Im Si-wan in The Merciless (2017) (Source: Hancinema.net)

The lineup for the 12th edition of the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) is available now, and with a special focus on Korean Noir and several UK and International premieres scheduled over its October 26 – November 19 running period, it looks like the fest has really outdone itself this time.

Organized by the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK), the LKFF aims to cover the entire range of cinema offered by South Korea, right from its biggest blockbusters to thought-provoking indies from the country’s finest auteurs. Apart from an assortment of crime capers as part of the Korean Noir strand, the festival will feature other special categories of screenings that include Women’s Voices, Documentaries, Indie Firepower, Cinema Now, Artist Video, Animations, Mise-en-scène Shorts as well as a Bae Chang-ho Retrospective. Topping it all would be the opportunity to meet leading directors and actors from the industry.

Chun Ho-jin and Jo In-sung in A Dirty Carnival (2006) (Source: Hancinema.net)

Featuring a roster of 13 movies, the LKFF’s focus on Korean Noir does full justice to a genre that has won perhaps the most fans the world over for the country’s cinema. Just some of the notable recent films include The Merciless (2017), director Byun Sung-hyun’s Tarantino-esque moody thriller about double-crossing gangsters; Kim Jee-woon’s A Bittersweet Life (2000), a thrilling noir that shows the ultraviolent consequences of falling for the wrong girl; the Jo In-seong starring A Dirty Carnival (2006), which follows a low-level debt collector as he murders his way to the top; New World (2013), the second directorial feature of writer Park Hoon-jung (I Saw the Devil), in which undercover cops and shady policemen plot to gain control of Korea’s biggest crime syndicate; and Coin Locker Girl (2015), a female crime melodrama from first time director Han Jun-hee starring veteran actress Kim Hye-soo as the psychotic crime boss known as ‘mom’ whose unsavory trade includes organ trafficking and loan-sharking.

Classics of the genre, which set the tone for the future, like Black Hair (1964), The Last Witness (1980) and Green Fish (1997), will also be featured.

Lee Byung-hun in Master (2016) (Source: Hancinema.net)

The Cinema Now 2016-2017 strand will showcase some of the films that are making waves right now, like Master (2016), starring Lee Byung-hun, which took 50.5 million dollars at the box office and is a slick action thriller that follows an investigator who pursues the president of a Korean company that’s involved in fraud and corruption. Brand new films in this strand include Crime City, an indie crime caper based on a true story, starring Ma Dong-seok, and The Mimic, a chilling K-horror that follows a woman haunted by the disappearance of her son.

Kim Min-hee and Kwon Hae-hyo in The Day After (2017) (Source: Hancinema.net)

It’s a cliché, but with over 60 films and shorts in different categories, there really is a lot on offer through the festival for everyone. These include highly-anticipated offerings like the indie film Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno (2017), which follows a young Korean, grindcore punk band, and the documentary Candle Wave Feminists (2017), which deconstructs the misogyny and discrimination that was rife within the revolution that led to former president Park Geun-hye’s impeachment in 2016. The festival will kick off with the UK premiere of The Day After (2017), a black & white comedy of missed chances, by director Hong Sang-soo.

For the full lineup and other information, you can head to the official London Korean Film Festival site, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The festival, starting from October 26, will run for two weeks in London before embarking on an ambitious tour around the UK, covering Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham and Belfast.

(Source: LKFF 2017)

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