One of the genres that Korean cinema does really well is gritty political dramas, which has gotten us really excited about the upcoming film 1987, directed by Jang Joon-hwan (Save the Green Planet!, Hwayi: A Monster Boy) and based on real life events surrounding the June Democracy Movement of 1987. Adding to the film’s allure is the brilliant cast that includes Kim Yoon-seok (The Fortress, The Yellow Sea), Ha Jung-woo (The Handmaiden, Assassination), Yoo Hae-jin (A Taxi Driver, Confidential Assignment) and Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden).
The film depicts a watershed event in the struggle against the military rule of President Chun Doo-hwan, when public sentiment was inflamed by the death of Seoul National University student Park Jong-chul. In the 1980s, many student activists were protesting the dictatorship and Park was detained during an investigation into such activities. When he refused to disclose the whereabouts of one of his fellow activists, he was tortured mercilessly, which led to his death in custody. Information surrounding the death was initially suppressed, but a group of people kept on trying to bring the truth to light. With Park’s death forming the backdrop, 1987 follows these people in their struggle to reveal the horrible reality of the authoritarian regime.
The protests of 1987 were a continuation of the Gwangju Democratization Movement of 1980 that formed the setting of the blockbuster A Taxi Driver. It’ll be interesting to see if this film, which covers another unsavory period of South Korea’s history, will get the same love that the Song Kang-ho starrer managed to receive earlier this year.
1987, referred to as 1987: When the Day Comes in some news articles, also stars Park Hee-soon (The Fortress, VIP), Lee Hee-joon (Sea Fog), Gang Dong-won (Master) and Sol Kyung-gu (Memoir of a Murderer) in supporting roles, as well as Yeo Jin-goo (The Long Way Home, Hwayi: A Monster Boy) in a special appearance in the role of student leader Park Jong-chul. The film is being distributed by CJ Entertainment and is scheduled for release in South Korea in December 2017.