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Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today @ MoMA 2012

2012 09 20 MoMA yeonghwa korean film iconYeonghwa is the Korean word for film, and since South Korean cinema now features prominently in every major international film festival, it is a good word for cineastes to know. Korean film tends to blend technical excellence with idiosyncratic expression and an entrepreneurial spirit—filmmakers often write and direct their work, and both actors and filmmakers benefit from the country’s homegrown “star system”—while embracing a wide variety of styles and subjects. Korean cinema is generally made for a national audience, so its vision is rarely diminished by compromises in the name of global appeal.

This third edition of Yeonghwa includes several distinctive contemporary narratives—from superior genre films to unclassifiable features by some of Korea’s renegade filmmakers—along with two features, drawn from MoMA’s collection, by Korean film pioneer Shin Sang-ok.



Trailer credit: Bongkeun Kwon

Introduction and all film summaries: Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator of Film, MoMA

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council.

Thursday, September 20 through Sunday, September 30

MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019
(212) 708-9400

All TICKETS through MoMA


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Wednesday, Sept 19 4:30 Mayumi/Mayumi Virgin Terrorist 7:00 My Mother and Her Guest
Thursday, Sept 20 4:30 Helpless 7:00 In Another Country
Friday, Sept 21 4:30 Mirage 8:00 Jesus Hospital
Saturday, Sept 22 2:00 Blind 5:00 A Fish 8:00 Helpless
Sunday, Sept 23 5:30 Stateless Things
Monday, Sept 24 4:30 Blind
Tuesday, Sept 25 4:30 Jesus Hospital 8:00 Mirage
Wednesday, Sept 26 4:30 A Fish 8:00 Poongsan
Thursday, Sept 27 4:30 Pink 8:00 From Seoul to Varanasi
Friday, Sept 28 4:30 Fire in Hell 8:00 Stateless Things
Saturday, Sept 29 5:00 Poongsan 8:00 Pink
Sunday, Sept 30 2:30 From Seoul to Varanasi 5:30 Fire in Hell

All films in Korean with English subtitles, unless otherwise noted.


Mayumi/Mayumi Virgin Terrorist (120 min, T2)     

Wednesday, September 19 | Pre-Series Screening @ 4:00 PM

Directed by Shin Sang-ok. Screenplay by Shin Bon-seung. With Kim Seo-ra, Choi Yoon-seok, Lee Hak-jae. Shin’s first film after his escape from North Korea is about the North Korean operative Kim Hyun-hee, who bombed a South Korean passenger plane in 1987. In Korean; English subtitles. 120 min.

Sarangbang Sonnimgwa Eomeoni
(My Mother and Her Guest) 1961 (103 min, T2)


Wednesday, September 19 | Pre-Series Screening @ 7:00 PM

Directed by Shin Sang-ok. Screenplay by Lim Hee-jae, based on the novel The Lodger and My Mother by Chu Yosup. With Kim Jin-kyu, Choi Eun-hee, Kim Hee-kap, Do Kum-bong. In this understated melodrama, a widow, in order to support herself and her young daughter, rents a room to a painter from the city and soon finds herself torn between her growing affection for the man and the constraints of rural society. In Koreal English subtitles. 103 min.

Da-reun na-ra-e-suh (In Another Country) 2012 (88 min, T1)     

Thursday, September 20, 2012 | Opening Film @ 7:00 PM

Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo. With Isabelle Huppert, Kwon Hye Hyo, Jung Yu Mi . Hong Sang-soo, a favorite of film critics and international film festival programmers, makes one of his most charming, gentle and graceful comedies with In Another Country. The 'other country' is South Korea, a nation whose behaviors, particularly between women and men, Hang Sang-soo understands so well and treats with smiling affection. And finding herself in this 'other country' is Anne, a Frenchwoman played by the irresistible Isabelle Huppert, who travels to a somewhat empty seaside town. Why she comes here, who she really is and whom she meets is told three times in different story variations, all 'scripted' by a young woman in economic difficulty. The play of parallel narratives is exquisite, and In Another Country is a luminous bagatelle. In Korean, French and English with English subtitles. Courtesy of Kino Lorber. 89 min.

  Hwa-cha (Helpless) 2012 (88 min, T1)     

Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 4:30 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2012 @ 8:00 PM

Written and directed by Byun Young-joo, from the novel All She Was Worth by Miyabe Miyuki. With Lee Sun-kyun, Kim Min-hee, Cho Seong-ha, Kim Byeol. When a woman disappears just before her wedding, her hapless fiancée enlists his detective cousin to find her, and they find unsettling answers in a corrupt economic system. This surprising thriller, adapted from a Japanese bestseller by a filmmaker best known for feminist nonfiction films, provides an original perspective on debt. In Korean; English subtitles. 117 min.

  Mir-wol-do Ga-neun Gil (Mirage) 2011 (88 min, T1)     

Friday, September 21, 2012 @ 4:30 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 8:00 PM

Written and directed by Yang Jeong-ho. With Mun Jeong-ung, Kim Chang-hwan, Shin Jae-seung. After a night of celebratory drinking, a successful author wakes up on a train with no money or papers. Yet when he finally does find his bag, it’s a bag that has been missing since his childhood, and the search for his missing present becomes a journey into a dark past. Yang’s debut feature is a compelling, semi-supernatural thriller about one man’s return “home.” In Korean; English subtitles. 83 min.

  Ming-keu-ko-teu (Jesus Hospital) 2011 (91 min, T1)      

Friday, September 21, 2012 @ 8:00 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 4:30 PM

Directed by Lee Sang-cheol, Shin A-ga. Screenplay by Shin. With Hwang Jeong-min, Han Song-hee, Kim Mi-hyang, Lee Jong-yoon. Jesus Hospital’s original title is Korean for “mink coat”—an object that has passed down to a girl who believes she has received a message from God through her grandmother, who is on life support and wishes to die. Set around Christmastime in Seoul, the film delves into the emotional dynamics of a Christian family. One of the best-reviewed and most popular Korean films of the year, Jesus Hospital won the country’s main acting awards for two of its leading actresses, Hwang and Han. In Korean; English subtitles. 91 min.

  Beul-la-in-deu (Blind) 2011 (111 min, T1)     

Saturday, September 22, 2012 @ 2:00 PM
Monday, September 24, 2012 @ 4:30 PM

Directed by Ahn Sang-hoon. Screenplay by Choi Min-suk, Ahn Sang-hoon, Andy Yoon. With Kim Ha-neul, Yoo Seung-ho, Jo Hee-bong, Yang Yeong-jo. Director Ahn expertly mixes chills and affection in Blind, a superior genre film in the psychotic-killer-stalker mode. The potential victim here may be blind, but she is no weak and tremulous lady. Trained as a cop, the tough, resourceful young woman has known enough adversity for a lifetime—and she has a dog. In Korean; English subtitles. 111 min.

  Mulgogi (A Fish) 2011 (105 min, T1)     

Saturday, September 22, 2012 @ 5:00 PM
Monday, September 24, 2012 @ 4:30 PM

Written and directed by Park Hong-min. With Lee Jang-hoon, Kim Sun-bin, Choi So-eun. In this 3-D “metaphysical adventure,” a professor of logic learns that his wife, whom he didn’t even realize was gone, has been found in another city. He leaves to reunite with her, only to learn that she has become a shaman on a distant island. The strange news disturbs the logician—and gradually alters his relationship with reality. Park’s first feature suggests that 3-D may in fact reflect a third dimension where ghosts and talking fish inhabit the world quite naturally. In Korean; English subtitles. 105 min.

Jool-tak-dong-si (Stateless Things) 2012 (118 min, T1)     

Sunday, September 23, 2012 @ 5:30 PM
Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 8:00 PM

Written and directed by Kim Kyung-mook. With Paul Lee, Yeom Hyun-jun, Kim Sae-byeok, Lim Hyung-kook. The “stateless things” in the title of documentarian Kim’s first narrative feature are three marginalized young people in Seoul: a teenage North Korean defector and a Chinese Korean girl who occasionally do odd jobs together, and a gay hustler who, for a while anyway, has a lovely apartment and a sugar daddy. At once harsh and dreamy, the film treats its dispossessed characters with a hopeful empathy, bringing them together in a fresh and provocative manner. In Korean; English subtitles. 118 min.

Pung-san-gae (Poongsan) 2011 (121 min, T1)     

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 8:00 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2012 @ 5:00 PM

Directed by Jeon Jae-hong. Screenplay by Kim Ki-duk. With Yoon Kye-sang, Kim Gyu-ri, Kim Jong-soo, Han Gi-jung. Jeon was an assistant to filmmaker Kim Ki-duk, who wrote and produced this film and whose influence is at once palpable and subordinate to Jeon’s own talent. Poongsan, who does not speak, carries messages back and forth between separated families in North and South Korea. When he is enlisted to smuggle the mistress of a high-ranking North Korean defector out of the North, passion intervenes, and an unexpected, “crazy” love threatens political chaos. In Korean; English subtitles. 121 min.

Ping-keu (Pink) 2011 (97 min, T1)     

Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 4:30 PM
Saturday, September 29, 2012 @ 8:00 PM

Directed by Jeon Soo-il. Screenplay by Jeon Kim Kyung. With Lee Seung-yeon, Seo Kap-sook, Park Hyeon-woo, Kang San-eh. Among a clutch of derelict buildings sits Pink, a condemned bar that caters to drifters and lost souls. Jeon’s eighth feature is a portrait of a struggling small business, the world-weary middle-aged woman who runs it, and her dwindling clientele. In Korean; English subtitles. 97 min.

Varanasi (From Seoul to Varanasi) 2011 (96 min, T1)     

Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 8:00 PM
Sunday, September 30, 2012 @ 2:30 PM

Written and directed by Jeon Kyu-hwan. With Yoon Dong-hwan, Choi Won-jung, Shin Ye-an, Nollaig Walsh. Jeon, whose Town Trilogy (Mozart, Dance, and Animal) was a highlight of last year’s Yeonghwa, returns with a steamy and explicit melodrama that moves beyond Korea to India and even the Middle East. A married executive in Seoul has an affair and, eventually, so does his wife—with a foreign worker. Secrets multiply, and what began as personal betrayals become explosive global incidents. In Korean; English subtitles. 96 min.

Ji-ok-hwa (Fire in Hell) 2012 (99 min, T1)     

Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 4:30 PM
Sunday, September 30, 2012 @ 5:30 PM

Written and directed by Lee Sang-woo. With Won Tae-hee, Cha Seung-min, Kim Hun, Lee Yong-rye. A graduate of both UC Berkeley and the Kim Ki-duk “school” of filmmaking, Lee, one of Korea’s maverick multitasking filmmakers, makes his Yeongwha debut with this sensual melodrama. In a vivid exploration of the notion of karma, a Buddhist monk loses control. The calamitous results are followed, perhaps, by redemption. In Korean; English subtitles. 99 min.


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