November has been a month of films galore! So continuing on with this theme we thought we’ll write about a highlight of our WKB trip to South Korea back in September. During our this trip, we visited Jeonju and went to one of the most breathtaking places ever: The Hanok Village. Jeonju is so rich with history, culture and tradition, visiting the Hanok Village was like stepping into a film set of some of our favourite films such as The King and the Clown and a more recent favourite Masquerade, which brings us to our next destination: Jeonju Film Studio Complex! Being big film fans, this has to be one of the highlights of the WKB tour for Korean Class MASSIVE. As advertised, Jeonju is like a gigantic film set in which the past, present and future live together. So it’s only fitting for one of South Korea’s biggest film studios to be situated in this beautiful city.
Travelling to the studios itself was like being in a film, albeit The Shining, but as we went off the main road and drove down an immensely long dirt track, we were greeted with masses and masses of land. Everything belonged to the studio, meaning it had the resources for some HUGE outdoor epics. As we arrived at the studios, we were sad to see that there was no filming that day, but as we checked out the noticeboard, we saw that we were standing where many great actors had once stood and filmed in before. It was a MASSIVE privilege, and there will be some film fangirling in this post.
As we first stepped into the studios, we were greeted with a wall of directors and miniature models of some familiar film sets, displaying different camera set ups and the work that happens at the studios. This is the largest film studio in South Korea, opening in 2008, it was the first studio to be built solely by a local government. A good majority of Korean films are filmed here (we think our notes say 70% of all Korean films are filmed here, but our handwriting is worse than your doctors). The studios consist of an epic amount of surrounding land which is said to be the first outdoor set in the country to be adjustable. There are also 2 indoor studios featuring one of Korea’s largest indoor studio which reaches 7 stories in height. This large studio includes a MASSIVE blue screen that covers half way around room, and is fully equipped with water machines for realistic rain effects. It’s known as the best studio for filming special effects in. Currently this larger studio has been set up to film a drama called My Priority/My Property. We’re not 100% on the translation, we were told it’s a classroom based drama and we’ll definitely be looking out for it in the future. It was really cool to see the studio all set up with individual houses, and looking in them, you can pretty much visualise the drama already as the homes are so realistic.
The smaller studio is approximately 4 stories in height and when we visited, it was under construction by some hardcore builders. They were climbing on the scaffolding with no safety cords and dangling around off edges and operating power tools at heights. This fearlessness and skill is something old skool Jackie Chan would be proud of! We were told that this studio was being set up to film the Korean version of Charlie’s Angels and I think it was being made into some sort of weapons room. We imagined a Matrix style weapons room loaded with guns and gadgets!
A lot of the films KC Massive have seen and reviewed were actually filmed at these studios, My Way (2011), The Unjust (2010), Blind (2011), War of the Arrows (2011), and recent addition of London Korean Film Festival Woochi (2009). We were also very excited to see that Jang Geun Suk’s You Pet (2011) was filmed at this location too, we were standing (maybe) exactly where Jang Geun Suk (might have) once stood! The most impressive moment of our trip was when we saw the giant props used from one of our favourite directors Lee Joon Ik’s films Battlefield Heroes (2011). After having met him earlier in the year and seeing the film on the big screen, this moment caused us to be absolutely speechless. The weaponry was incredible and life-size and they looked exactly like they did in the film. It was a major fangirl moment!
Battlefield Heroes was quite a MASSIVE war epic with a lot of outdoor scenes featuring huge army bases and camps. This is an example of the kind of external settings the Jeonju film studio complex is capable of. Being one of the first to be adaptable, it meant it was perfect for this war epic and allowed for some amazing scenes. One particular scene we remember is of the “toilet ditch” which would have no doubt taken place somewhere round this studio! As we were driving towards the studio, we got to see the variety of settings the studio’s surrounding had to offer. We were first greeted with some very tranquil greenery which would be perfect as some sort of farming area and as we drove in there were more forest areas and dirt grounds perfect for some mud wrestling no doubt. Jeonju studio really has it all!
We were then lead to the props museum where we got the chance to see original scripts and storyboards, weapons, fake rocks (which were still ridiculously heavy) and costumes used in a number of films filmed at the studio. The studio manager was super nice and enthusiastic, even opening up the cabinets to let us try on the hats and play around with the swords, with which we went wild; irrelevant light sabre noises are a must with any sort of sword play. Along the walls were also hand prints of a few actors, we spotted one very familiar ahjussi on the wall, does this guy ever change his hairstyle?! We had an absolutely amazing time and even left with a lot of goodies from the ever generous studio Manager whom we miss dearly. We even got special Jeonju clipboards, which made one of our members go particularly crazy (she loves them clipboards!).
We miss you Studio Manager!
If you are a big film fan like us, then you’ll no doubt want to visit the studio yourself. The film studio’s website itself is only available Korean but we found this helpful little website with information in English and states that admission is apparently FREE!