Big-name directors flock back to big screen

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Still from “The Handmaid” (CJ Entertainment)

After a year of crowd-pleasing action films such as “Assassination” and “Veteran,” the Korean box office gears up in 2016 to welcome back star directors who have received international critical acclaim for their artistically crafted films. The big names in Korean cinema are focusing their attention on period pieces, many of them choosing to base films on novels and true stories, and are bringing fail-proof star actors in their casts.

 

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Still from “The Handmaid” (CJ Entertainment)

Director Park Chan-wook, known for “Oldboy,” “Thirst” and “Stoker,” takes on an adaptation of U.K. novelist Sarah Waters’ “Fingersmith” in “The Handmaid,” starring Ha Jung-woo and Kim Min-hee. The original novel told a story of intrigue and crime in the Victorian era. Park’s adaptation put a Korean spin on that story, bringing the plot into the colonial Joseon era to spotlight a wealthy heiress and the man who schemes to steal her inheritance.

 

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Promotional poster for “Gosanja” (CJ Entertainment)

Kang Woo-suk of “Silmido,” “Fists of Legend” and “Moss” is bringing his 20th film to the screen with period piece “Gosanja,” starring Cha Seung-won. Cha will play Kim Jeong-ho, a Joseon-era geographer who went by the pseudonym Gosanja, in the film that depicts his journey as he puts together the large-scale map of Korea known as the Daedongyeojido, or Great Map of the East Land.

Romance movie master Hur Jin-ho — whose hits include “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Christmas in August” and “One Fine Spring Day” — returns with “Princess Deokhye,” starring Son Ye-jin and Park Hae-il. The film will be based on the novel of the same title written by Kwon Bi-young, which tells the story of the last Joseon princess, who was taken hostage by Japan.

Director Kwak Kyung-taek, who created the 2001 hit film “Friend” and saw success last year with “The Classified File,” brings actor Kim Rae-won and actress Kim Hae-sook together again as mother and son following their last union in “Sunflower.” The film will be based on a novel called “It is Over” by Park Ha-ik, in which the victims of unsolved murders return to haunt the earth and punish their killers.

Kim Jee-woon, known for stylish action and horror flicks like “A Tale of Two Sisters,” “A Bittersweet Life” and “I Saw the Devil,” brings another action film in Warner Bros.’ Korean debut production “Secret Agent,” starring “Snowpiercer” star Song Kang-ho and Gong Yoo.

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Still from “Goksung” (20th Century Fox Korea)

Na Hong-jin, known for action-packed thrillers like “The Chaser” and “The Yellow Sea,” will also be presenting another thriller in “Goksung,” featuring Hwang Jung-min, Kwak Do-won and Chun Woo-hee. Set in a quiet rural town, the film will explore the rumors and secrets that hang over the village residents.

Ho-jung Won
The Korea Herald