I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Director Lee Myung Se: a Master of Visual Cinematic Arts August 27, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 4:54 pm
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On Friday, Sept. 5, USC will be showing two films directed by Lee Myung Se, namely Duelist and M. Duelist plays at 4pm and will be followed by a Q&A with Lee Myung Se. The Q&A will be followed by a reception, and the reception will be followed by a screening of M. For more details click here.

Due to the fact that it’s at USC and I’m not familiar with the campus or comfortable there, I probably will not go. But it sounds like a fun event. Both films should be watchable. Duelist sounds more plot-driven, M more character-driven. Plot synopses are available at the link in the previous paragraph.

Besides, there’s a reception. Who can object to free food?

The event is cosponsored by these organizations:the School of Cinematic Arts, East Asian Studies Center, Center for International Studies, East Asian Languages & Culture, East Asian Library, Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles, Korean Film Council, University of Notre Dame.


Classes Start Tuesday… July 12, 2008

Filed under: Korean language — Raven @ 12:28 pm

Korean classes at the Korean Cultural Center start up again on July 15. They offer four sessions a year, and all levels are offered in every session, so you can start whenever you want, and if you stop for a while you can go back whenever you want. I took their Basic A class about two years ago and found it really basic, but at least I came out of it able to read the alphabet.

The Korean Cultural Center website can be found here. I was on the language program page when I copied that link, but I think their snazzy new website is one of those where you can only link to the home page. So you might have to click around a little to find the language programs. For what it’s worth, I liked their old website better.

They say you have to pay for the classes in advance, but I’m pretty sure if you show up Tuesday evening with your application and a check they won’t turn you away. The cost is quite reasonable.

I considered taking a class with them this session, but I’m not really ready to go back to class. I’m at the point where I know some words and phrases from watching kdramas, but I can’t spell any of what I know. I’m going to work on learning to spell and picking up some more of the language on my own before I go back to a structured learning environment.

If I were going to Korea anytime soon I’d probably pick up the pace of my language-learning, but I’m not.


Home Decor November 12, 2007

Filed under: furniture & housing — Raven @ 1:46 pm

Everything I know about Korean interior decorating comes from kdramas. Well, pretty much everything. I like how mobile some Korean homes are, at least in the kdramas: you can pick up the bedding and put it away, you can pick up the table and carry it around. The same space becomes so much more multi-functional. It’s way more practical than having a bunch of heavy furniture that mostly just takes up space (although that seems to be what the richer folks in the kdramas prefer). Too bad I didn’t decorate my apartment Korean-style.

Speaking of which, I was recently at KCC and took a stroll through their exhibit on Korean history, which included a full-size model of a sarangbang (사랑방), the room used by the man of the house (I’m soooo tempted to translate it “lovenest,” but I know that’s not what it means). I could totally live in a room like this:


Here’s another view of it. Despite the different lighting, both pictures were taken at the same time with the same camera, just on different settings. Nobody told me I couldn’t take pictures, so I snapped away. Granted, I looked around first to make sure nobody was watching. 🙂


This type of simple decor is very appealing, I think, and it’s probably very feng shui, too (this is LA, you know I had to bring up feng shui). Now to see if I can modify my apartment to look like this…


The Horror of Cinderella October 18, 2007

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 8:32 pm
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Call me old-fashioned, but I like my movies coherent. This preference does not seem to be shared by the makers of horror movie Cinderella (신데렐라), which I saw tonight at KCC. I mean, is it too much to ask to be able to figure out why these horrible things are happening to these folks? If Evil Sister is somehow haunting/murdering a bunch of Good Sister’s friends, it would be nice to know how she’s doing it. It would also be nice to know whether Evil Sister is actually dead or not and which daughter she really is.

But clearly these things are not for us to know. This movie was my first real taste of Asian horror (the American remake of The Ring doesn’t count), since I just discovered last week that horror doesn’t actually scare me. Bad scripts do, though.

It’s sad when the synopsis provided by KCC has more of a story than the movie itself. To read the synopsis go here and scroll down a bit. See, the synopsis sounds as if the movie could be watchable. But in fact you get a lot of atmosphere, a lot of unexplained stuff, and not a whole lot of coherence (there’s that word again).

On the positive side, nobody’s cell phone rang during the show. On the other hand, the auditorium wasn’t really at capacity either.


Breaking into Jail August 31, 2007

Yesterday at KCC I caught Jailbreaker (광복절특사, KCC called it Jail Breaker and Cineline calls it Jail Breakers), a comedy about two convicts who break out of jail only to discover they’ve been granted a special Independence Day pardon and they have to break back into jail to take advantage of it. I was trying not to go into this with high expectations since I’d been disappointed last week by Marrying the Mafia, but in this case I thought the movie was hilarious. Okay, it wasn’t Radio Star level in poignancy or anything, but on the other hand, it wasn’t trying to be. It succeeded in being exactly what it was trying to be: a funny comedy (sad how those two things so often don’t go together).

Since yesterday evening I’ve been trying to figure out whether this is a comedy that could have been written/made in the US. I still haven’t completely figured it out, but I’m thinking not. The reason is the relationship between the prisoners and the guards. Sure, a fair amount of beating and mistreatment goes on. I mean, it’s a prison, after all. But I didn’t get the impression that the prisoners and guards were enemies in the same way that they would have been in a US movie. I mean, they were but they weren’t. It’s hard to explain. I’ve never been to prison in any country, so I have no idea what conditions and relations are really like there, but it just didn’t feel American to me.

There are plenty of funny moments, and naturally in the end our heroes… No, I won’t give it away. But I will say the writers wrote themselves into a corner, and I had no idea how they were going to get out of it, so it was fun watching how they did. If you’re looking for something lighthearted that will make you laugh, you might give this movie a shot.

Next month KCC is screening The General’s Son trilogy. Check it out here. They totally need to pay me for plugging them (but they don’t).


Radio Star July 26, 2007

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 8:51 pm
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I really enjoyed this film, which I caught tonight at KCC. The basic setup is that in order to earn his bail money, a has-been rock star has to go DJ in a small town. The film is subtle and poignant, but also packs a lot of laughs. Seriously, I haven’t laughed out loud at a film that many times in a long while.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this film is pretty decent, since it was featured at the 10th Shanghai International Film Festival (I don’t know if it won anything and I can’t seem to find out) and was one of Korea’s four entries at the 21st Fukuoka Asian Film Festival.

At the very beginning I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but of course you never know at the beginning of a film. Few films get a 100% endorsement from me, but this one is close. So if you have a chance to catch it, do so!

Note to the ajooma in the back row: Please do not answer your cell phone during the movie. But if you absolutely must answer it, please don’t ask the caller to call you right back so you have to disturb us by answering it again! Thanks.

Also, someone (presumably someone from KCC) was taking pictures of the audience during the movie. I’m very curious to know what these are going to be used for (and also curious to know if they came out in the dark theater), so if anyone from KCC happens to drop by here, please let me know.


Coming home July 12, 2007

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 4:59 pm
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One of the fun things about living in relatively close proximity to the Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles (see link to the right) is that I can skip over there for their free movies on occasion.

Today’s movie, shown for some odd reason at 3pm, was The Way Home (집으로*). If you’re looking for something blatant where evil characters learn the error of their ways and make amends in very obvious ways, this isn’t it. It was all very understated and sweet. Since the grandmother (the second most important character in the story) is mute, a lot of the film takes place without dialogue**, which I think makes it a more powerful film. I’ve noticed before that Korean filmmakers in general seem to be better at pure cinema than American filmmakers. Film being a visual medium, I say more power to the folks who can give us in a facial expression what others would take a whole conversation to express.

Anyway, The Way Home gets a recommend from me. My only complaint, which has nothing to do with the film, is that the audience at KCC always seems to leave their cell phones on, and naturally these cell phones ring throughout the film. Turn ’em off, folks. It ain’t that difficult. Maybe it’s a Korean cultural thing?

*Someday I will learn to type Korean at a reasonable speed.

**Why on earth is the spell checker trying to tell me I spelled “dialogue” wrong? Hello, that’s how it’s spelled. I’ll have none of these “dialog” innovations.