Phantom (2023)

Phantom screened at the London Korean Film Festival 2023. This is a transcript of my on-stage introduction. From 1910 to the end of the Second World War, Korea was under Japanese Occupation. Unsurprisingly this is a bitter period in the national memory. Land was forcibly seized; freedom of the press, and even of expression, was…


Kingmaker (2022)

Kingmaker, transcript of introduction to screening at London Korean Film Festival, 2022 At the beginning of Kingmaker, in a backwater of Gangwon Province in 1961, a smallhold farmer complains to the local pharmacist Seo Chang-dae (Lee Sun-kyun) about a neighbour whom the farmer has himself witnessed stealing his chickens’ eggs at night. The problem is…

Book Of Fish

The Book Of Fish (Jasaneobo) (2021)

The Book Of Fish screened at the London Korean Film Festival 2021. Below is a transcript of my on-screen introduction, and of my programme note. Director Lee Joon-ik’s The Book Of Fish (Jasaneobo) is not only set for the most part in a littoral, liminal space where land meets sea, but it also deftly lets…


Birthday (Saeng-il) (2019)

Text of my onstage introduction to Birthday (Saeng-il), which screened at the London Korean Film Festival 2019 On the morning of 16 April, 2014, an 18-year-old, overladen ferry named the MV Sewol was travelling from Incheon to Jeju, when it listed heavily while making a course adjustment and started rapidly taking on water as it…


Idol (Woosang) (2019)

This is (more or less) the text from my onstage introduction to a screening of Idol (Woosang) at the London Korean Film Festival 2019 When it comes to spoilers, there’s an unwritten code that anything which happens in a film’s first third is fair game for advance disclosure and discussion – but that anything which…


“I am going back!”: Lee Chang-dong in retrospect

Introduction to a screening of Lee Chang-dong’s Peppermint Candy at the Korean Cultural Centre UK, Thursday 24th September, 2015 The ‘peppermint candy’ in the film you are about to see is quite literally that – a factory-produced bonbon that protagonist Yong-ho (played by Sol Kyung-gu) is shown at various moments eating, storing, buying, sharing. Yet it is…


Oasis (2002)

Oasis first published by Little White Lies “You have to be responsible for your actions. You have to fit in with society, be aware of how others see you.” Or so Jong-du (Sol Kyung-gu) is told near the start of Oasis, and it seems, at least to begin with, that his older brother has a point….


Peppermint Candy (1999)

Peppermint Candy first published by Little White Lies It seems appropriate that, after being honoured in 1999 as the first domestically produced film to open the Pusan International Film Festival, Peppermint Candy was released into Korean cinemas on January 1, 2000. After all, Korean novelist Lee Chang-dong‘s second feature (after 1997’s award-winning Green Fish), uses the personal story of one man’s…