The Korean wave is in full swing. Whether you or someone you know is addicted to KPOP (DBSK and Shinee fan over here), Korean dramas or film, Korea produces exciting content. If you’re looking for something different to home-grown Hollywood fare, Korean cinema is truly something to behold.
The London Korean Film Festival runs from 26 October – 19 November and numerous UK cinema participate. The festival focuses on Korean noir, women’s voices, classics revisited and documentaries amongst various other genres. The festival itself is organised by the Korean Cultural Centre UK and aims to deepen the amity between Korea and the UK. What better way to do that than through the medium of film?
With such a huge and varied selection of films to choose from, it was a hard choice. I was intrigued by ‘The First Lap’ (2017) which centres on a young couple at a crossroads. Fearing she may be pregnant, Ji-young is forced, alongside her partner, Su-hyeon, to confront the financial hardships and emotional insecurities thwarting their relationship.
Ultimately, I settled on ‘Master’ (2016) which was showing at Regent Street Cinema. An intimate cinema experience, movie-goers gather in the bar to indulge in a tipple before heading into the very green theatre. You are free to sit wherever you want – there are no designated seats. I did struggle to purchase tickets as I kept trying to purchase them via the London Korean Film Festival website. You need to buy them from the cinema directly.
With a depleted glass of wine in hand, I enjoyed this exhilarating crime/drama with a run time of 2 and a half hours. The plot is an enjoyable game of cat and mouse as a crime investigation team, headed by Kim Jae-myung (Kang Dong-won) pursues President Jin (Lee Byung-hun), the leader of the fraudulent pyramid scheme One Network. To bring him down, he forms a tentative truce with Park Jang-goon (Kim Woo-bin), the brains and charisma of One Network.
Fast-paced, slick and effortlessly edgy, the characters are enthused with a delicious mix of threat and humour. It’s an excellent study in cultural nuance as you pick up on subtle inflections, expressions and body language that simmer through the subtitles on the screen.
Despite the long run time, the film remains engaging and fun, a real romp through the underbelly of a corrupt South Korea. If you’re a fan of Korean film and festivities of all kinds, do check the upcoming events and year-round Korean film events. The events do much to bridge the cultural gap between Korea and the UK, enriching the ties between us. With an ever-growing fan base, the world is certainly watching.
Look out for their 2018 timetable!
All my love