LKFF 2012: Review

London Korean Film Festival 2012For those in the UK, and particularly London, who are interested in Korean culture, the London Korean Film Festival is one of the highlights of the year. For films buffs and general movie fans alike, this is always a fantastic event where you know you’ll be in for a wide range of blockbuster films as well as some hidden gems. This year, at the 7th LKFF, they’ve gone bigger and better. It was a star studded event, with some great films and amazing opportunities to actually see some actors and directors in person!

LKFF 2012 Opening GalaOf course, two of the biggest events of the Festival every year are the Opening and Closing Galas. On November 1st, the infamous Leicester Square in London hosted the Opening Gala, with Choi Dong Hoon’s blockbuster ‘The Thieves‘ chosen as the film to kick start the festival. The Opening Gala was a full on red carpet affair, with people queuing up along the barriers hours before the film’s start just for a chance to catch a glimpse of the VIPs attending on the screening. Director Choi Dong Hoon and actor Kim Yun Seok came to the Opening to introduce the film and for a special Q&A after the screening, giving fans a great chances to meet two heavy weights in the Korean film industry. Once everyone had been seated inside the cinema, the 2012 London Korean Film Festival was under way, and Festival Director Jeon Hye Jung gave a short introduction to the upcoming events that would be taking place and gave a very warm welcome to the Festival. Afterwards, Director Choi and Kim Yun Seok leaped into action, jumping on stage to introduce the film and kick starting the Festival and many great film experiences to come. After the film, the audience had a chance to ask questions to Choi Dong Hoon and Kim Yun Seok. These gentlemen were lovely and answered as many questions as possible. Director Choi even hinted at future film projects on the erotic side, how saucy. And with a lot of interest in Kim Soo Hyun, he joked that for his next erotic project, he planned to use Kim Soo Hyun, an idea that was greeted with a cheer.

LKFF Choi Dong Hoon 2012The Opening Gala wasn’t the only opportunity people had to interact with directors and film industry experts. Throughout the Festival’s duration, there were many Q&As, giving all those with a keen passion for Korean films a chance to ask their questions and gain some insight. Choi Dong Hoon was on hand at the screening of his film ‘Woochi: The Demon Slayer’, where we heard him express his desire to make a more adult orientated film again. We’re highly anticipating this rumoured film, Director Choi!

Another amazing opportunity for us was being given the opportunity to have a group interview with Director Jung Ji Woo. A transcription of this interview can be found on Mr. Hangul Celluloid’s rather fabulous site, Hangul Celluloid. It was amazing to be able to hear about his inspirations and thoughts on film. He also attended a Q&A after the screening of his film ‘Eungyo’, where he talked about the reasons behind casting decisions and why he chose to adapt this original novel among other things.

Towards the end of the festival, there was also the annual Korean Cinema Forum, where the panelists were made up of a great selection of Korean film insiders, writers and experts. This was an event where many issues were raised about Korean cinema currently, and where it may be heading in the future. All those with a passion or query about the Korean film industry were able to question and discuss ideas with those in the know. With so many guest events at this year’s LKFF, there was an amazing array of chances for the public to get up close and personal and gain a deeper knowledge into Korean cinema.

Apart from a great range of guests attending, the film selection this year was one of the best yet. The films ranged from serious to fun, and family friendly to art house. To help us explore and discover knew films, the wonderful LKFF team categorised the films into several genres, including K-Art House, K-Comedy, K-Mystery and K-Pop. This MASSIVE range of films helped introduce Korean cinema to the largest and widest range of audience yet, as well as bringing something new to previous Korean Cinema fans. At the screenings of family films, like ‘Padak’, children with parents turned up in hordes, while films like ‘Running Turtle’ had mystery fans revved up for a good caper. On numerous occasions, we heard members of the audience saying what a fantastic selection the Festival had. The only problem was that there were so many films we wanted to see, we ended up having to choose between films that had clashing schedules! One film we were really upset about missing was ‘All About My Wife’, which we’ve heard everyone rave about. We don’t know how the super hardcore film fans managed to see multiple films every day, but they must have great stamina as we only watched about one film a day (sometimes more), and even then we were totally wiped out by the end of the festival!

Lee Byung Hun London Korean Film FestivalOf course, the biggest event of the Festival was the Closing Gala featuring ‘Masquerade’; this Choo Chang Min film was the perfect film to end an epic festival. ‘Masquerade’ is dramatic, visually stunning, greatly written and appealed to everyone. It stars Lee Byung Hun, who just happened to be filming ‘Red 2’ in London, and along with with co-star Ryu Seung Ryong, Director Choo and Lee Byung Hun attended the Closing Gala and chatted with UK audiences at a Q&A after the film screening. Even more exciting was that Lee Byung Hun didn’t just bring the ‘Masquerade’ stars, but he also brought along a few other friends in the form of ‘Red 2’ co-stars Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich. It was fantastic to see the ‘Red 2’ gang turn up to support Lee Byung Hun, much to the delight and surprise of everyone in the cinema, and those who came early for the red carpet event were definitely shocked at the surprise appearances! Fanboys were also treated to a very exciting appearance from South Korean footballing hero Park Ji Sung! On the red carpet, he got huge screams and inside the cinema, fans were queuing up to ask for photos and autographs. Helen Mirren was the epitome of class, but even she couldn’t resist the lure of overpriced cinema popcorn (we wonder if hers was complementary….), she even stayed for the Q&A after making us love her all the more; an absolutely amazing lady! Lee Byung Hun was looking very dapper during the Q&A, as was the Director and gentlemanly Ryu Seung Ryong, and they obviously had a lot of fans in the audience. We couldn’t help but notice the girl in front of us in the first row with a rather nifty scrolling screen app on her phone, and throughout the Q&A was sending different love themed messages Lee Byung Hun’s way. He definitely spotted them, as he kept trying to hide a smile, and at the end, was even given a present by this fan.

KCC UK LKFFOverall, this year’s LKFF was extremely successful. The amount of work and organisation that went into the festival must have been immense. We really appreciate the fact that we can finally see blockbusters on the big screen and no longer have to wait for DVD releases. This year’s London Korean Film Festival featured a lot of fresh new 2012 releases that we have been dying to see, as well as introducing us to a lot of new additions to add to our favourite film collection, as well as giving us once in a life time opportunities to see big stars and watch a film with Hollywood legends sat behind us! Even little details such as the huge collages of first, Choi Dong Hoon and Kim Yun Seok, then Lee Byung Hun and Ryu Seung Ryong’s faces from postcards must have taken hours. Seriously, good job everyone. All those who worked on this year’s London Korean Film Festival deserves a MASSIVE round of applause and a good rest! For more pictures from this year’s LKFF events, check out our Facebook album.

Can’t wait to do it all again at next year’s Festival!
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