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[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 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 | | Permalink

On October 1st HanCinema attended the 20th Busan International Film Festival's (BIFF) red carpet, opening ceremony, and opening film. Stars and talents walked the red carpet, stayed to present, and then "Zubaan", an introspective Bollywood film directed by Mozez Singh, had its world premiere. Despite the intermittent rain and blustering wind typical of the Busan area, fans braved the weather in raincoats and Snoopy towels to catch glimpses of the stars.

Upon arrival, what strikes one most is the architecture of the Busan Cinema Center located in Centrum City...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] The Members of Korea Joa

2015/10/01 | | Permalink

KOFICE has gathered an international crew to join the Korea Joa program headed by Director General Kim Deok-jung, and coordinated by Minju Kwon and Julia Jayoon Choi. The fifteen members and their guests round out the group. I, Lisa Espinosa, represent HanCinema, the Korean Movie & Drama Database. The other members represent the different industries of Korean culture coverage such as Kpop, Korean fashion, Korean events, and how Korean culture and enjoyed in their respective countries...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] KOFICE Welcoming Banquet

2015/10/01 | | Permalink

HanCinema has begun its Korea Joa journey! KOFICE - The Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange - brought fifteen Korean culture-focused websites together to the Ritz Carlton Hotel of Seoul to commence the first year of Korea Joa, a program geared towards sharing Korean culture through its entertainment and the journalists' personal experience of Korea itself. September 30th was the orientation banquet where the journalists met with the KOFICE director general and staff, and with one another...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 6

2015/10/01 | | Permalink

The opening portion of this episode is mostly a competition to see who can show the most love to Seong-joon. As usual the comparative analysis is, well, pretty obvious. Hye-jin does the best that she can within reason. Ha-ri doesn't do a very good job because she's just pretending to be a kind person when she isn't really. And Hyeok just...well, you ask for help from Hyeok, there's not really any guarantee that he's going to do it correctly. To Hyeok the right way is the fun way- no exceptions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 5

2015/09/30 | | Permalink

We've got the usual hijinx here of Hye-jin fumbling around Seong-joon, trying to keep stupid secrets, and the symbolism for how this relates to the biggest secret of them all is pretty difficult to ignore. Ditto with Ha-ri- the bit with the shoes practically hits us over the head with how yeah, this is a metaphor for the stupid choices Ha-ri is always making, even when explicitly warned. The tendency of these plot points to be so recurring can, at times, be a tad repitive, and that's the main flaw of "She Was Pretty"...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.09.25 ~ 2015.09.27

2015/09/28 | | Permalink

Lee Joon-ik's "The Throne" still reigns supreme…

For the second week in a row, Lee Joon-ik's timely period piece "The Throne" has claimed the top spot by adding another 1.2 million admissions to its total tally. Lee's depiction of the cruel fate of Prince Sado entered the charts on the 16th, and, with the Chuseok weekend included, now stands at 3.5 million admissions ($23.9 million). "The Throne" had to compete with a string of new releases leading up to Korea's harvest holiday but ultimately managed to capture 36.9% of the box office pie to remain in pole position...More

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

2015/09/27 | | Permalink

To say that the events of the second episode were a surprise would be a gross overstatement. While well played, they were so predictable that the episode was mundane. It followed the process behind Sang-pil's ascension to the National Assembly and the catalyst for the change in his attitude towards his new career in politics.

At this point in time, Sang-pil is no more than a pawn on the political chessboard ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/09/27 | | Permalink

Pierce Conran reviews Lee Joon-ik's "The Throne", Hangul Celluloid and Co. interview Bae Doona, the Busan International Film Festival will be a star-studded affair, and The Korea Times recommends a few films for Chuseok...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/09/27 | | Permalink

Food-themed gift sets for Chuseok are hear, what to do will your extra perilla?, Holly details her steps for making Ox Tail Bone Marrow Soup, and My Korean Kitchen makes it easy with a light seaweed and egg omelette snack...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/09/27 | | Permalink

Millions expected to hit the roads during Chuseok, would you surf North Korea's east coast?, what kind of beauty does Seoul hold?, and the government asks hikers to stop and smell the roses...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Midnight Diner"

2015/09/26 | | Permalink

Korean drama is known for strong emotions and highly dramatic situations. At the same time, the topics explored are often quite limited and the approach to them quite repetitive. "Midnight Diner" is an odd show when looked at as a Korean drama. Perhaps staying closer to its story's Japanese origins, it is more understated and slow paced. This makes it an interesting mix of two very different types of storytelling. Does the mix work? Mostly very well...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Trap"

2015/09/26 | | Permalink

Jeong-min (played by Yoo Ha-joon) is struggling both in film and his personal life. After a sexy but rather uninspired bit of lovemaking, Jeong-min mostly just wallows in self-pity about how much of a failure he is. From there, Jeong-min gets the idea to try and inspire his creative juices by going to the middle of nowhere and stop worrying so much about modern troubles. So instead, he deliberates over whether or not to have sex with a teenage girl...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Shadow Island"

2015/09/26 | | Permalink

Yeong-do (played by Tae In-ho) is a young man who lives miserably in the shadow of his father, a person whose main accomplishment was being executed as a murdered. Yeong-do is also the name of the island on which Yeong-do lives- an utterly miserable hopeless location of bleak, ugly looking housing and even less encouraging opportunities for life advancement. That much is true even for the people who aren't descended from murderers...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Self-Referential Traverse: zeitgeist and engagement"

2015/09/26 | | Permalink

The opening of "Self-Referential Traverse: zeitgeist and engagement" doesn't exactly have anything to do with the rest of the movie- it's just a sort of faux sitcom where the mundane laughtrack experience is punctuated by political discussion. The kind of awkward political discussion you might have had with your father, back when you were a teenager, becoming aware of a wider world which your parents didn't seem to know or care about. Then writer / director Kim Sun moves on to the main story about Podoli, the adorable mascot of the Korean police, trying to build himself a pair of legs and murder the borderline sentient rats in his apartment. And then things get weird...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 4

2015/09/24 | | Permalink

I really like all the chararcters in "She Was Pretty". They just have such very distinct charms. Take Hye-jin as an example. Yes, as Seong-joon points out, she is loud and proud in a way that is not necessarily justified by life circumstances, however much effort she puts into her work. But it's this very dogged quality that makes her such an impressive protagonist- one that's easy to identify with, because I think we've all had to make a major save that wasn't necessarily appreciated, since technically speaking everything is the fault of the lower-ranked person...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Introducing Lisa Espinosa

2015/09/24 | | Permalink

Annyeong haseyo, everyone! I am Raine aka Lisa Espinosa, HanCinema's representative in the first year of the Korea Joa (KJ) program hosted by KOFICE. As your fellow fan of Korean film, drama, culture, and music it is my distinct pleasure to travel, write, film, and photograph my experiences for you. Please be sure to leave comments for the HanCinema team below about what you would like to see in my travels that will take place September 27 to October 9th...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 3

2015/09/23 | | Permalink

Ha-ri is one of the stranger contradictions in the drama. She acts like the main character even though that role is actually filled by Hye-jin- although neither Ha-ri nor Hye-jin are aware of this. Beyond that, though, Ko Joon-hee puts in a surprisingly compelling performance. Just look at her squirming around, trying to think of the best way to resolve the Seong-joon situation in a way that meets Hye-jin's rather eccentric specifications rather than just dumping the guy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 12

2015/09/22 | | Permalink

As expected, "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" has to hastily wrap up complicated plot points mostly because there wasn't proper discussion of these story issues back when they were actually going on. In-yeong's impulsive decision, and the crisis that makes up most of the episode, is annoying primarily because the resolution is too simple. Was Joon-soo just really incompetent or what? He really should have been able to come up with that strategy on his own, given that it was the best possible explanation, as well as the most obvious...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 11

2015/09/21 | | Permalink

I'm frankly not grasping the logic of In-yeong and Myeong-seok suddenly acting like they're from completely incompatible worlds like this is a bad thing. To be entirely honest In-yeong has never seemed like an especially competent idol in the first place, and the way the story is suddenly acting like she's an obvious natural at the job is a bit off-putting. A celebrity can give some juice to their career by appearing on a variety show but that in itself isn't much of a gamechanger. Especially since "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" never showed us that much of the variety show in the first place...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.09.18 ~ 2015.09.20

2015/09/21 | | Permalink

"The Throne" takes its seat at the to...

Lee Joon-ik's "The Throne" and "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" were both released in Korea last week and race to the top of the pile as the filmgoing public to capture over 80% of the box office action. "The Throne" opened its account with 1.3 million admissions pooled from 1,210 screens while the latest in the "Maze Runner" series managed 849 admissions across 804...More

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

2015/09/20 | | Permalink

The first episode of director Hwang In-hyeok's and writer Jeong Hyeon-min's Assembly is labored and slow, but is, nonetheless, still interesting. It suffers some for the heavy political setup, but that ponderous plot material is offset by the experienced and grounded cast.

We open with crooked politicians and businessmen battling powerless laborers whose plight is a vehicle for power more than it is a vehicle for change ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/09/20 | | Permalink

The 2nd 'Chinese Korean Share Your Dream Short Film Festival' is now on, Song Kang-ho and Marina Golbahari to host BIFF next month, what to see, do, and eat in Busan, and 5 incredible South Korean films that drew inspiration from troubling real-world events...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/09/20 | | Permalink

Holly pulls together a special spicy fish stew for us, Korean fusion food never looked better with Kimchimari's apple pork bulgogi, how to make Korean milk ice sorbet (Injeolmi Bingsu), and Seoul Eats vista a new American bistro in Apgujeong...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/09/20 | | Permalink

The "Jeju Rural Experience Festival" closes soon, the Eat Your Kimich crew share a stack of pictures of their travels in America, KoreaBoo looks at international K-pop fans and their views, and The Korea Herald lifts the lid on eyelid surgery...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography

2015/09/20 | | Permalink

Enjoy 80 stunning snaps by professional photographers of South Korea; Robert Koehler captures the dying light around his offices in Bukchon, a retired South Korean photographer uses his time and talent to support the elderly, and Hallyu stars and their unrecognisable graduation pictures...More

[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Culture Coverage Project

2015/09/19 | | Permalink

What is Korea Joa?

We have been looking forward to sharing this with our readers for months and the time is finally here. HanCinema has been invited by KOFICE (Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange) to attend ten days of events covering Korean culture and entertainment, including Korean cinema, Kdrama and Kpop. The project, named 'Korea Joa', includes 15 members from 9 nations. The events will take place mainly in Seoul and Busan, where we can also follow the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). Members of the 'Korea Joa' project will be creating content for their respective sites and we will also be collaborating to promote one another's content through social media, giving you a fuller experience...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess"

2015/09/19 | | Permalink

Having a little gimmick to spice things up for the romance is quite common for romantic comedy drama. Be it time travel, serial killers or ghosts, they have been done before. As the word reveals, however, those elements are mostly used to frame the romance, rather than to define its characters or enable them to grow. 'Oh My Ghostess' does offer a fluffy romance, but also has some messages to convey...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Shin Sung-il is Lost" + DVD

2015/09/19 | | Permalink

Sung-il (played by Jo Hyeon-sik) is a boy with no parents and a famous name- Shin Sung-il, you see, was a famous movie star who once appeared in hundreds of classic Korean films. What does this has to do with "Shin Sung-il is Lost"? I have no idea. "Shin Sung-il is Lost" is one of those movies that's more focused on ideas than story. There's a lot of backdrop and exposition that's shaped like a plot, but it never ends up going anywhere...More

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

2015/09/19 | | Permalink

I first saw "Haeundae", not from start to finish, but beginning midway through on cable television. There were, as to be exected, a lot of special effects about a giant tidal wave destroying everything. Given that the press materials have always pretty explicitly tried to sell the product as a disaster film, this should come as little surprise. Then I tried watching the movie from the very beginning and made a shocking discovery. "Haeundae" is, in fact, a romantic comedy...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Desert Dream" + DVD Giveaway

2015/09/19 | | Permalink

Hangai (played by Bat-Ulzii) is a Mongolian man who's living out his dream- to plant trees in the steppe in an effort to fight off the oncoming spread of desert. Hangai's dream is...not really a very good dream. He's pretty much fighting against inevitability, and it's little surprise that in the opening segment Hangai's wife is able to come up with a better way of using her time than to support Hangai's apparently hopeless battle against nature. From there, Hangai lounges and waits...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 2

2015/09/17 | | Permalink

Seong-joon (played Park Seo-joon) is Hye-jin's first love. In the past Seong-joon was fat and generally unlovable. In the present day, though, Seong-joon is mainly a cipher. There are frequent subtle hints that Seong-joon was influenced for the better by Hye-jin- that she taught Seong-joon how to calm himself down and have confidence in himself. Then there are more confusing moments where Seong-joon appears to have taken this advice as a license to act like a total jerk...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "She Was Pretty" Episode 1

2015/09/16 | | Permalink

Hye-jin (played by Hwang Jeong-eum) is a woman in her twenties who looks and acts like a woman in her late thirties. Her best friend Ha-ri (played by Ko Joon-hee) is fashionable and popular, with a veritable army of handsome shirtless men always on call to save her from any minor inconvenience. So...why's Hye-jin the lead character? Isn't Ha-ri the glamorous kind of person who's always the protagonist of romantic comedies? In fiction even frumpy girls are gorgeous...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 10

2015/09/15 | | Permalink

Why exactly do Korean gossip media always refer to romantic relationships as scandals? It's not just a translation thing- as this episode of "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" demonstrates, that's literally the word they use to describe these entanglements. My guess is that the industry thinks that "Scandal" just means "something that gets a lot of press". And also I guess celebrities aren't supposed to have romantic relationships for some reason...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 9

2015/09/14 | | Permalink

Even though the story of "The Eccentric Daugter-in-Law" is bearing an increasingly strong resemblance to safe family dramas, the material still feels a great deal less outrageous. So I'm not totally sure how to feel, for example, when an opener that consists of a kiss, and quite literally just a kiss, ends up defining the entire conflict of the episode. In-yeong and Myeong-seok act like and are treated more as teenagers than adults...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.09.11 ~ 2015.09.13

2015/09/14 | | Permalink

"Ant-man" enjoys a second weekend at the top...

For the second week in a row Marvel's "Ant-Man" topped the South Korea box office and has now moved its total tally to 2.3 million admissions ($16 million). Release in Korea on the third, "Ant-Man" continues the superhero trend by bringing international audiences another incredible character from the Marvel's inexhaustible universe of heroes. Last weekend the film opened in first by capturing over 45% of the box office pie, and week two for Marvel's mighty mini man saw it retain the top spot by claiming 40.8% of sales (695 thousand admissions). Although a foreign flick topped the weekend's list of top performers, the home team occupied positions two through sixth with a variety of compelling local features, some of which are still writing their names into the record books...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 16 (final)

2015/09/13 | | Permalink

The finale of "Oh My Ghostess" was all about goodbyes and seeing what our characters have learned since the start of their adventures. Soon-ae's departure was the heart of the episode and was handled beautifully in all of its facets. It captured the essence of the drama and helped it earn a place in the annals of drama history.

Overall, "Oh My Ghostess" was a strong drama with a powerful cast, an intriguing storyline, and substantial character growth from start to finish. There are, of course, flaws such as inconsistency in ghost rules and a lack of true understanding of the otherworld that prevents a deep empathy for the mysterious, possessed Sung-jae and a keener understanding of Soon-ae's issues...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/09/13 | | Permalink

DramaFever does its research and reveals the highest paid K-drama actors and actresses, 11 Korean films head to VIFF, and KOBIZ explores the success of period dramas in recent years as more films reach 10 million admissions...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/09/13 | | Permalink

Holly takes a break on the spice to create a peachy treat, Kimchimari shares menus and recipes for a Korean BBQ fusion dinner, Preen offers a crash course in Korean food, and the Eat Your Kimchi team eat…Chinese lamb skewers?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/09/13 | | Permalink

The Cut explores the rise of Korean beauty products, is KakaoTalk's emoticons gender bias?, a recent WEF report reveals Korea's income distribution may be unequal, and the BCC tackles smartphone addiction in Asia...More

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

2015/09/12 | | Permalink

South Korea does not have many disaster films, aside from works like "Haeundae" or "The Tower". The genre is usually expensive and perhaps not as appealing to local audiences as bigger productions from abroad. For drama, this genre has only been slightly touched upon in the past with series like 'At The End Of The World', which handled an infection, rather than a disastrous event. JTBC is taking another shot at this, with Korea's first true disaster drama, "D-Day"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "With or Without You"

2015/09/12 | | Permalink

Several decades ago Maggi lost both of her sons to unforeseen incidents, leaving behind only three daughters. In traditional Confucian culture this is a big deal- children and especially sons are supposed to care for you in old age. So Maggi dealt with this problem by buying Chunhee, a mentally deficient woman, to serve as her husband's temporary concubine. Now, in the present day, long after Maggi's husband has died, "With or Without You" chronicles the irony of their continued living arrangement...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Try to Remember - Documentary"

2015/09/12 | | Permalink

Being an American in my late twenties I have an appreciation (well, disgust is probably the better word) for the extent to which empty pop culture references pass for communication. And yet for all that, while I've heard the name Ed Sullivan, I never knew what Ed Sullivan actually looked like until I saw "Try to Remember - Documentary". There was this huge pop culture phenomenon regarding what I can best describe as lounge music, and today we don't even have a good word to describe what that genre of music even was. What does this have to do with Korea? Well, "Try to Remember - Documentary" is the story of the Kim Sisters- who became the first Korean girl group to break into international popularity...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Danser avec Montaigne"

2015/09/12 | | Permalink

Director Lee Eun-ji-I came out of film school in her thirties at a bit of a loss as to what to do with her life. She ultimately ended up deciding that the best way to move forward, for the moment anyway, was to accompany her mother on a trip to France. Lee Eun-ji-I's mother, a professor who also does translation work, had been commissioned to produce a new translation of the works of Michel de Montaigne. And so it seemed that Michel de Montaigne, one of the world's most famous and influential philosophers, would help Lee Eun-ji-I figure out what she wanted to do with herself...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 20 Final

2015/09/10 | | Permalink

After the usual moping...egads what is it with "Scholar Who Walks the Night" and excessive moping? Even in the final episode it feels like hardly a minute can go by before one character starts going on about the need to make sacrifices for the greater good. And as before, this discussion is less an essential thematic need so much as it is the writing team just stalling for time because this drama doesn't actually have that much plot to get through. I do wish "Scholar Who Walks the Night" had been shorter and punchier- that's where most of its strengths are anyway...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 19

2015/09/09 | | Permalink

The actors in "Scholar Who Walks the Night" are really good sports. No matter how many times they discuss the exact same plot points over and over again, everyone manages to use the same level, serious tone of voice. I always appreciate it when actors are this determined to do justice to source material, regardless of whether or not the source material really deserves it. That much, at least, manages to keep the stakes high going into the final confrontation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 8

2015/09/08 | | Permalink

The characters continue to be mostly passive as the storyline of "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" remains bogged down in a few key conflicts. Thankfully, the issue of trying to get Choon-ja to acknowledge In-yeong as not being completely terrible daughter-in-law material does at least get directly addressed. What's more, by the end of the episode the two even manage to find a sense of shared cause strong enough that might sort of make the iciness of their general relationship warm over. Late though it may be, I'm glad "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is finally providing some hint of a long-term solution...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 7

2015/09/07 | | Permalink

Divorced from the frustrating recent context of the storyline, the opening confrontation between In-yeong and Myeong-seok is actually pretty cute. As it happens, In-yeong does in fact have a flaw that mostly doesn't reflect too badly on her- general cluelessness. It genuinely does not occur to In-yeong that Myeong-seok could have been stoking jealousy by pretending to have a girlfriend even though In-yeong was quite literally running the exact same scam...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.09.04 ~ 2015.09.06

2015/09/07 | | Permalink

Marvel's "Ant Man" makes a move on "Veteran"...

After weeks of local delights dominating, Marvel's latest superhero film, "Ant Man" by Peyton Reed, has managed to outperform the home team's frontrunners to top the chart. "Ant Man" was allocated 946 screens around the country, and from that pool it was able to attract an impressive 1.1 million filmgoers to its cause (45.7%). Peyton's effort made its debut in Los Angeles back in June, and has already grossed over $383 million, but only arrived in Korea last Thursday...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 15

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

There is some major action in the penultimate episode of "Oh My Ghostess" and that action brings the show into darker territory. While it has been hinted at that Soon-ae's demise was not a pleasant one, to see it was appropriately gruesome and shocking.

Episode 15 primarily focused on the chase between Soon-ae and possessed Sung-jae...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 14

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

As Seon-woo learns to cope with reality and the ghostly and nefarious situations surrounding him, Soon-ae is coming closer to the truth behind her death and the truth that haunts Seon-woo's family.

Soon-ae is such a marvelous character and Kim Seul-gi-I handles her with finesse...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 13

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

This was the episode of truth-fueled angst that required Seon-woo and Bong-seon to run through a gamut of emotions both together and alone. Every relationship suffers growing pains, especially when a difficult truth is revealed and feels more like a wedge inserted than one removed.

Bong-seon has revealed her biggest secret and it is one that is difficult for Seon-woo to stomach ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 12

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

Several key plot threads come to a head in this exquisitely timed episode of "Oh My Ghostess". The acting in this is superlative on the parts of the three leads and the terrifying villain. All elements came together in one of the most emotional episodes thus far that highlights the mystery, the love, and the innermost fears of our beloved characters.

Seon-woo is opening up in a way he has never been able to because of the love he feels ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

Kim Dae-woo's web series "The Witch" heads to China, have you watched "A Tale of Two Sisters"?, The Hollywood Reporter separates fact from fiction with regards to North Korean propaganda films, and "Veteran" headed for North America...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

Enjoy southern-style barbecue in Itaewon, Holly presents an alternative way to make kimchi, anyone can create Gamja Jorim (Korean potato salad), and Hyosun continues sharing recipes for healthy Korean temple food...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

The Eat Your Kimchi crew share their favourite Korean apps, an opinion piece challenges the reality of young Koreans fleeing abroad, is Maxim's new cover sexists and offensive?, and CJ Groups calls out government and politicians to help spread Korean culture...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography

2015/09/06 | | Permalink

The Seoul State of Mind team visit Jeonju, what is around Achasan station?, and Robert Koehler delights with another stunning pic of modern Korea in black and white...More

[HanCinema's Industry Interview] 10 Questions for Actor Kahlid Elijah Tapia

2015/09/05 | | Permalink

HanCinema recently met up with actor Kahlid Elijah Tapia to find out about his experience working in South Korea's television and film industry.

You came to South Korea back in 2009 to teach English. What was it about the country and culture that inspired you to explore its film and television industry?

This is a funny one actually because it wasn't the country or the culture. I was living in Florida taking acting classes before I came to Korea and I actually was just wanting to live in this country for one year and go home. A fellow actress and now close friend recommended that I put my headshot and resume on Craigslist. I thought to myself, "For what?" "This is Korea, I can't get anything done here". But I did it and 28 credits on IMDb later, I'm still here. What I learned after posting my information is that I can be an actor anywhere. Especially in this internet driven age...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Warm and Cozy"

2015/09/05 | | Permalink

Writer sisters Hong Jeong-eun and Hong Mi-ran are behind some very beloved romantic comedy shows such as "My Girl", "You're Beautiful", 'The Greatest Love' and 'Master's Sun'. Offering a unique writing style and often colorful, fun characters, their shows have had a unique identity and approach. While "Warm and Cozy" attempts to recapture their more old school romance works, however, it loses some of what makes those older works good...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Beauty Inside"

2015/09/05 | | Permalink

Woo-jin (voiced by Yoo Yeon-seok) is a man with a unique problem- every time he wakes up in the morning, Woo-jin is an entirely new person. Young, old, man, woman, beautiful, ugly, Korean, foreigner. To some extent there are advantages to this. We see early on that whenever Woo-jin hits the sweet spot of young / man / beautiful / Korean, he goes out with his buddy Sang-baek (played by Lee Dong-hwi) to hit the bars and get laid. One night stands are quite easy when a changing face makes it quite literally impossible for any woman to ever have any hope of finding him again...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Wonderful Nightmare"

2015/09/05 | | Permalink

Having lost her parents at a young age Yeon-woo (played by Uhm Jung-hwa) resolved to become an unambiguous success in life so as to do honor to their name. And Yeon-woo succeeded at that goal...sort of. Most parents would be proud, of course, to have their daughter grow up to be a top tier lawyer, recognized by her peers, well-respected, and wealthy. The problem is that Yeon-woo's clients tend to be rich more than they tend to be decent human beings. That is the backdrop into which Yeon-woo falls into the "Wonderful Nightmare" of being an ordinary housewife...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Scary House"

2015/09/05 | | Permalink

The opening sequence of "Scary House" consists of a mannequin being put together while spooky music plays. By spooky music, I mean the kind of music an older sibling might sing trying to frighten a younger sibling with ghost stories. It sounds completely ridiculous, and not actually scary at all to anyone over the age of ten. "Scary House" is less a horror movie in its own right so much as it is a minimalist parody of what a horror movie is supposed to look like...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 18

2015/09/03 | | Permalink

Gwi's plan to legitimize his rule of the world is, as to be expected, fatally flawed because Gwi vastly overestimates his own intelligence. Humans aren't complete idiots. The vampires showed up at the same time the Gwi rumors got serious, and no one can vouch for Gwi having done anything, well, not unnecessarily violent and selfish. By contrast, Seong-yeol has been the beneificiary of his own advertising campaign in the form of Yang-seon's novels. So that's what it comes down to- a war of vampire public relations...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 17

2015/09/02 | | Permalink

Everybody's plans end up blowing up in their faces. I have to admit, this is a heck of a lot more fun than things going wrong because the characters are passively stupid. Unfortunately Cheol-joong's actions remain unhampered. This is annoying mainly because Cheol-joong isn't really any smarter than any other character. Cheol-joong's only useful asset is the inexplicable loyalty of his minions. I can see the evil vizier turning soldiers against the lawful King for a lot of reasons, but to help out the vampire that keeps snacking on them? Really?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 6

2015/09/01 | | Permalink

Never mind what I've written about Choon-ja so far. Her character, too, moves beyond any reasonable point of redemption this episode with a bizarrely conservative spiel about how it's impossible to be a wife, mother, cookery assistant, and teacher all at the same time. I might have found this speech sympathetic except that as far as we've seen Se-mi has had zero logistical trouble juggling these various tasks- the end of the last episode was really more Dong-seok's fault. It's not like he does anything important during the day after all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 5

2015/08/31 | | Permalink

I'm struggling at this point trying to figure out what exactly the point is supposed to be to "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law". Is the drama really just supposed to be a standard romantic comedy between In-yeong and Myeong-seok, with no other frills? That much wouldn't be...terrible or anything, but their romance is among the most least interesting topics here, and the jokes we get don't really have that much variance. Even the kiss was more just, eh, that happened. There wasn't any urgency...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.08.28 ~ 2015.08.30

2015/08/31 | | Permalink

"Veteran" pushes past 10 million as local delights dominate...

Ryoo Seung-wan's "Veteran" added another million admissions (43%) over the weekend to write its total tally into the history books. For the past month Ryoo's popular crime drama has remained the country's film of choice and now moves onto an incredible 10.8 million admissions ($71.6 million). Only ten other Korean films have managed this impressive feat, including "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" (17.6), "Ode to My Father" (14.2), "The Thieves" (12.9), "Miracle in Cell No.7" (12.8), and "Masquerade" (12.3). The success of Ryoo's film has bumped "The King and the Clown" (10.5) out of this exclusive top ten, and soon "Veteran" will challenge "The Host" (10.9), "Haeundae" (11.3), "The Attorney" (11.3), and even this week's number three, Choi Dong-hoon's "The Assassination" (12.1). Each weekend since its release "Veteran" has managed to capture over 40% of the box office pie, and, to state the obvious, it's no done yet!...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 40 Final

2015/08/30 | | Permalink

Almost the entire dramatic thrust of this episode is on the resolution of the relationship between Deok-in and Yoon-seo. And you know, it's really cheating to just have that relationship improve over the course of a timeskip. We never actually got to see these two get closer, so why is this resolution supposed to have any serious impact? Why did all the interesting material get shunted into a part of the story that we never actually got to see?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 11

2015/08/30 | | Permalink

"Oh My Ghostess" has its flaws, but they are overpowered by its strengths. The balance between Jo Jeong-seok, Park Bo-yeong, and Kim Seul-gi-I is such a delicately struck balance that it seems almost natural to imagine ghosts and ghost possession as a part of everyday life.

Man, woman, and ghost struggle to come to terms with the events in the lives (or life after death), and in that struggle they are more relatable than ever...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 10

2015/08/30 | | Permalink

This was Soon-ae's episode. Her tunnel-vision ended at her goal: have sex and be freed of her ghostly body into heaven. She did not see what it would cost to attain that goal and the knowledge of leaving and losing love that she never had while living is painfully present. And that's what good angst is all about.

Soon-ae falls in love with the earthly life she is borrowing from Bong-seon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 9

2015/08/30 | | Permalink

"Oh My Ghostess" grows both more whimsical and more dire as it progresses into deeper plot territory. The mystery of Soon-ae is slowly being unearthed, but as that happens, new bits of information crop up that create more questions. While that happens, Soon-ae and Bong-seon are discovering what love is like, especially with an agenda driving the already potent emotion.

Episode 9 is nothing if cute...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/08/30 | | Permalink

Find out what South Korean film made Taste of Cinema's list of "metaphysical films", BIFF 2015 announces its 2015 lineup, R-rated directorial debut has the makings of a cult hit, and learn about modern South Korean cinema with Jinhee Choi's "The South Korean Film Renaissance: Local Hitmakers, Global Provocateurs"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/08/30 | | Permalink

How to make mini Kimbap to go, Beyond Kimchi combines spicy tofu and bean sprouts, what do Korean Buddhist's eat, exactly?, and CNN lists their seven "super-spicy" Korean dishes...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/08/30 | | Permalink

Beautiful water-colour postcards will have to you heading out to the countryside, Korean families to be reunited for Chuseok, John Oliver weighs in on the recent threats from North Korea, and where are most Koreans getting their protein?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 39

2015/08/29 | | Permalink

In the final stretch of "Make a Woman Cry", writer Ha Cheong-ok has decided to pretend like Eun-soo hasn't been the entire focus of the drama for about as long as I can remember. The cliffhanger is resolved just a tad too easily and with a tad too much easy forgiveness. Then practically out of nowhere Deok-in and Jin-woo start acting like the main characters again, having extended heartfelt conversations about loss, forgiveness, and being able to move on with life...More

[HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Lee Yong-nyeo

2015/08/29 | | Permalink

It is a fact that entertainment is not kind to women past a certain age. In film and television specifically, while being an older man still lands one opportunities, older women are given limited options. Ageism in entertainment is nothing new and most actresses adapt and manage with what is available. They portray mothers, grandmothers and other such roles. Lee Yong-nyeo, however, is someone who has found a unique place in these industries...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Mission, Steal the Top Star"

2015/08/29 | | Permalink

Yoon Bin (played by Oh Chang-seok) is a top star. He's kind of a jerk and an idiot, but not excessively so. Yeong-sook (played by Yoon Ah-min) is the woman who kidnaps him. She's kind of mean and has a bad attitude, but not excessively so. Soo-jin (played by Kim Joo-ri) is a reporter. She's alternately aggressive and demure, but not excessively so. That's "Mission, Steal the Top Star" on a base level. It's a movie about characters who have personalities, but not excessive ones...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Alice in Earnestland"

2015/08/29 | | Permalink

The rather arresting poster for "Alice In Earnestland" features lead character Soo-nam (played by Lee Jeong-hyeon) wearing a classic Alice-style pinafore holding a mop with the yarns coated in red while smiling in the midst of an ominous looking flower patch. Neither the pinafore, nor the mop, nor the flowers make any on-screen appearance comparable to the aplomb we see on the theatrical poster. This is a bit of a disappointment- the image suggests a film of intriguing weirdness. Whereas in actuality "Alice In Earnestland" is just a film of confusing weirdness...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Now Playing"

2015/08/29 | | Permalink

The first segment of the "Now Playing" omnibus posits a very simple question. Why do people go to movies? Is it because they like movies? Well...not really no. For most people movies are just a social event, like a date, where they can forget the drudgery of their actual lives and pretend like love exists. This opening segment sets the tone for the next two- where movies are exposited as generally pointless gimmicks designed to make certain people feel better themselves more than they are things intended to actually be watched...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - The Brother's Summer"

2015/08/28 | | Permalink

Dong-gil (played by Choi Kwon-soo) lives with his father Gook-jin (played by an unusually not-scary looking Yoo Oh-seong). There's no mother in the picture- but there is a younger brother Yeong-gil (played by Park Isaiah). As you might have guessed by the name- Yeong-gil isn't quite Korean. Sure, he speaks Korean, and has a Korean name. But it's obvious to everyone who looks at Yeong-gil that he's the son of an African-American soldier. A frustrated Dong-gil works out his frustrations by getting involved in dance, with Seo Taiji as his idol...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 16

2015/08/27 | | Permalink

After the usual requisite moping about regarding whether Seong-yeol is terrible for being a vampire or whether he should be allowed to love or blah blah blah we finally get to some exciting action. Remember the plan that everyone has been talking about for forever, the one that we never actually get to see? Well we get to see part of it here. And goodness, is it ever relieving to finally find our good-aligned characters on the same page even if strictly speaking they don't actually know what's going on...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 15

2015/08/26 | | Permalink

I think Gwi's just making these evil schemes up as he goes along. Really. The guy never seems to have an actual plan. He's always being surprised and simply responds by terrorizing as many people as possible without any regard to how this is supposed to fit it to his long term designs. More often than not Gwi just expects other people to do his dirty work for him, then he doesn't even bother to check up to see if they did it correctly. One might think that an immortal invincible vampire would be a tad more patient and farsighted...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-In-Law" Episode 4

2015/08/25 | | Permalink

Even at its most interesting "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" is completely centered around a gimmick- and the gimmick is starting to wear thin. Maybe that's just because not too much is done with the material that's very interesting. The chicken chase is funny, although the basic prompt of a variety show obviously intended to humiliate In-yeong really just calls attention to how the show-within-a-show in "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" isn't a perfect analog for actual Korean variety television...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 3

2015/08/24 | | Permalink

In-yeong is surprised to see Myeong-seok stick up for her with the producer, considering that up until this point In-yeong and Myeong-seok haven't really gotten along that well. And so In-yeong, as well as the other characters, make a seemingly logical deduction. Obviously Myeong-seok has fallen in love with In-yeong. Why is this the obvious explanation? Well, because it's the most storylike, and thus the best possible ratings hook. Naturally it does not occur to anyone to simply ask Myeong-seok his reasons, because that would completely ruin the fantasy world In-yeong and friends have concocted...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.08.21 ~ 2015.08.23

2015/08/24 | | Permalink

"Veteran" eyes 10 million…

Ryoo Seung-wan's crime drama "Veteran" has once again emerged at the top of the pile as it enjoys a third week as Korea's number one. "Veteran" saw another sizeable weekend as it added 1.3 million admissions (43%) to move its total tally to just over 9 million ($59.1 million). Last weekend Ryoo's crime drama attracted a massive 2.2 million filmgoers, and the weekend before that saw 1.9 million flock to its screens, and now the films is poised to join an elite group of South Korea films that have claimed 10 million admissions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 38

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

Deok-in solves the mystery of what really happened with the death- well, technically the cops solve it but they do convey through Deok-in their genuine appreciation for Eun-soo giving the tip that ultimately allowed them to crack the case. The look on Eun-soo's face throughout that exchange really is priceless. Apparently it's never occurred to her that a good deed can be its own reward. Eun-soo didn't get the result she was expecting, so instead of doom and destruction all that happens is reconciliation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mask" Episode 20 (final)

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

Despite the neatly tied ending, "Mask"'s finale didn't truly end cleanly. There are too many "could-have-beens" and ideas that were proposed, but never seen through to fruition. So much of the ending was smiling at the camera for ages or making sure that each villain received his just deserts. What it did do right was show Ji-sook and Min-woo living mask-free and as themselves without being fettered by lies and deceit.

Ji-sook decided to come clean and reveal the truth, to remove the "Mask" for which the show is named...More

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

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

Episode 19 of "Mask" felt like an attempt to prolong the inevitable end. Each scene went on a bit too long. Each emotional scene was irreverently dramatic in order to fake a few feels and create a tension that had long since seeped away.

The Min-woo/Ji-sook couple has become a representation of love rather than telling their own story...More

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

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

Some of this episode was cleverly wrought while the rest of it was reused material that was weaker with the repeated use. The development of Mi-yeon and Seok-hoon continues to be riveting while the contrived behavior of Ji-sook and the battles between family members and the money-hungry grow wearier.

Let's get the overused stuff out of the way ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 8

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

The cat's out of the bag. Seon-woo kissed Bong-seon and there is no way that he, Bong-seon, or Soon-ae realizes what that means. There is genuine affection at play here and it hits all three of them harder than expected.

What lead to the kiss was the long-awaited pairing between Bong-seon and Soon-ae ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 7

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

"Oh My Ghostess" is reaching its midway point and a storm is definitely brewing. Bong-seon and Soon-ae have finally talked, which changes the game entirely. They know each other's situations. Hopefully others, like Soon-ae's father and Seon-woo, will be let in on the supernatural secret as well.

The pressing matter is Soon-ae's tether of time ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

Check out Pierce Conran's reviews for "Veteran" and "Memories of the Sword", what happened to K-Horror?, and Daniela Costa zooms in on the homosexuality in "A Girl at My Door"...More

[HanCinema's Digest] K-pop

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

EYK shares their favourite K-pop tracks to listen to while travelling, do North Koreans love K-pop?, Slovenian band "Laibach" plays in Pyongyang, and Super Junior scores at the Teen Choice Awards in LA...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

ESL 101 shares its tips for how to make life in Korea (more) awesome, explore Jeju's stunning waterfalls and valleys, are 'love hotels' cleaning up their act?, and what to do during your first 24 hours in Korea...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/08/23 | | Permalink

Could Donald Trump learn something from Korea's DMZ?, How Stuff Works explores "fan death", are South Koreans just plain rude? (in 1988), and where does Korea stand seventy years after liberation?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 37

2015/08/22 | | Permalink

Eun-soo attempts to regain...whatever it is she thinks she lost by making a rather curious revelation to Deok-in. What Eun-soo fails to understand, as usual, is that most people think in terms beyond immediate personal gain and satisfaction. The accusations Eun-soo makes are enormously serious ones. It's difficult to imagine that Eun-soo would make up a lie so elaborate unless she had some kind of proof- but then, Eun-soo has told blatant lies before...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hidden Identity"

2015/08/22 | | Permalink

Good action shows can be hard to come by in Korean drama, especially outside of the crime-oriented channel OCN. Its sister channel, tvN is more known for its romantic comedies and other lighter offerings, but has occasionally taken a shot at darker works. "Hidden Identity" is tvN's latest attempt at a sleek action show, offering a unique blend of actors and crime-fighting suspense. While not brilliant, it is quite a nice addition to the action genre...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "SMTOWN The Stage"

2015/08/22 | | Permalink

SM Entertainment is the South Korean entertainment company that is responsible for such artists as Kang Ta, BoA, and Girls' Generation. That's a very abbreviated list- there's also Super Junior, EXO, and Red Velvet. Probably a bunch more that I'm forgetting too. This is easy to do, because "SMTOWN The Stage" packs about as many of its artists into the runtime as possible, with time roughly evenly split between live performance footage and the performers themselves just discussing why it is that they've dedicated their lives to entertainment...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Factory Complex"

2015/08/22 | | Permalink

In present day Cambodia, a protest about poor working conditions escalates to tragedy. Director Lim Heung-soon explores this by...interviewing employees in Korean industries. The juxtaposition isn't as random as it may initially sound. Once upon a time South Korea too had a dictatorial business system comparable to Cambodia's today. The women who participated in this system did so for the hopes of a better life for their children. And yet in the present day, the vestiges of this system yet remain in the "Factory Complex" of maximized productivity...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Martyrdom"

2015/08/22 | | Permalink

Why exactly do Christians willingly put themselves at risk in such a way that they become martyrs? Well, because God told them to. That's probably not a very satisfying answer, and unfortunately "The Martyrdom" never really rises above it. The documentary is more an affirmation of faith than it is a real argument for it- a fact that makes sense when we consider that the persons profiled here aren't glorified mainly because they died in the line of duty more than for what their duty actually was...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Finding Argenta"

2015/08/21 | | Permalink

Seung-hee (played by Lee Soo-kyeong-I) is a pole vaulter. Pole vaulting is one of the more gimmicky Olympic sports- basically you use a pole to leap over a high bar. Like all obscure Olympic sports, it's something the athletes do more out of love than glory. And even though Seung-hee is a fairly talented athlete, she's starting to break down in frustration about no longer being at the top of her game. Her parents, having met because they too were pole vaulters once upon a time, help Seung-hee out by getting her a spot with top coach Jin-ah (played by Kim Hee-jeong)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 14

2015/08/20 | | Permalink

Seong-yeol continues to sulk. Admittedly for better reason than usual, since Yang-seon now seems to be genuinely frightened of him, for good reason. From my end, well, maybe it's just that all the vampire-induced massacres, but I feel kind of desensitized to the problems in Seong-yeol's love life. The main plot, namely the new round of anti-Gwi plans, continue to lack much inspiration. Although interestingly Gwi's own plan isn't really all that good...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 13

2015/08/19 | | Permalink

The premise at the start is somewhat interesting. Everyone managed to escape from Gwi last night, but now the operating assumption is that they only have one day before Gwi manages to locate and murder them all the following night. Much as I dislike spoilers I feel compelled to point out that this alarm ends up being a false one. No one ends up preparing for Gwi all that effectively. What's more Gwi barely even seems to care about the fact that a serious attempt was made to kill him, one that might have worked better if the king's snipers were better shots...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 2

2015/08/18 | | Permalink

Myeong-seok (played by Ryoo Soo-yeong) is a mathematics professor and In-yeong's husband, for the sake of the television program. He's kind of grumpy. Myeong-seok is interesting for being an aloof math genius in a way that's not commonly portrayed. He's perfectly capable of being social. It's just, all Myeong-seok really cares about is math. His temperament is the exact opposite of In-yeong's in pretty much every concievable way. Which would seem to doom any hope of this variety program actually working out...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" Episode 1

2015/08/17 | | Permalink

In-yeong (played by Dasom) is a girl group singer who has fallen on hard times. Nobody likes her girl group anymore. Also In-yeong is kind of a jerk, who has a really bad habit of making smelly farts. But all is not lost- in the world of Korean broadcasting, there is constant demand for variety shows featuring low-level celebrities in comical pseudo-realistic situations. Like marriage. For basically random business-related reasons, In-yeong is offered a shot at a comeback provided she become "The Eccentric Daughter-in-Law" to a well-known traditional cookery...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.08.14 ~ 2015.08.16

2015/08/17 | | Permalink

"Veteran" watches from above as "The Assassination" makes history...

Ryoo Seung-wan's crime drama "Veteran", Choi Dong-hoon's "The Assassination", "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation", and "Minions" all retained their place as Korea's films of choice at the top. Last weekend, these four managed to capture over 90% of the box office pie and have all now retained their place with 83% of the interest going their way. Once again "Veteran" led the charge, and actually managed to outdo itself in week two by attracting an impressive 2.2 million filmgoers to its screens. With this past weekend done and dusted, Ryoo's popular flick moves its total tally now to 6.6 million, or $44 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 36

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

Eun-soo's temper tantrum shows no sign of abating. Well, she is finally forced to stop being petty and selfish briefly, when one character finally manages to come up with a threat serious enough to force Eun-soo to cooperate on the question of Jin-han's wife instead of being constantly selfish. I'm tempted to call the theatrics over-the-top and unrealistic- the problem is, I've known people in real life like Eun-soo. Heck, in my worst moments, I've acted like Eun-soo myself. That's not an easy fact to acknowledge, but it's senseless to pretend like we're all rational actors in the real world...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 6

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

The nature of the ghostly possession gives "Oh My Ghostess" a nice blend of episodic and climactic formats. Soon-ae and Bong-seon develop depending on who is in control of Bong-seon's body whilst the rest of the action continues to flow forward. The tension comes from the developing (probable) murder mystery, the developing romance that alternates between Soon-ae and Seon-woo, and Bong-seon and Seon-woo, and the characters overcoming personal milestones.

Seon-woo has a large person hurdle to jump over: he was bullied as a kid and still harbors grudges against the bullies ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 5

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

As many laughs as the past four episodes have given us, episode five of "Oh My Ghostess" gives us just as much heart. We get our timid heroine back and watch her struggle through her reality: she's lost two weeks and feels more lost than ever.

This episode is a testament to Park Bo-yeong's acting as she reverts to Bong-seon and gives us further insight into the terrified young woman ...More

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

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

Sabotage is the name of the game. Seok-hoon attempts it out of need for revenge; Mi-yeon attempts it out of emotional despair; both Min-woo and Ji-sook battle the powerful emotional tide of the unhappy Seok-hoon and Mi-yeon. The others of their family and work place are dragged along with the roaring tide.

"Mask" juxtaposes the Min-woo/Ji-sook and Seok-hoon/Mi-yeon couples to great effect this episode ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 4

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

"Oh My Ghostess" is chugging along at quite a nice clip. We learn a little bit more about our main characters, get a huge and wonderful dose of sexy humor, and watch relationships build and grow.

Soon-ae may be a blessing in disguise for both Seon-woo and Bong-seon ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 3

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

"Oh My Ghostess" spares not one moment as it delves into character development. Each interaction means something to our three main characters: Bong-seon (despite the fact that she's not mentally present), Soon-ae, and Seon-woo. They learn and grow from the people they were in the past or have the potential to learn in the future.

This episode was about missed timing ...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 2

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

Episode 2 of "Oh My Ghostess" is just beyond the threshold of setup and jumping into new material and the transition is flawless. The story is propelled forward by compelling characters and a self-driven story. Each main character has their own history to contend with and their own present that troubles them. What "Oh My Ghostess" excels at is merging their worlds.

The loss of Bong-seon the tired girl as she is overtaken by ghostess Soon-ae is the only downside of the ghost possession ...More

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

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

"Mask" still has secrets floating around, but they are no longer the focus. The focus is on what the characters choose to do with their knowledge. They dance around feelings and play games of noble idiocy or vicious ignorance.

The heart of this episode was the relationship between Min-woo and Ji-sook as herself, not as Eun-ha ...More

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

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

The struggle to adapt to secrets is often as difficult for characters as it is to keep those secrets. Now that Ji-sook's major truth has been made known to Min-woo, other truths have begun to leak, dragging down loved ones as the secrets attempt to remain hidden from the world.

Ji-sook's truth causes Min-woo to real for most of the episode ...More

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

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

As I said in the last review, it really is the calm before the storm. Ji-sook's truth has been revealed to all major players. The next episode will tell us how Min-woo reacts, but the build up in this episode was well-wrought.

Mi-yeon is on a vengeful path fueled by the pain of loss and betrayal...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

Christopher H.K. Lee's documentary "The Last Tear" premieres in LA, Film Comment examines a touchy trend in South Korea cinema, Pierce Conran reviews "The Piper" for Twitch, and be sure to browse KOBIZ's book page for insight and information into the wonderful world of Korea cinema...More

[HanCinema's Digest] K-pop

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

LA promotes K-pop moves with its annual convention, What is Korean 'trap music'?, Harvard Political Review tackles PSY seriously, and the New York Times exmaines Keith Ape and rap in Korea...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

Would you send your man to a "Happy Guy Cooking Class"?, enjoy your coffee at a "poop-theme" cafe, see how Jeju Love is redefining the cafe experience, and the Eat Your Kimchi crew take on LA's K-food scene...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/08/16 | | Permalink

How much Korean should you know before coming to Korea?, Seoul Beats holds a roundtable discussion on the thoughts and experiences of LGBTQIA K-pop Fans, what are "apple hips"?, and a new brand of sunglasses claims to cater to Asian features?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 35

2015/08/15 | | Permalink

The story has long since moved past tensionless social battles. The last cliffhanger featured Jin-han losing his temper and making direct threats. And the cliffhanger here is even more pronounced. Eun-soo has finally managed to anger enough people severely enough that they're willing to respond with force instead of just letting her insult them for another day. The fact that Eun-soo has a defendable angle no longer matters. Eun-soo has been too deceptive and manipulative at this point for anyone to believe anything she says anymore...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Yong Pal"

2015/08/15 | | Permalink

Drama fans who follow the domestic ratings for shows will know that the numbers have not been doing well in the last few years. Because of this slump, "Yong Pal" has been quite the pleasant surprise, with ratings most shows of its kind can only dream of nowadays. There is good reason for those ratings. The series has appealing drama and an intriguing story. Even so, there are issues which will cheapen it if continued...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "My Beautiful Bride"

2015/08/15 | | Permalink

A big part of what often keeps dramas or certain concepts in dramas superficial is the refusal to get real and get dirty. From romance to violence, everything is too black and white and too idealistic. Style and substance are not mutually exclusive, which is frequently overlooked in fiction and especially genres like action. "My Beautiful Bride" is a series which presents a grand romance in a suspense show, successfully combining genres others have failed to...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Veteran"

2015/08/15 | | Permalink

Do-cheol (played by Hwang Jeong-min) is a cop that doesn't play by the rules. That makes him a good guy. Tae-oh (played by Yoo Ah-in) is a corporate heir who doesn't play by the rules. That makes him a bad guy. That's "Veteran" on the most basic level. Both of its lead characters want to have fun, often in equally pointless and gratuitously violent ways, but Do-cheol's antics are funny and Tae-oh's antics are evil because that's what it says in the script...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Assassination"

2015/08/15 | | Permalink

South Korean media doesn't deal much with the Japanese Occupation. The main reason for this is historical awkwardness. The resistance wasn't all that effective. And after the war most major figures involved in it either joined North Korea, or they ended up in a losing political battle with the US-backed South Korean dictatorship, which was managed almost entirely by Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese. "The Assassination", amazingly enough, actually addresses this directly. The framing device is in 1949 and the main villain in 1933 isn't a hardened Japanese soldier, but a Korean collaborator...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Tasty 2: Happy Together"

2015/08/15 | | Permalink

The time is the late Cretaceous period. Tyrannosaurs survive by feasting on the flesh of herbivores. Even though "Tasty 2: Happy Together" is basically just a kid's cartoon, this plot point is treated with quite a bit of seriousness. Tyranosaurs and herbivores both have a right to live, so a balance must be struck. The moral dilemma is a difficult part of daily life, but it's not one the characters can ignore. It's from that backdrop that the young Tyrannosaurus Mir (voiced by Eom Sang-hyeon) has to struggle to adulthood, learning to appreciate that Tyranosaurs have to be more than mere predators...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Live Shock"

2015/08/14 | | Permalink

Eun-beom (played by Baek Seong-hyeon) manages a part-time job search website. He has to take care of his little sister Eun-byeol (played by Kim Ji-yeong-III), but other than that life is mostly unremarkable. Matters take a turn for the dramatic when on a live debate show Seong-woo (played by Jang Se-hyeon) takes the entire production hostage. And from there the story takes an even more bizarre and outlandish turn. What could possibly be more extreme than a deranged hostage negotiation? Well...I don't want to ruin it...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 12

2015/08/13 | | Permalink

After nearly a full drama of little-to-no actual plot, this episode almost manages to overdo it. The heroes have extended conversations with each other- not just each other even, but one of the villains too, and working together they come up with a plan to finally take on Gwi. Obviously this doesn't work out too great but even so! Finally! Vampire action plots and scheming in the vampire action drama! It's been so long since there's just been a good fight, you know?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 11

2015/08/12 | | Permalink

Apparently the last couple of episodes weren't enough of a downbeat tone for director Lee Seong-joon. This one too, at least initially, continues to have its character mope around in general angst and depression over death. Maybe it's heartless for me to think this, but Seong-yeol and Yang-seon really need to move on. Death isn't some new surprising occurence in this drama. It's hardly fair to prioritize a couple of deaths more just because the main characters happened to know them personally...More

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

2015/08/11 | | Permalink

The essential conflict in "Remember You" boils down to feelings and logic. Hyeon is a man without feelings who struggles when memories of past events force him to come to term with feelings. The detectives, by contrast, are perfectly at ease with feelings but have always needed help when it comes to dealing with the basic logic necessary to make deductions and come up with effective plans for catching criminal perpetrators. "Remember You" is able to achieve convincing catharsis on one of these points...More

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

2015/08/10 | | Permalink

The conflict this episode is mainly philosophical as the resolution of last episode's cliffhanger centers around motive. It's interesting watching the characters themselves try to puzzle this information out. We've already been made privy to Joon-young's thought process- but how exactly are the other characters supposed to be able to suss this out? Ji-an's conclusions, while obviously wrong, make sense given the information that she has access to. So Ji-an ends up trying to find more information...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.08.07 ~ 2015.08.09

2015/08/10 | | Permalink

"Veteran" enjoys stunning opening weekend...

After a stunning first couple weeks at the top of the pile, Choi Dong-hoon's "The Assassination" remained in second by adding another million admissions (23%) to its total tally. With this past weekend's figures in, "The Assassination" has now amassed 9 million admissions and moves past "Ode to My Father" as the second highest-grossing Korean film of the year...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 34

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

Jin-han has clearly recovered some of his memories. It's not totally clear which ones or how many. But what we do know is that this recovery was prompted by Eun-soo's blatant attempt at emotional manipulation. Eun-soo has frequently demonstrated intelligence, but she appears either unwilling or unable to process the significance of this. Jin-han isn't rejecting his family because of his current wife. He's rejecting his family because they consider Eun-soo to be his de facto wife, and Jin-han is completely unwilling to tolerate Eun-soo's presence...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Oh My Ghostess" Episode 1

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

Director/Writer pair Yo Je-won and Yang Hee-seong of "The King of High School Manners" team up again for what seems to be another strong tvN hit in "Oh My Ghostess". Despite the fact that this first episode was mostly set up, we get to know the characters and understand their aspirations and motivations along with some cleverly delivered exposition.

"Oh My Ghostess" has a fantastical premise - a virgin ghost sets out to get laid...More

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

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

As truths are slowly revealed to key players, the weather grows quickly stormy and as unstable as an electrical storm. In the eye of the storm Ji-sook and Min-woo slowly grow their love, and although it's sweet, this is truly just the calm before the storm for their relationship.

The burgeoning love between Ji-sook and Min-woo is made possible because first Min-woo, and then Ji-sook, allowed him and herself to open up to love and the fact that they must trust another person...More

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

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

"Mask" continues to barrel forward, uncovering surprises along the way. Ji-sook is turning into a formidable opponent not only for Seok-hoon, but also for the greedy loan shark who trails behind their family like a starving dog. What this episode reveals is that Seok-hoon is completely fallible and his wife, Mi-yeon, could become the newest opponent. It also shows us that romance can be both beautiful to watch and useful as a plot tool.

Now that Ji-sook has found strength of will and realized what she can do in her new position of wealth and affluence, she is now more open to Min-woo's charms and affections...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

Three Korean actors sign on for a Korean-Chinese web drama, Jason reviews "Veteran" for Screen Daily, Kim Jee-woon gets Warner Bros. to invest in their first Korean-language film, and Pierce explores the work of director Lee Chang-jae for KOBIZ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

Jeju to kickstart their tangerine output thanks to a five-year farming plan, Learn how to prepare cubed radish kimchi from My Korea Kitchen, Holly shows us how to make beef and bean sprout stew, and CNN interview celebrity chef Edward Kwon...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

South Korea's popular Jeju Island is in focus this week, as well as news that those seeking a nip/tuck will soon be able to get a tax refund in an effort to boast tourism...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/08/09 | | Permalink

The Korean Hanbok gets a modern and street-wise twist, August 14th declared a holiday, two South Koreans cycle across America for "comfort women", and the EYK crew probe marriage equality in South Korea...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 33

2015/08/08 | | Permalink

Eun-soo is at it once again with her terrible and blatant emotional manipulation. But the blowback ends up being more immediate than anticipated. Hyeon-seo has always been a thoughtful, considerate young man, and meeting his father answers a lot of questions. Namely, why Hyeon-seo is thoughtful and considerate when everyone else in his family is so mean. Jin-han is thoughtful and considerate too. He doesn't go for all or nothing. Which is why for all Eun-soo's outrage, Hyeon-seo really is satisfied with just a heartfelt hug...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Last"

2015/08/08 | | Permalink

A lot of dramas include action and crime, but there is usually more to it than the world of crime itself. Revenge, justice, survival and other manner of more grand elements are the goal of those stories. "Last" is an odd show in the sense that it approaches new topics and from a slightly different angle than what most shows go for. What has been quite a nice start can now hopefully evolve and succeed...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor"

2015/08/08 | | Permalink

A lot of people like a good revenge plot. Others like tales about justice and the heroes who deliver it. Seeing good win against bad is a basic feature of most stories and easy to make exciting as a concept. A series like "Masked Prosecutor" also belongs in a medium which is good with revenge stories, that being Korean drama. Unfortunately, the show manages to waste its opportunity with bad execution and unexplored intriguing topics...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Gifted"

2015/08/08 | | Permalink

Min-soo (played by Kim Beom-joon) is a man who's trying to get a decent enough job to finally marry to his girlfriend Soo-jin (played by Bae Jeong-hwa). Unluckily for Min-soo, the job market is pretty terrible at the moment. Min-soo lacks any social connections with people who know how to make money- except for one bad choice. And after stewing around in frustration for all too long, Min-soo finally decides to become a winner- whichever way he can...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Pascha"

2015/08/08 | | Permalink

Ga-eul (played by Kim So-hee) is an extremely sensitive older woman living by herself with many cats. A crazy cat lady isn't an ideal life goal in any country, but it's an especially difficult trajectory for Ga-eul to justify, living in South Korea where cats tend to be thought of as wild animals. For Ga-eul, the lifestyle choice is a simple one. Reality is harsh. People, even her family, tend to be really mean. Except for Ga-eul's boyfriend Joseph (played by Seong Ho-joon). He's kind and sensitive. Joseph is also still a teenager...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Miryang Arirang"

2015/08/08 | | Permalink

In the modern era probably the biggest impediment to real change is that people are scared of looking ridiculous. Seriously, what was the main criticism lobbed at the Occupy Movement a few years back? That they were protesting imaginary grievances? No, everyone knows the employment market (still) sucks. It was that they were dumb smelly hippies. The men and women in "Miryang Arirang" are immune to such insults. They are old. All their life they've just wanted to farm in peace and then the dumb smelly government shows up and says like it or not, now they have to live next to a dumb smelly power plant...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Red Moon"

2015/08/07 | | Permalink

Prince Sado (played by Kim Dae-myeong) is not of very sound mental health. It all started back when he was a kid, and his dad King Yeongjo (played by Kim Myeong-gon) made zero effort to shield or reassure his son in the face of horrific bloody violence. As a result, Prince Sado grows up with little skill when it comes to ascertaining the difference between reality and hallucination- especially when haunted by a certain malicious, constantly taunting specter...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 10

2015/08/06 | | Permalink

Even though Jang-seon isn't actually in jail anymore this episode of "Scholar Who Walks the Night" somehow manages to be even more lurid and depressing than the last one. Granted, after the ending of the last episode we could hardly have expected this one to be all sparkly vampires and rainbows, but even so. I can only tolerate so much abuse of the lead heroine before it just gets to be incredibly offputting. The camp elements are pretty much completely absent here...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 9

2015/08/05 | | Permalink

This episode is thoroughly bogged down in the "Jang-seon is in jail" storyline. While this doesn't go on forever, Jang-seon is so heavily restricted here it's a little difficult to ignore the extent to which her character is basically a damsel in distress. About the only saving grace is that this isn't her fault. If Jo-saeng hadn't been acting in such a boneheaded way this whole time they'd already all be out by now, and the general gruesomeness of the cliffhanger could have been avoided...More

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

2015/08/04 | | Permalink

The walls seem to be closing in on Joon-young. And yet the man himself doesn't even seem to notice what's happening. Or maybe he just doesn't care. It's hard to tell the difference. Joon-young doesn't act like a man who literally knows everything that happens at every time. Even his internal monologues have less to do with actually killing people and more to do with motivation. Which, as per usual, is totally incomprehensible yet weirdly logical at the same time...More

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

2015/08/03 | | Permalink

The cliffhanger from last time was naturally a fake out- although there's still plenty of high stakes danger in the opening portion. Right now Hyeon is struggling with whether he should be his normal haughty self, or give into emotions and admit that the person Hyeon cares the most about is in trouble. It's a fascinating contrast because Hyeon really is at his most effective when playing socipathic mind games. But what's the point of sociopathic mind games if there's no deep emotional hook?...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.07.31 ~ 2015.08.02

2015/08/03 | | Permalink

Cruise disrupts "The Assassination" on entry…

 After a recording-breaking performance by a local hit last week, Tom Cruise qua Ethan Hunt has come in and immediately upped the ante and put pressure on a home hero. Last weekend Choi Dong-hoon's "The Assassination" attracted over 2.4 million admissions ($16 million) during its opening weekend out; it was a stunning start that finally put a Korean film firmly back on top. Choi's high-stakes drama may have conceded the lead, but in just over a week it's managed moved its total tally to 6.5 million admissions (that's $43.8 million since July, 22), 1.5 million of which came from this past weekend...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 50 Final

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

The final epilogue to "Jing Bi-rok" is an extended speech made by Seong-ryong, not directed to anyone in particular except the viewer, where he exhorts us to continue the struggle. It's a fitting epilogue to a drama that doesn't really end. Yes, the war ends- with a final battle the Japanese threat to the Korean peninsula is eliminated once and for all. But anyone who's been paying attention so far knows that "Jing Bi-rok" was never about the war- it was about the dysfunction that made the war possible. And that dysfunction yet remains...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 32

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

As expected, the cliffhanger simply ends in another lack of confrontation with Jin-han. Don't worry- by the end of the episode serious progress is finally made to actually integrate the Jin-han character with everything else that's happening in the story. I just can't help but be a little annoyed at this point at the extent to which Jin-han doesn't really participate in a story that's pretty much all about him. Particularly since this plot point revolves around the rich family's business decisions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 16 (final)

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

"Masked Prosecutor" has come to an end. It has been quite the journey that concludes pleasantly. Everyone gets what they deserve, including our hero. Justice is had, but what is missing from this show is the feeling of justice and satisfaction.

"Masked Prosecutor" went through the motions of working the law, catching the villains, dealing with impossible family and childhood loves, but that magnetic spark that makes a drama special and attractive to the viewer was missing...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 15

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

Everything in the action of episode 15 tells us that exciting things are afoot. There are trials, brothers at odds, secret identities uncovered, and romantic antics. A lot happens and yet very little is felt. It's action devoid of emotion. Action for action's sake. Action to attempt to salvage the drama.

The acting on the part of Eom Ki-joon and Joo Sang-wook is stellar...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 14

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

This is an episode of choices and realization that centers around Dae-cheol. The character arcs move in relation to his personal journey, which is lazy writing or perhaps desperate writing as we head into the final week of "Masked Prosecutor".

Dae-cheol is heart broken several times in this episode as his living family continue to disappoint him ...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

Jeon Ji-hyeon shines in "The Assassination", Koream reveals the highest-grossing films of 2015, Jason Bechervaise reviews "The Assassination" for Screen Daily, and 25 of South Korea's best films listed...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

The Eat Your Kimchi Team enjoys "Royal Cuisine" in Jihwaja, Holly shows us how to make a delicious plum cake, and Kimchimari and My Korean Kitchen share they lists of what to keep in cupboard for Korea cooking...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

The New York Times tours Seoul through the eyes of some of country's creative talents, Jeju property continues to be snapped up, MERS virus no longer a threat, and check out The Korean Herald's Travel Bits for tops stories and events...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/08/02 | | Permalink

Would you spend part of your gap year studying in North Korea?, upper-class North Koreans are becoming increasing brand conscious, Korean men's fashion spotted in America, but who wears it better?, and how is the "Asian" identity represented in the music industry?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 49

2015/08/01 | | Permalink

The war starts to come to an end, not with a bang, but a whimper. Really, the entirity of the Myeongnyang battle is completed within about ten minutes. Lee Soon-shin shows up, reassures the men that they're not all completely doomed, then they come up with a plan, they execute the plan, and just like that the Japanese invasion plan is once again completely tattered. With no fallback options the Japanese just fall back into complete despair...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 31

2015/08/01 | | Permalink

The story is still just about completely centered around Jin-han- although we're still not that much closer to his actually participating. From Deok-in, we do get an explanation that indicates her icy attitude toward Eun-soo wasn't just a function of the latter woman's terrible personality. There's an excellent logistical reason why Eun-soo shouldn't be the one to confront Jin-han, at least not in the immediate sense. And also Jin-woo is working at the company now...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Yong Pal"

2015/08/01 | | Permalink

The Korean drama industry is at a time where productions desperately try to mix every element imaginable in order to cover as many needs as possible. With ratings having severely declined over the past few years, many shows end up a mix of genres, tone and ideas. Occasionally that works, but some just become convoluted beyond repair. "Yong Pal" might be in danger of this, but its premise does have potential...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ex-Girlfriends' Club"

2015/08/01 | | Permalink

Breakups are not exactly a fun time for most people, yet they become the topic of romantic comedy very frequently in fiction. This approach in a rom-com context might not be so frequent in Korean drama, but there have been works which went there, such as 'Sly and Single Again' and 'Emergency Couple'. TvN's 'Ex-Girlfriends' Club' handles the consequences of breakups in the present. The approach has potential, but this particular series, while entertaining, does not make the best of it...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Madonna"

2015/08/01 | | Permalink

Hae-rim (played by Seo Yeong-hee) gets a new job working at a VIP medical ward. This is a terrible job, you see, because rich people are terrible, what with always expecting complete subordinate obedience and also blow jobs. Hae-rim is disgusted, but she has debts, so what's a woman to do? Later on Hae-rim gets involved in the mysterious case of Mi-na (played by Kwon So-hyeon). And it's here that Hae-rim learns the terrible secret of life which she mostly already knew- that all men are rapists...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Red Tomb"

2015/08/01 | | Permalink

Before and during the Korean War, the South Korean government made a point of murdering people, often in large numbers, on the suspicion of their being Communists. Disturbingly, the elderly interviewees in "Red Tomb" have taken this as such a matter-of-fact detail of life that they barely even flinch when director Gu Jahywan or anyone else asks them where the bodies are buried. This is the face of successful government-sponsored mass-murder- No Regret, no anger, this was just a thing that happened...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Sprout" and "The World of If" and "I am Joongsik"

2015/08/01 | | Permalink

In "Sprout", seven-year-old Bo-ri (played by Kim Soo-an) goes on an epic quest to go find vegetables. Bo-ri isn't exactly mentally equipped for this journey, being only a small child who is easily distracted. Even so, Bo-ri makes a strike for independence and journeys on a miniature road trip guided only by her feet. "Sprout" is no thriller- Bo-ri's neighborhood is just, well, a typical Korean neighborhood. Or is it?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - What is the Ghost Doing?"

2015/07/31 | | Permalink

Cheon-dong (played by Lee Joon) is a man who alternates between thinking the best and thinking the worst of his girlfriend. Moo-rim (played by Jo Soo-hyang) makes a point of constantly agitating for Cheon-dong out of a mix of spite and genuine romantic affection. These two are the perfect portrait of a couple that makes you wonder why they're even together in the first place, since they seem to be more about slapping than kissing. And it's from that backdrop that Moo-rim visits Cheon-dong from the great beyond for a final reques...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 8

2015/07/30 | | Permalink

Jo-saeng (played by Jeong Gyoo-soo) is Yang-seon's adoptive father, though he pretends to be her father by birth. He's also the main reason why the plot regarding the book hasn't gone anywhere. Jo-saeng has spent most of the runtime acting unhelpful because he's seen what vampires can do and is completely terrified at the prospect of getting involved at the storyline at all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 7

2015/07/29 | | Permalink

In the aftermath of a major battle recovery is slow- well, not that slow given that Seong-yeol and Gwi are vampires, but this definitely appears to be a cycle that repeats fairly frequently. Seong-yeol is only able to outsmart Gwi enough to force another stalemate- they both live to fight another day. Which as far as Seong-yeol is concerned is a loss, because another day as a vampire is another day he has to suck blood from the living and, well, Seong-yeol doesn't like doing that...More

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

2015/07/28 | | Permalink

How does a man who doesn't feel react when hit with emotional discoveries? The question kind of sounds like a riddle, which makes the experience of watching this episode of "Remember You" a somewhat odd one. Watching Hyeon cry is, well, a little awkward. On one level I want to criticisize Seo In-guk's performance. But then on the other end I remember that he's been perfectly capable so far as the man with the unchanging, steel cold expression...More

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

2015/07/27 | | Permalink

After a brief bit of flirtation establishes that no, Hyeon hasn't suffered a major personality shift just because of romantic chemistry, "Remember You" gets into some pretty serious stuff. The subtitle this episode is "birth of a monster", and the ensuing backstory is stone cold primarily because of the philosophical issues it raises. Everyone knows that abuse can turn a child into a monster, but sheer indifference?...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.07.24 - 2015.07.26

2015/07/27 | | Permalink

"The Assassination" dominates and threatens records...

Not since "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" (South Korea's highest-grossing film) have Korea's moviegoers rallied so vehemently behind a moving picture. Choi Dong-hoon's drama "The Assassination" was officially released last Wednesday and was the film to see over the weekend. And see they did...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 48

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

We learn this episode, quite predictably, that bravado is no substitute for competence. We don't see that much of the naval battle, but what we do see indicates a complete rout on the part of the Japanese. There's nothing standing between them and the rest of Korea. The situation's so bad that when the Chinese show up King Seonjo is actually glad to see them- all previous disputes now being forgiven. Unfortunately, that's probably not going to be enough here...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 30

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

Technically speaking I think Hong-ran is supposed to be the bad guy right now. She knows where Jin-han is, and is withholding this information from the rest of her family out of sheer spite. There's just one problem- Eun-soo has proven herself to be a substantially more unlikable person. It's actually pretty enjoyable just watching Eun-soo squirm, because this isn't a problem she can't solve through browbeating and threats. Not like that ever solved any problems in the first place, mind you...More

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

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

For the first time we see the potential in Ji-sook actualized. She is a fierce woman to be reckoned with, which is not at all what Seok-hoon expected. Watching the power balance between them even had is not only satisfying, it's great writing. Seok-hoon has had such overwhelming power over all the characters in "Mask" that it was beginning to feel infinite and real. Now we see he is just a very clever, very evil, very selfish man.

Seok-hoon is the pivotal character of the show...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 13

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

"Masked Prosecutor" has taken a darker twist than I had anticipated. While jarring, it hurtles forward with such conviction that I've almost forgotten that it doesn't quite fit. Most of this next direction rests heavily on Hyun-woong's shoulders and therefore on the very capable Eom Ki-joon's shoulders.

His character has stepped forward from the shadows only to be doused in a darkness of his own making...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

Chinese company invests in South Korea's top VFX studio, Tilda on board for Bong's next feature, catch the latest episode of Korean Cinema Today, and Mying Films has some exciting plans for the future of film production...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

Top spots in Seoul to sip your coffee with a view, Korea's Bok-Nal festival under fire, Nuns preserve monastic cuisine and culture, and what kimchi to make when you're in a pickle?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

What are the differences between Koreans and foreigners?, Eat Your Kimchi present their report of a top spa they visited, golfer Bae Sang-moon fails to duck military duties, and are Korean men missing out on their golden years?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography

2015/07/26 | | Permalink

Robert Koehler captures Bugaksan, top tips for shooting Korea's temples, it's monsoon season in Korea, and The Washington Post probes South Korea's Ji Yeo on surgery in the city...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 29

2015/07/25 | | Permalink

Jin-han (played by Choi Jong-hwan) is the long-lost eldest brother of the Choi family, and the not-exactly-husband of Eun-soo. He's gotten amnesia and now lives a humble existence selling street food with his wife. Strictly speaking "Make a Woman Cry" hasn't actually confirmed that this person is Jin-han, but he's currently listed as such on MBC's official website. And besides, given how much of the conflict lately has been about Jin-han, it would be pretty ridiculous if the snack guy wasn't actually Jin-han after all...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 47

2015/07/25 | | Permalink

Well, it's finally happened. After forty plus episodes of King Seonjo being a generally ineffectual leader, his insecurities finally get the best of him. King Seonjo makes an obviously terrible decision based on the self-serving advice of a minority of his advisors and from here, it's only going to get worse. What really stands out about the situation is just how ridiculous it is- even the Japanese seem to be in complete disbelief as to the scale of their good luck here. Not that this in any way weakens their resolve...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Assembly"

2015/07/25 | | Permalink

Politics in Korean drama can be a tricky subject, as ratings for KBS2's "Assembly" have shown. Perhaps catching audiences at a bad time for intrigue and government drama, the series has not been doing well in the numbers. For international fans, this is only important if changes are made due to it. What is most important, however, is whether the series is actually good and consistent in what it presents itself as. "Assembly" is both...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Alice: Boy from Wonderland"

2015/07/25 | | Permalink

Hye-joong (played by Jeong So-min) suffers from debilitating nightmares. So debilitating, she has to take long breaks from graduate coursework, and that's just not the kind of thing that can easily be explained to an impatient professor. It's not like she can get a doctor's note either, because the doctors say Hye-joong is perfectly healthy. It's just, some people inexplicably go into comas for several days at a time, only waking up to briefly be terrorized by an inability to separate reality from delusion. What else is there to do except go find a shaman?...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "12 Deep Red Nights: Chapter 1"

2015/07/25 | | Permalink

Horror movie tropes are so simple that they generally tend to work better the less you think about them- or conversely, when you think about them so much that every generic slasher becomes some sort of weird metaphor for transgenderism. Thankfully writer / director Oh In-cheon goes the former direction with the spooky atmosphere in "12 Deep Red Nights: Chapter 1". See, there's four different stories. And scary stuff happens in each one...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Purpose of Reunion"

2015/07/25 | | Permalink

Dong-chul (played by Jo In-woo) is a sleazy guy who boasts to his friends about how he's totally figured out the whole relationship conflict thing. See, Dong-chul has a wife and kids. But they live in the Philippines. So even though Dong-chul has already solved the life goal of getting married and having a family (since he knocked her up in college), Dong-chul is still free and clear to engage in whatever philandering he wants in Korea, where none of this could possibly reflect badly on him. And you know what that means- copious soft core sex scenes...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 12 Final

2015/07/24 | | Permalink

And so, "Orange Marmalade" ends rather anticlimatically. This much was unavoidable. The main problem with the story is that we stopped halfway through to do a mostly unrelated Joseon vampire plot. The tension between Si-hoo and Ah-ra is quite cute, but the effect is badly mollified by the fact that these two never really interacted with each other all that much in either the past or the present. The resolution of that subplot is a pretty classic case of what might have been...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 6

2015/07/23 | | Permalink

Gwi very quickly seems to forget that the reason he captured all the booksellers wasn't to spread a message of anti-literacy- Gwi's goal was in fact to get more information about Yang-seon. And he quickly gives that up to just do more obviously evil stuff that serves little apparent purpose except to force cover-ups and make people like Gwi even less than they already do. By the end of the episode Gwi isn't doing much better. He's once again easily bamboozled by Seong-yeol and manages to forget to take precautions against his most glaring weakness...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 5

2015/07/22 | | Permalink

Seong-ryeol does a lot of watching. Really, it seems to be his main special ability. He always has a perfect view of whatever scheme Gwi is planning at any given moment- that much would seem to be Gwi's special weakness. But for the most part Seong-ryeol has his eyes focused on Yang-seon this episode. It really does seem like a pity that Seong-ryeol has the power to read really fast but mostly just ends up waiting for people to finish doing stuff rather slowly...More

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

2015/07/21 | | Permalink

One of the reasons why "Remember You" takes an unpredictable amount of time to get through any given case is because the difficulty the detectives have solving any given case is directly proportional to how difficult the case is. That sentence probably seemed kind of long-winded and repetitive- but for formatted drama television this is genuinely a really unusual concept. And in "Remember You", it completely messes around with any sort of expectations we can have for any given episode...More

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

2015/07/20 | | Permalink

The last case was apparently resolved just as quickly as it looked. This is another one of the more uneven qualities of "Remember You"- it really is impossible to tell how long any given investigation is going to last. Right away we're given more hints as to another incoming crime, and sure enough, it isn't too long before the situation heats up until we get to a cliffhanger that just gives off a portent of disaster...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review]

2015/07/20 | | Permalink

Last week Disney and Pixar's "Inside Out" entered the fray to settle in second with 21% of the box office pie; this weekend, however, saw the popular animation clinch the top spot by outperforming Kim Hak-soon's "Northern Limit Line" by almost most doubling its efforts. "Inside Out" claimed 939 thousand admissions over 931 screens (35%) to top the chart over the weekend, bumping Kim's war drama down a place with its 530 thousand admissions (19%). Worldwide, "Inside Out" has been extremely well-received having now banked over $490 million...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 46

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

The story in "Jing Bi-rok" is quickly catching up with the more well-known parts of history. King Seonjo hasn't quite completely destroyed the backbone of the Korean military just yet, but he's working on it. It's sad watching Seong-ryong do his best to try and move the political edge of the story back into coherent sensible territory, knowing that he's doomed to fail. In this way King Seonjo is something of a tragic figure, too heavily mired in his own paranoia to realize that the purges have gone too far and are only making Korea more vulnerable...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 28

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

I really don't think we need any more exposition on how Eun-soo is a genuinely terrible person. "Make a Woman Cry" is overdoing it at this point. It's not just making her look evil but also kind of socially retarded. Deok-in didn't accept the proposal from Tae-hwan when he was acting nice about it, so why in the world would she accept it from Eun-soo in full-on bitch mode? Eun-soo's back-up plan is equally terrible, and predictably falls apart completely by the end of the episode...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Scholar Who Walks the Night"

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

There is nothing quite like a romantic fantasy drama for the summer and MBC seems to have taken its intended type of show quite seriously with 'Scholar Who Walks the Night'. It offers vampires, doppelgangers, damsels and rescues, romance and mystery, and of course the quite important beautiful men. None of those elements will work without an engaging plot, however, so let us see how the drama is faring with that part so far...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Oh My Ghostess"

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

In a lot of ways, cable television has brought more daring concepts to Korean drama. What was once an age where any non-virginal female character was an antagonist or flawed existence has given way to even leading women who do not remain stuck in perpetual wish fulfillment for those in love with gender stereotypes. 'Oh My Ghostess' is yet another tvN series which tackles the s-word and it also cast stars who are talented and loved by audiences to do so...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Midnight Diner"

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

Different is not always good, but its existence always is. For a largely limited medium such as Korean drama, shows which step outside of the norm in some way are a push towards programming which covers not just one group's preferences, but those of many. "Midnight Diner" is a unique little show which has done poorly in the ratings, but might just offer the few who watch it a much needed breather and some comfort...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 12

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

"Masked Prosecutor" is getting desperate. It'll pulling out all of the stops and taking a gamble, which unfortunately hasn't worked out for the best. The romantic scenes are quite adorable, but a lot of the deeper emotional material misses the mark.

A lot of it - but not all of it...More

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

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

Despite the melodrama in this melodrama, this episode of "Mask" was particularly fantastic. The character writing is so strong that it pulls the hectic storyline together. Characters who have taken longer to build up, like Mi-yeon, have begun to blossom and we can expect to see some definite action from them in the future.

Normally in a drama like this, betrayal and power struggles overwhelm any sort of character development. "Mask" seems like it will be overtaken by the melodrama, and those many moments when a new problem surfaces can get exasperating, but I find myself eager to see how characters will handle these new situations...More

[HanCinema's Videography] "King of Pigs": Violence

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

There are many ways to comment on and cite literature, but moving images are harder to handled and quote. The history of cinematic thinking has long been tied to the shadow of literary concerns, taking its terms, theories and filtering them through audiovisual cues back to typographical symbols. Is there a way to articulate the themes, motifs, moments and magic found within films without relying on the power of the written word?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

The Busan International Film Festival coming soon and calls for submissions, catch BiFan screenings online through KOBIZ, Variety looks at the genre and indie movement at this year's BiFan, and Erin McDermott reviews Lee Song-hee-il's 2013 film "Night Flight" for Beyond Hallyu...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

Do Western children enjoy Kimchi?, how to make a savoury Korean egg soufflé, Jin Joo combines avocado and pasta on Beyond Kimchi, and what do experts have to say about the link between food and tourism?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

Feminism in Kpop on the rise, EYK explores Korea's drug culture, Emma Stone loves K-pop, and Irene Kim signs with Estée Lauder...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography

2015/07/19 | | Permalink

Rainy skies over Bukchon Hanok, Seoul State of Mind visits Yeomiji Botanical Garden, TIME marks the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, and what to keep in mind when taking pictures of your food to share online...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Last"

2015/07/18 | | Permalink

After romantic melodrama 'My Love Eun-dong', jTBC has something quite different coming up. "Last" is not looking like the kind of show which drama audiences are used to, but its cast, approach and the fact that it is based on a popular webtoon might deliver something substantial or at least entertaining. On the other hand, it might be shallow and messy, but one can hope...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 45

2015/07/18 | | Permalink

Seong-ryong has tried to step into the role of conflict resolution- and it's not really working out all that well. The main issue is that while ministers have very fervent discussions about maybe doing something in the immediate future, meanwhile, people are still being brutalized out in the torture yard. The year is 1596 and this is still the best solution anybody can come up with to internal problems. At this rate it seems like the Japanese are going to invade again because the Koreans have learned absolutely nothing from the awful early times of the war...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 27

2015/07/18 | | Permalink

The conflict takes on the fairly traditional trappings of money versus remorse this episode. To some extent I think Deok-in is bein unfair to Tae-hwan. Obviously it's a somewhat insulting gesture to try to make up for the death of someone's son by giving them money, but what else is Tae-hwan supposed to do? The guy's not exactly overflowing with fatherly warmth and affection. Expressing sympathy through financial gifts is probably the best way Tae-hwan knows how to articulate himself...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Tattoo"

2015/07/18 | | Permalink

As the opening sequence demonstrates, there is a kind of medical factor to tattoo art that's rather fascinating. They both involve needles, obviously, but what exactly is that weird ink that creates tattoo art anyway? Soo-na (played by Yoon Joo-hee) is a doctor turned tattooist who utilizes their mysterious properties- for murder. That sounds like a good premise for a movie doesn't it? Well, unfortunately the actual main serial killer character of "Tattoo" is Ji-soon (played by Song Il-gook). He's just a generic übermensch serial killer...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Sunshine"

2015/07/18 | | Permalink

Seol-ji (played by Dana) is a North Korean defector living in the South. Her days are filled with nothing all that remarkable. Seol-ji works in a flower shop with another defector, fulfilling the sometimes bizarre requests of people who order flowers. She also paints as a hobby- this being the profession of her old life in North Korea. Life isn't amazing- but it's not terrible either. Seol-ji has enough money to get by. Which is why she bristles at Sin-woong (played by Kang Eun-tak), an ambitious director who thinks Seol-ji has exactly the right story for a compelling television documentary...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Amor"

2015/07/18 | | Permalink

Tae-woo (played by Jeong Kyeong-ho) is in a dead-end relationship with Hee-yeon (played by Jung Yoon-sun). I mean that very literally- Hee-yeon is dying. Tae-woo idles away his time between work, funeral preparations, and visiting Hee-yeon at the hospital. But what ultimately commands most of the screen time is "Amor" is Tae-woo's own memories. There's a definite irony about this- Tae-woo himself frequently notes that he and Hee-yeon didn't have much time to make memories in the first place. And in emphasis of this point, there are barely even any flashbacks of their relationship...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 11

2015/07/17 | | Permalink

One thing that's nice about the characters in "Orange Marmalade" is that they consistently act like teenagers. Jae-min is really grumpy about having to completely rethink his hatred of vampires, and this shows in his now muddled relationship with Ma-ri. He still likes her, but he's mad that she lied to him, but she lied to him for good reason because Jae-min can plainly see how everybody treats vampires, including him, and so Ma-ri's behavior was sort of justified from that angle...More

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

2015/07/17 | | Permalink

"Mask" has taken a turn for the epically dramatic. And despite the fact that it has become a little ridiculous, it still has that special something that makes it a great watch. The characters are so well-planned that the incredulous amount of bad luck that befalls Ji-sook can almost be overlooked.

So much stacks up against our heroine that it's difficult to digest...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 11

2015/07/17 | | Permalink

"Masked Prosecutor" is both better and worse this episode. It is very engaging on an emotional level and focuses more on the core relationships in the show rather than the faulted procedural happenings.

The relationship between Dae-cheol and Min-hee in both of its incarnations is endearing because Min-hee has stopped fighting her feelings for both Dae-cheol and his masked alter ego...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 4

2015/07/16 | | Permalink

Poor Seong-yeol. I mean, I know it's a big genre convention that the brooding romantic vampire has to hate who he is, and regret the mistakes of the past, but still. Running into Myeong-hee does a number on Seong-yeol's brain here. It's a trauma only amplified by flashbacks which indicate that Seong-yeol didn't even really manage to knock Gwi out temporarily- at that point Gwi let Seong-yeol leave the throne room alive (or undead if you want to be technical) mainly out of pity...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 3

2015/07/15 | | Permalink

One of the odder quirks about "Scholar Who Walks the Night" is that the villain is kind of incompetent. Sure, he can beat the tar out of pretty much anybody in a fight- that's why Seong-yeol is walking the night instead of trying to take Gwi down in hand-to-hand combat. The problem is that Gwi's ultimate goal is largely political in nature, and he has two kinds of allies- not terribly competent henchmen, and political power players who are smarter than the overly ambitious vampire...More

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

2015/07/14 | | Permalink

Hyeon isn't really in love with Ji-an just yet. We can tell because throughout the entire crisis at Ji-an's apartment, Hyeon continues to think logically and ask reasonable questions about the suspicious occurrences on their date. Naturally these questions carry over into the apparent attack- what motive could anyone have to put Ji-an in danger? And more relevantly, why would Seon-ho be nearby? It's like Hyeon says- there's never really any such thing as coincidence...More

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

2015/07/13 | | Permalink

The first two mysteries in "Remember You" didn't have much of an emotional catharsis, but that's not an option this time. As Hyeon himself admits in narration, his involvement in this case isn't a matter of curiousity or justice. Hyeon sees himself as the accused murderer, and is completely unwilling to acknowledge the prospect that biology is destiny. It's for this reason that Hyeon keeps making missteps. His deductive mind is as powerful as ever, but Hyeon wants a specific conclusion. And more importantly, he's admitted that to himself...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 10

2015/07/13 | | Permalink

Episode 10 was all about backing the bad guys into the corner. This means it focused on the procedural aspect of the show. The procedural aspect of "Masked Prosecutor is, by far, the weakest part of the drama. Therefore, this episode was decidedly weak.

Dae-cheol and his helpers figure out how to back Sang-taek and his cronies (who include Hyun-woong) into a proverbial corner...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.07.10 ~ 2015.07.12

2015/07/13 | | Permalink

Kim Hak-soon's "Northern Limit Line" back on song…

Kim Hak-soon's war drama "Northern Limit Line" returned to the top of the pile this past weekend after having been dislodged last week by the hard-hitting "Terminator Genisys". Kim's war drama did this by capturing 26% of the box office pie (872 thousand admissions), and so moved its total tally onto 4.6 million ($31 million). Last week's number one, the fifth in the "Terminator" series, fell two places to settle in third with 647 thousand (21%), while second place went to the critically acclaimed new Disney and Pixar feature: "Inside Out" by Pete Docter...More

[HanCinema Drama Review] "Mask" Episode 8

2015/07/12 | | Permalink

Drama tropes are used in abundance in this episode. They are merely tools to vamp up tension in this already high-tension drama. That said, the outcome of the trope usage has cleverly accelerated plot motion. A melodrama is not a melodrama with tears and a sick person, but "Mask" uses them well, as well as Seok-hoon uses Ji-sook.

The two major tropes that played a major role in this episode were family illness and a person from the past making an all-too-convenient reappearance in order to stir up a main character...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 44

2015/07/12 | | Permalink

It really is uncanny how, every time the focus shifts back to internal politics, most of the characters straight up seem to forget the fact that they're in the middle of a war. In all fairness it has been a while since the war actually seemed important, especially since it seems like peace is just around the corner. Of course peace has seemed to be around the corner for several episodes now and, once again, we know that once peace does show up it's not actually going to be permanent...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 26

2015/07/12 | | Permalink

Last episode's cliffhanger promised a lot of tears- and that's exactly what we get here. Deok-in has a complete breakdown. She loses interest in everything- her social position, her relationships, all of them become absolutely meaningless in light of the new information Deok-in now has about her son's death. There's nothing for the other characters to do except look on awkwardly in silence...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 43

2015/07/11 | | Permalink

I really do wish I had some idea how the Japanese view the invasion of Korea. Often in "Jing Bi-rok" I feel like the Japanese are being treated as unreasonably evil. And yet at the same time everything that happens is based on real events, and it's obvious that whatever talk of surrender is being floated around now, the Japanese do manage another invasion in the near future, and this invasion almost certainly would have destroyed the Korean state if not for Yi Sun-shin...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 25

2015/07/11 | | Permalink

Eun-soo's attempts at playing detective have at this point completely torpedoed any hope of her character being seen as sympathetic. I kind of want to see something terrible happen to her son, because short of that, it really doesn't seem like there's anything else that could make Eun-soo realize that taunting a woman about her dead child is only a few hairs short of outrageous cartoonish evil...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Assembly"

2015/07/11 | | Permalink

Dramaland is no stranger to attempts at new concepts. Sadly, it is also not a stranger to abandoning them before they have the chance to flourish. "Assembly" is a type of series which has been done before, but it comes at a time when the industry is desperate to sell, not to create good content. It also marks the drama debut of award-winning movie actor Jeong Jae-yeong, raising the bar and therefore making its potential fall more severe...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Producers"

2015/07/11 | | Permalink

"Producers" was a big gamble when it was announced, combining a very popular cast with a new format, new thematic approach and an unpopular new timeslot. The worries that it would succumb to the fame of its cast and change its course were there, but that it would do so after only two episodes was something which shocked many. What started as a variety drama ended up a romantic comedy. The question is, did it end up a good one...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Wicked Are Alive"

2015/07/11 | | Permalink

In the opening sequence of of "The Wicked Are Alive", we're treated to a character who appears to have met a terrible fate at the bottom of the mountain. The situation goes from bad to worse when another characters show up who decides that, rather than acting helpful, now would be a good time to exploit the situation for personal gain. Well, it's like the title says. "The Wicked Are Alive". Most of them do end up dying sooner or later but they have to be alive at least a little while for the gruesome violence to show up...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Director's CUT"

2015/07/11 | | Permalink

Hae-kang (played by Park Jeong-pyo) is an independent film director. Like most directors in the independent circuit, he struggles with short films, trying to gain enough recognition at a major film festival to acquire funding for a feature length project. And Hae-kang has managed to get this funding, kind of. He faces much more logistical difficulties, though. Boring stuff like gaining permission to film at certain locations. Also Hae-kang's staff is nearing revolt. And his personal life is kind of falling apart...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Rules of Dating"

2015/07/11 | | Permalink

Yoo-rim (played by Kang Hye-jeong) is a new teacher. Because she doesn't have a prior employment record, Yoo-rim is placed under the care of fellow teacher Hong (played by Park Hae-il). They both have significant others. So, naturally, Hong proceeds to sexually harass Yoo-rim at every possible opportunity. On one occassion this escalates into explicit rape. So obviously "Rules of Dating" is a...romantic comedy?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 10

2015/07/10 | | Permalink

The completion of the Joseon storyline appears to have added some necessary perspective to Jae-min and Ma-ri in the present day. Sure, the premature dissolution of their teen romance is disappointing, but at least they didn't fall victims to a murderous war between vampires and humans. Be that as it may, Ma-ri has now been outed as a vampire. So now she has to suffer from the prejudice of her classmates...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 2

2015/07/09 | | Permalink

Yang-seon (played by Lee Yoo-bi) is a cross-dressing book merchant. It quickly becomes very obvious why that is- apparently even in the Joseon era, selling books required lots of borderline perverted gamesmanship. Yang-seon is completely stoked to find any source of new book material, no matter how obviously ridiculous. No, actually, the more ridiculous the better. That's what drags the clients in- the promise of preposterous sexy stories...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 1

2015/07/08 | | Permalink

Seong-yeol (played by Lee Joon-ki) is a warrior scholar with a special interest in vampires. Matters take a turn for the disastrous when one such vampire by the name of Gwi (played by Lee So-hyeok) decides to make a serious effort to take over the world. The young lady Myeong-hee (played by Kim So-eun) ends up getting caught in the middle of this. Which is unfortunate, since Seong-yeol and Myeong-hee get along rather adorably together...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 9

2015/07/08 | | Permalink

After the midway point of "Masked Prosecutor" Min-hee began to fill out as a character.  In this episode especially she shows significant growth as her past comes to haunt her and she loses the composure for which she has been known. Alongside her walks Dae-cheol and his sidekick Ho-sik propels him into realization: he must use the mask for justice and not for revenge.

I've been hoping to see Dae-cheol to learn to be powerful as a prosecutor, but the show wants him to fight on the side of justice rather than use the mask for personal reasons...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember You" Episode 6

2015/07/07 | | Permalink

Apparently enough clues have surfaced that Hyeon has bee able to identify the true culprit behind the cases we've seen to date. It certainly didn't seem that way to me, but then I'm not a genius criminal investigator. And as per Hyeon's usual disregard of proper narrative structure, his explanation of how he unraveled the mystery comes at the beginning of he episode rather than the end. The true villain begrudgingly gives Hyeon a few more inexplicable clues before making a quick getaway...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember You" Episode 5

2015/07/06 | | Permalink

Ji-an and Hyeon continue their secret investigation. This entire plotline invokes a lot of ambivalent feelings for me. On one end, it's wrong for Hyeon to hide from the police. On the other end Hyeon is fairly obviously doing this simply because it's more fun to work against the police than it is to work with them. Considering how easily bamboozled they are it's hard to blame him. Ji-an delivers a plausible explanation in a very implausible way and her co-workers still don't bother to question it...More

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

2015/07/06 | | Permalink

Min-woo has completely fallen for Ji-sook and that brings cuteness and jealousy into tonal tapestry. To counter the levity of Min-woo's burgeoning first love is the fact that Ji-sook's secret is slowly leaking to those who knew her and creating new troubles for Seok-hoon's master plan.

Joo Ji-hoon is completely winning as the rigid Min-woo who falls in love with the only person in his life who is genuinely kind to him...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.07.03 ~ 2015.07.05

2015/07/06 | | Permalink

Taylor's new "Terminator" shoots and scores…

Last week Kim Hak-soon's war drama "Northern Limit Line" managed to dislodge the record-breaking "Jurassic Park" at the top of the chart. This past weekend, however, saw another foreign favourite come back from the archives to thrill audiences yet again with its dystopian take on future days...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 42

2015/07/05 | | Permalink

We start off with Lee Soon-shin showing how to actually inspire confidence among the common people- by thanking them. No, really, that's the main important part. Lee Soon-shin understands that the only reason he has an army at all is because the common people of Korea are offering him his support. Granted, they're offering their support so that Lee Soon-shin can protect them from the Japanese invaders but even so. Lee Soon-shin doesn't patronize the common people like King Seonjo does. The admiral genuinely doesn't seem to be that pretentious...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 24

2015/07/05 | | Permalink

Eun-soo has this really bad habit of using a threatening tone of voice even when she's not actually trying to act threatening. The weird part is that it quickly becomes clear that Eun-soo doesn't actually know anything about what's going on with Jin-woo. She just seems to be gossiping with Deok-in for no apparent reason, except to try and hurt Deok-in emotionally. So that character, at least, remains mostly unsympathetic...More

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

2015/07/05 | | Permalink

There was a lot of development in episode 6 of "Mask". It was all for the better. We got to see inside the hearts of many of the characters and that shaped all the elements that had the potential to be overly dramatic into effective plot moments.

The most important aspect of the episode was that we got to see past the veils of many of the characters...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 41

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

The opening is a fairly good representation of the main political conflict right now. Prince Gwanghae behaves like an actual leader, carefully considering the advice of his subordinates, but ultimately deciding that difficult situations necesitate risk-taking. And as usual he has to run all this past his dopey dad King Seonjo, who always puts the considerations of the people first, even when in the long-term being well-liked is a matter of demonstating competence, not empathy...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 23

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

It's all well and good for Jin-woo to say that he'll love and support Deok-in no matter what- but at this point "Make a Woman Cry" is forcing the issue of how they have very different perspectives on relationships and trauma. Jin-woo is unwilling to acknowledge that his previous marriage was a failure, on account of the fact that it didn't end in divorce. Whereas Deok-in takes death much more seriously, and realizes that even the best intent can't salvage an awful overall situation...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Scholar Who Walks the Night"

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

It is truly the age of manhwa, webtoon and novel adaptations, and we have another one coming. MBC's 'Scholar Who Walks the Night' is based on a manhwa of the same name and it is a fantasy period piece involving revenge, gender bending and vampires. It sounds like a lot to deal with, but the drama will hopefully do it well and bring some summer entertainment...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "My Beautiful Bride"

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

When it was announced that 'Heartless City' writer Yoo Seong-yeol would be writing OCN's "My Beautiful Bride", many of its fans started building their expectations. The former series had some very unique and nuanced characters and relationships, it was dark and yet beautiful and despite its eventual issues, it was a good piece of Korean television. "My Beautiful Bride" is not entirely similar, but the quality is there and it has created an impressive start and reasons to anticipate its future...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Northern Limit Line"

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

I have a lot of respect for soldiers. This isn't because of any ridiculous nonsense like how they're stoic invincible highly trained heroes protecting our freedoms from the barbarian hordes. No, I respect the troops because they have lousy jobs. It's either do nothing, or do something really quickly. Plus, the punishment for pretty much everything is infinite push-ups. "Northern Limit Line" is, first and foremost, a story about these down-to-earth soldiers...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Minority Opinion"

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

Jae-ho (played by Lee Kyeong-yeong) is a working class man turned radical protestor after the city of Seoul appropriated his home for eminent domain. Jae-ho and several of his like-minded fellows responded by holing up in the building and refusing to leave, prompting an attack by the police. In the aftermath of tragic disaster, Jae-ho needs legal defense to sort out what happened- enter Jin-won (played by Yoon Kye-sang), who initially treats this as a regular job but changes his mind upon realizing that for reasons unknown, the prosecutor is trying to impede the investigation...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Intimate Enemies"

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

Ji-noo (played by Ryoo Seung-beom) is always clad in his distinctive helmet as he does jobs for...I think he's supposed to be working for some sort of corporation but they act like the mob. I don't mean that metaphorically. Their response to the disappearance of important money is literally to bludgeon people until they're so disfigured they need special make-up for the rest of the movie. Anyway, what Ji-noo does isn't that important anyway. Na-mi (played by Ko Joon-hee) runs a junk yard. Her much more important contribution to the story is to show off her butt...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

The Eat Your Kimchi crew get some spicy payback, what is "Sambok"?, 10 Korean dishes to enjoy this summer, and a delicious chicken noodle soup recipe from Korean Bapsang...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

Would you travel around Korea on your bicycle?, Korea Herald highlights some of Seoul's top hidden hotspots, 7 things to enjoy in Gwangju, and a list of South Korean festivals that are simply not to be missed...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

Complex takes a look at three Korean hip=hop artists making new waves, Seoul hold mass wedding for North Korean defectors, Korean culture awakens from MERS, EYK share their thoughts on how living abroad has changed them, and did you know that there is a South Korea-North Korean translation app?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Photography

2015/07/04 | | Permalink

A stunning HDR pic from Robert Koehler, 7 street photographers to spy, check out Hugo's beautiful photography portfolio, and tentacled food porn?...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 9

2015/07/03 | | Permalink

The Joseon portion of "Orange Marmalade" finally comes to an end- and leaves me about as perplexed as ever. The main problem is just one of scale. The high school portion was just a romance- not even a particularly well-developed romance, since so much of the screentime was dedicated to worldbuilding. Whereas the Joseon portion apparently concerns some extremely important political events that directed the entire future of vampire / human relations. With the exact same high school archetypes in leadership positions. A lot of the plot is weird just to the point of being awkward. I found myself wondering where these kids' parents were. Yes, during Joseon times adulthood happened sooner but granting that much, Ah-ra really should have had the sense not to get involved with vampires in the first place. As if to prevent the viewer from hoping Ah-ra just dies from her own stupidity, we also get the pregnancy plotline. Which really brings up more worries than anything. I'm placing the blame for the elaborat...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 30 (final)

2015/07/03 | | Permalink

The power of family and true fidelity bring "Heard It Through the Grapevine" to a close. The drama made plenty of social commentary and gave Jung-ho his just desserts by having everyone leave him. This highlights the show's biggest point: equality among people despite socio-economic differences.

The final episode itself was anticlimactic and had a few too many bow-tied plot threads, but it was effective for its purpose...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 29

2015/07/03 | | Permalink

The corruption of Jung-ho continues even though it results in losing the people in his life. His continued ignorance of his social situation makes him more pitiable than detestable. While he suffers as his world falls apart, In-sang struggles to acclimate to life away from his father's protective monetary comfort. The episode highlights the differences between those who pluck up the courage and try to change and those who refuse to change out of fear.

In-sang chooses a new life situation where he must learn to adapt...More

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

2015/07/02 | | Permalink

Romance starts in earnest in episode 5 of "Mask". It is the catalyst for change in Min-woo's brickwall personality and it is the one small happiness for Ji-sook in her new, masked life. Surrounding that romance is the darkness of intrigue, deceit, and the hunt for more money and power.

Seok-hoon is a master manipulator and revels in his conquests...More

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

2015/07/01 | | Permalink

"Mask" keeps the tension high as Ji-sook and Seok-hoon butt heads. Min-woo skirts on the fringes of their tense relationship, struggling with his illness and his ambition. Already the effects of Ji-sook's presence in his life are obvious, but they are not yet strong enough to distract for the incredible tension between Ji-sook and Seok-hoon.

As with any melodrama, Ji-sook is faced with scheming in-laws and never ending misfortunates...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 8

2015/07/01 | | Permalink

Romance blossoms in episode 8 of "Masked Prosecutor" and it's quite welcome amongst the darkness of the procedural happenings. It livens up Min-hee's character and also provides some conflict. The cards also continue to stack up against Dae-cheol at this halfway point of the drama and bring both him and Min-hee to critical decisions.

The path towards these decisions was decidedly clunky...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 28

2015/07/01 | | Permalink

Despite the unhappiness at home, Jung-ho continues to play in the political arena using money to buy him power and influence. In his selfish venture for more power, he doesn't that his son has been agonizing over which path he should take: staying in luxury and abiding by his father's law, or living with Beom and Jin-young and working hard to make ends meet. The decisions both men make also legally affect the other characters in the show, but that aspect of the drama is the dullest.

Jung-ho plans to overwhelm Beom, Secretary Min, and the rest of the staff with insidiously clever legal proceedings and doesn't think about how his children, especially In-sang, view him or his actions...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember You" Episode 4

2015/06/30 | | Permalink

Normally I really dislike it when a nominally sympathetic character in a story works unfailingly to prop up a lie. What makes Ji-an different in this regard is, in the first place, she knows full well that Hyeon won't cooperate if she just tells him the truth. Hyeon's willingness to be helpful is directly proportional to how much he gets to act like an uncooperative, mean-spirited jerk in the process. This is what Hyeon's personality has been like since childhood, and that's not going to change any time soon...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 27

2015/06/30 | | Permalink

This show is gearing towards the ending. It spirals inwards on itself, making the same plot moves over and over again. Jung-ho is selfish and hurts everyone around him. In-sang has several battles raging within him: his loyalty to his family, his greed over his inheritance, and his love for Beom. Beom is struggling with her pride and battling Jung-ho's incredible arrogance and power.

That said, the curtain lifts a bit on Jung-ho's backdoor dealings and how he has maintained his wealth...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember You" Episode 3

2015/06/29 | | Permalink

The culprit apparently apprehended, the police team comes up against a very serious problem- there's not much real evidence. For Hyeon that doesn't pose a problem. This isn't because Hyeon is a super detective who can pull evidence out of nowhere to bring criminals to justice. It's quite the opposite really. Hyeon's interest in crime is directly proportional to how interesting the crime is. And sadly, Hyeon simply isn't impressed by the current villain...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 7

2015/06/29 | | Permalink

A few big revelations took place this episode of "Masked Prosecutor", but more than that, we got to see genuine character development in Min-hee. The development walked hand in hand with the unfolding of her backstory. Kim Seon-ah also opened up with her burgeoning character.

We learned more about Min-hee's past as she chases the cold trails that Sang-taek left behind...More

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

2015/06/29 | | Permalink

What makes "Mask" unique is the view that each character has of his or herself. There is the villain, Seok-hoon, who sees himself has deserving the fruits of his evil deeds. Ji-sook must pose as another woman and battles with herself to accept the new reality. These views are the most typical in the melodrama genre. But then there is Min-woo, mentally unstable, but highly ambitious. He is the wild card that stimulates intrigue in the plot and fuels the actions of other characters.

The fable of the scorpion and the frog outlines the relationship between Min-woo and Ji-sook...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.06.26 ~ 2015.06.28

2015/06/29 | | Permalink

A rush of fresh blood dislodges "Jurassic World"...

A string of new flicks, both foreign and domestic, flooded Korea cinemas last week, and in the aftermath of the weekend a new championed emerged. For the past few weeks the gigantically successful "Jurassic World" (which has, to date, banked over $1.2B worldwide) has dominated Korean screens with its ferocious abominations, but this past weekend saw a new favourite rise to the top, a local flick that's based on a true story of war and young courage...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 40

2015/06/28 | | Permalink

The language in "Jing Bi-rok" is so consistently thick that I honestly have trouble following it even in the best of times. But in terms of story structure this episode is particularly challenging. The Chinese and the Japanese both lack much presence here, so there's no villains / other civilization for us to compare to when it comes to the general dysfunction of the Korean government. Consequently, I can barely even detect a plot arc here- that much might be more obvious if I knew more about the historical context...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 22

2015/06/28 | | Permalink

Deok-in's attempt to get a clear explanation of Jin-woo's behavior doesn't go that well. Part of the issue is just that Jin-woo doesn't want to tell her what's really going on, so he simply tells Deok-in about his emotional state instead. This isn't really much more helpful- just because Jin-woo wants to see her even though he doesn't actually want to see her just means...what exactly?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/06/28 | | Permalink

Korean street food in Hong Kong?, Shabu Shabu is on the menu over at Kimchimari, Holly shares her recipe for an egg and veggie frittata, and spicy chewy noodles anyone?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/06/28 | | Permalink

Track the evolution of a 100 years of Korean beauty, explore tattoo culture in Korea, what does America's LGBT ruling mean for Korea?, and the Korea Herald interviews some of its veterans to share their stories...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 39

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

I increasingly feel somewhat foolish for not focusing on Prince Gwanghae more in my writing on this drama. It's obvious the more we see of him that Prince Gwanghae finds this entire situation degrading and insulting, in every possible way. He's mad that the Japanese have invaded the country, he's angry that the Chinese are forcing political battles, and he's especially furious that accomplishing anything requires that Prince Gwanghae make deep serious bows to his weenie dad. As usual, King Seonjo doesn't really know what's going on...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 21

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

What makes the action scenes in "Make a Woman Cry" feel odd is that, first and foremost, this is a family drama. It's been over a dozen episodes since Deok-in has ever fought anyone. It's one of the odder parts of her background as a cop. In a more conventional story this stuff would show up all the time. But purporting as it does to be at least partially be a representation of real family life, "Make a Woman Cry" has to show much more restraint in this department...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Oh My Ghostess"

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

More romance is arriving from tvN, a channel which by now has made romantic comedies its most notable genre. This time around, we have fantasy involved in the form of what sounds like quite an embarrassing ghost possession. With Park Bo-yeong making a return to dramas and a cast and premise which sound at the very least entertaining, we might be in for a fun summer rom-com...More

[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Midnight Diner"

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

Korean drama is not really entertainment known for its fresh stories. Even when they appear to be, a lot of them are based on other works, such as manhwa, webtoons or even works in other countries. "Midnight Diner" is itself based on a Japanese drama called 'Shinya Shokudo' and originally a manga. However, that does not change the fact that it can bring some much needed diversity to Korean drama...More

[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Hidden Identity"

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

TvN's new crime drama, "Hidden Identity" is now done with its introductory episodes and has begun going into the main plot. Expectations for this show have been high, partly on a Hallyu level due to the participation of Kim Beom, but also because the promotion for the show has looked promising for fans of the genre and the way cable television treats it. "Hidden Identity" has a few key issues right now, but it has enough good things to do well...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Silenced"

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

The year is 1938, and Joo-ran (played by Park Bo-yeong) is a young woman who's sent off to boarding school, mostly to avoid being too much of an inconvenience to a restructured family that's decided to move to Japan. For the most part Joo-ran's adjustments to the new environment are nothing out of the ordinary. There's a bullying clique, a new friend by the name of Yeon-deok (played by Park So-dam), a curricular obsession with long jumping, and freaky hallucinations involving missing students covered in nightmarish gook. At least, Joo-ran is hoping these are just hallucinations...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Polaroid"

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

Soo-ho (played by Kim Tae-yong-II) is a young boy living with a terminal illness- although on a day-by-day basis he's still healthy enough to do things like go to school and do the cooking for his widowed mother Eun-joo (played by Jeong Jae-yeon). For all this, Soo-ho still feels his life is incomplete. When Soo-ho meets Yangming (played by Yang Fan) at his favorite park, Soo-ho hatches a scheme- to turn this handsome Chinese man into the father figure he's always wanted...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Angry Painter"

2015/06/27 | | Permalink

The painter (played by Yoo Joon-sang) isn't actually all that angry. It's a fact that confused me throughout most of "Angry Painter". Yoo Joon-sang is a very capable actor who can play with a very wide range of emotions. And yet no matter what the painter does, be it painting or cooking or paying condolence visits or witnessing crime scenes or brutalizing rapists or engaging in mortal street fights or even just carving up some meat, Yoo Joon-sang just maintains the same generally blank expression...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 8

2015/06/26 | | Permalink

In a somewhat confusing twist, it would appear that we're still not done with the Joseon portion of "Orange Marmalade". Lately I've found it more and more difficult to relate the Joseon phase to the high school part of the drama, and this turnabout doesn't make matters any different. At this point "Orange Marmalade" legitimately appears to be a historical fantasy action thriller, with high stakes combat, political maneuvering and almost incidentally, a love triangle...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Lover" Episode 12

2015/06/25 | | Permalink

The tone for the final episode is a surprisingly somber one- there are very few jokes, just serious questions. Namely, does this relationship have any future? Doesn't the very idea of living together without being married imply that this was always just going to be a temporary situation? The worst of it is that most of the crises are not prompted by actual relationship problems, but rather employment issues that would appear to make these relationships too inconvenient to continue over time...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 26

2015/06/25 | | Permalink

The inability to adapt and change has cost Jung-ho what he needs most: people. One by one they leave him because of his severe superiority complex. What is sad is not that Jung-ho acutely feels the loss of his people, but that he feels offended by what he views as their desertion.

Jung-ho's arrogance stands out in relief against a backdrop of disgruntled employees and family members...More

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

2015/06/24 | | Permalink

The second episode of "Mask" is nothing short of melodramatic. This isn't a bad thing. In fact, it brings the events from the first episode full circle and propels the plot forward at breakneck speed. All the trappings of a self-respecting melodrama are present and they are, if not novel, at least interesting. This could be due to stellar acting on the parts of the three leads: Soo-ae, Joo Ji-hoon, Yeon Jeong-hoon, and Yoo In-yeong.

In particular, Yeon's acting stands out because he is better known for his brooding heroes than for his scheming villains...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember You" Episode 2

2015/06/23 | | Permalink

The chain of events that explains how Hyeon came into his present-day position as an eccentric professor are mostly clearly defined. His motivations are what's more difficult to grasp. In most dramas the death of a father and the disappearance of a younger brother would be the spur to a lifetime of seeking revenge. Yet bizarrely, Hyeon doesn't even seem to be taking these events all that personally. It's the psychology of motivation that keeps Hyeon engaged rather than any kind of emotional attachment...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Remember You" Episode 1

2015/06/22 | | Permalink

Hyeon (played by Seo In-guk) is a strange man who investigates unusual events just for the fun of it, and likes to mess around with people without ever changing his eerily vacant expression. Ji-an (played by Jang Nara) is a perky detective who is easily provoked by actions obviously intended to stupefy her. Together they...don't actually fight crime just yet. After a rather peculiar opener most of the runtime is dedicated to Hyeon's backstory...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.06.19 ~ 2015.06.21

2015/06/22 | | Permalink

"Jurassic World" still rules, but under pressure from two new local entries...

Two films (one foreign, one local) dominated at the top of the pile over the weekend. "Jurassic World" and "The Classified File" were the nation's films of choice, and together constituted over 80% of the sales with just over 2 million admissions between them. Last weekend, "Jurassic World" came and conquered, and week two for this record-breaking thrill ride saw it retain the top stop with over a million in attendance (45%). Colin Trevorrow's "Jurassic World" has already broken the record for the all-time opening weekend in North America, and in South Korea that support has continued as the film, the fourth installment in the "Jurassic Park" series, now moves onto $27M (3.4M admissions)...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 20

2015/06/21 | | Permalink

The rich family conflict between Jin-myeong and Hong-ran finally comes to a head. Their differences have become so irreconcilable that divorce would appear to be inevitable. The irony of the situation is rather obvious- all this time we've had families arguing over divorce and whether or not this should be the proper basis for long term decisions. And yet here, Hong-ran is treated like the bad guy because...well, as far as I can tell because she's not a blood relative...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 38

2015/06/21 | | Permalink

From a storytelling perspective Prince Gwanghae is in a very awkward place in "Jing Bi-rok". The main issue is just a historical one. Normally we think of Gwanghae not as a prince, but as a King. Gwanghae appears right now in "Splendid Politics", the other major historical long-form Korean drama currently airing. He's the villain. So it's a pretty odd transition to go from that to "Jing Bi-rok" and see that Gwanghae is mostly just a pawn in political games he can't actually control...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 6

2015/06/21 | | Permalink

"Masked Prosecutor" has such potential that it is not living up to. Dae-cheol hides behind his mask because he feels impotent as a prosecutor. The story is about how he grows up. Min-hee also hides behind a less literal mask, one of a driven, hard woman who works for justice and who leaves little time for herself to be happy.

Neither of these characters are compellingly written...More

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

2015/06/21 | | Permalink

"Mask" barrels out of the gate with swift, secure characterizations, and a fresh take on a few of the more belabored drama themes: owing money to loan sharks, severe mental illness, and on the idea of doppelgangers. Director Boo Seong-cheol of "Lobbyist", "My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, and "Jang Ok-jeong" and Writer Choi Ho-cheol of the melodrama "Secrets" tackle this dark story with panache and a surprising touch of comedy.

The story centers around a woman, Byeon Ji-sook (Soo-ae) whose family has always lived in dire straights due to her father's irresponsible fiscal habits...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 25

2015/06/21 | | Permalink

"Heard It Through the Grapevine" is going through puberty much too late. It is episode twenty-five out of thirty and only now do Beom and In-sang start having major problems. These problems are only a point of intrigue rather than an integral part of the plot motion. The groundwork had been laid for issues to manifest much sooner between them. What annoys me most is that their fight is merely a tool to make the story last until the end of the drama's run.

All the character development that I'd been hoping for in Beom and In-sang bursts forth from the emotional flood gates...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 37

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

Concerns about war take a back seat this episode as the bulk of "Jing Bi-rok" moves back to political maneuvering. Big words like reshuffling and abdication are thrown around- well, I'm not really sure those are the actual words. It's difficult to fully grasp everything that's going on in "Jing Bi-rok" because the vocabulary is really elaborate- even more so than a typical costume drama. I'm just glad the production team keeps defining the more obscure words for us...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 19

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

Jin-woo isn't at all sure how to deal with the information he learned from his son. In the immediate sense all Jin-woo really knows is that he has to continue making a sincere emotional effort to help Deok-in out, because this new information doesn't change the basics of their emotional bond. Deok-in is a woman who's always trying very hard to do the right thing, and not always succeeding. Particularly when it comes to Kyeong-cheol...More

[HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Park Hee-soon + DVD Giveaway

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

Actors vary a lot in their talent, skills, types of performances, popularity and even function in the industry their career develops in. There are many who might not be familiar or very familiar to foreign fans and especially drama fans, but whose work has been significant. They have helped the film and drama industries maintain a certain quality through their individual artistic efforts and choices. Park Hee-soon is such an actor...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M"

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

While crime shows are in general more realistic and handle more dire topics than for example fairytale romances, they do not necessarily explore their stories more deeply. Crime fluff does exist and has its own tropes that also become clichés. OCN has delivered many good dramas, but had not gone the extra mile into meaningful stories with a theme. Until 'Missing Noir M' came along. A show which elevates its genre and becomes a milestone for the channel's drama output...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Classified File"

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

The time is the late seventies in Busan. The South Korean dictatorship is in full swing, but as is often the case, this isn't something that most common citizens necessarily notice on a day-by-day basis. Just because the central intelligence bureau can capture and torture citizens on flippant reasons doesn't mean they can do something more obviously useful like, say, apprehend a kidnapper. That's the main hurdle facing detective Gil-yong (played by Kim Yoon-seok). The police just aren't used to trying to find people who are making an active effort to hide...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Made in China"

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

Chen (played by Park Ki-woong) is a Chinese eel farmer who smuggles himself into South Korea to get his eels tested, in an effort to figure out the transnational reasons behind familial business failures. Incidentally, Chen looks very hot with his shirt off and is surprisingly good at fighting people as long as he's not blindsided. There's just one problem. Try as he might, Chen will forever be marked by the fact that he was "Made In China"...More

[HanCinema's Film Review] "Black Idols"

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

While no high school student has an especially strong positive attitude toward school the students in "Black Idols" have it particularly rough. Their campus literally appears to be falling apart. It also metaphorically appears to be falling apart, in that students frequently openly disrespect teachers. Alas, the title is a bit misleading. There are no idols in "Black Idols". In actuality this is just the story of how Lee Hyuk became a teacher at this school and taught the students about music...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Cinema Snippets

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

Has South Korean cinema got any long takes worth noting?, LA honours "My Love, Don't Cross That River", KOBIZ touches base with the country's top moviemakers, and is "Snowpiercer" underrated?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Food Lover's Lane

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

South Korea's catchy cuisine takes to the screen in a new festival starting in July, Korean Bapsang has another hot recipe for your Summer BBQ, My Korean Kitchen shares its secret for a tangy dipping sauce, and would you try a jellyfish salad?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Culture Corner

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

There is still time to sign up for a free online course on South Korean history, Tragedy strikes young actress, South Korea's 'comfort woman' weekly protests continue, and do North Koreans love K-pop, too?...More

[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites

2015/06/20 | | Permalink

Top tips for travel from expats, the Korean Herald sniffs out Bangsan Market, what to do in Korea in Summer, and MERS outbreak information...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Prince of Prince" Episodes 6-10

2015/06/19 | | Permalink

The first half of "Prince of Prince" certainly had its charms, what with moving so outrageously quickly that I could barely keep track of what was happening. Here though, the story goes the more traditional route of having good guys and villains. And in this regard the lack of serious buildup is a much more serious problem. For all practical intents and purposes these story points come out of nowhere, and the flashbacks don't offer much of a convincing reminder as to who these basically crazy people are...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Orange Marmalade" Episode 7

2015/06/19 | | Permalink

The whole star-crossed lovers thing has gotten to be a bit overdone. What makes it obvious is that quite a bit of the screentime is simply dedicated to Jae-min and Ma-ri moping about how they can't be together forever, and it's hard to escape the fact that this is a very modern romance narrative. That's not necessarily horrible on its own but given that this is the Joseon era I'd sort of expect that the possibility of concubinage would at least be discussed. Even if the vampire thing makes that obviously impractical...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Lover" Episode 11

2015/06/18 | | Permalink

The transition between opening monologue and opening sketch is actually fairly smooth this time. The joke, to the extent there's a joke at all, is simply that even when living with another person, while they're at home with you, you can still feel lonely. Smart phones are the obvious culprit. There's just something so imminently sad about a grown man who would rather look at pictures of cars than actually go out and do something with a car. And his girlfriend...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 24

2015/06/18 | | Permalink

The young couple has weathered the storm that is In-sang's parents together. Together they are strong and their sense or morality gives them a sturdy backbone. Jung-ho and Yeon-hee understand that together, In-sang and Beom cannot be swayed, so they work to rip them asunder.

The bait that is dangled before In-sang is his substantial inheritance...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 5

2015/06/17 | | Permalink

The villain gains the upper hand in this episode because he is cunning enough to stay two steps ahead of our heroes. This episode shows how far-reaching his power and how difficult it is to battle someone with no conscience.

Each of the main characters, Dae-cheol, Min-hee, Hyun-woong, and even Ri-na, is effected by Sang-taek's clever mechanizations...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 16 - Final

2015/06/16 | | Permalink

Now that the story is complete I have little choice but to address the plot problems in "Who Are You - School 2015". To the credit of the production team, the contrived nature of the twin plot and all the other points related to that have never been that big a deal. This is mainly because the narrative itself has never been in focus. "Who Are You - School 2015" is a story about growing up. Although even there weaknesses are definitely present...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 23

2015/06/16 | | Permalink

"Heard It Through the Grapevine" has created a world where a prison needs no bars, it merely needs terrifyingly strict social barriers. Those barriers can even prevent mothers from running to their children's aid. This has been true for most of this show's run, but never has it been as nearly insurmountable as the present.

The world that Jung-ho and Yeon-hee live in is one that his family established and raised him in...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 15

2015/06/15 | | Permalink

The story moves somewhat sedately here, as the emphasis is on making peace and moving on. Pretty much every character relationship that has had any conflict at all is resolved except for So-yeong's vendetta. And that's really just gotten tiring at this point. It's exactly like her dad says- she needs to shut up and stop initiating conflict. So-yeong still hasn't figured out that nobody actually cares whether or not she's right. And given Eun-byeol's behavior, it seems likely that the twins weren't actually planning on keeping this secret forever anyway...More

[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.06.12 - 2015.06.14

2015/06/15 | | Permalink

"Jurassic World" fever hits…

Over the weekend, the globe gave Colin Trevorrow's "Jurassic World" the biggest opening of all time. The much-anticipated "Jurassic World" banked more than $511M worldwide, making it the first film to ever gross more than $500M in a single weekend. In South Korea, the film opened in first with 1.5M admissions (71%) going its way, adding around $16M to that gross record...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 36

2015/06/14 | | Permalink

While the external political problems have not by any stretch of the imagination disappeared, "Jing Bi-rok" mostly returns to domestic problems this episode. And fortunately, this is a fairly hopeful stretch. Unlike the beginning portion of the drama, everyone is pretty much in agreement now that war is a serious immediate concern and that resources need to be allocated to allowing the Koreans to deal with a potential invasion on their own. Foreign armies have just caused way too many problems lately...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Make a Woman Cry" Episode 18

2015/06/14 | | Permalink

Kyeong-cheol comes off surprisingly sympathetically considering that he's basically a whiny child. The confrontation at the rich family's house doesn't go the way he was hoping, and when given the chance, Kyeong-cheol unwinds by literally having a temper tantrum. Watching Kyeong-cheol is kind of like watching a kid who has just been told that life isn't fair, after having been told point blank that the authority figures are going to do things in a hypocritical way...More

[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Heard It Through the Grapevine" Episode 22

2015/06/14 |