In general, Germans show two widely different responses to Korean food. Owing to preconceptions concerning the smell of garlic, some Germans are disgusted by Korean food even before tasting it. Others, though, are fascinated by "bulgogi (roast meat)" and "kimchi (pickled vegetables)", and often visit Korean restaurants.
The fascination for Korean food lies in its distinct and hot taste. The hot taste can be applied not only to Korean food, but also to Korean movies, which are now sweeping awards at many overseas film festivals.
South Korea, which was invited to the 2005 Frankfurt book exhibition and Asia-Pacific weekly event as a guest of honor, is now busy preparing a variety of cultural and art events to be held in Germany next year. A program to introduce Korean movies to Germans is one of the larger projects.
Director Kim Ki-duck attracts a paying audience of 200,000
The movies "Samaria", which was directed by Kim Ki-duck and won a director's award from the Berlin Film Festival this year, and "Old Boy", which was directed by Park Chan-wook
and garnered the grand prize from screening committee members at the Cannes Film Festival, both deal with striking material in a distinct way.
As Korean movies are very different from other Asian movies, including the gang films of Hong Kong and the art movies of Japan, they are attracting keen interest at many overseas film festivals. The interest of Germans in Korean films is also increasing.
Korean directors, including Kim Ki-duck, Park Chan-wook
, and Kim Jee-woon
, all of whose films were invited to the Berlin film festival in recent years, are not unfamiliar to Germans nowadays.
Director Kim Ki-duck visited the Berlin film festival for the third time this year with the movie "Samaria". This film, which deals with the controversial issue of prostitution among high school students, received a lot of interest from the press during the international film festival.
Amid responses from commentators, who mixed praise and ridicule, director Kim Ki-duck captured the director's award. In March this year, Kim introduced a new film with a totally different color.
The movie, "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring", produced through a joint investment from the German Pandora Film and a Korean production company, features beautiful images with an Oriental subject. About 200,000 German spectators saw the movie in Germany, raising the possibility of a commercial success for Koreans with an art film in the German market, up to now dominated by Hollywood movies. Ironically, the hero of the event was director Kim Ki-duck of South Korea.
The first showing of "Old Boy" and "Silmido" at 150 theaters
The special screening of Korean movies will start from September this year. The 3L film distribution company of Germany, stimulated by the recent rapid development of Korean film, plans to import and show a total of nine Korean films at theaters in Germany. These are "Old Boy", "Cheonnyeonho", "Taegukki Whinalimyeo", "Silmido", "Chingu", "Gipeuro", "Changhwahongryon", "Akasia", and "Geomisup".
Starting with Park Chan-wook
's "Old Boy", on Sept. 2, the nine films will be introduced one by one in Germany over the coming year. The films to be screened all boa
st a high commercial and artistic value, having already received good responses both at home and abroad.
When the Berlin film festival opens in February next year, Korean movies are expected to create a sensation again in Germany. Recently, the headquarters of the Berlin film festival said it would hold a retrospective of Korean movies directed by Im Kwon-taek
. Considering that it has so far introduced only films made by deceased directors, the decision is regarded as unprecedented treatment for director Im and Korean movies.
The retrospective is likely to give the nation a good opportunity to herald the achievements of the nation's young directors, who have won many awards at international film festivals recently.
Among the 100-odd works of director Im Kwon-taek
, about 20 films, including "Jokbo", "Mandara", and "Chunhyangjeon", will be introduced at the retrospective. With the introduction of high-quality Korean films at the Berlin film festival, Korean directors are expected to create a boom for Korean movies in Germany next year,
The Korean wave that has been spreading in China and Southeast Asia may now be hitting German shores. This reflects a growing interest overseas in things Korean, which has reached a very high level for both the cultural and the economic, and is of itself very encouraging.
In particular, a number of Germans have begun to show keen interest in Asian culture, including Korean movies. Under these circumstances, we hope that Korean films to be introduced from this autumn will become a stimulus for a boom for Korean movies in Germany.