All Hail the Hallyu Wave! (2012 Korean Film Fest)

Long before the Gangnam Style that’s still making the world dance today, South Korea has already been creating a huge impact in the Asian entertainment industry, all thanks to its relentless efforts in what is popularly known as the Korean wave. Whether music, film, or drama, admit it, we all know at least a single title from one of the mentioned sub-industries of that country.

This year, as a proof that there is no pausing for a break for its homeland, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Cultural Center opened the 2012 Korean Film Festival last September 18, 2012.

The 2012 Korean Film Festival ad

Starting from SM Megamall that ran until the 23rd of September, the film festival, now on its fourth year, then went to SM City Baguio from September 26 – 30, and its last stop will be at SM City Cebu from October 3 – 7, 2012.

With the theme “Family Time”, the seven featured Korean movies were all top-grossers when they were first shown in South Korea. Want to know what the movies are all about? Read on for the Korean Cultural Center‘s short descriptions about them:

Ho Hwang’s “Spellbound” is an unusual mix of horror and romance, and focuses on the love story between road magician Jo-goo and the muse for his overnight success, Yu-ri. Yu-ri is haunted by ghosts and Jo-goo, who falls in love with her, has to rise above his fears to save the two of them.

Jeon Woo Chi

The film “Jeon Woo Chi” tells the story of the eponymous playful apprentice who gets imprisoned in a scroll, having been wrongfully accused for murder. He gets freed 500 years later as a last resort to bring back the order into the world.

Bunt” deals with the mentally-challenged Dong-ku who suddenly finds himself without ‘use’ upon the arrival of water purifiers. In an attempt to use his only capabilty, Dong-ku finds himself joining the baseball team.

The sports drama “A Barefoot Dream” is a story of a former soccer prospect who heads to his dreams, the International Youth Soccer Championship, albeit with numerous almost-failures of detours.

Also in the list is the drama “Late Blossom“, a heartwarming film on the lives of the two couples living not far apart from each other. It follows the two couples’ respective struggles on life and love.

Arahan

Arahan” follows the story of the honest yet clumsy rookie policeman Sang-hwan and the martial arts specialist Eui Jin. Together they fight the evil Heuk-woon whose greed wreaks havoc to mankind.

The musical-comedy “Highway Star” tells the story of Dal-Ho and his dream. Dal-Ho wants to become a famous rock singer, but was forced to play trot to make ends meet. He later gets the chance to release an album but belatedly realized that he has to sing trot instead of rock n’ roll. His shame drives him to hide his face but his voice and his mysteriousness catapult him to unprecedented success.

Admission was free to every movie and was on a first-come, first-served basis. And you know what they say about the opportunities that aren’t grabbed, so my friends and I watched three out of the seven (Four for my guy friend) at the first leg of the film fest, one on the 21st, A Barefoot Dream, and two on the 22nd, Late Blossom and Arahan.

A Barefoot Dream

I can confidently say that all that we saw are worth watching. A Barefoot Dream showing had the most fun audience I’ve ever belonged with. It was like watching a live Manny Pacquiao bout where people react and cheer enthusiastically to the players in the film. The crowd might only be making fun of it, but it was really enjoyable that my friends and I finally joined a little while later. And the story is so much inspiring.

If the first film made us laugh big time, Late Blossom, though it also gave us the right dose of humor, is very touching and was worth more than the every tissue I pulled out of my pack. Aside from the screening itself, I found myself crying when we were going back to some scenes we loved after watching it, when I told the story to my sister the next day, and when I remembered my favorite movie parts while I was on my way to work. That was how much it affected me, in fact, it was the only film that was able to squeeze so much tears out of my dry eyes. Seriously. This film deserves more than five stars!

Then there was Arahan, which isn’t really my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s also a good one as far as effects, humor, and plot go, but sometimes, there are things that aren’t for our tastes, and in my case, it’s this. And I guess it isn’t one of my friends’, too. There was this moment I found funny in the cinema when all of us, the viewers, were laughing at a scene and I noticed through my peripheral vision that this friend wasn’t showing any sign that she was with us, so I looked at her and saw that she was actually sleeping. haha. So there, the proof that it isn’t the type of film she’ll be into, too.

I shall be writing separate reviews of these three Korean films in this blog in the next days.

We were supposed to see Spellbound, too, but luck wasn’t on our side by that time anymore. After eating our scrumptious dinner at Pizza Hut, we went straight to the cinema at 8pm only to be greeted by so many people also vying to see the movie on the big screen for free.

That much people lined up for the Sep. 22, 8:30pm screening of Spellbound at SM Megamall.

We didn’t give up easily at the sight of the mass, mind you. We hoped and tried to fall in line, and yeah, we even dared and asked other people, who seemed to already have sure spots inside, if we could cut in, but to no avail. Hehe So much for trying to cheat our way to the cinema. But we were that eager to see it!

I have two theories on why all of a sudden there were too many who wanted to see Spellbound: One, people, mostly Korean entertainment fans, have read its synopsis on the Internet, and, just like us, found it decent and so the reason for the line. Two, hey, it was Saturday night, the official start of the day-off for those who work six times a week, so why not begin relaxing by watching something on the big screen for free? That’s just a line, let’s fall in line! Aja!

At the end, we weren’t able to get in, but despite that, at least we had so much fun by taking a lot of photos as the line advanced. Then since the night was still young, we headed to Seattle’s Best Coffee, sat on the chairs, and no, we didn’t order anything (Good thing the crew didn’t reprimand us or anything). Just made ourselves comfortable there, talked about the past and wondered about our other batchmates, and other stuff that signal that we are truly getting older.

Ahh… The joy of being with long-time friends.

Cam-whoring with friends as the loooooonnnnngggg line to the Spellbound Sep. 22, 8:30pm screening at SM Megamall’s Cinema 9 progressed. At the end, we weren’t able to get in, but these photos… At least there are these photos. 🙂 (Photos grabbed from Yuko Konishi-Legaspi ; Edited by yours truly)

Wait! The Korean Film Fest isn’t over! Are you in Cebu? Well, you are most welcomed to watch the seven Korean films from October 3 – 7 at SM City Cebu. Check out the schedule below:

SM City Cebu schedule from http://www.koreanculture.ph

Be amazed and inspired, laugh, cry a river, and please don’t forget to bring a lot of tissue when you watch Late Blossom.

Enjoy! 😉

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