Age of Shadows, a historical drama from director Kim Jee-woon, has been selected as South Korea’s official entry into the 89th Academy Award’s foreign language category. The film, Warner Bros.’ debut Korean language feature, is perhaps a slightly controversial choice in what was a relatively strong year, with the early favourite, Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, also considered for selection.

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Age of Shadows, set in 1920’s annexed Korea, tells the story of a group of resistance fighters trying to smuggle explosives into the country under the nose of the occupying Japanese forces. The movie stars Song Kang-ho (Snowpiercer, The Throne) as a Japanese officer of Korean descent with somewhat confused loyalties, and Gong Yoo (Train to Busan, The Suspect) as the spearhead of the Korean resistance. Off the back of recent star performances, Song was invited to join AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) last year as one of its South Korean members.


The film was chosen by a special committee of members of the Korean Film Festival and received particularly high praise for its aesthetic achievements. It also scored highly based on the global recognition of its actors and director, as well as its success in international sales and marketing.

Although the impact of Korean cinema worldwide has been particularly great these past couple of decades, no Korean movie has ever been nominated for an Academy award. Age of Shadows will look to change that as the deadline for foreign-language submissions at the end of September draws near. Check out the first trailer below.

The film receives its international premier at the Venice Film Festival (31st August to 10th September) before then moving onto the Toronto International Film Festival and onto commercial release in its home territory on 7th September.