean kings is being played by the leader of Beast. High school textbooks are presented as a literal metaphor for saving your life. Gangnam Style pops up in an educational context. There are rape jokes that are funny mainly because they're being accompanied by silly sound effects...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 7

2015/12/20 | | Permalink

There's less emphasis on rickshaws this episode as character motivation ends up hinging on the various romances. Consequently my feelings on "Riders: Get Tomorrow" trend toward the lukewarm as usual. I'm always a little puzzled by how this drama makes money out to be a big deal, and then we get plotlines where characters are obviously and explicitly spending their cash on rather frivolous projects. Did So-dam forget about her loan, or was that resolved when I wasn't paying attention?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/12/20 | | Permalink

Take a look at how Korean women are depicted in Korean films and other cultural forms, Choi Dong-hoon's "The Assassination" wins Best Film, KOBIZ explores the world of comic artist Ha Hung-min, and the Force is strong in Korea at the moment...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/12/20 | | Permalink

Make your own delicious seafood and green onion pancakes, see how one Korean 'food vlogger' is taking the craze to new heights online, My Korean Kitchen has a list of Korean foods to impress your guests, and don't forget to try one of Seoul's many cute and curious cafes next time your out and about...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/12/20 | | Permalink

Big Phony shares his favourite places around Seoul, 10 Mag has a bunch of winter activities to diarise, Vern and Verniece Enciso have a few suggestions and photographs of places to visit in Busan, and see how graffiti is being used as a form of social protest in Seoul...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/12/20 | | Permalink

Time Out breaks navigates Christmas in Seoul for us, big news as Eat Your Kimchi is heading to Japan, brush up on Korean Christmas phrases/words for the festive season, and see what strategies marketers use to push their brands in Korea...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/12/20 | | Permalink

Find out more about abstract art in Korea, see one photographer's mission in North Korea to capture its women, Akhil Sesh shares her snaps from around Seoul, and see the morbid manner in which the Hyowon Healing Centre is hoping to help victims of depression...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 14

2015/12/19 | | Permalink

One of the nicer parts of "Answer Me 1988" is how incredibly even-handed the drama is with character focus. Part of this is probably just a necessity of production- if Deok-seon was actually the focus the way lead characters normally are I'd expect Hyeri would have collapsed from exhaustion due to overwork by now. Instead, her role here is subdued to a mild act of heroism while focus instead shifts to Jeong-bong and Mi-ok. In case you don't remember who those characters are- Jeong-hwan's older brother and Deok-seon's shorter female friend...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night"

2015/12/19 | | Permalink

Tortured heroes, forbidden romances and cartoonish villains are nothing new. There is a standard formula by which such stories operate by now and there is an ever faithful audience for them. This does not mean such stories need be repetitive, however, nor does it mean they need to be unentertaining. "Scholar Who Walks the Night" does not reach its end unscathed, but let us look into its efforts until that point...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - SMTown Coex Artium

2015/12/19 | | Permalink

S.M. Entertainment is one of the triumvirate of entertainment companies along with YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. Some of the most famous acts in K-pop are housed under S.M. such as my personal bias SHINee as well as Girls' Generation, Super Junior, f(x), EXO, Red Velvet, BoA, and TVXQ. This list is by no means inclusive of the immensely talented acts found under the S.M. name. Many of the members have been spotted in dramas and films. And some people represented under S.M. are not musicians, but actors such as Ko Ah-ra and Kim Min-jong...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Sound of a Flower"

2015/12/19 | | Permalink

The time is the mid-nineteenth century. Chae-seon (played by Suzy) has been brought up in a gisaeng house since she was a child, following a desperate plea by her dying mother to try and provide Chae-seon with some kind of future. Chae-seon has been no stranger to grief in her life. And from this, she takes a strong interest in pansori, a traditional form of guttural singing. For Chae-seon, pansori is the salve that eases the burden of living, and she wants to share in that. Even if it's an art reserved only for men...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Another Way"

2015/12/19 | | Permalink

The central recurring visual in "Another Way" is frozen water. When winter gets cold enough, you can cross on foot and save a little time at the risk of sudden quick death by hypothermia should the ice get thin. The risk seems excessive, but to a depressed person with no real reason to live, the threat is meaningless. That's what life is like for Soo-wan (played by Kim Jae-wook) and Jeong-won (played by Seo Ye-ji). They want to give up, and will take any excuse they can get to accomplish this- even suicide...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Ceylon, Serendipity"

2015/12/19 | | Permalink

In the opening sequence of "Ceylon, Serendipity" the camera moves at a leisurely pace along the roads of Sri Lanka. The film closes out with the same extended shot from a somewhat different angle but no real new information. That's what the process of watching "Ceylon, Serendipity" is like. Even though we're at a slightly different place at the end of the movie than we were at the beginning, I'm still not sure how we got there, or why, or what reason there should be for anyone to care...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 13

2015/12/18 | | Permalink

Bo-ra helpfully narrates the theme of this episode at the closing. This is fortunate, since until that point I was at a bit of a loss as to what the title card, a linguistic variation on the title of "Superman is Back" variety show, had to do with the episode proper. We don't really get to see that much of men taking care of their families, unless you count Seong-gyoon's misadventures trying to fix household appliances back in the days before it was cheaper to just buy new. Indeed, one memorable sequence involves the entire neighborhood getting riled over a nonexistent crisis...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 4

2015/12/17 | | Permalink

With this episode "Remember" finishes the introductory phase of the story. We close out back in the present day, with our two leads now established as lawyers. Now that I've seen where "Remember" was going, I really wish the drama hadn't taken so much time with its backstory. I kept watching Jeon-hyeok's case expecting some kind of twist, but it never happened. We see in full detail here how the murder played out, and save for a weird blackout it's pretty much exactly what was originally implied back in the first episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 3

2015/12/16 | | Permalink

The first portion of this episode is spent going over plot points that have yet to actually be established, but of which we mostly know the substance. Of course there aren't going to be any meaningful obstacles to Dong-ho becoming Jae-hyeok's lawyer. Likewise, it's pretty obvious why Jae-hyeok signed a confession which we knew to be false. The confession isn't even consistent with the prosecution's own theory. They've already admitted that Jae-hyeok has memory problems, which is why he can't fill in missing details...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 22

2015/12/15 | | Permalink

As expected, the big climactic battle in "Six Flying Dragons" is so ridiculously one-sided that there was barely even any point to showing it. The huge fight scene is mainly just an exercise in letting Seong-gye's soldiers show off just how tough they really are, and how any attempt at resistance is futile. King Woo, for all his aplomb upon entering the scene a few episodes ago, is quickly resigned to give up here because there's just nowhere else to go...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 16 Final

2015/12/15 | | Permalink

Well, third time's a charm. This epilogue ends up really actually being an epilogue, because this is most definitely the final episode of "Bubble Gum". The minor leftover plot points are, if not dealt with satisfactorily, at least dealt with in such a way that there's a sense of closure. Beyond that it's just more of the filler I've come to expect from "Bubble Gum", although except for the driving scene very little of it involves Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah being cute...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 15

2015/12/14 | | Permalink

At this point "Bubble Gum" seems satisfied with just existing. If all you wanted to get out of this drama was cute romantic scenes between Lee Dong-wook and Jeong Ryeo-won, well, there's plenty of those lying around. What's completely absent is any sense of dramatic urgency. Even a visit to the wedding boutique ends up becoming a bit of a red herring, since nobody's actually getting married this episode and whole scene is mainly just an exercise in provoking memories...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 21

2015/12/14 | | Permalink

Now that Seong-gye has decided to actively and forcefully move against the current Goryeo regime, the main obstacle in his way is...more obstacles. It would appear "Six Flying Dragons" is still decently far away from Seong-gye actually being able to match his ambitions with action, because first the proper political warnings need to be exchanged. And also there's still the whole hostage situation...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.12.11 ~ 2015.12.13

2015/12/14 | | Permalink

"Inside Men" moves closer to 6 million while "The Priests" counts its blessings...

Woo Min-ho's action drama "Inside Men" enjoyed yet another weekend atop the Korean box office, moving its total tally now 5.9 million admissions ($40.4 million). The film, which stars Lee Byung-hun, Jo Seung-woo, and Baek Yoon-sik, opened in Korea November 19 and has managed to ward off all challenges to remain the country's film of choice...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Splash Splash Love" Episode 1

2015/12/13 | | Permalink

Dan-bi (played by Kim Seul-gi-I) is a normal high school student who, after some brief exposition, ends up thrown into the Joseon era where King Lee Do (played by Yoon Doo-joon) is desperate for knowledge, specifically of the mathematical variety. As time travel set-ups go this is in fact one of the better ones- Dan-bi's high-school level education may be of little obvious practical use in the present day, but in the distant past this fundamental knowledge legitimately makes her one of the smartest people alive in the world...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 6

2015/12/13 | | Permalink

At this point I think the actual plot of "Riders: Get Tomorrow" really is just the various loveline entanglements. Which is unfortunate because there's still the same constant generally creepy element of how Gi-joon is trying to date So-dam without actually dating her. The whole incident with the rings should have been a wake-up call to Gi-joon that he really needs to stop acting like this. Instead, he contrives a complicated excuse to take her to a movie by claiming it as research. That movie is "Take This Waltz", in case you were wondering...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 12

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

The theme this episode is love- nothing too excessive. As usual "Answer Me 1988" is focused on the subtle nuances of living in a close community, and this manifests best in the exploration of the relationship between So-ra and Seon-woo. It needs to be noted, once again, that this romance has a fairly unusual dynamic because these two literally grew up together. For them, dating isn't really a "get-to-know-you" thing because they already know each other...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Namsan Tower

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

Namsan Tower, officially named the "N Seoul Tower", is one of the quintessential romantic spots found in Korean film and drama, and is also a tourist attraction for Koreans and international visitors alike. The communication and observation tower is famous for it's night glow, the "Locks of Love", and the spectacular cityscape view that is lovely during the day and mesmerizing at night...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] The Seoul of Korean Drama

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

Seoul is the capital of South Korea and the home of a rich, thriving, and vibrant culture. It is the home of many artistic innovations. With a population of nearly twenty-six million and as the location of the fastest internet connections, top-ranked transportation systems, and ground-breaking technological innovations, it's no wonder that Seoul is also the home of many favorite drama locations. It is so diverse that it can support plots of an array of time periods, disparate industries and environments, and house the companies that provide funding, talent agencies, and filming facilities...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Island"

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

K (played by Oh Ji-ho) is a man who seems depressed. So he goes to an island and is depressed over there, instead of wherever it was he happened to be before. The full Korean title to "Island" is actually "The Island Which Steals Time", which I assume is supposed to be a reference to K's inability to get over the grief in his life and just move on. I suspect to many viewers the longer title may be the more accurate one in the sense that "Island" does, for long stretches, appear to do nothing but steal the viewer's time...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Hypocrites"

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

So-yeon (played by Song Eun-jin) was once a cheerful college student with a typical goofy college romance. Then a series of lurid events sent her life spinning toward the cynical. One highly publicized courtroom case later, the issue comes into the public forum. Given how ever-so-complicated the ethical issues are in sexual and legal morality, what better way to shine light on the issues than through a political talk program?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "In Her Place"

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

On a rural farm in the middle of nowhere, a somewhat fortunate situation arises. A teenage girl (played by Ahn Ji-hye-I) has fallen pregnant. That's...not really a fortunate situation, except that the girl and her mother (played by Kim Hae-yeon) are stuck in rural poverty and the mother has struck up a deal with an urban couple (played by Yoon Da-kyeong and Kim Kyeong-ik) by which the urbanites can procure the child they so desperately want to raise and the mother and daughter will get the money they need to make a new start somewhere else...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 7

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

No-ra has finally grown a spine. She may not know exactly what she wants out of life, but she knows she wants to live it to its fullest and won't let Woo-cheol hinder her any further. Hyeon-seok, on the other hand, is a different story. When he and No-ra are around each other they revert to teenagerhood and fight like children with crushes – much like her Son Min-soo.

We're almost to the halfway point and there should be some sort of shift in plot coming our way next episode...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

Korean Studios shine at this year's Asian Animation Summit, let's talk about eyelids and leading ladies, find out if any South Korean films made Taste of Cinema's murder mystery list, and are there lots of shots of the Catholic Church in Korean films?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

Tea lovers rejoice because Time Out has you covered, find out what 'army stew' is and how it came to be, the National Folk Museum has an exhibition on Korea-Japan food exchanges, and are Koreans eating less rice?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

Find out what amazing winter adventures await you in Jeju, Time Out features some of Seoul's top ice skating rinks, get some suggestions on where to go and what to do in Seoul, and how popular is hiking in Korea?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

Learn more about Korean historical dramas through a new online course, the Eat Your Kimchi bloggers talk straight about the Korean drama industry, find out what names you don't want translated into Korean, and what is Christmas culture like in Korea?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/12/12 | | Permalink

The Korea International Photo Festival wraps up its third year, see how North Korean interior design needs a reality check, the Academy of Korean Studies showcases nine images from their research catalogue, and see how Korean beauty trends came and went in one time-lapse video...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 11

2015/12/11 | | Permalink

Ah, Deok-seon. She's such a girl. Her friends too. I don't mean that as an insult- I'm just surprised watching "Answer Me 1988" and realizing how rare it is to see teenage girls on TV act like, well, like dumb teenage girls, in the same way that teenage boys can always be relied on to act like dumb teenage boys. And in the case of Deok-seon, this is exhibited with her puppy-like ability to develop romantic feelings for any boy she thinks will reciprocate them...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 2

2015/12/10 | | Permalink

Dong-ho (played by Park Seong-woong) is Jae-hyeok's attorney. Well, not yet anyway. That's the main exposition this episode is focusing on. How and why would an arrogant high-class lawyer with goofy sidekicks, comical fashion sense, a shameless self-promotional attitude, and a one hundred percent win rate take on Jae-hyeok's case, when it seems like Jae-hyeok is completely doomed from the outside?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember" Episode 1

2015/12/09 | | Permalink

Jin-woo (played by Yoo Seung-ho) is a young man who has spent the better part of the last four years trying to prove his father Jae-hyeok (played by Jeon Kwang-ryeol) innocent of murder. Jae-hyeok doesn't remember having committed the murder. In fact, Jae-hyeok doesn't really remember much of anything. Ironically, Jin-woo remembers everything in perfect detail. And that's the basic hook for "Remember". It's a drama about remembering or not remembering things...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 14

2015/12/08 | | Permalink

I finished this episode of "Bubble Gum" at a bit of a loss. Where is this drama even going anymore? I had to blink a few times wondering, was that the end? Are we done now? Because it really doesn't seem like there's anything left to do anymore. Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah are together. Seon-yeong's dementia appears to have kind of made her accept this I think? Also I'm still not totally sure who that fourth person is that they went to the beach with and there's only two episodes left...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 20

2015/12/08 | | Permalink

There's very little in the way of characterization or political plotting this episode as the entire runtime winds down to the single pivotal event that ends up changing the course of Korean history- Seong-gye's decision to finally put his foot down and say "no" to the boss. The weird part is that this decision doesn't even have much to do with the political logistics. Seong-gye's mind ultimately ends up getting changed by the awful weather...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 19

2015/12/07 | | Permalink

King Woo (played by Lee Hyeon-bae) only just now makes his appearance this episode. There's good reason for this- King Woo does not have what anyone could really call serious political talent. Indeed, the only reason King Woo even shows up this episode is because monarchal authority is invoked as part of the new increasingly complicated plan by the antagonists to maintain Goryeo, and with it their iron grip on the kingdom. It naturally does not occur to anyone that guys like King Woo are part of the problem. Except for the heroes of course...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 13

2015/12/07 | | Permalink

This episode is bookended by confrontations between Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan. The dramatic thrust, as usual, is that they take a long hard time to think about whether or not they want to go any further in this relationship. And of course, as Haeng-ah points out in the very beginning, Ri-hwan's actions certainly make it look like he worries about her as if she was a girlfriend, while verbally Ri-hwan insists that no such relationship can exist between them. For, you know, reasons...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.12.04 ~ 2015.12.06

2015/12/07 | | Permalink

"Inside Men" secures third straight weekend at the top...

 For the third week in a row Woo Min-ho's "Inside Men" has claimed the top spot at Korea's box office. Released on November 19, "Inside Men" first dislodged "The Priests" mid-November and has since gone on to bank just over $34 million (4.9 million admissions), 799 thousand admissions of which, or $5.7 million (45.6%), came from this past weekend...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Imaginary Cat"

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

When "Imaginary Cat" was announced, the idea behind it seemed pretty straightforward. There is a cute cat and there is a cute actor and they would be cute for audiences together for some episodes. This is not the kind of drama to really raise one's expectations over. It is therefore a surprise, a pleasant one, that the series has quite a bit more to it than simple fanservice...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 5

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

As it turns out "Riders: Get Tomorrow" is now finally firmly in the whole rickshaw business stage, so throughout the entire episode we're getting snippets of how the rickshaw business is managed / mismanaged. See, Gi-joon is making the rather questionable decision of getting So-dam involved in the plot by hiring her to do a job it's not clear the rickshaw business actually needs- at least on a full-time basis. The quoted salary really was a tad high, and the dinner especially was unnecessary even if it could probably be written off as a business expense...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 6

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

Twenty Again doesn't let anything fester for long – that is both its charm and its strength. The truth about No-ra's health is exposed, but not before we get an episode that is both fun and introspective. Each character gets to do a bit more soul searching. Or, in Woo-cheol's case, he slowly begins to learn that No-ra is no longer the complacent puppet wife that she was for the past twenty years.

No-ra's inner twenty-year-old emerges in full force as she rebels against her husband and her life as it once was...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

Catch 27 classic Korean films in Tokyo, "The Priests" breaks the November record, find out who the winners were at this year's Blue Dragon Awards, and South Korea's industry surpasses 100 million in 2015...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

What do women eat in North Korea?, new Halal app helps Muslim tourists, see how cheesy Korea actually is, and Kimchimari has a cabbage kimchi recipe for us...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

Watch Gu-Hyeon travel home to North Korea after decades away, Will Fly For Free has some tips for first-time travelers, Seoulistic presents their top fifty attractions and how to get there, and find about Korea's many temples you can visit...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

Han Kang's book "The Vegetarian" gets reviewed, find out how happy South Koreans really are, how car-crazy are Koreans?, and see how Korean webtoons are on the rise around the world...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/12/06 | | Permalink

Korean webtoons are on the rise, Hongdae's street art is stunning, Riot Games has some fun with Korean art, and one New Zealand photographer is helping animals in Korea find a home...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 10

2015/12/05 | | Permalink

Similar to last episode, there's not so much plot here, especially in the first portion as "Answer Me 1988" sticks to situation comedy. After strong episodes, or more specifically strong scenes of strong episodes, it's easy to get a little annoyed at low-stakes action like but I just have to remind myself that adolescence is a slow-burn and it's not really reasonable to expect that every big storyline event is going to receive a proper build-up. Getting hit with revelations out of nowhere is a big part of the fun. I certainly wasn't expecting a loveline to form after the appearance of the Bubble Bobble Mafia...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Visiting Naver

2015/12/05 | | Permalink

There is a one stop internet shop in Korea and it is called "Naver". Established in 1999, it was the very first Korean portal to feature its own search engine. Naver currently provides the number one search engine in Korea along with many other services such as news, e-mail, navigation, LINE messenger, gaming, webtoons, shopping, and more. HanCinema had a chance to visit the green Naver building while with the Korea Joa 2015 program...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Interview with Yonhap News Agency

2015/12/05 | | Permalink

When I met with Yonhap News Agency's journalists Lee Eun-jung and Yoon Go-eun at the Terarosa Coffee, I came prepared with questions for them. What I didn't expect was to answer some of theirs. The two-way conversation turned into quite the charming interview where they gave some insight into their processes, and I got to tell them about what we do here at HanCinema...More

[HanCinema's Feature] "The State of Korean Film - Part Three (The Film Festivals)"

2015/12/05 | | Permalink

Earlier this year the city of Busan attempted to pressure Lee Yong-kwan, the director of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), to resign from his post. In the film press this provoked a major discussion about the creative freedom of festival directors, the principal concern being that this pressure was the result of the director's insistence on screening "The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol" at last year's festival. Much less well publicized was the report coming out later in the year indicating that the main reason for the pressure was, as the city of Busan always claimed, the result of an audit which showed that although BIFF is a very expensive event it is rather poorly run, with relatively few paid staff, major congestion issues, and almost all of the on-the-ground work done by volunteers. This report was of no surprise to me- nearly anyone who has gone to BIFF in recent years has observed this rather curious contradiction...More

[HanCinema's Feature] "The State of Korean Film - Part Two (The Film Archive)"

2015/12/05 | | Permalink

From summer of 2013 to summer of 2015, concurrent with my starting to write for HanCinema full-time, I conducted research at the Korean Film Archive in Seoul, moving to live in that area. My purpose in this research was to get a fuller background in Korean film, as well as world cinema in general. While I was generally able to acquit myself well in this regard, in light of other events (see parts one and three of this series), certain experiences at the Film Archive need to be noted in order to add further proper perspective in regards to the problems of the industry as a whole. For further background I suggest reading Hal Swindall's excellent article on the troubles involved with academic-style research on the Korean peninsula (THE THREE WISE MONKEYS), as well as Lisa Espinosa's HanCinema feature on the Korean Film Archive to get some understanding as to what the institution is I'm referring to...More

[HanCinema's Feature] "The State of Korean Film - Part One (The KFMA)"

2015/12/05 | | Permalink

 

Since its fairly modest beginnings fifteen years ago Korean Wave has become a cultural force to be reckoned with, especially in Asia. Korean music, dramas, webtoons, and even mobile app mascots have become major international fixtures. The one curious exception to this trend is Korean film. While originally the most artistically chic of the Korean Wave, over time the profile of Korean film has dwindled substantially. When a Korean film gets international press or a significant international release, it's typically because a certain actor or director happens to be involved in the production. I've always wondered why this is, and having worked in the Korean film industry full-time for the past two and a half years, I think I know the answer. Since its encouraging beginning near the turn of the century, Korean film culture has become increasingly insular. And several events I have personally observed this year are fairly good test cases...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 9

2015/12/04 | | Permalink

The first portion of this episode moves pretty slow. It's just a token variety of the usual simple character jokes and pop culture references that "Answer Me 1988" always uses as a placeholder. There's nothing terribly bad about this. The jokes are cute enough but the material is uninspiring. That much changes after the first commercial break, at which point an unexpected event results in Taek unexpectedly getting to spend quite a bit of time with Deok-seon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 18

2015/12/01 | | Permalink

Straightaway the immediate important conflict of "Six Flying Dragons" is put to an end with a suitably epic swordfight. But before the swordfight is even over characters have already started discussing the new question- now what? It is, naturally, the villains who are asking this question. While they know who Do-jeon is and the general layout of the team that's been opposing them, until now none of the heroes has felt any reason to bother explaining their reasons...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 12

2015/12/01 | | Permalink

It's back to the characters in adult form for this episode of "Bubble Gum", and with that comes my general sense of ambivalence about the drama. Fortunately, we do get one very important fact established- what exactly is Seon-yeong's problem in regard to Ri-hwan getting together with Haeng-ah? Her reasons actually kind of make sense, and yet at the same time they're so horribly cynical that it's easy to see how this is a woman who once attempted to commit suicide...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 11

2015/11/30 | | Permalink

In a fairly radical turnabout, this episode ignores the present day adventures of Ri-hwan and Haeng-ah altogether, instead having the story take place entirely in flashback. I wasn't sure what to make of this creative decision at first, but upon further reflection "Bubble Gum" really did need the reprieve. The melodrama had become just about completely unbearable. At least in flashback mode there are decently long stretches of time between individual sad events...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 17

2015/11/30 | | Permalink

After Bang-won's daring move last episode, there's not really much left to do but hunt In-bang down. Of course, the irony is kind of difficult to ignore. Yes In-bang was pondering treason but so are our heroes. What all of this is meant to establish is that one way or another the Goryeo regime is finished. The rest is little more than elaborate politicking meant to be used for the sake of moral authority. Well, there's that, and also securing the loyalty of the soldiers...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.11.27 ~ 2015.11.29

2015/11/30 | | Permalink

Local Delights Dominate as "Inside Men" and "The Priests" hold true at the top...

Woo Min-ho's "Inside Men" retained the top spot in the charts over the weekend and managed to increase its admissions share to 55.4%. The film, which stars Lee Byung-hun, Jo Seung-woo and Baek Yoon-sik, claimed 1.2 million admissions across 1,129 screens (up from last weekend's 1,075) to move its total tally to 3.5 million ($24 million). There was no real challenge to its dominance as its closest rival, "The Priests", earned the attention of just 237 thousand moviegoers (10.8%)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 4

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

I swear that writer Park Sang-hee must have a bet with someone, somewhere to see how slowly she can pace this drama's writing. I can't come up with any other explanation for why it takes so long "Riders: Get Tomorrow" to set up the most rudimentary plot points. How is it possible that it's taken four episodes for Gi-joon to have anything resembling an actual conversation So-dam, his presumed love interest? What has the drama even been doing with itself up until this point?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 12

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

Try as it might with the expanded eighty-minute runtime, the final episode of "Awl" can't really overcome the fact that the most potentially interesting part of the entire drama (the strike) ends up being condensed into a single episode. What's more, most of this runtime is just Soo-in sulking about his apparent failure after he refuses to use the main dynamic storyline event to press for an advantage against management...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 5

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

The beauty of "Twenty Again" is that is never dwells on any single plot point for too long. It doesn't belabor the usual tropes. It grows as quickly as No-ra does as she learns more about herself from her new adventures as well as from the ever-attentive and temperamental Hyeon-seok

What makes this show good is not just a well-drawn out heroine with a clear path to walk, but also that those around her need to learn a few things themselves ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

Find out who walked away a winner at this year's Daejong Film Awards, Beyond Hallyu reviews "Alice In Earnestland", KOFIC releases their report for the month of October, and Bloody Disgusting selects their top five Park Chan-wook films...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

Korea and Japan clash over chocolate-covered pretzel sticks, Time Out has some suggestions for where to go on Thanksgiving, find out how the Slow Food Asia Pacific Festival went, and Jin Joo hits takes us through some traditional markets for a bite to eat...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

10 Magazine visits some of the longest-running restaurants in the land, Mental Floss has some tips for those considering a trip up North, visit a Korean Buddhist temple, and CNN has forty stunning images from around Korea that are sure to get that travel bug bitting...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

Time Out has some unique dating places to try in Seoul, The Guardian looks at pornography in North Korea, dogs are being rescued from being eaten, and Eat Your Kimchi explains Korean beauty products...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/11/29 | | Permalink

See how one Korean couple have kept the romance alive across time and space, Seattle gets its first Korean exhibition, Jeju's Gangjeong Village gets captured while we can, and enjoy over 80 stunning images of Korea by professional photographers...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Interview with Sistar with Video

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

HanCinema's correspondent Lisa Espinosa got to sit down with super girl group Sistar on October 7, 2015. These ladies, Dasom, Bora, Hyorin, and Soyou, have had a big year. They released their fifth mini-album "Shake It" on June 22, 2015 and proceeded to shake up the stage at KCON LA two weeks later. Check out the interview to see what the four ladies of Starship Entertainment had to say about acting and rehearsing...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Korean Folk Village

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

The day that Korea Joa 2015 visited Korean Folk Village (한국민속촌) was wonderfully sunny without suffering from the sun's heat. It was the ideal day to walk around and attempt to see all of the 243 acres of land where Joseon era homes, businesses, goods, food, and drink are preserved and reproduced for the modern day public. Despite modern-day amenities like Baskin Robbins 21 and vending machines, the spirit of the Village remains in tact and it is exactly that spirit that captured members of Korea Joa 2015...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 8

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

The various plotlines in this episode don't really coalesce into a good overall theme. If you want to get really technical there are two story points involving a secret boyfriend and a secret girlfriend. Although neither of these are really especially dynamic plot elements, except to the extent that the question is asked, what kind of boyfriend could Bo-ra have that we've never seen much physical evidence of his existence? The answer to that question being, well, not much of a boyfriend at all really...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 11

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

Manager Ko makes a big general mess of employee relations. I guess because...management is trying to provoke a strike? I really don't know anymore. Ever since Go-sin stopped giving lectures about the underlying causes behind labor disputes I've had a lot of difficulty figuring out what exactly the plan at corporate even is. They just seem to be stubbornly stamping their feet and refusing to acknowledge that a problem exists. Even if management could somehow win this is obviously a completely new labor environment...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Contract Man"

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

The year is 2025 and Jin-seong (played by Oh Jeong-se) works for a company whose job it is to monitor random people for random reasons, part and parcel for what appears to be an elaborate police state. Given the overwhelming presence of CCTV in South Korea and the always-improving nature of surveillance technology, this look into the not-too-distant-future isn't as implausible as it may seem. Although what really gives "Drama Special - Contract Man" an Orwellian vibe is the way it compares the concept of a police state to a mental institution...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Priests"

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

A demon is on the loose on Korea, and the situation dire enough that the Vatican ends up sending in two of their own exorcists when they are unable to make contact with the local Korean expert. Unfortunately that only ends up delaying the problem. After some brief consulting about whether or not demons are even real, and then more failures, the Korean Catholic command structure decides to send in Deacon Choi (played by Kang Dong-won), a divinity student who more-or-less meets the qualifications necessary to work as an exorcism assistant for Father Kim (played by Kim Yoon-seok)...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Love at the End of the World"

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

Ja-yeong (played by Han Eun-jeong) is a woman in an abusive relationship. One day, having seen the aftermath of one fight too many, Ja-yeong's daughter Yoo-jin (played by Kong Ye-ji) decides to take matters into her own hands. The issue of patricide is mostly glossed over as Ja-yeong is able to defend her daughter with a defense that might-or-might-not actually be true. But to be entirely honest the backstory of "Love at the End of the World" is kind of completely irrelevant as the film instead slowly delves into its own Lolita Complex, as Yoo-jin tries to set her mother up with nice gas station manager Dong-ha (played by Jo Dong-hyeok), on whom Yoo-jin herself has a slight crush...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Buddy's Mom"

2015/11/28 | | Permalink

The opening scene of "Buddy's Mom" consists of a bunch of idiot college kids talking about porn. The "Young Mother" series of erotic films, comes up in conversation and our intrepid lead character Kyeong-soo (played by Kim Yeong-sam) says, who wants a young mother? Mothers are hot because they've been around the block. The older the better. You know what would really be a sexy idea for a semi-pornographic film? Your "Buddy's Mom"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 7

2015/11/27 | | Permalink

The main theme of this episode is about how to express love. The first half generally details the worst ways of doing this. We find out, for example, that with more contextual information Seon-woo's attempt at a romantic confession was actually kind of a stupid thing to do. Although really, given that he was acting on advice from Deok-seon what other outcome could we have been expecting? No wonder Bo-ra's face betrayed zero trace of emotion last cliffhanger...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 8

2015/11/25 | | Permalink

For the final episode of "Because It's the First Time", Tae-oh ruins everything. Well, he doesn't really. Part of the point of being twenty is that you can make big mistakes and it doesn't really make that much of a long-term difference, because there's always tomorrow. As the soundtrack  constantly sunnily reminds us, every day is a new day. And besides, Tae-oh will always have his friends even if he almost managed to alienate half of them...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 16

2015/11/24 | | Permalink

In-bang (played by Jeon No-min) is at present the major antagonist of "Six Flying Dragons". I'm never sure which villains to discuss at any given point in this drama, because there's just so many of them. In-bang, though, is such a powerful driving force here that his presence is impossible to ignore. The man just runs roughshod over every possible obstacle to the point that an insanely elaborate scheme is all that's able to even slow the guy down...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 10

2015/11/24 | | Permalink

With this episode "Bubble Gum" firmly moves into ultra-sad melodramatic tragedy territory. To the credit of the production team it is a pretty slow burn. The opening scenes barely have any trace of melancholy, which is impressive given the generally dour nature of last episode's cliffhanger. The characters in general are taking Seon-yeong's erratic behavior in rather good sport. Although really, it's the new normal so why bother fighting it?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 9

2015/11/23 | | Permalink

The ambience in "Bubble Gum" is pretty consistently excellent. Director Kim Byeong-soo is consistently able to maintain a powerful dreamlike quality to the drama that persists so well, we're actually able to stay in focus pretty easily with Seon-yeong through the latter part of the episode as she slips forward and backward in time. Life as portrayed in "Bubble Gum" is less a series of concrete events and more a sort of continuum where life changes ever so slowly without anyone really realizing it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 15

2015/11/23 | | Permalink

I've mentioned it before and it bears repeating- the excitement level of any individual scene in "Six Flying Dragons" is directly proportional to how many dragons are present. And the rather glorious opening battle sequence involves all six of them. Granted half of them are just helpless bystanders but even so. Everyone is finally and completely in agreement on what the long-term goal is, and how they're going to accomplish it. Fighting off assassins is just the most stylish way to show this off...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.11.20 ~ 2015.11.22

2015/11/23 | | Permalink

"Inside Men" dislodges "The Priests" for first...

After three weeks at the top of the pile, Jang Jae-hyeon's mystery drama "The Priests" has given way to Woo Min-ho's third feature, "Inside Men". Last weekend "The Priests" topped the chart by claiming over a million admissions (47%), but in the wake of the release of Woo's new thriller, Jang's popular flick slipped to second with 487 thousand admissions (20%). Since its release early November, "The Priests" (starring Kim Yoon-seok and Kang Dong-won) has attracted over 4.4 million filmgoers and banked over $30 million in the process...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 10

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Once again, don't watch the preview for this episode if you can help it. There's a spoiler for the cliffhanger. For "Awl" to do this twice in a row, I think, points to a bigger problem in the drama than just a bad preview editor. The reason the previews keep spoiling the cliffhangers here is that lately, in any given episode of "Awl" there has been very little in the way of dynamic action. At this point the union is in a waiting game, and corporate management can't really do anything active anymore...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 3

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Tae-ra (played by Choi Yeo-jin) is a woman who attempted to commit suicide in Yoon-jae's presence for no good reason. Well, whether she had a good reason for trying to commit suicide is debatable, but it soon becomes clear that it was a poor decision on her part to drag Yoon-jae into that whole mess. As incredibly morbid as that character introduction sounds, the entire plotline regarding Tae-ra's recovery goes along all right- not too weepy, not too dark, and not inappropriately funny either...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Imaginary Cat"

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Handsome male Korean stars are undoubtedly among the favorite things of the Korean entertainment fandom. Cats rule the internet and everything else, which is a scientifically proven fact. Or well, it should be, because they do. MBC every1 brings the two together and there is little that can really go wrong with "Imaginary Cat"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Check out Taste of Cinema's list of their top twenty-five "extreme" Asian films, KOBIZ reviews the fall festival circuit to keep us up to date, find out what director Ryoo Seung-wan had to say about his success this year, and is VR the future of South Korean cinema?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Judy has some decadent pancakes to try, banana and bulgogi?, Check out Kimchimari's favourite restaurants in Itaewon, and what is the culture around dieting in Korea?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Adventure Korea makes adventuring in Korea fun and easy, Visit Korea shares some hidden spots in Seoul to slow down and enjoy, and flag these six resorts if you're planning on hitting the slopes this winter...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Do you know any Korean jokes?, the Kimchi Queen tackles hard facts about Korea's LGBT community, The Three Wise Monkey's talk about researching Korea, and find out how Korean Culture is being celebrated on the ground...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/11/22 | | Permalink

Get a glimpse of a Star Wars webcomic by artist and Writer Hong, photographer Hyung S. Kim visits the "sea woman" of Jeju Island, and an Artsy editorial showcases works inspired by nature and technology...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Pa"

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

Ji-hye (played by Sin Eun-jeong) is a consultant who helps parents get their kids into prestigious schools. Ji-hye's own son Seon-woo (played by Kwak Dong-yeon) has been a beneficiary of Ji-hye's talents. But matters take a turn for the sordid when a blackmail attempt result in Ji-hye completely covered in blood, rather at a loss as to what she should do having just killed a man...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 6

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

Taek (played by Park Bo-geum) is a Go prodigy who has been having a bit of a slump lately. I haven't felt much need to discuss Taek because, well, there's not really much more to say about the character than that. Taek's kind of an idiot outside of the whole Go prodigy thing but his friends and family love him because why wouldn't they? "Answer Me 1988" is dealing with a time period where it wasn't especially important that people fit into neat easily defined categories...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 9

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

First off, don't watch the preview for this episode if it can be avoided. The episode nine preview spoils the cliffhanger. I really hate it when dramas do that. I want some idea what's coming up next with the preview, but spoiling the cliffhangers just makes me want to give up on previews altogether, because it makes me feel like I wasted my time watching the episode. Although even on merits "Awl" does struggle in that department...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Korean Film Archive

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

At the suggestion of Paul Quinn from Hangul Celluloid I decided that a trip to the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) as the representative of HanCinema, the Korean Film and Drama Database, wouldn't be amiss. This is the place to go for almost anything and everything related to Korean film. It collects all things related to Korean film such as film itself, movie documents, and sound materials and provides access to classic films dating back to the 1930s both via live stream and in the library...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Korean Cooking Class with Food Director Kim Su-jin-I

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

My trip to Korea was full of amazing opportunities. I went to the world-renowned BIFF 2015, saw multiple K-pop concerts, visited breathtaking historical sites both modern and ancient, and interviewed many fabulous people. But it was one woman's school and class that may have been the pinnacle of that experience: a Q&A and lesson with Chef and Food Director Kim Su-jin-I and Teacher Lee "Ellie" Hye-won of the Food & Culture Academy. The Q&A was a lesson in how Korean food embodies the spirit of its vivacious people and what makes Korean food unique. Then we, the members of Korea Joa 2015, got to make two quintessential Korean dishes: japchae and bulgogi. Those members with dietary restrictions learned how to make haemul jeon. Check the recipes out at the end of this piece...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] National Theater of Korea

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

Kim Soo-hyeon-I and Jeon Ji-hyeon stand atop the stairs of the National Theater of Korea in episode 21 of "My Love from the Star" and share a heartbreaking kiss just before he suddenly disappears. This "red carpet kiss" is one of the most famous drama kisses in recent history and it was filmed on the steps on the first national theater in Korea, a space dedicated to supporting Korean traditional arts and the arts in general. As the home of three national performance groups, the theater holds a lot of history even though it was established fairly recently in 1950...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "COLLECTIVE INVENTION"

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

Goo (played by Lee Gwang-soo) is a completely unremarkable young man with no apparent distinguishing characteristics whatsoever. At least he was, until Goo's entire upper torso turned into...a fish. And that, right there, is the gimmick which makes up the entirity of "COLLECTIVE INVENTION", named after the painting by Rene Magritte. A man turns into a fish, and how exactly are we supposed to respond to this? Joo-jin (played by Park Bo-yeong) is the first person to meet the newly mutated Goo, and takes a step most of the other characters proceed to repeat. She monetizes it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Old Bicycle"

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

Kang-man (played by Choi Jong-won) is a cranky old man who rides his bike to the market everyday peddling random junk. In his spare time Kang-man drinks booze. Kang-man is obviously not appropriate guardian material for a young child but as it turns out his grandson Poong-do (played by Park Min-sang) doesn't have anyone to turn to. Also Poong-do is kind of a bratty sneak, which oddly enough makes him a good fit for his rather coarse grandfather...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Sometimes I Want To Be A Porn Star"

2015/11/21 | | Permalink

Ridiculously racy title notwithstanding, there's very little actual sex in "Sometimes I Want To Be A Porn Star". Instead, most of the titillation comes in the form of foreplay. Which is reasonably interesting in its own right. Foreplay tends to be pretty underrated. Women orgasm differently than men do, and yet so much porn makes it seem like penetration is the be-all and end-all of sexual intercourse. For Jin-hee (played by Han Ji-eun), self-discovery comes with the realization that physical intimacy is about more than genitalia...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 5

2015/11/20 | | Permalink

Even though the young characters are the main billed actors of "Answer Me 1988", I frequently get the feeling that it's the parents who are the real protagonists of the drama. The conflict of this episode is a case in point- the three main storylines are about the worries mothers have regarding what happens to their children when they're not looking. This being 1988, there are good precedents for that. There weren't any "don't try this at home disclaimers" for silly stunts seen on television. A lack of cell phones made checking up at home difficult. And also there was the whole college student movement getting into fights with the secret police...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 7

2015/11/18 | | Permalink

In this episode's first segment (eighteen by the drama's internal counting mechanism) Tae-oh makes a concerted effort to push his romantic advantage with Se-hyeon. What makes Tae-oh's efforts so adorable and endearing is that he still lacks confidence. This is mainly because Tae-oh never sees the way that Se-hyeon smiles when he makes overtures. The expression on Se-hyeon's face as she meets Tae-oh's friends for the first time is priceless. It's obvious that for all her being a coy mistress, Se-hyeon really does enjoy spending time with Tae-oh...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 14

2015/11/17 | | Permalink

Now that the loyalties have more-or-less been clearly cemented, it's time for the "Six Flying Dragons" to get to work. Bang-won is able to prove his usefulness to the group somewhat hilariously by not actually doing much of anything. Any one of Seong-gye's sons could have done what Bang-won agreed to do. It's just that Bang-won is the only nearby enough and willing enough to act as a proxy for marital purposes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 8

2015/11/17 | | Permalink

I wasn't terribly thrilled with the somewhat contrived difficulties behind the Ri-hwan / Haeng-ah relationship last episode, in part because I wasn't feeling the chemistry. I've changed my mind on both points this time around. The first reason for this is Seon-yeong. As Ri-hwan's mother, Bae Jong-ok very effectively communicates the visage of a parent who makes a deliberate effort not to communicate. Seon-yeong acts like she has good reasons. But Ri-hwan is an adult, and she's still treating him like a child who needs to be protected...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 13

2015/11/17 | | Permalink

The opening portion of this episode clearly establishes that, at least for the moment, Bang-won has managed to learn some badly needed humility. It certainly helps that when explaining himself, Bang-won gives nearly the exact same tearful explanation that Boon-yi has been spreading around. Bang-won is in this to help the common people, and it's mainly his fervor that got him into this mess. But with that common goal, Bang-won's loyalty is unconditional...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 7

2015/11/16 | | Permalink

Now that "She Was Pretty" has ended its run, "Bubble Gum" appears to be trying to take the mantle of cute romantic drama with as little story progression as possible. It takes quite some time for us to finally get to some sort of conflict regarding the Haeng-ah / Ri-hwan relationship, and when we do that plot point ends up being implied incest. Which does make sense, considering how long Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan have been living like brother and sister...More

[HanCinema Box Office Review] 2015.11.13 ~ 2015.11.15

2015/11/16 | | Permalink

"The Priests" holds up against Mendes' "Spectre"...

Jang Jae-hyeon's murder mystery "The Priests" retained pole position during its second week out having defending the top spot against the incoming "Spectre". Last weekend, "The Priests" (formerly known as "Black Priest") dominated during its first weekend by capturing 62% of the sales, week two for Jang Jae-hyeon's directorial debut saw that slip to 49% with a million tickets sold. The film, which stars Kim Yoon-seok and Kang Dong-won, has, since its release on the fifth of this month, grossed over $23.6 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 8

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

The fight between the union and the company finally goes public. Why it was necessary for this fight to go public is not especially clear. As of yet the union hasn't really made any demands. What ends up sending management over the edge is, of all things, a dispute over uniforms. It's a battle that's entirely symbolic in nature because, as "Awl" notes, customers don't pay attention to stuff like what's actually written on the uniforms just so long as they can tell who's an employee and who's not...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 2

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

Writer Park Sang-hee is attempting the very awkward balancing act right now of trying to make "Riders: Get Tomorrow" seem like a cathartic tale of woe for the younger generation while not really moving very quickly to get on to the premise. Joon-wook failed his examination to get the corporate job. The situation is legitimately a pretty big disappointment but "Riders: Get Tomorrow" undercuts itself by having the other two male leads act like, well, act like jerks...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Secret"

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

Nguyen Thuy Thien (played by Seo Eun-ah) is a Vietnamese woman with a lot of debt. She agrees to pay this debt by offering herself as an overseas bride for a Korean man- in actuality a scam that will result in her coming back to Vietnam. Initially it seems like this is the most reasonable course of option for Thien. Her husband Cheol-joo (played by Kim Joon-bae) is old, sometimes violent, and not very smart. That initial negative impression seems cemented by the framing device, which reveals that Cheol-joo was murdered several years after their wedding...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 4

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

Each episode feels like a fresh beginning in "Twenty Again" as the main characters experience new revelations that kickstart the hour. Newly armed with the (false) knowledge that No-ra is dying, Hyeon-seok decides to encourage and help her the way that she had done for him when he was a high schooler. No-ra, on the other hand, has a second chance at life with the realization that she does not have cancer and she's going to live. Ironically, the situation brings them closer because it softens Hyeon-seok and makes him more receptive to No-ra, while she opens up to the possibility of truly living her life.

It's a situation that brings them both back to their twenty-year-old selves, sweet, eager, full-of-life, and ready to get living...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 3

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

The third episode finds childhood friends Hyeon-seok and No-ra still feeling each other out after having experiencing life separately for twenty years without maintaining their friendship. Life has changed them, but that doesn't stop Hyeon-seok from suffering intense curiosity at the secrecy No-ra displays upon their sudden reintroduction to one another. And No-ra, she is realizing that she's been living in a bubble as life has passed her by. It's not just the difficulties that she experiences as an older student, but the fact that she's never really been able to interact with others and watch the world grow. She's only watched her son grow up and her husband grow apart from her.

That husband, Woo-cheol, is in love with another woman, and the couple is suited in personality and temperament save for the fact that he's still married ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

KOBIZ features the animated works of Hur Bum-wook, a short history of Korean sequels, Netflix scoops up Bong Joon-ho's new monster flick, and an interview with director Yoon Je-kyoon ("Ode to My Father")...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

Experience Seoul through one blogger's eyes, the Korean Tourism Organisation promotes Korea in the aftermath of the MERS outbreak, Jeju is getting so popular they're building another airport, and families travel to North Korea to see their relatives after years of living apart...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

Could South Korea become the world's leader for 'nano food'?, find out why Koreans are eating their dinners online for all to see (aka Mokbang), and Sue over at My Korean Kitchen shares her recipe for a burger with no bun...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

Discover what to expect when dating in Korea, find out what psychology can tell us about Korean pop culture, what's it like to be gay in Korean culture?, and see how Koreans are using twitter compared to other nations...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/11/15 | | Permalink

See Jeju through the eyes of a young foreign photographer who's decided to call the island home, explore the reality of plastic surgery in Korea with some behind-the-scenes shots, a North Korean defector turns on the North's propaganda campaigns, and what are manwha's all about?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 4

2015/11/14 | | Permalink

Deok-seon wants to go to university. Her family is ambivalent about this. Which is weird to see because in the modern day this desire is so utterly banal that it barely even counts as a desire. In South Korea (and the United States too for that matter) everyone is supposed to go to college. It's not a factor that's influenced by such rational circumstances as money, career goals, or scholastic aptitude. As is usually the case with "Answer Me 1988", looking at the situation as presented in this drama mostly just makes me wonder why the world we live in today is the one that comes off weird in comparison...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 7

2015/11/14 | | Permalink

Director Kim Seok-yoon makes the smart decision this time of putting the character building before the action this episode. Unfortunately the character building isn't all that relevant to the usual labor struggles, which at this point I think we just have to accept as "Awl"s main permanent problem. This isn't a story about characters so much as it is about labor movements. Which is appropriate because labor movements by definition aren't individual action, but mass collective actions mobilized due to a system of mass production which treats people like objects rather than people. To be honest I'm getting kind of sick of repeating that defense all the time...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Megabox Haeundae

2015/11/14 | | Permalink

The third day of Korea Joa 2015 allowed the members a choice of films that they wanted to view as part of the 2015 Busan International Film Festival: "Ode to My Father", or "The Silenced". I, as you know from my previous articles, chose Park Bo-yeong's film "The Silenced". My trusty companions (Jenny from Soompi, Freya from United K-pop, Mish from PKCI, and Germaine from (x)clusive!) joined me for what we hoped wouldn't be a totally terrifying experience. We'd heard the film was a bit scary and were not sure if we were up for the thrills...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Haedong Yonggung Temple

2015/11/14 | | Permalink

Buddhism runs deep in the veins of Korean religious and social culture. Korean thinkers developed a distinctly Korean brand of Buddhism that has grown and changed with the times. Not only did it develop as a religion and philosophy, but its ideas also manifested in architecture as temples. Most Korean Buddhist temples are situated in mountains and although they are beautiful, many of them look very much the same. An exception is found in Haedong Yonggung temple that is situated in the craggy cliffs along the sea that borders the north-east of Busan...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Advocate : A missing body"

2015/11/14 | | Permalink

Ho-seong (played by Lee Seon-gyoon) is a somewhat eccentric lawyer. He uses his weirdly modulated tone of voice and tortured logical explanations to confuse juries into returning not-guilty verdicts. Ho-seong is kind of a jerk, and his semi-comedic powers of lawyering can only ever really be used to subvert justice for the sake of a paycheck. So matters take a turn for the strange when Ho-seong is forced to do battle against an elaborate corporate conspiracy more because he hates losing than because he actually cares about justice...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Throne"

2015/11/14 | | Permalink

Prince Sado (played by Yoo Ah-in) appeared, at a young age, to have all the proper talents necessary to become an effective ruler of Joseon Korea. But as Prince Sado grew older, it became clear that he was a sensitive child poorly suited to statecraft though well attuned to art. King Yeongjo (played by Song Kang-ho) was disappointed. Though King Yeongjo was a great King, he lacked the patience for anything except perfection. And unfortunately, the glaringly imperfect Sado was King Yeongjo's only surviving son...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Liar"

2015/11/14 | | Permalink

Ah-yeong (played by Kim Kkobbi) is a compulsive liar. Why does she lie? Well, that's...that's a pretty stupid question, actually. Look at her life. Sure, the catty work environment isn't that bad, even if it's not very reassuring. But then we get to Ah-yeong's home life, and see that her family is falling apart. And not in a spectacular way that involves explosive behavior or anything like that. They're just bogged down by their own poverty and incapacity to the point that living has becoming about breathing rather than doing...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 3

2015/11/13 | | Permalink

The opening scenes are, rather innocently enough, about how girls like boys, but don't really know anything about them. That's the problem with having a peer group that also consists of teenagers. Everybody is equally clueless, but not everyone knows that they're equally clueless. This also leads to embarassments like Deok-seon's bizarre use of makeup. That's not a process which can or should be hurried. A pity the older So-ra is too busy being aggressive to offer much useful advice to her younger sister...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 16 - Final

2015/11/11 | | Permalink

Don't let the brief illusion of conflict a few months into Hye-jin and Seong-joon's separation fool you. Through and through, the finale of "She Was Pretty" is just more sickening cuteness. The drama has kind of turned into candy. It's delicious to consume but after a certain point I just worry that it's going to make me sick. So it's fortunate that the drama is over, and that it saves the cutest possible moment of all for the last scene...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 6

2015/11/11 | | Permalink

Tae-oh somehow manages to be both completely logical and completely illogical at the same time. First he spells out to Song-yi all sorts of rational reasons how she relies on him way too much considering this is a platonic friendship and they both have significant others now. Then Tae-oh immediately does the selfless noble thing again, for no good reason. No wonder Song-yi takes advantage of him all the time. Tae-oh practically begs her to...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 6

2015/11/10 | | Permalink

Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan have a very odd dynamic as lovers. They never really feel like lovers at all- they feel like friends who are making a self-conscious effort to act like lovers. Which is not a bad thing. Friends will put up with behavior that would be intolerable in a lover. And Ri-hwan, rather than sulk grumpily, is genuinely pretty good at having a fun time. But all of this can't erase the fact that the only real difference between Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan as lovers compared to Haeng-ah and Ri-hwan as friends is that whole ominous look down the alley...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 12

2015/11/10 | | Permalink

For all practical intents and purposes Bang-won has become a damsel-in-distress. In this way he indirectly manages to become the impetus for Do-jeon and Seong-gye to finally join forces, creating a rather mixed metaphor. Bang-won is only in this situation at all because of the poor choices that he made. And yet it's quite unclear if or when Do-jeon and Seong-gye would have started cooperating if they had not been united by this common goal...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 11

2015/11/09 | | Permalink

In-gyeom (played by Choi Jong-won) is the main antagonist of "Six Flying Dragons" for the foreseeable future. The pacing in this drama isn't as fast as I was expecting. Far from getting into the story of how Bang-won became the ruthless historical king of legend, "Six Flying Dragons" is still describing him mostly as kind of a dumb kid- a dumb kid who's only just now starting to realize how badly he screwed up...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 5

2015/11/09 | | Permalink

Late in this episode, a conversation is had regarding whether a kiss with a longtime platonic friend necessarily means that two are or can potentially be a romantic item. One particularly amusing part of the response is simply, if there's no romantic attachment, why did the kiss happen in the first place? This is the main essential question with which we should look at last episode's cliffhanger and this episode's aftermath. Why did Ri-hwan kiss Haeng-ah?...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.11.06 ~ 2015.11.08

2015/11/09 | | Permalink

Jang Jae-hyeon's "The Priests" clean up at the top...

Jang Jae-hyeon's debut feature film "The Priest" entered at the top of the pile by capturing a domineering 62% of the box office pie over the weekend. The local film made its debut last Thursday, and from the 1,088 screens it was allocated managed to attract over 1.4 million filmgoers. Formerly known as "Black Priests", the film has been lightly compared to the iconic "Exorcist" film, and, more locally, the film conjures up images of Park Chan-wook's bloodly vampire film "Thirst". In "The Priests", Kim Yoon-seok and Kang Dong-won play two Catholic priests who become involved in a disturbing mystery the can't forsake...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Riders: Get Tomorrow" Episode 1

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

Gi-joon (played by Kim Dong-wuk), Yoon-jae (played by Choi Min-I), and Joon-wook (played by Yoon Joong-hoon) are all pushing thirty but they stubbornly refuse to grow up. The three of them still take their bikes out to the river and check out all the foxy ladies. Because what else are they going to go do with their lives? The job market stinks, and the occasional fantasy is about the only thing keeping these guys sane. That, and their ability to vent to friends about the often absurd problems common in their employment situations...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 6

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

It turns out that Go-sin is all right after all, and starts the episode off with another elucidating metaphorical speech on worker's rights. This time he posits that the modern workplace is in itself an attack on a person's humanity. It's an interesting concept actually. You don't have to go too far to find articles, especially South Korean articles, that discuss work-related depression. I've suffered from that myself in fact. There's little room in conformist systems for acknowledging individuality, even as some cultures laud that as a virtue...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Awl"

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

The concept of realism is often a difficult one to define, but also something which the receiving audience of fiction has different ideas on from person to person. Korean drama is mostly homogeneous in its output and served audience and realism is sacrificed for the sake of idealistic solutions and easy to follow plots. Even so, series that tackle ugly realities for what they are exist. Some even do it wonderfully. So far, "Awl" manages both...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

Taste of Cinema presents their list of the best South Korea films of the last five years, "The Throne" comes out on top at this year's KAFC awards, see Korean history through Lee Joon-ik's Films, and Park Chan-wook fans get a first look at his latest project...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

Find out where to get the best pizza in Seoul, the Korean pavilion at the 2015 Expo in Milan was a hit, see how and why Korea's older generation are opening up more restaurants, and Hyosun has some temple-inspired tori gimbap for you to try...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

Explore Jeju's volcanic woodlands, find out which South Korean hotel came out on top in a recent research report, Time Out points us to six traditional markets worth visiting, and The Korea Herald has some travels bits of its own to share...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

Did you know North Korea has its own car company? The New York Times examines the life and death of those who can't afford either, pressure to change Korea's image-orientated hiring practices, and is South Korea's fashion too petite for the rest of the world?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/11/08 | | Permalink

Robert Koehler captures a quiet scene in Cheongsong, see the photographs who are exploring Jeju's past and present, hydrochromic paint turns monsoon season into a pretty pleasure, and what's this new nail art trend all about?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 2

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

Seong-gyoon (played by Kim Seong-gyoon) is kind of the goofy uncle in "Answer Me 1988". Aside from doing a ridiculous dance at regular intervals Seong-gyoon also tries to show off how happening he is with modern technology by buying a camcorder. Ah, nostalgia, how sweet it is to remember that people used to consider having their every waking moment caught on camera to be weird. Seong-gyoon isn't a dork, the man's just so ahead of the curve that everyone has confused him for a dork...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 5

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

The first portion of this episode deals with the quasi-legal Kafkaesque nightmare that is directed arbitration. Basically, most corporations (and these days, universities) have a system in place to insure proper cause for dismissal. Such arbitration vaguely resembles a legal system but it is not actually a legal system. Lawyers can't help you there. Joon-cheol (played by Yesung) actually has a slight advantage compared to most in that. He at least had some idea ahead of time what the charges were going to be...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Unfamiliar Story"

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

Soo-bong (played by Jeong Yoon-seok) is a boy who visualizes life as being a storybook. This isn't because Soo-bong has a particularly vivid imagination. Rather, Soo-bong and his brother Jae-bong (played by Kim Jeong-woo) are currently living without a mother, and Soo-bong thinks its his responsibility as the older brother to "rescue" their mom. Being a kid, Soo-bong has not considered the possibility that the reasons behind his mother's departure may not have been a result of external factors...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Bubble Gum"

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

After the rise of cable channel dramas in South Korean television output, the changes are visible. From the very foundations of how production works to the topics explored, everything is changing and it seems to be changing quite fast. Along with new concepts, different approaches emerge to familiar stories and genres. "Bubble Gum" plays out like a typical romantic comedy, but at the same time handles its characters and story very differently to most and so far much more intimately...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - Lucy Hair Salon

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

One thing I love about these diary pieces is that I can tell you, HanCinema readers, about my adventures in Korea and bring you along with me no matter how big or small my adventure may or may not have been. One thing I particularly loved about the Korea Joa 2015 program was that I not only met dedicated colleagues of Korean entertainment, but I also made friends. There is nothing quite like sharing good times with a good friend...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Video Interview with Dabit

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

On October 7, 2015 HanCinema sat down for an interview with Dabit, a talented, creative Korean-American singer/songwriter who has broken into the Korean music scene. Special thanks to Kaja! Korea and Soompi for the opportunity to speak with the down-to-earth, fun, musician...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Circle of Atonement"

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

Gi-jeong (played by Choe Yu-ri) is a little girl with barely any perception of her rather discouraging birthright. Gi-jeong's father Ji-cheol (played by Lim Hyeong-joon) is an ex-con who is not doing a very good job of rehabilitating into society. The situation slowly and methodically gets messier until finally, one timeskip away Gi-jeong has turned into Jeong-hyeon (played by Kim Yoo-jeong), a teenage girl with thankfully little memory of how she came to have a completely different name and family. For awhile anyway...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Love and..."

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

An old man (played by Ahn Seong-gi) is playing invisible instruments and musing over the merits of apples. An unexpected act of altruism spurs a peculiar retribution throughout the halls of the mental hospital, with an equally puzzling conclusion. Initially filmed in glorious black and white, "Love and..." never makes that much sense to begin with. Then writer/director Zhang Lu practically makes an aside to the audience where he says, if you really believe in love, then you'll understand film as being even more incomprehensible than this...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Wind on the Moon"

2015/11/07 | | Permalink

When Ye-ji was born ninteen years ago, it was obvious that she was blind. It took a little more time than that for Ye-ji's parents to realize that she was deaf as well. A daughter with no sense of sight and no sense of hearing- Ye-ji couldn't gain entry to blind schools or deaf schools, and now lives a life of complete ignorance. The central thesis of "Wind on the Moon" is a simple one- who, or what, exactly, is Ye-ji? When we see her dancing around in circles, what exactly does Ye-ji think she's doing?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Answer Me 1988" Episode 1

2015/11/06 | | Permalink

The real unspoken hero of the "Answer Me" series has always been whoever is in charge of the background designs. It could not have possibly been easy to pull together that much obscure eighties merchandise. Did the production team actually find this old Hidori stuff lying around somewhere, or did they have to custom order it? Everything looks so new and fresh, which makes sense because in 1988 this pop culture was both hip and relevant. Not so much today...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 15

2015/11/05 | | Permalink

I never noticed before how Hyeok kind of acts like a criminal mastermind. Just listen to the way he outlines to Seong-joon all the clues that have been scattered along the way. At any moment Hyeok is ready to just bust out with bwa ha ha, it was me all along you fools! Except that Hyeok isn't actually a villain and his secret identity is only a plot point that was brought up to solve the mostly arbitrary conflict regarding the threat to Most...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 5

2015/11/04 | | Permalink

Song-yi continues to do what she does best- act as unattractive as possible. I can't help but find it rather amusing that Ji-an's attempts at depth and romantic impression are constantly foiled by, well, by the fact that Song-yi acts like a child. Because she is one. All the characters are because they're only twenty years old. I seem to mention this fact a lot but it's pretty hard to avoid because the mental age of the characters is in fact the main source of almost all the comedy in "Because It's the First Time"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 14

2015/11/04 | | Permalink

As much as I try to avoid the fact "She Was Pretty" is incredibly repetitive. And yet for this normally irritating flaw the cuteness consistently, constantly makes up for it. I simply cannot get enough of Seong-joon and Hye-jin cheering each other up after a tough day. It's the mutual effort that really gets to me. It starts out with one of them trying to cheer up the other but by the end it's impossible to tell who's improving whose mood because they're both just having so much fun...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 10

2015/11/03 | | Permalink

The episode starts out as a standard victory lap, because it seems like everything is going great. At least that's what it seems like from Bang-won's somewhat aloof onlooker status. What Bang-won isn't aware of is that Do-jeon's plans work from very minute calculations, and even unexpected help in the short term can cause major problems in the long term. Do-jeon needs moral authority more than anything else, and Bang-won undermines that...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 4

2015/11/03 | | Permalink

Writer Lee Mi-na-I is so determined to not allow for any possible solutions to the character problems in "Bubble Gum" that even a straight-up fistfight accomplishes little more than maintenance of the status quo. From there it's on to grumpy people using slurred words to discuss their problems with same-sex friends. And this too has mostly the same effect. All anyone is able to say for sure is that they don't like anything about the current situation, with no real idea of how to change that...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 3

2015/11/02 | | Permalink

Haeng-ah is an unusual character in that the actions which best illustrate her personality are not the ones where she interacts with other people, but rather where she's by herself. Haeng-ah is a fairly good case of arrested development. For a long time she's been floating in this weird space where she doesn't actually have to answer to any kind of familial authority. Ri-hwan, after all, is not her real brother, so consequently, he can't really discipline her...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 9

2015/11/02 | | Permalink

Yeon-hee (played by Jeong Yoo-mi) was, at first glance, just Ttang-sae's motivation to become involved in the fight against Goryeo. But since the timeskip, we keep getting brief glimpses of her in a very important role- information mover. "Six Flying Dragons" very correctly recognizes that the women of history were far from helpless. Information is at a premium in an age where messages can easily be intercepted and subverted. That's a pretty big deal considering how everything hinges on the outcome of incredibly complicated plans...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.10.30 ~ 2015.11.01

2015/11/02 | | Permalink

New local and foreign flicks shake things up…

The box office was abuzz this past week as a host of new entries came and complicated the fray and shook things up from top to bottom. Last weekend Kim Bong-joo's action thriller "The Phone" (starring Son Hyeon-joo) topped the chart by capturing 32% of the pie; this week, however, it was nudged down a notch with the release of Yoon Joon-hyeong's new thriller "Fatal Intuition"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 4

2015/11/01 | | Permalink

As it turns out, "Awl" is still in the preparation phase. I'm trying to be patient here but there's definitely times when the drama feels more like a lecture on the nature of labor markets than it does an actual story in its own right. Which is part of the point. Labor markets are a complicated subject so of course Go-sin has to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining how these issues work. As has been noted frequently, workers are very ignorant about these issues even though it's literally a matter of their livelihood...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 2

2015/11/01 | | Permalink

The pettiness of childhood has infiltrated the hearts and minds of No-ra, Hyeon-seok, Woo-cheol, and every other adult in "Twenty Again". It emphasizes the point that no matter how old a person may be, a twenty-year-old still lives inside her and can manifest at any time. Society makes it harder for someone older to behave like that twenty-year-old, but it happens nonetheless.

The back story of No-ra's and Hyeon-seok's high school relationship is given and although much has changed in the twenty years since they last met, there is still something that remains: Hyeon-seok's feelings for her ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Twenty Again" Episode 1

2015/11/01 | | Permalink

The first episode of "Twenty Again" is absolutely darling. Choi Ji-woo doffs her image as the classic bombshell and dons a childlike persona that suits her just as well. The setup is deftly done and the dynamic between Ji-woo's character, Ha No-ra, and her less-than-attentive family is strained at best. It makes me want to see her learn and grow for her own betterment because all she does now is strive to please others.

Director Kim Hyeong-sik is known for such dramas as "Secret Door", "Suspicious Housekeeper" (in which Choi Ji-woo was also cast), and "Biscuit Teacher And Star Candy". Screenwriter So Hyeon-kyeong penned notable dramas such as "Two Weeks" and "My Daughter Seo-yeong" (in which Lee Sang-yoon starred.) She creates well-rounded underdogs who go through trials and tribulations to find themselves - I anticipate such a path for leading lady Choi Ji-woo as Ha No-ra. No-ra is a woman who undervalues herself as does her soon-to-be- ex-husband, and her college-aged son. She tak...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/11/01 | | Permalink

The twentieth edition of Busan International Film Festival sees record attendance, Lee Joon-ki set to star in the next "Resident Evil", KOBIZ checks in on South Korean talent overseas, and Hangul Celluloid and Co. interview Ryoo Seung-wan in London...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/11/01 | | Permalink

Holly goes Beyond Kimchi and shares her recipe for roasted chicken with fennel, learn how to make a simple sweet and tangy cabbage salad, find out how one family business in Jeju is doing amid the island's commercialisation, and who's up for some Fried Pikachu?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/11/01 | | Permalink

Experience the "Real" Jeju with guided walks with expert eyes, would you take you dog to a coffee shop if you could, find out why Apgujeong is the place to visit if you're into K-culture, and who's keen to run a marathon in North Korea?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography and Art

2015/11/01 | | Permalink

Find out more about South Korea's status in the 'pottery wars', Heejeong Sohn shows how Korea's missionarries were represented at the turn of the twentieth century, Robert Koehler turns a muddy reality into a beautiful moment, and see why one photographer is turning her lens on North Korean women...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 3

2015/10/31 | | Permalink

To date So-jin (played by Kim Ga-eun-I) has not had that much to do in "Awl" except hang around Goo-sin's office. This episode it's revealed that she in fact has a very important role to play- as Soo-in's love interest. This initially seems kind of silly given that "Awl" is literally a drama about labor relations and unions. About the last incentive I'd expect to hear is that you can meet pretty girls while labor organizing...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Park Bo-yeong Q&A for "The Silenced" + "Oh My Ghostess" OST Giveaway

2015/10/31 | | Permalink

After the screening of "The Silenced" that I had the pleasure of watching at the 2015 Busan International Film Festival, KOFICE secured the Korea Joa 2015 members places in the Q&A session following the film with Director Lee Hae-yeong and leading actresses Park Bo-yeong and Park So-dam. It was held in an adjacent theater where a small number of press was invited to ask question in an open forum...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - Suwon and Hwaseong Palace

2015/10/31 | | Permalink

Before the official Korea Joa 2015 schedule I had a chance to explore outside of Seoul in the lovely city of Suwon, which is about a forty minute bus ride from the capital. The city is completely walled and is the home of Hwaseong Fortress, Hwaseong Palace, eleven universities, and company headquarters such as Samsung Electronics. Public transportation is fantastic and I found the people to be kind and helpful to the perpetually lost and perplexed foreigner...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Yong Pal"

2015/10/31 | | Permalink

'Makjang' is a term which describes the use of highly unrealistic, sensationalist elements in order to make a drama packed and attention-grabbing. Since this often means delivering cheap thrills and bad writing, it is a phrase frequently used in a derogatory manner. Whatever one's opinion on the value of 'makjang' dramas, "Yong Pal" is a series which quickly becomes one very messy work in its writing. At the same time, it does what 'makjang' is about well...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Long Way Home"

2015/10/31 | | Permalink

The time is July, 1953, and the place the western front of the Korean War. Yes, the war is still going on...for some reason. As the opening subtitles note, the Korean War could have ended a few months after it started back in 1950. Not that it's the place of soldiers to question such matters. North Korean soldier Yeong-gwang (played by Yeo Jin-goo) is a teenager with little comprehension of what North Korea even is. Then one random errand leaves Yeong-gwang in a fumbling scramble to do right by the country he barely understands...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Speed"

2015/10/31 | | Permalink

Choo-won (played by Seo Joon-yeong), Goo-rim (played by Baek Seong-hyeon), Dae-seong (played by Choi Tae-hwan), and Seo-won (played by Byeon Joon-seok) are four friends of differing talents and temperaments with one common goal in life- gotta go fast. This is a generally good goal in life to have, given that they start the movie out running away from the cops and then spend the rest of it running away from other troublesome obstacles. Like vomit. Drug withdrawal. And vomit. An oppressively rapey school environment. And vomit. Seo-won's mortality. And also more vomit...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mission School"

2015/10/31 | | Permalink

In 2004 director Kang We-suck was a student at Dae Myung High School, a private Christian school in Seoul. Not a Christian himself, Kang We-suck became fed up with the religious element of his education and started staging protests demanding that Dae Myung High School respect his freedom to religious expression. Ten years later Kang We-suck dramatized this event in "Mission School", I presume in an attempt to explain what exactly his motivation was. Having seen the film, I'm not sure Kang We-suck himself knows the answer to that question...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 13

2015/10/29 | | Permalink

The first half of this episode is mostly just standard romantic comedy escapism fluff. Hye-jin and Seong-joon are cute together- full stop. There's all sorts of fun stuff here, but my favorite touch is how Hye-jin's upbeat attitude is mostly unchanged. It's just slightly more upbeat, so of course everyone notices the change. Seong-joon, as usual, does not give away anything with his stupidly stone cold face...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 12

2015/10/28 | | Permalink

The opening of this episode somewhat hilariously completely undercuts the entire emotional catharsis of the last one by revealing that the situation of Hye-jin's friends was nowhere near as extreme as Hye-jin had been assuming. Well, except for Seong-joon. It turns out that simply being in close proximity to Hye-jin is not enough to make people happy. Other life challenges often take priority, because there's just so much to do on a daily basis...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 4

2015/10/28 | | Permalink

Do you ever remember being twenty years old and having really stupid dreams? Like, a dream where you just do something in real life that comes off real poetic and cool and romantic, like a scene in a drama? All right, I'll admit it- I have dreams like that even today, although I'm old enough and cynical enough to know they're probably not ever going to happen. But then that's the beauty of "Because It's the First Time". Its characters are young enough to still be dumb enough to believe in these dreams. And then of course an unexpected curveball makes this dream unattainable...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 2

2015/10/27 | | Permalink

Ri-hwan (played by Lee Dong-wook) works in oriental medicine and is Haeng-ah's childhood friend- a position that has persisted in the present day. One part of their relationship that's really caught me off-guard is that Jeong Ryeo-won and Lee Dong-wook don't really have much romantic chemistry. What they have is friend chemistry. This is very significant, because they do have romantic chemistry with the second leads in this drama...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 8

2015/10/27 | | Permalink

Early on this episode an interesting question is posed that ends up saying a lot about the motivation of several of the dragons. Why Seong-gye? Sure, the guy has honor and morality. But to date he's been pretty determined to defend the Goryeo state now matter how obviously terrible it is. Paradoxically, it's actually Seong-gye's sense of submission that makes him an ideal candidate. He has an iron resolve but no personal ambition. Anyone who has ever met Seong-gye has a strong impression of his moral character. Except Bang-won anyway...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bubble Gum" Episode 1

2015/10/26 | | Permalink

Haeng-ah (played by Jeong Ryeo-won) works in radio. Her life is kind of...generic. That's not necessarily an insult, it's just been awhile since I saw the first episode of a drama without some kind of obvious hook. As of yet "Bubble Gum" lacks much in the way of clear overriding conflict or even philosopihcal ideas. The most distinctive part of Haeng-ah is quite literally her overalls. Although really, a person can wear whatever ridiculous clothes they want when their job doesn't involve being seen. Believe me, I would know...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 7

2015/10/26 | | Permalink

Incremental progress is made toward the characters finally catching up with the plot. I can't help but find it a little amusing that Do-jeon is the main character actually doing stuff, and yet he's also constantly out of focus because, well, because the younger characters haven't gotten that far yet. But then he's not the only one. Seong-gye finally makes an important appearance having been out of action for so long, and the scene is telling...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review]

2015/10/26 | | Permalink

"The Phone" sends "The Martian" packing...

Kim Bong-joo's action thriller, "The Phone", starring Son Hyeon-joo and Eom Ji-won, was released last week and came out on top over the weekend as Korea's top pick. Kim's tale of a man struggling to make sense of his wife's death was allocated 794 screens around the country, and from those screenings managed to dislodge "The Martian" at the top of the pile with 613 thousand admissions going its way (31.7%). Ridley Scott's adaptation of Andy Weir's 2011 novel has already grossed $384 million worldwide, and since its release in Korea on the 8th of this month, "The Martian" has attracted nearly 4 million filmgoers ($28.5 million), 534 thousand of which came from this past weekend...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 2

2015/10/25 | | Permalink

Soo-in continues to wait with mounting dread for the situation to finally culminate in disaster. The constantly recurring analogy of the animal trapped in the headlights is an appropriate one. The paradoxical aspect of all this is that the episode practically happens in slow-motion, and yet Soo-in is constantly incapable of taking any sort of decisive action to just try and resolve the situation himself. It goes against all Soo-in's training- but not his instincts, ironically enough...More

[HanCinema's Digest] K-pop

2015/10/25 | | Permalink

Seoul Beats takes a close look at K-pop leaders and their role in idol groups, scientist develop a virtual K-pop teacher to help fans learn their favourite moves, a Chinese mother forks out thousands of dollars to send her daughter to K-pop boot camp, and what's the deal with boy bands in Korea?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/10/25 | | Permalink

KOBIZ features ten Korean films that screened at BIFF 2015 to watch out for, The New York Korean Festival gets ready for their 13th edition, find out how Korean indies did this year, and how much do you know about Korea's cinema history?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/10/25 | | Permalink

Kimchimari presents three easy-to-make recipes using ramen, Sue promotes her Korean cooking book, Holly has steps for preparing her version of hambak steak, and the Korean government seeks to make Korean cuisine recognised as part of their cultural heritage...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/10/25 | | Permalink

Find out more about Korea's greatest naval commander with Extra History, Eat Your Kimchi considers the differences between Japanese and Korean culture, find out why more Korean men are investing in beauty products, and what's the big deal about Korean culture?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 1

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

The time is summer, 2003. At a grocery store, the employees all have a good mutual working environment. A visit by a bunch of men in suits seems to confirm that the employees are, in fact, doing their job correctly and that there's nothing to worry about. Then there's the manager Soo-jin (played by Ji Hyeon-woo). He seems unnecessarily gloomy. Then we get the flashbacks explaining just why it is that Soo-jin has such a pessimistic outlook- and realize that his overall estimation of the true situation is almost certainly correct...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Bubble Gum"

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

"Healing drama" is a term which has been used often, but has sadly not produced great results. While there are many efforts to balance romance and lightness with emotional burdens and troubles, few have been successful. Even so, "Bubble Gum" aims to be a fairytale for adults and a healing drama about people finding comfort in one another. Term association aside, things are looking good for the series...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Last"

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

Trying genres outside of the historical, family, romance and melodrama realm is never an easy challenge in Korean drama. New audience does not simply appear out of nowhere, it has to be convinced. Pre-production as a system has also been an unfavorable one for ratings, with viewers unable to control a show's development. Yet series like "Last" are eye-opening. "Last" is not only good, it also reveals the flaws in the system and potential in the industry...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - Myeongdong

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

If there is one thing that can be said about Seoul, is that it truly is a city with something that will appeal to everyone. Its personality is multifaceted and deep. While parts of it rest, others come alive. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, and people to meet. Even cats, dogs, and raccoons await the friendly faces of tourists and locals alike in animal cafes. It is steeped in the rich history of Korea and flavored by the worldly wonders of Korea's immense expansion since its birth as a democracy...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Interview with KOFICE Director General

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

The very first day of the Korea Joa 2015 program began with a beautiful welcome banquet and ended with an interview of Director General Kim Deok-jung. The juxtaposition of work and play set the mood for the next nine days of the trip. It is what made the trip unique as well as successful. Director General Kim Deok-jung heralded the experience with his presence at the banquet and with his well-thought out answers in his interview with HanCinema. Read on for a transcript of our interview. We'd like to thank interpreter Cha Yoon-su for her invaluable participation as our interpreter...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hello Jeon Woo-chi! The Battle of the Magic Robots"

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

Jeon Woo-chi (voiced by Kim Yool) is the great Taoist wizard of Korean legend. What is a Taoist wizard? Well, they're kind of like superheroes except that they use their powers to commit elaborate pranks. Hey, that's pretty much what Taoism is about- taking life easy and making a point of enjoying it. Jeon Woo-chi isn't a mean guy or anything- it's just so much more fun to win a wizard duel by making jokes then actually taking the fight seriously. As the protagonist in an animated film aimed at the elementary schoolchild set, Jeon Woo-chi does what he does well...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Crybaby Boxing Club"

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

As "A Crybaby Boxing Club" opens up, we first get some important context for what it's like to be a long-term Korean resident in Japan. A significant portion of the Japanese population hates you, to the point they have marches demanding that you leave. In all fairness, they do bring up an interesting point. Why exactly would a Korean person, who fully identifies with the Korean culture, willingly choose to live in Japan some several decades after their ancestors migrated there? The answer is a simple political one. There's no such thing as Korea. There's North Korea and South Korea, but neither are the "real" Korea...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Cruel State"

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

Eighteen months ago the Sewol tragedy became an international headline. From Westerners there were the usual absurdist arguments that Neo-Confucianism was somehow responsible. During the Busan Film Festival last year "The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol" became a hot issue because of supposed restriction of artistic repression. But by and large the issue has been forgotten. "Cruel State" opens up with a visit to the school that lost entire classes to the tragedy. As the camera wanders the empty classrooms, the photos, and the tributes, one fact becomes ineffable- some people do not have the luxury of forgetting...More

[HanCinema's Travel] "Mapo Ferry Shrimp Festival 2015"

2015/10/24 | | Permalink

While larger festivals tend to get most of the press, in most parts of Korea, it's easy enough to find local seasonal festivals that are a tad difficult to explain. The Mapo Ferry Shrimp Festival, for example, does not exactly have a very resonant English name. It's localized to the Mapo region of Seoul where (I presume) there is a thriving market in small shrimplike creatures. They aren't actually shrimp, I don't think- I've mainly just seen these used as optional seasoning for Korean stew. And as for the ferry, well, I don't have any idea what that has to do anything. All I can confirm is that there were in fact ferries at the event...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 11

2015/10/22 | | Permalink

Once the initial confrontation is resolved, "She Was Pretty" quickly closes into dreamlike mode as the real Hye-jin is able to meet Seong-joon on equal terms for the first time since childhood. This sequence begs all sorts of questions- if the reencounter is this magical, with fluid atmosphere, warm fuzzy feelings, and little heart lights everywhere, why did Hye-jin want to put it off so badly? What was she scared of? If she and Seong-joon had such a genuine connection, isn't it obvious that this would shine through, whatever Hye-jin's face looked like in the present day?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 10

2015/10/21 | | Permalink

Hye-jin is in a very dour mood this episode. The reason actually is not because Seong-joon appears to have up and declared his love for, although that's definitely a contributing factor. The real issue is that Hye-jin has abruptly realized that her attempt to retain the nostalgic cluster of their childhood romance has failed rather miserably. For all Hye-jin's promises to put an end to this charade once and for all and leave Seong-joon's life, there's always one more excuse preventing her from making a clean break...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 3

2015/10/21 | | Permalink

I can't decide whether "Because It's the First Time" actually wants its two leads characters to get together or not. With Tae-oh, Song-yi keeps alternating between being a jerk and being emotionally needy, all while insisting there's no mutual attraction. I've seen the whole "combative relationship is proof they should be together" countless times...in fiction. When I see it happen in real life usually they just genuinely dislike each other but don't have any better friends. Tae-oh and Song-yi look more like a real couple than a fictional one in that regard...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 6

2015/10/20 | | Permalink

Yeong-gyoo (played by Min Seong-wook) is Bang-won's bodyguard, and also one of the more underrated characters in "Six Flying Dragons". Sure, the guy's not a dragon. But he has very basic observational skills. Yeong-gyoo's the guy who points out that Bang-won's plans never make any sense, and Bang-won always has to struggle to get Yeong-gyoo to help out. While Bang-won is smart he's frequently lacking in any kind of common sense, as is quickly demonstrated when Bang-won tries to commit to a plan without Yeong-gyoo nearby to offer muscle...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 5

2015/10/19 | | Permalink

For the first time "Six Flying Dragons" feels like it's about six completely different main characters. That's not a good thing- the mood whiplash gets pretty severe as we have to jump from the usual horrific grimness to comic relief, sometimes in the same scene. If anyone's to blame for this it's Muhyul (played by Yoon Gyoon-sang). The guy's too much of a dorky goofball. To some extent this can be charming, but not when the other character in focus is Boon-yi (played by Sin Se-kyeong), and she has to deal firsthand with the death which for Muhyul is just an abstract concept...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.10.16 ~ 2015.10.18

2015/10/19 | | Permalink

"The Martian" isn't going anywhere…

Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic, "The Martian", managed to remain at the top of the box office pile without much fuss or competition. "The Martian", based on Andy Weir's 2011 novel, and adapted by Drew Goddard, saw 819 thousand filmgoers come out and support its cause across 1,040 screens around the country, which meant that this popular space thriller captured over 46% of the box office pie during its second week out in Korea...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Awl"

2015/10/18 | | Permalink

Arriving soon to JTBC and adding yet another genre to the channel's output is "Awl". "Awl" is so far marketed as a type of office drama and while it has not generated much international buzz, it seems there is some good talent and a popular work behind it with a faithful fan following. Whether this almost obscure series will gain more attention after it stars airing remains to be seen...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/10/18 | | Permalink

Taste of Cinema reveals its favourite horrors out of Asia, KOBIZ offers online screenings from the Busan International Film Festival, find out what films Koreans supported over Chuseok, and catch all the winners from Korea's premier film festival, BIFF...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/10/18 | | Permalink

Find out how to make spicy shredded squid from Beyond Kimchi, make sure your kimchi fried rice comes out right every time, Maangchi has some tips for K-food newbies, and forget the pancakes you used to know with Jinjoo...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/10/18 | | Permalink

Time Out has some suggestions for where to go to enjoy the change of season, Pop Fighting shares their experience of Day 7 and 8 of Korea Joa, get some insight into beauty businesses and practices in Seoul, and enjoying Seoul on a budget is a realistic goal if you're smart about your spending...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "The Village: Achiara's Secret"

2015/10/17 | | Permalink

A good mystery satisfies the basic human feature of curiosity. Having a puzzle that needs solving is something which appeals to many, but not everyone is in it just for the fun of solving it. For a lot of people, there is need for extra motivation or easily digestible drama, rather than mystery. "The Village: Achiara's Secret" may not have captivated as many as its predecessor, "Yong Pal" did, but its story will interest those who give it their time.

So far, the series is pretty much a clear suspense and mystery show. The numerous characters portrayed all have their secrets and emotional scars, which means that there are several mysteries to keep one's thirst for the truth fueled...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] "The Silenced" BIFF Review

2015/10/17 | | Permalink

On October 2nd, 2015, "The Silenced" aired as part of the 2015 Busan International Film Festival in Busan's Haeundae Megabox Theaters. As part of KOFICE's Korea Joa 2015 project, HanCinema attended the screening and would like to thank KOFICE for the opportunity.

"The Silenced" is a film whose plot can be dissected into two contrasting parts: the first two-thirds that is alluring and full of promise, and the last third that quickly declines into disappointing predictability. The two parts are decorated with gifted actors, insightful filming, and very marked themes of friendship, sacrifice, and evil. Set in Japanese-occupied Korea, "The Silenced" focuses on a girls' boarding house and sanitorium where strange things happen to its sickly students...More

[HanCinema's Report] "Descendants of the Sun" filming in Greece

2015/10/17 | | Permalink

Upcoming series 'Descendants of the Sun' has been filming in locations all over Greece since late September. The drama starring popular actors Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo is about a UN peacekeeping troops captain and a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders falling in love while in a war-stricken country. Due to this premise, 80% of the pre-produced series is filmed outside of Korea. While the production has been mostly secretive in order to maintain audience suspense, some Greek news portals and blogs have followed the filming and acquired information. After contacting them, they have graciously shared their coverage with HanCinema. Filming has mainly taken place in Zakynthos, Arachova and Lemnos...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Right Now, Wrong Then"

2015/10/17 | | Permalink

Choon-soo (played by Jeong Jae-yeong) is a well regarded film director on a winter trip to Suwon to give a guest talk about one of his movies. Aside from this one errand, Choon-soo apparently has nothing better to do than wander around cultural sites and eventually strike up a conversation with Hee-jeong (played by Kim Min-hee). As it turns out, Hee-jeong also has nothing better to do with her time than have random conversations with random strangers. Although it probably helps that Choon-soo is a somewhat famous stranger...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Deep Trap"

2015/10/17 | | Permalink

So-yeon (played by Kim Min-kyeong-III) has recently suffered through a miscarriage. She grieves in her own way, as does her husband Joon-sik (played by Jo Han-seon). So-yeong comes up with an idea to try and make the pain more bearable- a trip to a nice island villa with a view of the beach. There they meet the owners Seong-cheol (played by Ma Dong-seok) and Min-hee (played by Ji An). Seong-cheol appears to enjoy off-color jokes, and Min-hee suffers in silence. But are they really jokes, or is Seong-cheol...possibly evil..?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Piano"

2015/10/17 | | Permalink

If you've ever watched a variety talk show or gone to a local festival, chances are you've seen a small child play a musical instrument with unimaginable talent. Ye-eun was one such little girl, and her case was a particularly inspiring one because Ye-eun lacks eyeballs. Key word there being "was". It's one thing to be a local talented child musician- to be a genuine prodigy, one who could play on the international level, well, Ye-eun hasn't reached that yet. And that's the subject matter of "The Piano"- a documentary about one of those kids you saw once in a revue format and then promptly forgot about...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 9

2015/10/15 | | Permalink

At first glance the cliffhanger last episode was all about Hye-jin- Hye-jin, the beautiful woman who finally decides to actually put in the effort to look pretty instead of coming to work every day looking all frazzled. But as is usually the case for "She Was Pretty", nothing could be further from the truth. Hye-jin's new appearance actually ends up having very little to do with Hye-jin herself- note how her upbeat behavior is unchanged. It's the other characters who look at Hye-jin in a different way...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 2

2015/10/14 | | Permalink

The title cards for each episode of "Because It's the First Time" aren't really descriptive. They're more like punch lines that only make sense after the joke has been told. It's like a stand-up comedy routine where the comedian straight up tells you what the punchline of the joke is going to be, but it takes him so long to get to that point that by the punchline comes up you've forgotten that he told you the joke in advance, so it becomes funny again grabbing it from memory and realizing how the delivery of the joke was misleading...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 4

2015/10/13 | | Permalink

The ending of the last episode was gloomy, and the denouement we get here is almost enough to make us consider that maybe Bang-won has gone too far. It's at that point that the perspective more fully shifts to Ttang-sae (played by Yoon Chan-yeong), the street urchin with more important parentage than he could have possibly guessed. Ttang-sae is given a brief respite from destiny, but then we see what happens to those who don't fight the Goryeo regime as Bang-won did. They get crushed anyway...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 3

2015/10/12 | | Permalink

The apparent resolution of the political situation at the end of the last episode is quickly revealed to be only a temporary fix. The deranged people still control Goryeo, and predictably react to these setbacks through cruel, mindless, pointless torture. Bang-won doesn't even get to give a meaningful goodbye to his new friends before the characters are once again scattered to the winds. So the future king resolves that, for now, he's going to solve his problems by studying...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.10.09 ~ 2015.10.11

2015/10/12 | | Permalink

"The Martian" arrives and conquers...

After entering the fray last weekend in pole position, Nancy Meyers' "The Intern" had to take a step back in light of the next big space thriller to come out of Hollywood: "The Martian". Ridley Scott's adaptation of Andy Weir's novel was released in the States earlier this month, and has already grossed over $227 million worldwide, but arrived in Korea last Thursday and was given 1,132 screens to pool from. This epic space thriller has been well-received by critics and cinephiles alike (especially space junkies and science fans), and in Korea close to 1.5 million tickets were sold over its first weekend out...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/10/11 | | Permalink

KOBIZ zooms in on director Hong Sang-soo and his latest film, Pierce lists his top 25 Korean films of all time, Kim Ki-duk set to make the war film "Who is God" in China, and "Reach For The SKY" explores the complex phenomenon of Korea's intense education system...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/10/11 | | Permalink

Get an inside look into what Koreans ate during the Joseon dynasty, Korea Bapsang presents tofu bibimbap in cups, Holly shares a recipe for braised chicken with two surprising ingredients, and tis' the season for Sweet Potato Lattes!...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/10/11 | | Permalink

Are Korean's particularly superstitious?, The Korea Herald talks about the real gangster problem, Kim Seong-kon struggles with Korea's icons, and is Guinness too dark for local palates?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography

2015/10/11 | | Permalink

See the fashionable stars from BIFF's red carpet, French photographer Francoise Huguier captures K-pop fans, 10 South Korean photographers to keep an eye on, and Robert Koehler reveals where east meets west in Seoul...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Case of Itaewon Homicide" + DVD Giveaway

2015/10/10 | | Permalink

The year is 1997. Pearson (played by Jang Geun-seok) and Alex (played by Sin Seung-hwan) are a couple of idiot teenagers talking tough at a Burger King in Itaewon. The conversation takes on horrific proportions when one of these two gets the bright idea to act all cool in a manner befitting Dostoyevsky, except without the self-awareness. Prosecutor Park (played by Jeong Jin-yeong) is thus left with a dilemma- which of the two idiot teenagers actually committed the abhorrent, pointless crime?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "City of Fathers" + DVD Giveaway

2015/10/10 | | Permalink

Kang-soo (played by Ko Chang-seok) used to have a decent job. Then he became kind of a hopeless screw-up. The catalyst for this was Jong-cheol (played by Yoo Seung-ho)- or more specifically the awkward circumstances regarding the poor teenager's birth. In the present day Jong-cheol tries, mostly ineffectively, to try and prevent Kang-soo from spiraling too hopelessly into oblivion but there's not that much to be done. Kang-soo is a fairly lousy parent, and he has to be brought down pretty low to finally do the right thing...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Off Road" + DVD Giveaway

2015/10/10 | | Permalink

The story of "Off Road" centers around a bank heist gone wrong. The overriding joke is that it's pretty obvious from the beginning that there's no correct way to do a bank heist. Yes, the movies tend to give us a lot of flash about the daring ne-er do wells who try to succeed through this kind of work but really, bank heists are the last resort of the desperate, They're for people who feel like they have nothing to lose, and lack the impulse control to more carefully consider their actions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 8

2015/10/08 | | Permalink

Hye-jin does not act like a main character. This episode makes it clear that this isn't just a matter of situational context- Hye-jin makes an active effort to put the needs of other people before her own. Hye-jin accepts abuse she should not accept out of a strong moral belief in doing the right thing and encouraging other people to be all that they can be. Hye-jin's attitude is heroic- but irrationally so. And as we see here, Hye-jin's lack of success is fairly clearly not due to lack of talent so much as it is an unwillingness on her part to expend personal effort selfishly...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Because It's the First Time" Episode 1

2015/10/07 | | Permalink

The structure of "Because It's the First Time" is, somewhat confusingly, much closer to that of a web drama that what we usually see even from cable TV dramas. This episode consists of three mostly self-contained segments, with the main running thread being the hideout and angst of Tae-oh (played by Minho), a young person who struggles with the fact that he is young and stupid. There's five friends, the main important one being Song-yi (played by Park So-dam), who acts as a love interest with her own personal angst issues...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 7

2015/10/07 | | Permalink

As was to be expected, the road trip for work purposes ends up being almost completely derailed- sometimes to a point so absurd to as to be barely believable. But it's all in keeping with Seong-joon's character. Seong-joon is so used to everything proceeding in an easily predictable way that he has no way of anticipating or reacting to unforeseen turnabouts. Seong-joon expects lackeys (like Hye-jin) to do all the work. And of course, there are times when simply acting superior isn't of any help at all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 2

2015/10/07 | | Permalink

Do-jeon (played by Kim Myeong-min) is the most politically important of the "Six Flying Dragons". He doesn't become royalty, and without spoiling too much, Do-jeon is in many ways fighting an overall losing battle. But in the immediate sense, his goals are the same as Yi Seong-gye- Do-jeon wants to avoid war. In this conflict, he has to struggle against a political system which favors (poor) long-term strategy over short-term reality...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] iKON Debut Concert

2015/10/06 | | Permalink

K-pop is one of the biggest exports in Korean entertainment. International fans love its sleek, well-polished, talented, and extremely good-looking idols. HanCinema attended the debut of an idol group that already had a major following from its rookie days: iKON. The concert-going experience was enhanced because it was in Korea where local entertainers appreciate their fans differently from international ones.

The iKON members have been in the Kpop scene since 2013 when five members of the boy group participated in the reality survival program "Who is Next: Win"...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 1

2015/10/05 | | Permalink

Immediately prior to the Joseon era Korea was kind of a giant hot mess. "Six Flying Dragons" doesn't get into too many details on how or why this happened. All that's known is that General Yi Seong-gye (played by Cheon Ho-jin) is a capable leader who appears to be the target of constant attempted subversion precisely because he is a capable leader, and the people in the palace don't seem to have anything better to do with their time than to gossip about him. The situation is a little absurd, actually- although that's part of the point...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.10.02 ~ 2015.10.04

2015/10/05 | | Permalink

"The Intern" rises to the top while Ryoo Seung-wan's "Veteran" breaks another record…

Nancy Meyers' "The Intern" has dislodged Lee Joon-ik's popular period piece "The Throne" to become the country's new number one. Lee's latest has been sitting pretty at the top for three weeks now, and since its release mid-August it's managed to amass a total tally of 5.5 million admissions, 492 thousand of which came from this past weekend. But a second week in the charts has helped raised Meyer's film to the top in a tightly contested weekend where the podium placements could have gone either way...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "D-Day"

2015/10/04 | | Permalink

Disaster stories in Korean cinema and drama do not have much of a presence at all. That is, aside from a few action films, and very few dramas slightly touching upon disaster, but not going all the way. "D-Day" is a very ambitious production in general, but especially for Korean drama. With pre-production on its side and so far focusing on a near real-time method of progression, it has made one impactful start...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/10/04 | | Permalink

Korea's only specialised documentary project market, Docs Port, kicks off later this month; check out BIFF's official page to find out what's happening at Korea's biggest film festival; KOBIZ recaps the Hollywood blockbusters that made bank over the summer; and Hangul Celluloid shares their experience of the 'Korea Joa Project'....More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/10/04 | | Permalink

Bookmark Seoul Eats for a feed of Korean food delights, Holly has a complex dish for risotto fans, Korean Bapsang shares its recipe for a timely Chuseok treat, and Kimchimari has another delicious apple and pork meal for us to try...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Exploring Busan

2015/10/03 | | Permalink

Tourists come to South Korea for many reasons, but those can be broken down into two general categories: its far-reaching, rich traditional history and its lively modern day happenings that have won the hearts of international citizens and netizens. Part of KOFICE's Korea Joa program is not only to cover Kpop and Korean film and drama, but also to experience the culture that drives these popular forms of entertainment...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "The Village: Achiara's Secret"

2015/10/03 | | Permalink

The mystery thriller genre is not one we see often outside of cable television in Korean drama. This is for good reason, as will be explained shortly. More and more shows are injecting mystery and suspense into their stories, however, and this means that the genre is evolving and hopefully improving. "The Village: Achiara's Secret" has a very interesting premise and could be a great success with some proper care...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] 20th Busan International Film Festival + "Commitment" DVD Giveaway

2015/10/02 |