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Feature Films From Japanese Colonial Period Return Home

2005/02/23 Source

By Park Chung-a
Staff Reporter

Four Korean feature films made during the Japanese colonial period have been found in China and returned to the nation, the Korean Film Archive announced Tuesday.

Stills from the documentary "Independence News", made right after Korea gained independence from Japan. Yonhap

"The archive acquired the films during our director Yi Hyo-in's visit with the China Film Archive in Beijing in November, which was aimed at discussing cultural exchanges in film among Korea, China and Japan", said Jang Kwang-hoen, part of the acquisition team of the archive.

"Although it is very rare for a national archive to give original copies of films to other countries, this time, we were able to persuade the China Film Archive to permit us to take possession of the four films in their original form", Jang added.

The films are So Kwang-je's "Troop Train" (Kunyong Yolcha) (1938), An Chol-yong's "Fisherman's Fire" (Ohwa) (1939), Choi In-gyu's "Homeless Angel" (Chipopnun Chonsa) (1941) and An Sok-yong's "A Volunteer "(Chiwonbyong) (1941).

"It is meaningful as the films allow us to witness the life and thoughts of the Korean people at the time and restore Korea's film history during the Japanese colonial period, which was sparse until now", said Cho Jun-hyoung, a researcher at the organization.

"Although we possess some parts of prints from five fictional films from the colonial period, it is the first time to have collected the entire print of the films in Korean with Korean actors and staff from the colonial period".

According to Cho, the contents of three of the films are pro-Japanese, the exception being "Fisherman's Fire".

In addition, five documentary films were acquired from Planet Biblioteque de Cinema, a Japanese private film archive organization in Osaka, Japan. They are "Haebang News (Independence News)", made right after Korea gained independence from Japan, and the documentary film "Choson", made in 1938 to promote the nation's tourist sites.

"Independence News", a four-part series, features footage of Korea's first president, Syngman Rhee, and Kim Ku, one of the key founding members of the nation, giving speeches during the first anniversary of Korea's independence. The series also contains footage from the first graduation ceremony of the Korea Military Academy.

The films will be screened for the public at the Korean Film Archive theater situated in Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul on March 2-4.

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