Busan International Film Festival Returns to Full Strength with Packed 27th Edition

For the first time since 2019, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) will return to full force, with a complete lineup for its upcoming 27th edition, which will welcome a full complement of international guests for the first time since...

BiFan 2022 Review: JINJU'S PEARL, Charming but Half-Baked Ode to Local Culture

After bagging a passel of awards at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival two years ago with his rich and lively debut Festival (full disclosure, I was on that jury), director Kim Lokkyoung returns to BiFan with his sophomore work,...

BiFan 2022 Review: MIND UNIVERSE, SF Indie Explores Ideas of Grief and Memory

Given the increasingly democratic access to film technology and the explosion of box office, ratings and streaming success for genre stories in the Korean market, it's no surprise that a growing number of local filmmakers have embraced science fiction, a...

BiFan 2022 Review: A GOOD BOY, Layered Korean Indie Explores a Teacher's Worst Nightmare

Teachers often go beyond their remit to educate, especially if they notice something wrong with the children they've been charged with. In Son Kyoungwon's debut film A Good Boy, a well-meaning teacher learns just how dangerous it can be to...

BiFan 2022 Review: THE FIFTH THORACIC VERTEBRA, Singular Debut Promises Great Things to Come

Without a doubt the most unique Korean film presented at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (or indeed anywhere) this year, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra is the debut feature of Park Syeyoung, a 26-year-old filmmaker with an arresting and inimitable...

BiFan 2022: YOU WON'T BE ALONE and BODY PARTS Take Top Prizes in Bucheon

You Won't Be Alone, the debut film of director Goran Stolevski, prevailed at the 26th edition of the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan), where it won the Best of Bucheon Award, the top prize in the festival's signature Bucheon...

Udine 2022 Review: THUNDERBIRD, Money Makes People Do Bad Things in Grim and Gripping Korean Indie


Money can make people do funny things. It compels them to trust the wrong people, drives them to makes risky bets or, when all else fails, forces them to act out of desperation. Yet unlike riding a bike, when it...

Udine 2022 Review: KINGMAKER, Sumptuous Character Study and Tense Political Drama Makes for Thrilling History Lesson 


The easiest way to describe Kingmaker, the latest film from The Merciless director Byung Sung-hyun, is as the Korean equivalent of George Clooney's election drama The Ides of March, a film that incidentally used the English word 'Kingmaker' as its...

Busan 2021 Review: SEIRE, Ace Horror Debut Plunges Us into Korean Superstition

Superstition and fatherhood collide in Park Kang's crisply staged and chilling indie horror debut Seire, which had its world premiere in the New Currents competition at the Busan International Film Festival. Channeling Rosemary's Baby and The Wailing, this low-budget gem...

Busan 2021 Review: THE APARTMENT WITH TWO WOMEN, Sensational Debut Is an Electric Dysfunctional Family Drama

One of the most dysfunctional families of recent memory has its dirty laundry aired out in the hypnotic The Apartment with Two Women, an ambitious and surprisingly mature debut from 29-year-old director Kim Se-in. In a barnstorming performance, Yang Mal-bok...

Busan 2021 Review: HEAVEN: TO THE LAND OF HAPPINESS, An Infectious Return to Form for Im Sang-soo

The Busan International Film Festival puts a strong first foot forward this year with its tightly paced and effortlessly entertaining opening film Heaven: To the Land of Happiness, marking a return to form for director Im Sang-soo. Ace Korean cinema...

New York Asian 2021 Review: SINKHOLE, Disaster Comedy Struggles to Dig Itself Out

When a new genre catches on in Korean cinema, it tends to proliferate pretty quickly, but before audiences grow tired of it, filmmakers try to find new ways to freshen things up. Take the disaster film. A perennial favourite at...

Australia Korean Fest 2021: End of Lockdown Brings Major Genre-fuelled Hallyu Wave

Assuming COVID lock-down ends in Australia (good luck Sydney), the long-standing always quality Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) may provide some excellent in-cinema viewing in Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane this September. Assuming of course that lock-down actually ends, as...

Busan 2020 Review: SPEED OF HAPPINESS Delivers Soothing Snapshot of a Unique Profession

Documentary filmmaker Park Hyuck-jee, known for the charming documentary With or Without You, is back with his latest non-fiction work, his first to be invited to Busan. Set in the mountainous Oze region of Central Japan, the pleasurable and satisfying...

Busan 2020 Review: FIGHTER, Compelling Character Study Winds Up Pulling Its Punches

After opening the festival in 2018 with Beautiful Days, director Jero Yun returned to Busan this year with his second narrative feature Fighter, which once again focuses on a North Korean defector's difficult experience adjusting in South Korea, and how...

Busan 2020 Review: SELF-PORTRAIT 2020, Long yet Riveting Odyssey of a Drunk Savant

I'll admit I went into Self-Portrait 2020 with a fair amount of trepidation. Here is a nearly three-hour documentary that follows a man who has given up on life, turned to the bottle and now roams the streets of Central...

Busan 2020 Review: STEEL RAIN 2: SUMMIT Dives into Thrilling and Surprisingly Funny Geopolitical Waters

Released three years, ago, the geopolitical action-thriller Steel Rain was a solid success on the charts but one that was completely overshadowed by two films that hit theaters within a fortnight of its release, Along with the Gods: The Two...

Busan 2020 Review: YOUNG ADULT MATTERS, An Explosive and Frequently Engrossing Runaway Teen Drama

Three years after his abrasive debut Park Hwa-young, director Lee Hwan returns to Busan with Young Adult Matters, an intense and frequently engrossing follow-up set in the same world of foul-mouthed, unpredictable and violent runaway teens. While it inherits many...

Busan 2020 Review: DELIVER US FROM EVIL, A Slick and Undemanding Action-Thriller Romp

It's hard being an assassin, especially when you take your work home with you. Even more so when that work turns out to be the psycho brother of your last target, who's chased you to a foreign country where you're...

Busan 2020 Review: SNOWBALL Gently Strikes with Familiar but Well-Told Tale

A wide variety of films find their way to the Busan Film Festival every year, but one thing you can always count on is the polished, youth-driven social indie that has become the de-facto Korean indie template, at least on...