Film Movement to Bow Four-Film Blu-ray Collection of Korean Director Lee Chang-dong’s Features

Film Movement has acquired and will release in summer 2024 a four-film collection of Korean director Lee Chang-dong’s features, including Green Fish, Peppermint Candy, Oasis and Poetry. All feature 4K restorations.

The release will be preceded by theatrical screenings of the new restorations in select theaters in North America in the spring.

Lee Chang-dong

After his debut as a novelist in 1983, and his early forays as a screenwriter and assistant director, Lee Chang-dong made his directing debut with Green Fish in 1996 and quickly became one of Korea’s most lauded auteurs, taking his place alongside Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan Wook, Kim Ki-duk and others as one of the leaders of  Korean New Wave cinema.  His films feature dark stories of innocence lost, suffering, alienation, tragedy, psychological trauma and doomed romances and intricately woven narratives focusing on complex characters from the corners of society.

In Green Fish (1996), after his mandatory military service, naïve young Makdong (Han Suk-kyu), returns home to an Ilsan he no longer recognizes — a dull city that has rapidly modernized and gentrified in his absence.  When he crosses paths with a young woman being harassed at a train station, his life takes an unexpected turn when he is lured into the underworld of criminal gangs, with the promise of material comfort beyond his imagination. Unprepared for this environment of violence and exploitation, Mak-dong must face the dire consequences of his choices.  Green Fish captured the Best Film and Best New Director Awards from the Korean Film Critics Association and at the Blue Dragon Awards.

Peppermint Candy (1999) — Lee’s second directorial feature — spans 20 years in the life of one man, Yongho, from his callow teens through his fraught, self-hating middle age. Presented in seven chapters in reverse-chronological order, the film begins with Yongho’s untimely suicide and ends with a first date full of the promise and verve of youth. The moments in between these events as seen through lens of Yongho’s life observe South Korea’s fraught political history during the late 20th century, and in turn elegize a generation of marginalized people. An Official Selection of the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, and numerous other notable fests, it won the Special Prize of the Jury at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Oasis

In Oasis (2002), after serving time for killing a man in a hit-and-run car accident, Hong Jong-du (Sul Kyung-gu) is released with no money and nowhere to go. His family has abandoned him, and while trying to make amends, he meets Han Gong-ju (Moon So-ri), his victim’s adult daughter. She is wheelchair-bound due to cerebral palsy and all but abandoned in a cheap apartment by her callous family. Gong-ju’s innate tenderness appeals to the uncontrollably impulsive Jong-du, and the pair begin an improbable relationship.  The film was the winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director and Best Young Actress at the Venice Film Festival. It also won the FIPRESCI Prize and was nominated for Best Film at the Independent Spirit Awards.

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In the drama Poetry (2010) — winner of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury — Special Mention and Best Screenplay at Cannes — Korean grandmother Mija comes to terms with the early onset of Alzheimer’s while dealing with the fallout from a brutal family crime. Her teenage grandson is linked to the violent death of a girl, and she finds herself caught up in a conspiracy to pay hush money to the dead girl’s family. Mija’s tendency to become lost in poetry, and the wonders of nature, causes her mind to wander at the wrong time, with unfortunate consequences.

Korean Horror Flick ‘The Ghost Station’ Headed to Digital, Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 19 From Well Go

The Korean horror flick The Ghost Station — from the screenwriter of The Ring and The Ring 2 — will debut on digital, Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 19 from Well Go USA Entertainment. 

In the film, after a young reporter covers a suspicious accident, she learns from police that her source was supposedly already dead at the time of their interview. As more mysterious deaths occur, she and her partner dig deeper into the case and come face to face with a horrifying truth.

Directed by Jeong Yong-Ki (The Doll Master, Once Upon a Time) from a screenplay by Takahashi Hiroshi (The Ring, The Ring 2) and Lee So-Young (Robot Sound), the film stars Kim Bo-Ra (Ghost Mansion), Kim Jae-Hyun (“Love You as the World Ends”) and Shin So-Yul (A Violent Prosecutor). 

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Chinese Films ‘The Sparring Partner,’ ‘Too Cool to Kill’ Among Titles Available Digitally From Well Go

Available now through digital retailers from Well Go USA Entertainment are the Chinese crime thriller The Sparring Partner, the Chinese comedy Too Cool to Kill, the Greek adventure thriller Short Fuse, and the Korean court drama Herstory.

The Sparring Partner is based on actual events. In the film, after a man murders his parents with the help of a friend, the truth proves difficult to untangle in court, leaving the jury to wrestle with their own ideas of right and wrong as two men’s lives lay in the balance. Directed by Ho Cheuk-tin, the film stars Alan Yeung, Mak Pui-tung, Louisa So, Michael Chown and Jan Lamb.

 

In Too Cool to Kill, while pursuing his lifelong dream of landing a starring role, amateur actor Wei Chenggong (Wei Xiang) receives an invitation from famous actress Milan (Ma Li) to play her leading man, “Killer Karl.” However, unbeknownst to Mr. Wei, the new gig has landed him directly in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy. As the brutal truth inches closer and closer, he is left to rely on only his good luck and (somewhat questionable) acting skills to survive. Directed by Wenxiong Xing and Ru Qian, the film stars Li Ma, Xiang Wei and Minghao Chen.

 

In the ticking clock action-thriller Short Fuse, a courier’s last delivery of the day may also be the last day of his life. Strapped with explosives, he must fight for his life while trying to solve a mystery involving both his family and a criminal empire. Directed by Andreas Lampropoulos and Kostas Skiftas, the film stars Apostolis Totsikas, Tasos Nousias and Evgenia Dimitropoulou. 

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Herstory is based on the story of 10 Korean women fighting for a formal apology from the Japanese government for their horrific ordeal as WWII “comfort women.” In the film, after learning of the horrors her housekeeper faced during forced sexual servitude as a WWII “comfort woman,” a Korean businesswoman takes on the Japanese government in a trial seeking reparations and a formal apology for ten plaintiffs. Directed by Kyu-dong Min, the film stars Kim Hee-ae, Kim Hae-sook, Ye Soo-jung, Moon Sook, Lee Yong-nyeo and Kim Sun-young.

Netflix: Korean Drama ‘The Glory’ Dominates Weekly Streaming Through March 12

Netflix original Korean content continues to resonate with subscribers, as part two of the six-week-old drama “The Glory” topped all content with almost 125 million hours consumed across 79 countries for the week ended March 12.

The series also entered Netflix’s all-time non-English-language TV chart in the No. 9 spot.

Other Korean titles on the weekly list included new docuseries “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal,” “Crash Course in Romance” and the movie Unlocked.

In the week leading up to the Oscars, where the streamer took home four Academy Awards, including Best International Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Music (Original Score), the German World War I movie All Quiet on the Western Front finished No. 4 on the non-English-language movie chart with 4.2 million hours streamed.

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Murder mysteries continue to top the English-language TV chart. Part two of the fourth season of psychological thriller series “You” remained No. 1  with 75.81 million hours viewed during the week and was in the top 10 in 86 countries. On the English-language movie chart, Idris Elba returned as detective John Luther in Luther: The Fallen Sun to finish No. 1 with 65.92 million hours viewed.

On the English-language TV chart, docuseries “MH370: The Plane That Disappeared” generated 59.88 million hours across 86 countries to finish in the top 10. “Outer Banks” season three generated another 44.58 million hours. This season has generated almost 300 million hours viewed since launching three weeks ago. Seasons one and two also remained on the chart along with the second seasons of “Sex/Life” and “Next in Fashion” and season one of “Perfect Match.”

Chris Rock’s live “Selective Outrage” stand-up comedy show continued to draw streamers, generating almost 18 million hours viewed to land at No. 8 on the English movies chart.

Among non-English-language movies, family horror movie We Have a Ghost saw another 21.81 million hours viewed after three weeks of release. The Spanish romantic comedy Love at First Kiss, Turkish mystery 10 Days of a Good Man, Polish drama Tonight You’re Sleeping With Me and Swedish military drama Black Crab all charted.

On the non-English-language TV chart, seasons one and two of the Spanish thriller “Wrong Side of the Tracks,” Mexican thriller “Triptych,” Germany’s “Too Hot To Handle” and Mexican drama “La Reina del Sur” all remained on the chart. Newcomers included the Hindi-language thriller “Rana Naidu.”

 

Netflix Announces 2023 Original Korean Content Slate

Korean content has been good to Netflix. More than 60% of Netflix’s global 223 million subscribers watched Korean content in 2022, and the streamer’s original 2021 dystopian series “Squid Game,” in which contestants face life-or-death decisions, remains Netflix’s most-viewed content ever.

Netflix Jan. 16 announced 34 upcoming Korean titles with a common theme of “survival,” whether it’s battling monsters during the dark days of 1945 in “Gyeongseong Creature,” struggling to breathe in the dystopian future of sci-fi series “Black Knight,” or fighting to protect Joseon during Japanese colonial rule in the action drama “Song of the Bandits.”

Other returning shows include “Sweet Home,” “D.P.,” and “The Glory.” Part two of the latter revenge drama will be released in March, with part one being the most-watched, non-English TV show during the week of Jan. 2, with 82.5 million viewing hours. “Sweet Home,” which set new viewership benchmarks for the creature genre in Korea, will return with an expanded world and story, while “D.P.” brings back the cast from the first season to continue chasing after deserters.

“Over the last year, Korean series and films have regularly featured in our Global Top 10 list in more than 90 countries, and three of Netflix’s most-watched shows ever are from Korea,” Don Kang, VP of Content Korea, said in a statement. “This year, we’re pushing the envelope even further with the stories we tell and how we tell them.”

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Other new series this year include “A Time Called You,” “Behind Your Touch” (WT), “Crash Course in Romance,” “Destined With You,” “Doona!,” “King the Land,” “Love to Hate You,” “See You In My 19th Life,” “Bloodhounds,” “Celebrity,” “Mask Girl,”Daily Dose of Sunshine,” “Queenmaker,” “The Good Bad Mother” and apocalyptic “Goodbye Earth.”

VPN: Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Still Most-Searched Korean Content Worldwide

Netflix’s dystopian series, “Squid Game,” is still the most-searched Korean drama worldwide, according to new data from VPN Overview, a cybersecurity firm.

The original series generated seven Prime Time Emmy nominations and two wins for “Outstanding Lead Actor” and “Outstanding Directing” in a drama series

The online survey analyzed a list of the most popular Korean dramas of the past few years, both available on Netflix and other platforms, to discover which one was the most-searched worldwide.

“Squid Game,” released on Netflix on Sept. 17, 2021, remained No. 1 with almost 15 million average monthly searches, seven times the No. 2 on the list. A worldwide success, the first season of “Squid Game” generated a whopping 1.65 billion hours of viewing in the first month of its release, which is the equivalent of 182,000 years.

The survival drama follows the story of a group of 456 people, all in deep financial hardship, who are invited to play a series of deadly children’s games for the chance to win a large sum of money.

Second on the list is ‘All of Us Are Dead’ with almost 3 million average monthly searches. The series revolves around a group of South Korean high schoolers who have to fight a zombie apocalypse that breaks out unexpectedly and is based on a Naver webtoon of the same name. Netflix released the series on Jan. 28 and has been renewed for a second season.

At No. 3 is romantic drama “Business Proposal,” with more than 1.5 million average monthly searches. The series tells the story of an employee who accepts to go on a blind date and finds out that the date is actually her boss. The series is available on Netflix in selected regions.

Further down on the list, “True Beauty,” inspired by a popular webtoon of the same name, is fourth with 1.47 million average monthly searches, while “Our Beloved Summer” is fifth with 924,000 average monthly searches.

“It is interesting to see how even one year after its original release, ‘Squid Game’ is still so popular all over the world,” VPN said in a statement.

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Top 10 most searched Korean Dramas worldwide
Rank Title Release Year Searches
1 Squid Game 2021 14,720,000
2 All of Us Are Dead 2022 2,840,000
3 Business Proposal 2022 1,510,000
4 True Beauty 2020 1,470,000
5 Our Beloved Summer 2021 924,000
6 Crash Landing on You 2019 884,000
7 Hellbound 2021 879,000
8 Itaewon Class 2020 680,000
9 Love Alarm 2019 592,000
10 Hospital Playlist 2020 562,000

Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Cast Celebrates Historic Emmy Wins

With six wins out of 14 nominations, Netflix’s original blockbuster series “Squid Game” achieved several milestones at the 74th Emmy Awards Sept. 12 in Los Angeles.

Series creator Hwang Dong-hyuk won for outstanding directing for a drama series, while actor Lee Jung-jae won for outstanding actor in a drama series for his lead performance. Hwang and Lee became the first Asians and the first South Koreans to win in their respective categories, and the first ones to do so with a non-English language series.

Squid Game debuted on Netflix on Sept. 17, 2021, and became a global phenomenon. The series clocked in more than 1.65 billion viewing hours in 28 days, and reached 111 million Netflix accounts, becoming streamer’s first series to surpass 100 million members at launch. The closest runner-up is the fourth season of “Stranger Things,” which has tracked more than 1.35 billion streaming hours in 28 days.

At a Sept. 15 press conference in Seoul, Hwang called the experience of accepting his award on stage a “once in a lifetime moment” and a “great honor” that was “overwhelming and mind-blowing.” Lee, through a pre-recorded video message at the press conference, said that hearing his name announced at the Emmys was “bewildering.” Expressing his delight and gratitude to fans of Squid Game and Korean content from all over the world, he added: “These wins are a happiness we all share together.”

The increasing global reach of Korean culture — be it television, film, music or food — was a theme the creators, cast and crew of “Squid Game” were all asked about at the presser. “We have always been hard at work,” Hwang said regarding Korean content creators. By leveraging the changing media environment and the entry of digital platforms like Netflix into global markets, the director said the hard work has been able to “blossom into something wonderful.” He hoped the show’s success would inspire and motivate not just Korean creators, but creators worldwide. 

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Prior to the Primetime Emmys, “Squid Game” picked up Creative Arts Emmys for special visual effects in a single episode; stunt performance; production design; and Guest Actress in a Drama Series. This last award was won by Lee You-mi, who became the first South Korean actress to win in this category, and the first actor to do so for a non-English language performance. “Squid Game” is also the first Korean series to be nominated for below-the-line production categories, and the first non-English language show to win at the Creative Arts Emmys.

In fact, the show’s nominations alone have made history at the Emmys. Squid Game is the first non-English-language show to be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Hwang was also nominated for outstanding writing for a drama series, making him the first Korean showrunner to score nods for both writing and directing.

Actors Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, Oh Young-soo and Lee You-mi were all the first native Korean actors to be nominated in their respective categories. As executive producers, Hwang and Kim Ji-yeon became the smallest producing team to be nominated for a drama series since “Murder She Wrote” in 1987.

“It has been a long journey of many surprises, and an emotional rollercoaster,” said executive producer Kim. “Times have changed, and we are truly living in a global era. In the past, only people who spoke Korean and knew about Korean culture would watch our content. Now, platforms like Netflix allow this content to reach so many more people. Through this exposure, our understanding of other cultures has deepened.”

Stunt performer Lee Tae-young echoed the sentiments of Hwang, Lee and Kim when he spoke about his hope that the accolades won by Squid Game would open more doors for Korean creators, performers and crew members. “We pour our heart and soul into our work. We have a lot of grit and passion,” he said. “This award for the stunt team recognizes the efforts of all stunt performers in South Korea, and I hope it will lead to better opportunities for the next generation.”

In June, Netflix confirmed the second season of “Squid Game” was in the works. At the press conference, Hwang revealed that he was currently working on the script for the new season and has decided on the lethal games that will appear in it. But he revealed no further details and urged everyone to keep spoilers to themselves even if they came across rumors online. “You cannot let anyone know,” he urged. “Suspense is a huge part of the experience.”

Netflix to Bow More Than 25 New Korean Shows and Movies in 2022

On the heels of the Korean hit “Squid Game,” Netflix has announced more than 25 upcoming Korean shows and movies for 2022. 

Global viewing hours of Netflix Korean shows grew six-fold last year compared with 2019, according to Netflix. To date, “Squid Game” is the biggest show the service has ever launched, reigning as the most-viewed Netflix show in 94 countries at its peak. In fact, 95% of “Squid Game” viewership came from outside Korea.

Two months after “Squid Game,” Netflix launched “Hellbound,” which had a premiere that clocked 43.48 million viewing hours. “Hellbound” was among the Top 10 Netflix shows in 93 countries, and ranked No. 1 in 34 countries, according to the service. Sci-fi mystery “The Silent Sea” also made it to the No. 1 spot on the weekly non-English Top 10 lists for its premiere.

From 2016 to 2021, Netflix launched more than 130 Korean titles.

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Shows for 2022 include:

  • “All of Us Are Dead,” a series in which zombies invade a high school;
  • “Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area,” an adaptation of the popular Spanish series;
  • Seoul Vibe, an action film where the adventures of a special-ops team take place against the backdrop of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games;
  • Juvenile Justice, which follows a judge who dislikes juvenile delinquents, later realizing the troubles children face in society;
  • “Twenty Five, Twenty One,” a drama series about youths who lost their dream to the zeitgeist of 1998;
  • “Forecasting Love and Weather,” a romance drama series about people at the Korea Meteorological Administration;
  • “Thirty Nine,” a romance drama series that follows the friendship, love and life of three friends who are about to turn forty;
  • “Tomorrow,” a series about how a long-time unemployed man accidentally bumps into grim reapers on a special mission and becomes a contract worker at their Crisis Management Team;
  • “Business Proposal,” an office romance drama series based on the globally famous web novel and webtoon;
  • The Sound of Magic, based on the popular webtoon “Annarasumanara,” about a girl and a mysterious magician;
  • Remarriage and Desires, a satire of Korean society;
  • The Accidental Narco (working title), based on real-life events about an ordinary entrepreneur who has no choice but to risk his life in joining the secret mission of government agents to capture a Korean drug lord;
  • The Fabulous, a romance that explores the dreams, love and friendship
    of young people who devote their lives to working in the fashion industry;
  • Love to Hate You, about the war-like relationship between a woman who hates losing to men and a man suspicious of women;
  • Somebody, about a murder case revolving around a social dating app;
  • Black Knight, about an air polluted world in 2071, where people depend on respirator masks to breathe;
  • Love and Leashes, about a different kind of romance between a man with a
    unique taste and a woman who stumbles upon his secret;
  • Yaksha: Ruthless Operations, a spy action film about a merciless man
    known as “Yaksha” who crosses paths with a prosecutor on a special inspection mission in Shenyang, a city in China notorious for espionage;
  • Carter, about an agent suffering from memory loss who is thrown
    into the middle of a mysterious mission;
  • 20th Century Girl, about a women who rekindles a teenage romance;
  • JUNG_E, which portrays a desolated Earth in the 22nd century that is no longer inhabitable due to climate change;
  • “Celeb Five: Behind the Curtain,” an unscripted series;
  • A Model Family, about a man on the brink of bankruptcy and divorce stumbling upon a car loaded with cash; and
  • Glitch, about a girl who attempts to track down her missing boyfriend
    with the help of members of a UFO club.

Korean Hit ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Due on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD May 25 From Well Go

The Korean box office hit Deliver Us From Evil will debut on digital, Blu-ray Disc and DVD May 25 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film stars Hwang Jung-min (The WailingThe Spy Gone North), Lee Jung-jae (Tazza: One-Eyed JackAlong with the Gods franchise), Park Jeong-min (Svaha: The Sixth Finger), Park Soi (Parasite) and Choi Moon (Anarchist from ColonyOkja).

In the film, after the shocking kidnapping of a little girl in Thailand, a mercenary with a murky past as a government black ops agent (Hwang) is forced to re-emerge from the shadows when he learns the incident is closely connected to him. With the help of expat Yui (Park), he flies to Thailand and begins tracking the girl’s whereabouts, moving ever closer to the notorious child trafficking ring responsible for her abduction. However, when an infamous gangster nicknamed The Butcher (Lee) learns just who has entered the country and is finally within his grasp, he goes on a bloody rampage to thwart the ex-agent’s rescue mission as retaliation for a killing that even he will never be able to forget — or forgive.

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Bonus content includes making-of and filming locations featurettes.

Well Go Acquires Rights to Korea’s ‘Deliver Us From Evil’

Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired North American rights to the Korean film Deliver Us From Evil and will release it in March 2021.

The action thriller debuted at No. 1 at the Korean box office, with total admissions topping 1.3 million in its first four days, according to Well Go.

The film stars Hwang Jung Min (The Wailing), Lee Jung Jae (Svaha: The Sixth Finger) and Park Jeong Min (Tazza: One-Eyed Jack) and is directed by Hong Won Chan, who previously earned a Best Director award from the Busan Film Critics Association for his mystery thriller Office.

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In the film, after the shocking kidnapping of a little girl in Thailand, a mercenary with a murky past as a government black ops agent is forced to re-emerge from the shadows when he learns the incident is closely connected to him. With the help of expat Yui, he flies to Thailand and begins tracking the girl’s whereabouts, moving ever closer to the notorious child trafficking ring responsible for her abduction. However, when an infamous gangster nicknamed The Butcher learns just who has entered the country and is finally within his grasp, he goes on a bloody rampage to thwart the ex-agent’s rescue mission as retaliation for a killing.

Deliver Us From Evil is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish, which is no surprise thanks to its veteran cast that includes Hwang Jung Min and Lee Jung Jae,” Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO at Well Go USA Entertainment, said in a statement. “With its stunning action sequences and nonstop suspense to some beautifully executed tender moments, Deliver Us From Evil is a poignant, tough-as-nails thriller that will keep viewers rooting for the good guys to the very end.”

The deal was negotiated by Doris Pfardrescher on behalf of Well Go USA Entertainment and Jerry Kyoungboum KO on behalf of CJ Entertainment.