By Lee Hyo-won
South Korean cinema offers only a handful of releases this month, but a big lineup of homegrown films awaits moviegoers in April.
Some 10 domestic titles are slated for release next month, of which a majority are mainstream franchises that will play in theaters nationwide.
Leading the pack is "Private Eye
", coming to screens April 2, starring Hwang Jung-min
as a private detective and Ryu Deok-hwan
as a young medical trainee who try to solve a serial murder case during the Japanese colonial era (1910-45). A special preview of the film with English subtitles is taking place at 7 p.m. tonight at CINUS Myeongdong Theater. The subtitled film will be available on the official release date at the venue, as well as CINUS Gangnam.
A week later, Kang Hye-jung
, the charming heroine of "Welcome to Dongmakgol
", will return to the big screen opposite Park Hee-soon
) in "Urijibe Wae Watni" ("Why Did You Come to My House - Movie"
), a quirky tale about a bizarre young woman who interrupts the suicide attempt of a frustrated man.
, which recently made headlines by winning a series of awards at European festivals, will be released April 16. It's expected to continue the renaissance of independent cinema here, following the hit movie "Old Partner"
On April 23, Kim Ha-neul
and Kang Ji-hwan
will star as secret agents tangled up in a comical love affair in "My Girlfriend is an Agent
" (working title).
April 30 will have a big showdown for Korean films, with the simultaneous release of celebrated director Park Chan-wook
's provocative vampire story "Thirst"
, starring award-winning actor Song Kang-ho
and starlet Kim Ok-bin
; "Insadong Scandal
" (working title), a conspiracy story involving the local art scene with heartthrob Kim Rae-won
and sex symbol Uhm Jung-hwa
; and "Gimssipyoryugi" ("Castaway on the Moon
" - "Adventures of Mr. Kim")', a comedy in which an unlikely pair, Jung Ryeo-won
and Jung Jae-young
, end up stranded on a desert island.
All three franchises feature big stars and unique storylines and are backed by some of the country's major producers and distributors. Several other indie flicks also await release in select theaters.
The mass release of Korean films in April can be seen as a result of avoiding the months of March, which is usually a slack time for cinema, and May and June, when Hollywood blockbusters start rolling in.
But the high competition, with additional rivalry from highly anticipated foreign films due in April, is not always in the best interest of local ticket sales, according to some film marketers. In February, three homegrown thrillers, "Marine Boy
", "The Scam
" and "Hand Phone"
were released at one-week intervals, and while each received positive feedback, ticket sales were split among the three and none marked a big hit.
"The lineup of foreign films waiting to be shown in April is pretty tough, and it's a big worry that all these Korean movies will be released around the same time", said one marketer for a domestic film awaiting release next month.
Three Korean films, with support from the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), will soon be available to international audiences, the council announced Wednesday.
's "A Frozen Flower
", starring heartthrobs Jo In-sung
and Joo Jin-mo
, premieres Friday in Taiwanese theaters. Infinity International secured the distribution rights for sexually charged historical epic.
Eleven Arts acquired the American distribution rights for Noh Young-seok
's "Daytime Drinking
", which is tentatively scheduled to enter U.S. cinemas April 10. The humorous indie flick revolves around an unfortunate man who is dumped by his girlfriend, stood up by his friends and victimized by the Korean drinking culture.
Belgian Cineart pursued the rights to screen Na Hong-jin
's gritty thriller "The Chaser"
. Belgians will be able to view last year's multi-award winning film beginning April 22. The film recently won Best Action Asian Film Award from France's Deauville International Film Festival.