I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Filmmakers Development Lab 2007 January 27, 2008

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to attend a ceremony honoring this year’s winner of the top slot in the Filmmakers Development Lab (FDL), sponsored by KOFIC. The lab, for those of you who don’t know, is… Okay, I give up on saying this in my own words. Here’s the blurb from the 2007 FDL website:

The Filmmakers Development Lab chooses five emerging filmmakers from submitted scripts. These Fellows are matched with individual Mentors drawn from the film industry in Korea and the United States. The Fellows and Mentors spend a week in Hawaii in one-on-one sessions developing their scripts. The Fellows and their projects are then presented to producers, financiers, production companies at the Independent Feature Film Market in New York in September, and at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea, in October. The Lab and its activities are wholly funded by the Korean Film Council, and held in partnership with the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii, and the Independent Film Project in New York, and CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) in San Francisco.

At the ceremony I chatted with Philip Chung, a fellow from last year, and with this year’s winner, Nathan Adolfson. Nathan was impressed with the way the lab doesn’t just honor you and leave you out in the cold. When they say filmmakers development, they mean it. They want to boost the fellows’ filmmaking careers. They work you hard, but it’s for your own good.

This year they’ve added something new: money. Nathan gets $40,000 to make his movie, but there’s a catch. It gets doled out at a couple of different points in the movie-making process. See, they want this movie to happen. Like I said, not an empty honor.


Nathan said I could talk about his script, so since I’m dying to, here goes. The script is called Model American, and I loved the idea the minute he pitched it to me. Basically, it’s about a Korean gangster in LA who has to flee the city and ends up in an idyllic small town in the Midwest. Naturally, the small-town Midwesterners are somewhat taken aback by the sudden appearance of this stranger in their midst, so he has a rocky time, getting taken advantage of and having to try to learn to live with the people of the town. Then his old troubles from LA catch up with him…

One of the beautiful things about this script idea is that it’s totally mainstream. Sure, the protagonist is Korean, but this is a movie that might play in Peoria (which is what Nathan was going for). I think it’s exactly the kind of crossover Korean film Hollywood needs.

So that’s FDL 2007. I suppose I really should have mentioned this year’s other fellows, but I didn’t. Bad, I know. Applications for FDL 2008 are being accepted starting Feb. 11 through the website (the 2008 part isn’t live yet).

P.S. I still haven’t figured out whether you have to be of Korean descent to make it into the lab or just write a Korean-themed script.


Good Eats, Good Meats January 18, 2008

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

It feels like ages since I’ve blogged about a restaurant. Okay, it was only six posts ago, but still. And honestly, although there is no limit to the number of times I can enjoy KBBQ, I’m starting to feel there might be a limit to the number of times I can post photos of meat on a grill before they all start looking the same. But anyway, here goes.

Today’s restaurant is Yi Ssi Hwa Ro, located in Chapman Plaza. Before I went to this restaurant I’d never actually been inside Chapman Plaza, and in fact I wasn’t really sure where the entrance was (it’s off Kenmore). Chapman Plaza is strange. It feels like walking into a fortress (or driving, if you use their valet). But inside the thick walls of the fortress, instead of finding knights jousting, peasants working, geese a-laying, lords a-leaping, and ladies dancing, you find an array of Korean restaurants and businesses. Yi Ssi Hwa Ro is located in the northwest corner. It’s a fairly big restaurant, and as far as I could tell the servers seemed to speak pretty good English, although I didn’t interact with them much because the Koreans in our party did the ordering (in Korean).

We got the $15.99 all-you-can-eat option, and I was impressed with the quality of the meat. In fact, that’s what I remember the most. I pretty much forgot what the panchan were like or what else we ordered, although I do remember the kimchee pancake (yum!). But I went to this restaurant the day after I went to Soot Bul Gui Rim 1, and I’d recommend this one over SBGR 1 anytime. In a big way. Yi Ssi Hwa Ro’s meat was impressively tender and flavorful, a much better bargain for the same price.

Here’s the obligatory photo of meat on a grill:


Yi Ssi Hwa Ro
3465 W 6th St
(inside Chapman Plaza; cross-street: Kenmore)
Los Angeles, CA 90020


Kang Je Gyu at USC January 16, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 1:19 am
Tags: , , ,

They’re calling this the 2008 USC Korean Film Festival. I’m still trying to decide whether two films can actually constitute a film festival, but in the meantime here’s the info. Everything happens this coming Saturday, January 19, from 3:30-9:30 at USC Norris Theater. Shiri will be showing at 3:30, followed by a Q&A (hopefully better than the one at LACMA for Secret Sunshine). At 6:30 comes the free food, er, I mean the reception, followed by Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War at 7:30. Admission is free. Here’s the link.

Kang Je Gyu, who directed both films, will be there for the Q&A (you knew I had to mention him since his name is in the post title). These are kind of landmark films. I could tell you why in my own words, but I’m just going to quote the press release:

At a time when Hollywood pressed for unlimited access to the Korean film market and the local film industry feared its imminent collapse, Director Kang released Shiri (Swiri), South Korea’s first blockbuster film. The epic Tae Guk Gi : The Brotherhood of War attracted over 11 million viewers and was chosen as South Korea’s entry to the 2004 Academy Awards for best foreign film.

There you go. If you haven’t seen them already, go see ’em.


Secret Sunshine Revealed January 14, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 12:52 am
Tags: , , ,

It turns out the “yang” in Secret Sunshine’s Korean title (Miryang/Milyang) actually doesn’t mean sunshine, it means the place where the sun is shining, which doesn’t come across in the English title at all (although it does explain the final image a lot better). I learned this at the Q&A after the screening of Secret Sunshine at LACMA, the very same Q&A which was so notably NOT attended by Quentin Tarantino, despite all advertisement to the contrary. Oh well. Lee Chang Dong was there, and it’s his film. I never figured out why Tarantino was supposed to be there to begin with. Apparently neither did Tarantino.

The people behind me were convinced the movie was about whether God exists or not, but the movie is actually about a woman trying to deal with her grief. I assume that woman, played by Jeon Do Yeon, is the place where the sun is or is not shining. In case you couldn’t tell, I really like the concept of the place where the sun is shining.

If you can only see one movie about grief this year, see this one instead of Grace Is Gone (well, actually they’re both from last year, but whatever). I thought this one did a much better job of capturing the way a person really would respond to grief. And Jeon Do Yeon deserves all the praise she’s getting. She had to carry the movie.

The only thing I couldn’t figure out was why Song Kang Ho’s character stuck with her. Incidentally, the more I see Song Kang Ho the more I appreciate him as an actor. The first time I thought he was okay, but he keeps getting better and better.


Korean classes at LA City College January 11, 2008

Filed under: Korean language — Raven @ 9:42 pm

Korean classes at LACC are starting the week of February 4. Go here to enroll online. Whether they keep offering these or not depends on how many people enroll, so if you’re interested, don’t wait.

Having said that, I’m trying really hard to figure out how many ordinary people have the time available to take daytime classes. And seriously, 8 o’clock four days a week for level one? I can’t make it anywhere that early, certainly not to a class. Definitely not to a class I’d like to be awake for.

So I will not be signing up, but I encourage others to do so.

P.S. I’m also not really sure what happened to Intermediate Korean I.

KOREAN 001 5.00 Units
ADVISORY: English 28 or equivalent. DESCRIPTION: Class meets 6 hours; 5 hours lecture and 1 hour TBA in the Language Lab, DH 319.
0715 lec 8:00AM – 9:10AM MTWTh M.J. HONG DH 304
& lab 1:05 hrs/wk TBA Staff DH 319
KOREAN 002 5.00 Units
PREREQUISITE: Korean 1 with a satisfactory grade or equivalent. DESCRIPTION: Class meets 6 hours; 5 hours lecture and 1 hour TBA in the Language Lab, DH 319.
0716 lec 1:00PM – 3:30PM TTh S. CHOI DH 308
& lab 1:05 hrs/wk TBA Staff DH 319
KOREAN 004 5.00 Units
PREREQUISITE: Korean 3 with a satisfactory grade or equivalent. DESCRIPTION: Class assignments will require one hour TBA per week in the Foreign Language Laboratory – DH319.
3371 lec 4:00PM – 6:30PM TTh J. LEE DH 307
& lab 1:05 hrs/wk TBA Staff DH 319

Lee Chang Dong at LACMA January 4, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 5:32 pm
Tags: , ,

Wow, I really suck at letting people know about Korean-related events in advance. At least this notification is slightly in advance. The films of Lee Chang Dong are currently showing at LACMA. For details go here. There was one film last night, one tonight, and two tomorrow, so there’s still time! I’ll be at the second film tomorrow, the Secret Sunshine screening hosted by Quentin Tarantino and followed by a Q&A with Lee Chang Dong himself. At least, I’ll be there if my ticket has come in the mail by then (it’s not here yet).

Please note the film at 5pm tomorrow, Green Fish, is Lee’s debut film and admission is free (those two things are really unrelated).

P.S. The DARI Awards post is still upcoming, I promise.