Saturday, November 13, 2010

The South Korean Film Renaissance

Jinhee Choi
The South Korean Film Renaissance

Wesleyan University Press, 2010

In this academic study Jinhee Choi recounts how Korean films conquered the world and why it happened. It's no secret that South Korean cinema have had success both at festivals and among ordinary viewers in movie theaters, becoming the leading box office abroad, too. “Old Boy” had been seen by even those who are watching about a movie a year, so that in very general terms, the South Korean cinema has a representation of a huge number of film enthusiasts. But what was triggered the renaissance of cinema in Korea, not everyone knows.

Choi begins her book with exactly that: what was the impetus to ensure that state and private investors interested in the film industry and began to invest in it, as a result the first blockbusters (the author notes that the term "blockbuster" highly conditional and a blockbuster in the U.S. is different from blockbuster and its understanding of it in South Korea) appeared. The author considers in detail, how have its influence on the formation of a Korean-style blockbusters improving networks of cinemas, quotas on foreign films in local theaters, the political situation in the country, the interests of viewers, filmmakers themselves.

Having dealt with the causes of the Renaissance, Choi takes for the most popular genres of Korean cinema. In the chapter on gangster movies, it compares the crime films of Hong Kong and South Korea (finding the latter more emotional), dwelling on the gangster comedies. In the chapter «I'm Not a Girl, Yet Not a Woman» the author looks for reasons of the success of contemporary romantic comedies at the audience (mostly young). The main heroes of the chapter on so-called teen pics suddenly become horror movies. In the next chapter with the subtitle «« High Quality» Films» “high-concept” Korean films are compared to so-called arthouse films of other countries. The final chapter is devoted to new wave directors.

The book is rich in a huge number of movie titles that are so desirable to be rewritten in the notepad, then to watch everything, but this does not mean that the author has only used an extensive approach: in the chapters on genres, Choi examines some mise-en-scene, accompanying the description of the scenes footage from a movie.
To get more pleasure from the book, it is recommended to look at least a couple of examples of South Korean cinema – thus many places in the book will be more understandable.

Sometimes the author does not have enough pressure so that the reader threw the book at the half and ran to watch a movie just mentioned on the pages.

Highly recommended.

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