BIFF Preview: 7 Korean Cinema Retrospective Films to Watch From Cinematographer Jung Il-Sung

The 24th Busan International Film Festival has announced Jung Il-Sung as the curator for the Korean Cinema Retrospective.

Jung, a renowned cinematographer, has worked on the history of Korean films and left a significant mark on unique filmmaking as a master of cinematography. He began his career in his late 20s with Farewell Sorrow! (1957) directed by Jo Keung-ha.

Woman of Fire (1971) by director Kim Ki-young, Jung showed his exclusive techniques of angle and color aesthetics to build a grotesque world as well as exhibit great enthusiasm by capturing four different seasons in a year-long film production, The Last Witness (1980), directed by Lee Doo-yong. Following an encounter with director Im Kwon-taek in Divine Bow (1979), he eventually hit a high point in his career with Mandara (1981) Mandara was the first Korean film to be invited to the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival 1982, in appreciation of displaying mise-en-scenes and sequences which were unlikely used in Korean cinema at that time.

Jung has subsequently shown great chemistry of collaboration in many of Im Kwon-taek’s masterpieces such as Sopyonje (1993)and Strokes of Fire (2002). Jung Il-Sung is a pioneer of the aesthetic cinematography shown in Korean cinema, who had worked with a vast number of contemporary representative Korean directors.

This year, 7 of Jung Il-Sung’s masterpiece selections – Woman of Fire (1971) by director Kim Ki-young, Son of a Man (1980) by director You Hyunmok, The Last Witness (1980) by director Lee Doo-yong, Mandara (1981) by director Im Kwon-taek, Late Autumn (1981) by director Kim Soo-yong, Hwang Jin-yi (1986) by director Bae Chang-ho, and Born to Kill (1996) by director Jang Hyun-soo — will be screened at the 24th Busan International Film Festival Korean Cinema Retrospective from October 3 to 12, 2019.

Korean Cinema Retrospective Films 

Woman of Fire by director Kim Ki-young (1971)

Myeong-ja comes to work for free at Jung-sook’s house. Jung-sook’s husband, Dong-sik, rapes Myeong-ja and she gets pregnant while Jung-sook isn’t home. Jeong-sook forces her to have an abortion after she finds out, but Myeong-ja, in turn, poisons Dong-sik’s son. Jeong-sook tries to kill Myeong-ja with rat poison but is trapped by Myeong-ja’s conspiracy.

Son of a Man by director You Hyunmok (1980)

Yo-sup is found dead in a church. A detective Nam searching for the cause of Yo-sup’s death finds a clue from Yo-sup’s friend, Hwang, and Jo dong-pal is believed to be Yo-sup’s stalker. The detective discovers from Dong-pal’s father and a prostitute that Yo-sup has been worshiping traditional pagan gods and denying Christ.

The Last Witness by director Lee Doo-yong (1980)

Detective Oh goes searching for the murderer of Yang, a small-time brewer found bludgeoned to death. As he wanders and seeks for evidence, he meets Son Ji-hye, a concubine of Yang who becomes a bar girl, and Kang Man-ho, the North Korean partisan.

Mandara by director Im Kwon-taek (1981)

After three months of winter ascetic practice, military force stops a bus for an inspection. When a monk with no official holy orders was forcedly dragged down, young monks Ji-san and Beob-wun follow him. Ji-san gets free after chanting a Buddhist prayer and he reunites with Beob-wun at a temple. Ji-san realizes the Buddha literally exists everywhere whereas Beob-wun finds the ways of the world are meaningless even after six years of practice.

Late Autumn by director Kim Soo-yong (1981)

A female prisoner is given special leave for good behavior. She meets a young fugitive who tries to convince her to run away with him while she is riding the train to go visit her mother’s grave. Both fall in love, but she refuses and returns to prison.

Hwang Jin-yi by director Bae Chang-ho (1986)

Magistrate Hwang’s daughter Jin-yi is jilted before her wedding because a shoemaker commits suicide after he was smitten by her. Jin-yi becomes a courtesan famous for her wit and beauty. She falls for Byuk Kye-su, but he is chosen to be an envoy to a far off kingdom. When he leaves she feels so betrayed that she takes to a life of wandering eagerly.

Born to Kill by director Jang Hyun-soo (1996)

Kil becomes a profession killer after running away from his mother who tried to commit suicide. Kil’s life becomes complicated when he falls in love with his hostess neighbor, Soo-ha after nursing her through a bad hangover. He now stands at the crossroads between a killer and an ordinary man.

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Haps Staff
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