20 Films to Watch at the 2022 London Korean Film Festival

The London Korean Film Festival returns for 2022, and I take a look at the ones to watch

On November 3rd, the festival returns, opening with the epic sci fi action Alienoid which sounds completely bonkers. On Earth, aliens are trapped inside of human bodies, guarded by a robot sentry. When they threaten to escape, the robot opens a portal to 600 years in the past and … honestly, I’m not sure how to summarise this film in such few words, so you have to check it out for yourself.

For fans of dramas, you’re in for a treat this year as many films from Korea’s rich history will be screening alongside modern dramas. First up is the Surrogate Woman (nov 4), a historical romance set in the Joseon era. The 1989 classic Come Come Come Upward (Nov 6), tells of a young woman’s spiritual journey after she joins a mountain convent. 1999’s Rainbow Trout (Nov 6) is a romantic thriller set against a backdrop of class differences. In 1991’s masterpiece The Road to the Rracetrack (Nov 8), a man returns to Korea to care for his parents, and receives a surprise visit from a former lover. Girls Night Out (Nov 16) looks at three young women who live together, and attempt to navigate the complexities of what society expects from them, as well as what they want.

Looking to the present, modern-day dramas screenings include The Hill of Secrets (Nov 5), which sees a young girl who doesn’t quite fit in, but whose writing helps her in life. Hot in Day, Cold at Night (Nov 8) is a story of a married couple’s financial hardships, which is mercifully bolstered by light-hearted moments and satirical humour. Moving back into the realm of Come Come Come Upward, A Lonely Island in the Distant Sea (Nov 9), a divorced dad must deal with a lot of changes in his life, including a new romance and his daughter choosing to enter a Buddhist temple. Broker (Nov 10) tells of a debt-ridden laundry shop owner (Song Kang-ho!) who finds himself looking for parents for an abandoned baby. Kingmaker (Nov 12) is a political drama set during the dictatorship of Park Chung-hee, and sees the rise of a young idealist to presidential nominee. Return to Seoul (Nov 12) looks at a Korean who was raised in France, and tires to adapt to life back in her home country.

Through my Midwinter (Nov 13), a romantic drama about a young couple preparing to move onto the next stages of their lives, and offers excellent performances from its two leads. Gyeong-ah’s Daughter (Nov 13) is a touching story of a mother and her daughter, who’s recently moved away, and the trials they face when the daughter’s ex-boyfriend releases revenge porn of her. And on the lighter side are two comedy-dramas: the fantastical Stellar: A Magical Ride in which a repo man pursues his debt-ridden friend, while being chased by gangsters himself. While driving his deceased father’s car, he finds himself reliving, and occasionally driving through old memories. Lastly, there’s the romantic Director’s Intention (Nov 14), a strikingly short story about a location scout whose job puts him face to face with an old flame.

On the spookier side, the festival offers a few horror films too. Contorted (Nov 10) is about a family who moves into a new house, and experience terrifying visions and nightmares. The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra (Nov 10) is a short film, but a baffling one that’s mostly about a mattress. It has to be seen. The spiritually spooky Seire (Nov 11) deals with childbirth and curses and is more of a suspenseful slow burn than a jump scare heavy affair. Guimoon: The Lightless Door (Nov 11), is a classic style horror in which a paranormal investigator explores an old community centre, where a janitor once committed a series of murders.

Lastly, the festival will end with two in director Kim Han-min’s historical epic war films. First up is The Admiral: Roaring Current (Nov 16), based on the Battle of Myeongnyang and tells of Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s victory over the Japanese, and is followed by the closing gala movie Hansan: Rising Dragon (Nov 17), a prequel to the The Admiral which details Admiral Yi’s past. Both are going to be well worth seeing together.

You can get tickets here

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