“Hallyuwood”: Korean cinema

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The word Hallyu (한류), or “Korean Wave”, refers to the continuous expansion and diffusion of South Korean culture that has attracted the attention of thousands of people around the world through cultural products originating from this country, as is the case with its music and series known as K-pop and K-dramas, respectively. Hence, the term “Hallyuwood” is composed, whose concept is used to refer to the South Korean film industry. 

Jeremy Yap. (2016). [A projector on]. Unsplash.

The origin of Korean cinema dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when on October 27, 1919, the first film called Righteous Revenge, directed by Kim Do-san, was released. In fact, nowadays this date is celebrated as “Korean Film Day”. However, it was between the 1950s and 1970s, when Korean filmmaking developed, this is how the great films of the era were born, as is the case of Aimless Bullet (오발탄) by Yoo Hyun-mok, and A Coachman (마부) by Kang Dae-jin, both from 1961. Nevertheless, in 1970 the military dictatorship that ruled the country censored Korean and foreign films, causing a decline in Korean filmmaking. Between 1987 and 1998 democracy began to be established after leaving behind those years of military dictatorship, as a result, Korean cinema began to have less censorship and more opportunities. 

Unfortunately, in the mid-1990s, the film industry was once again affected due to the international currency crisis. Despite this, Korean cinema resurfaced again thanks to the persistence of those filmmakers who, with their ideas, have made South Korea known through large-scale productions such as Shiri (쉬리) from 1999, directed by Kang Je-gyu; My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀) from 2001, work by filmmaker Kwak Jae-yong, that has a Hollywood remake; The Host (괴물) film by the well-known filmmaker Bong Joon-ho released in 2006; Train to Busan (부산행) by director Yeon Sang-ho in 2016; and finally, the renowned film Parasite (기생충) from 2019, also by director Bong Joon-ho.

TVPerú. (n. d.). [Famous films from South Korea].

On the other hand, Busan city (South Korea) is the official venue of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), which is one of the most important film festivals on the Asian continent. That’s why, Busan has the Busan Cinema Center, which is a place with an open-air theater, indoor screens under a ceiling covered with LED lights, conference rooms, and more. It is also where the opening and closing ceremonies of the festival take place.

Getty Images. (n. d.). [Exterior of Busan Cinema Center at night].

In Latin America, the Korean Embassy in Ecuador celebrated the Korean Film Festival 2022, which took place on September 8 and 9 last year, at the Cinemark Plaza de las Américas, in Quito. During the festival, some films were broadcast such as My Paparotti by Yoon Jong-chan, Luck Key by director Lee Gae-byok, Fengshui by Park Hee-gon, and Run-off by Jong-hyun Kim. 

Thus, we can conclude that, as the Korean entertainment industry is growing and captivating foreign audiences, Korean cinema has been no exception. The plots and stories told in their films have caught the interest of many people who, little by little, are beginning to become more involved with the culture of this country, therefore, it is not out of place to recommend you to enjoy the above-mentioned films, for there is a reason why they are the most famous and representative of South Korea.  

Written by: Britany Sosa

Reviewed by: Luisa Quintero


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Embajada de la República de Corea en Ecuador. (2022, August 24). Festival de Cine Coreano en Ecuador 2022. https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ec-es/brd/m_6343/view.do?seq=759351


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