Ambassador Choi Young-jin, acclaimed Korean director Na Hong-jin, and nearly 400 members of the public gathered at the Freer Gallery of Art to celebrate the screening of Na's film "The Chaser" during the Korean Film Festival DC on Friday, April 20.
"We are gathered here as friends of Korea, but also as friends of arts and film", said Ambassador Choi in his remarks before the film. "In that respect, you are witnessing the coming of age of the Republic of Korea".
"When a country is coming of age, they must realize three things: economic development, becoming a democratic country, and, based on these two, the blossoming and renaissance of arts, including film", he explained. "Korea is very proud to share, first, its dramas, then K-Pop, and now its film with people in other parts of the world".
The evening began with Kimchi, Drinks, and a Movie, a reception hosted by the Korean Cultural Center in Na's honor. Guests were served traditional Korean savory pancakes, jeon, and Korean rice beer, makgeolli, among other treats.
Na's films are known for their violent content and skillfully crafted narrative. "The Chaser" (2008), which follows a serial killer and his ex-detective pursuer, is a prime example: it won for Best Picture, Director, and Cinematography at Korea's prestigious Grand Bell awards, among showings and recognition at numerous international festivals, including Berlin and Cannes.
"It's really an extraordinary achievement for a director so young to make such accomplished films", said Tom Vick, Curator of Film at the Freer and coordinator of the Korean Film Festival DC. "[Na's films] are quite impressive in the way they completely rejuvenate the genre.... ["The Chaser"] redefines your expectations and constantly changes course".
Na, who stayed to chat with the audience after the film, appeared delighted to mingle with an American crowd, posing for pictures and chatting with guests.
"I'm very curious to see what will come out of the combination of makgeolli, kimchi, and violence", said Na before the film, to a round of laughter and applause.
By Adam Wojciechowicz
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