K-Animation Review: 소중한 날의 꿈 (Soljonghang Naluiggoom/Green Days)

green days 1
Alternative Title (English): Green Days: Dinosaur and I
South Korea
Language: Korean
Directors: Ahn Jae-hoon, Han Hye-jin
Studio Meditation with Pencil (Studio-MWP)
Screenplay: Song Hye-Jin
Art Direction: Han Hye-jin
Soundscore: N/A
Cast: Park Shin-hye, Song Chang-ui, Oh Yeon-so
Runtime: 95 min
Distribution: Meditation with a Pencil
Film’s official website: N/A
Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFh5ygHa1lE
This review is part of the K-Animation Season on Otherwhere. The film has not been released in the UK. However, a Region 3 DVD with English subtitles is available from Yesasia.com.
When Soljonghang Naluiggoom first premiered in the UK as part of the 2011 London Korean Film Festival it was advertised as a “Korean cousin to Studio Ghibli in style” (quote). With Western audiences knowing virtually nothing about K-animation – including the fact that Korean animators have been involved in many, world-famous projects, from The Simpsons to Family Guy, – the tagline is, from a promotional perspective, understandable, but otherwise unfortunate. Such declarations hinder Korean animation from carving out a path and niche in its own right, and raise expectations, both in terms of content and quality, to a degree that, given Ghibli’s years of experience in the field as well as significantly higher budget and (wo)manpower, is probably not quite fair. Continue reading “K-Animation Review: 소중한 날의 꿈 (Soljonghang Naluiggoom/Green Days)”

K-Animation Review: 돼지의 왕 (Daegieui wang/The King of Pigs)

King of pigs

Year: 2011
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Director: Yeun Sang-Ho
Studio Dadashow, KT&G Sangsangmadang
Screenplay: Yeun Sang-Ho
Art Direction: N/A
Animation Direction: N/A
Soundscore: Eom Been
Voice Cast: Yang Ik-joon, Oh Jung-se, Kim Hye-na, Kim Kkobbi, Park Hee-von
Runtime: 97 min
Terracotta (UK)
Trailer (subtitled):

Seen at the Terracotta on Tour screening at the Genesis Cinema thanks to winning tickets from Eastern Kicks. Special thanks also go to the Korean Film Council, which provided me with online access to the film. The King of Pigs will screen in London on March 8, 2013 as part of the Pan-Asia Film Festival and will be released on DVD by Terracotta on March 11, 2013.

This review is part of the K-Animation Season on Otherwhere.

Dark Themes:
Dark themes in Hakkyo 2013: Best enemies (top row); parental neglect & abuse (bottom left); driven to suicide (bottom right).

학교 2013 (Hakkyo 2013/School 2013, South Korea, 2013), a television drama that recently aired on KBS2, explores the life and struggles of high school students on a number of levels, tackling issues such as the pressure of academic achievement, strained relationships with parents and suicide, but also the hierarchical structures of classrooms and bullying, breaking with the silence that still surrounds many of these problems in Korean society. Hakkyo 2013 deserves praise for the candid as well as sensitive portrayal of these issues, but it does not go all the way, for although the picture it presents is surprisingly dark, it is not one entirely without hope. Indeed, as television productions face the judgment of a media regulation agency and weekly viewing figures from an audience that remains hesitant about open conversations on such issues, it is left to a few, audacious films to play out the worst scenarios imaginable until the very end. One of these films – in animated form – is 돼지의 왕 (Daegieui wang/The King of Pigs, 2011).

Continue reading “K-Animation Review: 돼지의 왕 (Daegieui wang/The King of Pigs)”

Animation in Korea: K-Animation Season

K-anime image

Lately I have been getting more and more interested in Korean animations. While there has always been something that has made me want to explore any creative forms that exist on the fringes of what was traditionally defined as ‘art’ (from children’s literature to graphic novels) but that has found increasing acceptance in academic circles in the past decade or two, my curiosity about Korean animations stems from a number of projects from the last couple of years: films like 돼지의 왕 (Daegieui Wang/The King of Pigs, 2011)파닥파닥 (Padak Padak/Padak, 2012) and 은실이 (Eunsili/The Dearest, 2011), which have one particular thing in common: they all deal with serious and, in some cases, hopelessly dark subject matters. Continue reading “Animation in Korea: K-Animation Season”