This February is a particularly diverse month in terms of Korean film releases, with the big three cinematic events of the month featuring an action cop-thriller, an indie offering exploring the life of a Korean poet during the Japanese occupation, and a quirky modern romantic-comedy inspired by Facebook. There really is something for everyone this February.
A Violent Prosecutor
Release date: February 4
Directed by: Lee Il-Hyeong
Starring: Hwang Jeong-min, Kang Dong-won
Distributed by: Showbox/Mediaplex
Prosecutor Jae-Wook is one of the toughest in Korea, earning a reputation for relentlessly pursuing justice no matter the cost. However, while investigating his latest case, a suspect is found dead. With all the evidence pointing towards him, the prosecutor receives a 15-year jail sentence. While in prison, Jae-Wook meets charming con-man Chi-won, and the duo join forces to escape and get revenge on all those who have wronged them.
A Violent Prosecutor is helmer/scribe Lee Il-Hyeong’s directorial debut, having worked as an assistant on summer blockbuster Kundo in 2014. He has assembled quite a team for his first effort with lead actors Hwang Jung-min and Kang Dong-won – some of the most famous, and bankable, stars in the industry – making A Violent Prosecutor the biggest Korean cinematic event of the month.
Did you know?: Lead actor Hwang Jung-min’s last three films – Ode to My Father, Veteran, and The Himalayas – have taken over USD 225 million at the Korean box office, and all three were distributed through CJ Entertainment.
Dong-ju: The Portrait of a Poet
Release date: February 18
Directed by: Lee Joon-ik
Starring: Kang Ha-neul, Park Jung-min, Choi Hee-seo
Distributed by: M-Line Distribution
Dong-ju: The Portrait of a Poet is based on the fraught life and times of one of Korea’s most celebrated poets. Born in 1917, Dong-ju endured much of his life under Japanese occupation, including graduating from what is now known as Yonsei University. In 1942, he moved to Japan to study English literature and while there, was arrested as a “thought-criminal” for his resistance poetry. He was later sentenced to two years in prison, where he ultimately died at the age of 27.
Curiously, after helming the big-budget period drama The Throne, director Lee Joon-ik has chosen to dabble in history once more through independent channels. Dong-ju has been filmed in black and white, which is quite a rarity in Korean cinema, and features some of Korea’s youngest rising stars.
Did you know?: Dong-ju: Portrait of a Poet will be the seventh historical drama in director Lee Joon-ik’s filmography, which includes renowned modern classic The King and the Clown and last year’s The Throne, Korea’s submission for Academy Award consideration.
Like for Likes
Release date: February
Directed by: Park Hyun-jin
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Lee Mi-yeon, Kang Ha-neul, E-som
Distributed by: CJ Entertainment
Romantic-comedy Like for Likes tells the stories of three couples as they become increasingly romantically involved through using social media website Facebook. In doing so, the story reveals the excitement as well as the pitfalls of using the site in the development of modern romance.
Director Park Hyun-jin is no stranger to the romantic-comedy genre having previously helmed Lovers of Six Years (2008) and episode two of omnibus tale Remarkable Woman (2014). However, Like for Likes marks her biggest release yet with its eclectic and talented cast. Particularly, the appearance of red-hot star Yoo Ah-in is likely to attract plenty of audience interest and could propel the film to something of a sleeper hit.
Did you know?: Initially the film was due to be called Happy Facebook, and then later Happy Log-in, before finally settling on Like for Likes.