Each year the London Korean Cultural Centre holds several mini-seasons of films – and this year’s first mini-season, Chills and Thrills, will be devoted to contemporary horror, Korean style.
Everyone has heard of J-horror, but its Korean equivalent, K-horror, has certainly kept pace, while developing its own distinctive voice and character. Long before Hideo Nakata’s seminal J-horror Ring (1988) was reinvented for American audiences as Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (2002), Korea had its own reimagining with Kim Dong-bin’s The Ring Virus (1999) – and Park Ki-hyung’s Whispering Corridors (1998), coming out in the same year as Nakata’s Ring, introduced a series of school-set ghost stories. That same year, the versatile Kim Jee-woon was already experimenting with horror in his The Quiet Family (1998) – which was subsequently adapted by Takashi Miike into the better known (but not better) madcap musical The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) – and Kim has returned to the horror genre with my personal favourite K-horror, A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), as well as I Saw The Devil (2010) and his contribution to the Pan-Asian anthology Three (2002), Memories.
Other big hitters of the Korean new wave have also tried their hand at horror. Park Chan-wook (OldBoy) made the vampire film Thirst (2013), and contributed Cut to the anthology Three… Extremes (2004). Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder) helmed superlative monster movie The Host (2006). Na Hong-jin (The Yellow Sea) debuted with serial killer thriller The Chaser (2008) and has recently explored possession, exorcism and native shamanism in The Wailing (2016). Animator Yeon Sang-ho (The King of Pigs, The Fake) has recently introduced zombies to Korea with his diptych of Seoul Station and the live-action Train to Busan (both 2016).
Devotees of Tartan’s old Asia Extreme label or of the genre festival circuit will no doubt know at least some of: Kim Soong-ho’s Into the Mirror (2003), Jang Joon-hwan’s Save the Green Planet! (2003), Kong Su-chang’s R-Point (2004), Yim Pil-sung’s Hansel and Gretel (2007), Chang’s Death Bell (2008) and Jang Cheol-soo’s Bedevilled (2010).
In curating her menu of six films for Chills and Thrills, film academic Dr Colette Balmain has carefully eschewed all the usual suspects, and instead programmed lesser known genre titles of the new millennium that have not previously screened in the UK, ensuring that this mini-season will afford plenty of opportunity for surprise and discovery.
The full programme is as follows:
16 Feb, 7pm Pang Eun-jin’s Princess Aurora (2005)
23 Feb, 7pm Kim Yong-gun’s The Red Shoes (2005)
2 Mar, 7pm Lee Jong-yong’s A Blood Pledge (2009)
9 Mar, 7pm Kim Gok, Kim Sun, Min Kyu-dong, Lim Dae-woong, Jung Bum-shik and Hong Ji-young’s Horror Stories (2012)
16 Mar, 7pm Oh In-chin’s Mourning Grave (2014)
23 Mar, 7pm Yun Jun-hyeong’s Fatal Intuition (2015)
Admission to all films is free, although advance booking here is required.