Earlier last week, the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) unveiled a few first details on the upcoming 9th edition of its annual London Korean Film Festival (LKFF).

The event will take place in four venues, including the Odeon West End – as the prime location for opening and closing ceremonies -, Odeon Covent Garden, Odeon Kingston and Korean Cultural Centre. Between November 6 and 15, a total of 50 screenings will occur across a diversity of genres: period action, thriller, romantic comedy, drama, documentary and short films!

The festival will then spread to other cities across the UK from November 16 to 21, specifically Norwich, Hebden Bridge and Aberystwyth.

The movie for the Opening Ceremony for the festival will be Kundo: Age of Rampant. Legitimate choice given that all of director/screenwriter Yoon Jong-bin’s recent films had premiered at other festivals: The Berlin File at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2013 and Nameless Gangster at the BFI London Film Festival 2013, but also that in October 2013 all his films were screened at the KCCUK.

Ha Jung-woo, who came to London last year, had mentioned the film to be his first true period action film. Other interesting “coincidence”: Cho Young-wuk, who had a full cycle dedicated to his work and was in London last Thursday, recorded the music for the film, which was mixed at the Abbey Road Studios by Sam Okell (Lord of the Rings).

Director Yoon Jong-bin, who actually hasn’t been invited yet, actor Kang Dong-won and producer Han Jae-duk – who produced two of Park Hoon-jung’s movies (The Unjust, New World), another KCCUK guest last year – will all be attending the opening ceremony.

The festival is overall structured in strands being: K-Period Drama, BIFF’s Choice, K-Spotlight, 3 K-Focus, K-Literature & Webtoon, K-Actors, K-Classics and K-Shorts. That’s quite a lot, maybe too much? No way!

Kundo is obviously part of the first strand (K-Period Drama), with The Face Reader, which did its UK premiere at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival earlier this year – and for which we wrote a review.

Then, the BIFF’s Choice strand was selected by Busan programmer Nam Dong-chul, who will be attend the LKFF. The strand includes Han Gong-ju, which was picked up for UK distribution by Third Windows Film, and made big waves after Martin Scorsese praised it for being outstanding in mise-en scene, image, sound, editing and performance… and 10 minutes for which Lee Yong-seul received new current and best director awards at Busan, Hong-Kong and Taipei Film Festival!

The K-Spotlight strand will only include Lu Zhang’s Gyeongju starring Park Hae-il, which was screened at Locarno in August. Lu Zhang was the scriptwriter for Jury, a short film by Kim Dong-ho which was presented at last year’s London Korean Film Festival!

First K-Focus will be on Jung Woo-sung, mainly a film actor, but who also starred in K-dramas Padam Padam (jTBC, 2011), IRIS’ spin-off Athena: Goddess of War (SBS, 2010-2011) and appeared in entertainment show Running Man in 2013. His films to be screened will be Cold Eyes (2013), The Divine Move (2014) and his first contribution as a director with the tryptich Three Charmed Lives (The Killer Behind the Old Man).

Second K-Focus will be on producer Lee Jun-dong, a regular collaborator of famous director/producer Lee Chan-dong (Poetry), who also worked with Yoon Jong-bin (The Unforgiven) and French-Korean director Ounie Lecomte (A Brand New Life). His films to be screened will be Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013) starring Kim Yeon-seok (who was a guest of the LKFF opening ceremony 2012) and Cannes’ Un Certain Regard nominee Dohee-ya (2014). With A Hard Day screening at the London BFI Film Festival on October 12 and 16, all the Cannes’ Korean nominees will be shown in London within a few weeks. Actually Dohee-ya is also screening at the BFI Film Festival (October 13 and 16).

Third K-Focus will be on provocative, award winning director Kim Ki-duk who just received the blessings of Venice Film Festival, three times in a row, this time for his thriller One on One (2014). With Terracotta Distribution’s DVD release of Moebius on October 13, the KCCUK will screen Kim’s two latest films and Pieta (2012). Will the obsession with Kim Ki-duk’s provocative work ever end?

The K-Literature & Webtoons strand will build upon the recent London Korean Book Fair and conference on webtoons, showcasing film adaptations of those. Titles haven’t been unveiled yet. As a side note, many Korean dramas are also inspired from literature, such as Fashion King (2012).

The K-Actors strand will focus on emerging actors, and in particular K-pop stars turned actors with The Youth starring Super Junior’s Lee Dong-hae, 4Minute’s Nam Ji-hyun and F.T. Island’s Song Seung-hyun. Jin Jang’s thriller Man on High Heels starring Cha Seung-won (The Greatest Love, Athena: Goddess of War) and Oh Jeong-se (The Musical).

In collaboration with indie cinema VOD platform Mubi, the K-Classics strand will include The Housemaid (1960) and other films selected by professor Kim Hong-une and the Korean Film Archive. The K-Shorts strand will show a number of shorts currated by Asian films critic Tony Rayns.

The Closing Ceremony will show Im Kwon-taek’s 102 film, Hwajang, which was very well received at the Venice, Vancouver and Busan film festivals. It stars Ahn Sung-ki (The Warrior) and Kim Gyu-ri (Memento Mori).

We will be publishing the full programme of the festival on our website in the next few days. You can also check www.koreanfilm.co.uk

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