Following COVID-19 Draught Major Projects Hope to Meet Audiences This Year
Following its most difficult year, the Korean film industry is looking to stage a comeback later in 2021. The global COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the film industry, emptying out theaters, delaying releases and even shutting down some productions, but filmmakers and studios are collectively eyeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Korean film industry had to hold off on releasing many films last year, which has led to something of a backlog of exciting projects awaiting release. Add in all the new projects that went into production since the pandemic began and what you have is a long list of major titles with something for everyone. Beyond one film hitting Netflix next month, it is still unclear when any of these will find their way to theaters, but once the floodgate opens, it may well be hard to keep up.
Decision to Leave
After venturing to TV with the John LE CARRÉ adaptation The Little Drummer Girl for the BBC, acclaimed director PARK Chan-wook is returning to Korea with his next project, the romantic thriller Decision to Leave.
Currently in production, the film stars PARK Hae-il (The Host, 2006) as a detective who becomes entangled with a mysterious widow, played by Chinese star TANG Wei (Late Autumn, 2010), who becomes a suspect in his latest murder investigation. The film co-stars GO Kyoung-pyo (Seven Years of Night, 2018), PARK Yong-woo (Hwayi: A Monster Boy, 2013), and LEE Jung-hyun (Peninsula, 2020).
Hansan: Rise of the Dragon
Seven years after claiming the top spot on the all-time box office charts, director KIM Han-min returns with Hansan: Rise of the the Dragon, the second instalment in a trilogy of stories about the legendary admiral YI Sun-shin, which began with his previous smash hit Roaring Currents.
PARK Hae-il plays the admiral in this story, which focuses on the Battle of Hansan Island in 1592, five years before the events of Roaring Currents. Noryang, the third film in the trilogy with KIM Yun-seok in the main role, is expected to begin shooting this month.
Originally expected to hit theaters last summer, Hero is an adaptation of the hit musical of the same name and features CHUNG Sung-hwa reprising his role from the stage as independence fighter AN Jung-geun during the Japanese Colonial Era. He is co-starring KIM Go-eun (Coin Locker Girl, 2015) and NA Moon-hee (I Can Speak, 2017).
Life Is Beautiful
Originally scheduled for release at the end of last year, Life Is Beautiful is a road movie described as Korea’s first ‘Jukebox musical’ and will feature several popular songs from the 1970s to the 2000s.
Action maestro RYOO Seung-wan, known for The Berlin File (2013), Veteran (2015) and The Battleship Island (2017), returns with a new action tale in Mogadishu, a ripped-from-the-headlines story of diplomats from North and South Korea who must join forces to escape Mogadishu when Civil War breaks out in Somalia in the 1990s.
Director LEE Yong-ju makes his long-awaited comeback following his hit romantic drama Architecture 101 (2012) with the highly anticipated sci-fi action-drama Seobok, which was originally scheduled to open in December.
GONG Yoo (TRAIN TO BUSAN, 2016) stars as a former intelligence agent who is tasked with escorting Seobok, the world’s first human clone, to a secure location. The agent strives to protect the clone from several different factions who try to abduct the clone along the way. Young TV superstar PARK Bo-gum, who plays the title character, looks set to conquer 2021 with starring roles in this and Wonderland.
Originally scheduled to hit theaters in 2020, the big-budget film SPACE SWEEPERS, Korea’s first ever space-set production, changed its plans late last year and is now scheduled to bow on Netflix this coming February 5.
Acclaimed filmmaker KIM Tae-yong, known for Memento Mori (1999), Family Ties (2005) and Late Autumn (2010), is another major director making a long-awaited return to screen this year. His new project is the big-budget sci-fi fantasy drama Wonderland.