Okay, first of all, the bad news: both the opening and closing previews at the Barbican’s London Korea Film Festival are already sold out. Boo! If you were hoping to check out Park Chan-wook’s latest I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Okay, or the Cannes-pleasing Breath (pictured left) by Kim Ki-Duk, then you’re out of luck. The sell-out is testament to the reputation for excellence that Korean cinema has gathered in the last decade, and as one of the few national industries that competes with Hollywood on its home turf, such global popularity is an encouraging sign.
Luckily, there are still tickets left for the first two parts of Chan-wook’s visceral revenge trilogy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance, which are being screened in a double-bill on the 7th that the director will attend in person. For more light-hearted fare, on Saturday the festival plays host to a day of animation and workshops for kids, with a screening of Yeuwoobi (Yobi The Five Tailed Fox) boasting a special pre-film performance of music from the film by Korean artists.
While many filmgoers have become familiar with recent Korean cinema, the Barbican has also dipped into the archive to pull out a couple mid-century gems; of particular interest is My Mother & Her Guest from 1961, whose director and star, Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee respectively, were infamously kidnapped by Kim Jong-il in 1978 to rebuild the North Korean film industry. They spent eight years in the communist country, making propaganda-style monster movies, before they were able to escape.
The London Korean Film Festival is at Barbican from 2nd – 8th November.