Tag Archives: film

SW Day 6

Pic of the Day: The Force Awakens in South Korea on ‘Star Wars Day’

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Yeah, we know. Star Wars Day was Monday. But if the Force is with you, Star Wars Day is every day.

South Korea held its first official Star Wars Day earlier this week, highlighted by a number of events in Seoul, including an imperial march through the streets of Myeong-dong that ended up in front of a Uniqlo store. The clothing retailer had been running a “Disney and Family Week” campaign leading up until Children’s Day on May 5, according to Asia Today.

SW Day 3

SW Day 2

SW Day 1

SW Day 4

One blogger also attended a ceremony for newly christened Jedi Knights, with lightsabers and all, at the local CGV cinema.


Here are a few key Star Wars terms and phrases in Korean for your reference.

May the Force be with you.
포스가 당신과 함께 하기를
(Pronounced: Poh-soo-ga dang-shin-gwa hahm-geh ha-gee-reul)

(Pronounced: Kwang-sun-gum)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
스타워즈: 깨어난 포스
(Pronounced: Star Wars: Geh-uh-nan poh-soo)

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
이것들은 네가 찾는 드로이드들이 아니다.
(Pronounced: Ee-guht-deul-eun neh-gah chah-neun deu-roi-deu-deul-ee ah-ni-da)

Also, stormtroopers dancing to the classic “Nobody” by the Wonder Girls.

The Force will be with you, always.


Featured image via Naver

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Brian Tee

Brian Tee Cast as Shredder in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2′

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Brian Tee will play the iconic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain Shredder in the next installment of producer Michael Bay’s reboot, Variety reports.

Tee will be replacing Tohoru Masamune, who played Shredder in the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Megan Fox returns as the Turtles’ good friend April O’Neil, alongside Will Arnett, who plays Vern Fenwick, a coworker who fancies April. As for first-timers, Stephen Amell will portray Casey Jones, a hockey mask-donning human vigilante, while Tyler Perry will play scientist Baxter Stockman.

Variety notes that Tee is no stranger to popular franchises, as his credits include The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Mortal Kombat: Legacy. He’s set for a busy 2015, as he’ll be appearing in Jurassic World as Takashi Hamada, and he recently finished filming a NBC drama pilot for Love Is a 4 Letter Word. Tee also recently appeared alongside Diddy and Lee Byung-hun in a Funny or Die parody trailer for Rush Hour 4 / Face-Off 2.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 is slated to hit theaters on June 3, 2016.


Image via Variety

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Rush Hour 4

[VIDEO] Lee Byung-hun and Diddy Star in ‘Rush Hour 4, Face Off 2′

What happens when you combine movies Rush Hour and Face Off to create the ultimate cult comedy sequel? Be FUNNY Studios decided to find out and released a parody trailer titled, “Rush Hour 4, Face Off 2,” starring South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The project initially drew attention after it was advertised on a billboard on Los Angeles’ Hollywood Boulevard and introduced through a press release in South Korea last week. There was growing speculation that there would be another Rush Hour sequel, but Be FUNNY Studios revealed the truth today on their official website.

“The meeting between the two took place through the collaboration of Be FUNNY Studios and Funny or Die. Diddy and the American staff who showed interest were adamant that the Asian star for the project had to be Lee Byung-hun,” Be FUNNY Studios told Koreaboo.

Props to the video production site for some well-played trolling.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 5.46.32 PM(Photo via Diddy/Instagram)

In the fake trailer, Lee and Diddy portray detectives who trade their faces for no logical reason, causing Lee to appear as a black man and Diddy to look like an Asian man. This, of course, leads to some hilarious one-liners that toy with racial stereotypes.

In one scene, Lee, who is actually Diddy in disguise, almost runs over a pedestrian with a car. When the pedestrian accuses Lee of being a bad driver due to his ethnicity, Diddy, who is actually Lee (it’s confusing, we know), snaps, “He’s not Asian. He’s black!”

You can watch the skit below. Prepare to be mind-blown:

Shout-out to Brian Tee for playing the witty villain!


Featured image via Be FUNNY Studios


Exclusive Interviews with the Director and Cast of ‘Seoul Searching’


Director: Benson Lee


KoreAm’s February/March Cover Story: Benson Lee Goes Seoul Searching With Latest Indie Feature





Here are some exclusive interviews with the cast of Seoul Searching


Justin Chon as Sid Park, a punk who has problems with authority. He doesn’t want to be in Korea that summer, and his perpetual scowl shows it. But while Sid’s clothes and sneer signal “tough guy,” they serve to cover up his own insecurities and yearning for his father’s acceptance back home.

“As a Korean American, you really had to have a definitive identity. Otherwise, you kind of get lost from the pack. There was more of an innocence in the ’80s among second-generation Koreans,” Justin Chon tells KoreAm



Jessika Van as Grace Park, whose provocative style of dress and come-hither look draw every guy’s attention, and she doesn’t hold back when it comes to toying with their emotions. The teenage boys at the Seoul summer camp—in particular, Sid—don’t stand a chance against Grace, who channels an ’80s Madonna at the height of her sexual prowess.

“When I read the script, I could really relate to Grace because I feel like I grew up maybe not dissimilar to other Asian girls in America, or even in Asia. There’s a lot going on underneath that we feel we need to cover to stay safe, because we’ve grown up in families where showing pain or vulnerability or showing weakness isn’t thought of as a good quality,” says Jessika Van. 



Esteban Ahn a.k.a SanchoBeatz, as Sergio Kim, a fun-loving party-boy from Mexico, who attends summer camp for the beautiful girls and booze, and he does his best to get his roommates—the sour-faced Sid and the solemn Klaus—to follow along on his adventures.

“Even though I’m Korean, in Korea, people treat me like a foreigner, and in Spain, they also treat me like a foreigner. I don’t have a proper identity. Those kinds of themes really touched me a lot in the movie because as you can see in the movie, we are all Koreans. We come to Korea, and we are like foreigners,” Estaban Ahn tells KoreAm. 



Teo Yoo as Klaus Kim, a Korean German who arrives at camp with other things on his mindnamely his girlfriend back in Germany and future career. His parents own a small business back home and want their son to take it over, but he has his sights on bigger dreams.

“All of the characters have their unique struggles. They are kind of symbolic for situations that I have been through in my life—not to that extreme extent, but certain situations that gyopos can relate to, especially [those concerning] father issues, simply because of the generational changes and the diversity of the next generation,” Teo Yoo says. 



Byul Kang as Sue-Jin Kim, one of the toughest students at camp–she’s not afraid to talk back or throw a kick at any guy who messes with her.

“She brought a whole new dynamic to the female cast,” Benson Lee says of actress Byul Kang. 



Albert Kong as Mike Lee, the surly, mean, bullying, racist military student.

“Time period-wise, it’s set in the ’80s, but it’s a high school class. I think everyone remembers, especially in high school, college and even as a young adult, trying to find that sense of who you areyour place in the world. I think that’s what resonated with me the most because you see all the insecurity,” says Albert Kong. 



Rosalina Leigh as Kris Schultz, an adoptee who comes to the summer camp with a larger purpose than to just learn about Korean culture.

“She had never acted before in her life,” Benson Lee tells KoreAm. “But she just had an inkling for acting. When I saw her audition tape, I was blown away. She was as good in the audition as she is in the movie. I was like, wow, this girl’s a natural actor.”


Cha In-Pyo Headshot

Cha In-Pyo as the no-nonsense Mr. Kim, the head counselor of the summer camp.

“When I went to college in New Jersey, which was about 25 years ago, I had Korean American friends who had the same problems as the characters have in the movie. Seeing them not being able to communicate with their parents, I remember I felt compassion for my friends,” Cha In-pyo tells KoreAm


News & Reviews

Los Angeles Film Festival to Hold Gala Screening for Seoul Searching

REVIEW: Justin Chang, Variety
“A unique portrait of the Korean immigrant experience distinguishes writer-director Benson Lee’s messy but endearing ’80s-set comedy.”

REVIEW: Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter
“Powered by an instantly recognizable, dance-happy soundtrack and a charismatic cast turned out in memorable period costuming, Lee’s most accessible film yet looks poised to capitalize on enduring 80s nostalgia and a refreshingly appealing premise that could see the film crossing over from niche bookings to much broader appeal.”

Wired interviews the director and cast of Seoul Searching
“I have a large ensemble cast and there’s not too many Asian-American actors out there compared to other groups,” Benson Lee tells Wired. “I decided I could probably open up my choices if I did it online. So I thought of the most popular online platform, which is Facebook.”

REVIEW: Josh Terry, Deseret News
The Sundance press guide paints ‘Seoul Searching’ as a loving tribute to ’80s pop culture and the films of John Hughes, and that affection is obvious. But the final product is far too flawed to do its inspiration justice.”

REVIEW: William Bibbiani, Crave Online
“Benson Lee’s Korean homage to John Hughes movies is ‘the sort of film we come to Sundance to discover.”


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Los Angeles Film Festival to Hold Gala Screening for ‘Seoul Searching’

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Seoul Searching has been selected for the Los Angeles Film Festival‘s annual gala screening.

Written and directed by Benson Lee, the coming-of-age indie film premiered to popular acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and screened at CAAMFest last month. The movie is loosely based on Lee’s own experiences at a Seoul summer camp in 1986. With an ensemble cast led by Justin Chon, Jessika Van, Esteban Ahn, Albert KongTeo Yoo, Byul Kang and Cha In-pyo, the John Hughes-inspired teenage romantic comedy and its director were the subject of KoreAm‘s February/March issue.

On the television side, the Festival will hold a gala premiere for the new MTV/Dimentsion TV series Scream on June 14.

The festival runs from June 10-18 in downtown Los Angeles at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. LIVE. You can find more information on passes and the full list of films screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival website.


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The Water 3

Short Film ‘The Water’ Deals with Fracking, Provides Opportunities for Asian American Actors

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Director Maritte Go quit acting due to the limited, “cardboard cutout” offerings available for Asian Americans. When she applied to become a Fellow with Project Involve, a program promoting diversity in the film industry, Go saw an opportunity to provide substantive, complicated roles for Asian American actors.

“I couldn’t just be Asian American,” Go said of her three years trying to make it in Los Angeles as an actor. “I was getting cast as the geisha, the nail technician, the sexy masseuse. I was highly sexualized and an object of desire rather than a person who had thoughts, feelings, wants and dreams. I was very turned off to the business and what it had to offer.”

Project Involved provided that outlet. For the past eight months, Go and her production team has been working on a short film called The Water–one of six short films to be screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The film, written by Korean American writer David Harry Yoon, stars Seoul Searching actor Albert Kong as Andy, a small-scale kimchi farmer in Santa Barbara, Calif. whose cabbage crop is dying due to local hydraulic fracking, a process of injecting chemicals into deep rock to extract natural gas. His concern for his crops distracts him from seeing that his wife is also being poisoned by the contaminated groundwater.

Film Independent, a nonprofit arts organization that also produces the annual Spirit Awards, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Film Independent Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA) Film Series, originally began Project Involve as a platform for young women of color in filmmaking. Since then, Project Involve has grown to include filmmakers from any underrepresented community in the industry.

“I see giant opportunities with Project Involve and this film,” Go explained. “I finally get to direct a piece that offers actors a real conflicted life with problems like a failing marriage that everyone experiences. It levels us as human beings and not as geishas or ninjas. I’m so thankful to a program like this that supports this type of thinking.

“We have been developing this story for months, with very in-depth roundtable discussions with the writer and all of the Project Involve Fellows, as well as our fearless leaders at Film Independent,” she added. “David, as a Korean American writer, has a very unique voice that is unmatched by anything I’ve yet to see. His style is haunting, poetic, and lends itself to such a uniqueness that really attracted our team to this project.”

The Water 1

The Water 2Stills from The Water.

Kong added he liked that film doesn’t make an issue of race as the predominant theme. “[Andy] is just a farmer, being affected by fracking and painted by the brush of being a Korean farmer,” he said. “It’s just a universal theme of a man trying to take care of and provide for his family.

“This is great because it shows that this is real life and has nothing to do with race,” Kong continued. “This is a story that anyone can relate to, a struggle that any man can relate to. … We just hope to do it justice.”

The Water is wrapping up its final rounds of edits, but patrons can still support this and Project Involve’s other short films. You can donate any amount of money at the Film Independent website and choose a specific project or the general Short Film fund in the designation drop-down menu.


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Korean Film Archive Adds 94 Rediscovered Korean Films to Collection


A Seoul-based nonprofit that functions as Korea’s film archive center announced this week the acquisition of 94 Korean films released between 1949 and 1981 that once were considered lost.

The Korean Film Archive (KOFA), which collects and preserves Korean films in order to pass down the country’s cultural heritage to future generations, said it received a total donation of 450 films from Han Gyu-ho, the former head of a film company. Within the collection were 94 titles believed to be lost from the likes of such notable directors as Lee Man-hee, Im Kwon-taek, Jung Jin-woo and Kim Su-yong, according to the Korea Herald.

Korean Film News reports that Han kept these films in his personal storage when his company, Union Media Company, closed. KOFA visited the storage collection in November and “spent two months to restore and identify” the films, KFN said, before Han decided to give the films to the archive.

The acquisition of these new titles is a major accomplishment for KOFA, which aims to keep films as close to their original condition as possible and restores older films through digitization. KOFA also works to make its library accessible to the public, showcasing classic films for free in its theaters as well as releasing DVD restorations.

Followers of South Korean cinema were left ecstatic by KOFA’s announcement this week. “I’m at a Korean Film Archive press conference, and there is very exciting news,” Darcy Paquet, a longtime Seoul-based film critic who runs koreanfilm.org, wrote on his Twitter page. “The recovery of 94—yes, 94!—previously lost films.”

The entire list of all 94 rediscovered films can be seen here:

The Korea Times reported that the rediscovered films include Korea’s second-to-debut female director Hong Eun-won’s, A Female Judge, (1962), Jung Jin-woo’s debut film, The Only Son, (1962) and No Pil’s Pilot An Chang-nam, (1949). Only five of the films will be screened this year since the rest require more restoration work, Paquet indicated on his Twitter feed.

Paquet, who attended the press conference, said that the screened clips of the five films “all look interesting.”


Featured image courtesy of Huffington Post Korea

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Korean German Actor Teo Yoo Finds His Identity Through ‘Seoul Searching’

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Korean German Teo Yoo is a classically trained actor. He studied acting in New York and the United Kingdom and performed in theater productions back home in Germany, while traveling to and from NYC. In 2009, Yoo moved to South Korea to pursue work, but it was a struggle to adapt to Korean society.

“Just being sociable in Korea is just very tough for me,” the Cologne native told KoreAm back in January. “It required me to get rid of a lot of etiquette that I learned and adopt new ones, so there was a time when I struggled with my identity.”

Teo Yoo EsquireEsquire Korea

The struggles and insecurity also affected his acting, and that led to a disappointing audition process for Seoul Searching. Director Benson Lee found his audition tape to be less than satisfactory, despite that the character Yoo was auditioning for, Klaus Kim, was also a Korean German. But Yoo knew that Lee wasn’t just going to hand the role to him.

“He’s been struggling in Korea because he has to play Korean roles, and it’s been hard for him,” Lee said. “But he’s such a talented actor. [In Seoul Searching], he finally got to play a role where he plays himself, which he completely shined in.”

Yoo finally landed the role after he met Lee in person to deliver a live audition, and through rehearsals and filming, Yoo found his identity again as an actor and person.

“It was very comfortable,” Yoo said of the experience. “I trusted [Benson’s] direction, he trusted my character rendition. It was easy.”

Yoo spoke to KoreAm about playing Klaus, who is based on Lee’s actual Korean German roommate from the 1986 summer camp. This interview has been edited for length, grammar and clarity.

KoreAm: What did you think of the character when you first read about Klaus?

Teo Yoo: I thought he was a good archetype. I think that was my first reaction. I was like, “Oh, that’s a good character.”

I think the writing was really good in general. I’m always looking for a good narrative, not just for the plot but also for my character. So, when the audience goes through the story, I want them to see the differences [in my acting], even if it’s subtle, such as the physicality in the way Klaus would behave and carry himself.

I was looking for allowances for those kinds of cues. That drew me to it. I was really excited that there was a good piece of writing for Asians.

SAMSUNG CSCYoo, left, with Rosalina Leigh.

What were some of Klaus’ themes that stood out to you?

To boil it down, one was the ongoing relationship with a girl he’s attracted to, because he has a girlfriend back home. He has to allow himself to change.

The other was realizing what it means for gyopos and their relationships with their parents. A lot of gyopos take their situation for granted. They kind of understand—intelligently understand—the struggles their parents went through, but they don’t get it wholeheartedly. I feel like Klaus gets in touch with that experience through his interactions with Kris.

Teo Yoo Justin ChonYoo, center, with fellow cast and crew on set.

How did you interact with your fellow castmates?

We went out partying a few times. We rehearsed for two weeks beforehand. Just growing together—because we were all kind of in this unique situation—it was all very exciting. We bonded very quickly, all of us. It was such a unique summer, and I feel like the film’s story symbolically reflected what we all went through during that summer. At least for me.

It was also an independent production. The budget was tight, and it showed on the set. During production, people were stressed, but everyone came together and made a very good film.

How was it acting with other individuals who come from diverse backgrounds?

It came easily because during pre-production we had a lot of time to rehearse. Benson really wanted to go through the rehearsals because he knew production would take a lot of work. The chemistry kind of shows on screen. I believe it was easy because we all became friends with each other first and supported one another. Knowing that Esteban Ahn (plays Sergio Kim) was a first-time actor, we talked confidence into him. He’s so funny.


Were there any themes in the movie that you connected with?

I’ve got to say, all of them. All of the characters have their unique struggles. They are kind of symbolic for situations that I have been through in my life—not to that extreme extent, but certain situations that gyopos can relate to, especially [those concerning] father issues, simply because of the generational changes and the diversity of the next generation.

I could relate to every one. There wasn’t really a unique or situation that popped out to me.

How was it working with Cha In-Pyo? What was the impact of having him as part of production?

Just seeing his face in the trailer, it was amazing that he came on board. He made an effort to be the hyung to all of us. He was really nice, and he invited us for lunch at some private club in Seoul.

I think after someone asked him, I caught him answering why he was attracted to the project. He said, when he studied in the U.S., he felt like bool-sang-hae, or compassion, for gyopos. I feel like he’s interested in projects dealing with Koreans outside of Korea and their struggle. You can tell by the films he makes, like The Crossing. I was really glad that he gave Seoul Searching this legitimacy.

SAMSUNG CSCYoo dressed up as Sid Park, Justin Chon’s rebel punk character.

How do you think fellow gyopos and South Koreans would react to this film?

I think in gyopos will really love the film. That’s for sure because it’s such a unique voice that speaks for them. Since we’ve had a good reaction at festivals, it’s kind of a stamp of approval. I know that gyopos can be very cynical (laughs), but I think the reactions are going to be good.

In Korea, I don’t know, to be honest. I feel like I’m too biased to see it objectively. I’m living here right now, and the reactions to the trailer have been amazing. The interesting thing is that all of my Korean friends and people in the industry that I’ve showed the trailer to, they were all like, “You know what, this looks like a really interesting film—looks fresh, a teenage film but so different for a Korean film.”

It’s interesting that they would accept this as a Korean film. It kind of is, but it kind of isn’t. Technically speaking, it is not, because it’s an American production. But it’s interesting that they recognized the film as new, fresh and good, and therefore, accepted it to be Korean. Whereas, maybe if they recognized something as tacky or bad, they would have labeled it gyopo.

In that sense, I was glad the reactions were positive from the quality of the trailer to the film itself. Our director of photography, Daniel Katz, did an amazing job in recreating the feel and mood of the ’80s. Everyone in Korea who’s been through that time period could relate to it, which is interesting, because they aren’t gyopos. But many of them were like, “Man, this feels so much like the ’80s of Korea.” Props to our DP!


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