The UAE's Korean Film Festival is returning for a fourth iteration, but this time as an online event due to the coronavirus pandemic. Twelve movies will be screened online for free from October 1 to 25, with each film being available to watch for three days.
This year’s event focuses on three themes: Korean modern films, literature on screen and Korean history on screen. Since the event is online, the films will be available for residents of other countries in the Gulf region to screen too.
The event opens with the historical musical-drama The Singer, which follows a traditional pansori singer who goes on a journey to find his missing wife. There will also be an online meet and greet with the film's star Lee Bong-Geun and director Cho Jung-Rae on Saturday, October 3 at 4pm on the Korean Cultural Centre's YouTube channel.
Here, we take a look at the films screening as part of the festival:
Screening: Thursday, October 1 to Saturday, October 3
The film takes place during South Korea’s Joseon era and revolves around the lives of pansori performers, who held low social status. It follows a pansori singer named Hak-gyu who sings and tells stories on the street with his band. One day, his wife is kidnapped and his daughter is left blind after the incident. Despite the traumatic event, Hak-gyu and his daughter decide to travel in search of his missing wife.
'The Marines Who Never Returned'
Screening: Saturday, October 3 to Monday, October 5
Lee Man-hee’s 1963 film takes place during the Korean War and focuses on the tragic loss of a small group of South Korean marines. The film opens with a platoon of soldiers who come together to foster an orphaned girl while also being commanded to hold back an advancing infantry of Chinese troops. The film will be shown to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.
'I Can Speak'
Screening: Monday, October 5 to Wednesday, October 7
The film, based on true-life events, tells the story of the unlikely friendship between an elderly woman named Nah Ok-Bun and junior civil service officer Park Min Jae. Ok-Bun is dissatisfied when Min Jae doesn't take her complaints seriously, but she seeks him out when she realises he is proficient in English. She tries to get him to teach her, but he initially refuses the extra commitment. Eventually, he changes his mind and agrees. Her true reason for wanting to learn the language is a plot twist, however.
'The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale'
Screening: Wednesday, October 7 to Friday, October 9
The comedy, directed by Lee Min-jae, follows the aftermath of a zombie outbreak in a small rural community due to a new faulty diabetes medication. The Park family, whose patriarch has plans to abandon his family and head to Hawaii, gets bitten by a zombie. However, instead of turning into a member of the undead, he emerges younger and fitter than he’s been in years. His sons see a business opportunity in charging elderly people in the village for a rejuvenating bite. Of course, not everything goes as smoothly as they planned.
'A Story of Hong Gil-Dong'
Screening: Friday, October 9 to Sunday, October 11
The animated 1967 film is based on a South Korean heroic tale. The film follows the story of Hong Gil-Dong, who was born as an illegitimate son of a nobleman, and grows up to be a chivalrous robber who stands up against injustice.
'Memoir of a Murderer'
Screening: Sunday, October 11 to Tuesday, October 13
The action-thriller is based on a bestselling book by author Kim Young-ha. A former serial killer named Byeong-soo now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and lives with his adult daughter. Soon, a series of murders occurs near his town and he becomes worried that the killings are his own doing during his memory lapses. However, he soon realises there is another serial killer but with his memory slipping must find a way to protect his daughter.
Screening: Tuesday, October 13 to Thursday, October 15
The drama follows the story of 30-something Miso, who works as a housekeeper. She also has a deep depression and chain smokes and drinks too much. When the Korean government raises the price of cigarettes, she decides to move out of her house rather than give up buying them.
'The King’s Letters'
Screening: Thursday, October 15 to Saturday, October 17
The King's Letters, set during the Joseon dynasty, tells the story of King Sejeon and his desire to create an original alphabet for his people. With the help of others, they try to create the Korean alphabet Hangul. While the film tells a historical story, it is based on an alternative theory rather than historical fact.
'Our Twisted Hero'
Screening: Saturday, October 17 to Monday, October 19
The 1992 film by Park Jong-won is based on the award-winning novel of the same name. It centres on Han Byung-tae, a college lecturer who recalls his primary school days from 30 years ago. After his family is transferred from Seoul to a rural area, Byung-tae starts attending school and has to deal with the class bully Um Suk-dae. While there is originally conflict between the two, eventually he submits to the oppression.
Screening: Saturday, October 19 to Wednesday, October 21
Money follows the story of an aspiring stockbroker Il-hyun who has dreams of making big money on the stock exchange. However, being a newcomer without the right connections makes it difficult. One day an anonymous mastermind who goes by the nickname "ticket man" and claims to "secretly control" the stock market approaches him. After accepting his deal, Il-hyun soon finds himself caught up in a scam with dire consequences.
Screening: Wednesday, October 21 to Friday, October 23
The period drama set in the late Joseon era tells the story of a pungsu (geomancy) expert called Park Jae-sang who determines which areas of land can bring good fortune. This leads to a battle over a tomb spot after he claims the land will produce two kings in a family.
Screening: Friday, October 23 to Sunday, October 25
The film, based on a true story, takes place in 2008 during South Korea’s first jury trial that saw eight ordinary citizens from different backgrounds summoned to be jurors of a criminal trial. While the case seems to be relatively simple as the defendant freely admits to a brutal murder, one young junior begins to question everything. Without the unanimous vote from the jury, the judge is forced to re-examine the evidence and call for a new debate over whether the defendant is guilty or not.
All the films will be available to be screen at www.k-filmfest.com