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Bong Joon-ho’s The Host was the highest-grossing Korean film ever when it came out in 2006.
Bong Joon-ho’s The Host was the highest-grossing Korean film ever when it came out in 2006. Photo Supplied

‘Scale, stars and society’

The attention-grabbing South Korean films that have won hearts around the rest of the region

The fact that South Korean cinema has yet to make serious inroads with Cambodian audiences is something of an anomaly. Domestic appetite for Korean music and drama shows no signs of abating, and in other Asian countries, Korea’s film exports are doing a booming trade. But Cambodia has lagged behind the trend.

“There was one film a few years ago that was shown in local cinemas,” says South Korean Embassy employee Hyewon Kim, “but I think it’s the only example.”

The “Spotlight on Korean Film Today” series hopes to bring an end to this discrepancy. Curated by Hyewon Kim with the help of other embassy staff, the program introduces audiences at the Cambodia International Film Festival to five films that have been box office hits elsewhere in Asia.

Opening the program is the film voted Korea’s most successful melodrama of all time: Jo Sung-hee’s fairytale drama A Werewolf Boy, in which a woman becomes captivated by taming a charming beast. The 2012 costume drama Masquerade – which attracted more than 10 million viewers while on general release – features shape shifters of a different stripe, as a Joseon dynasty king switches places with his court jester to disastrous effect.

Bong Joon-ho’s The Host is the oldest and most successful film on the schedule – the monster-kidnap drama quickly became the highest grossing Korean film of all time when released in 2006.

The other two films on show centre around family drama, a theme that Kim says has proved particularly popular with Asian audiences. Boomerang Family is an inter-generational comedy charting the pressures of living in close confines, and Set Me Free offers a dark take on teenage angst.

Kim is insistent that although the films chosen all have crowd-pleasing potential, they have been carefully curated for quality as well as accessibility: “There are four concepts in Korean cinema: scale, story, stars and society. We’ve chosen films that focus on these concepts – the reason that Korean [cinema] is growing in popularity worldwide.”

Festival programmer Cedric Eloy paints a similar picture of the local market potential for film exports, saying that the “stronger stories” and “different stars” of Korean films will prove to be a welcome discovery for local audiences.



AEON MALL Major Cineplex

Men Who Save the World 9.40am
A Werewolf Boy 6pm
Lucy 9pm

Legend City Mall
Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants 9.15am

Legend TK Avenue
The Selfish Giant 11.30am

Legend Steung MeanChey
Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants 9.15am
Trash 3.40pm
Colt 45 4pm

Platinum Cineplex
River of Exploding Durians 1.30pm
Nuoc 2030 4.30pm

French Institute Le Cinema
The White Soldier 10am
Japanese Shorts 2pm
Bonne Nuit Papa 3.45pm
O Samba 6pm
The Stolen Warriors 8pm
Europe’s Last Dictator 9.30pm

Bophana Center
Garuda Power 10.30am
Hunters of Modern Crime 2pm
Haramist 3pm
Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell 4pm
Light Fly, Fly High 6pm
Inside the Belly of a Dragon 7.30pm

Chaktomuk Theatre
The Host 2pm
Cambodia in Short 4pm
Down This Road 6pm

Koh Pich (Open Air)
Shiiku, The Catch 6pm


AEON MALL Major Cineplex

River of Exploding Durians 4pm
Boomerang Family 7pm

Legend City Mall
A Werewolf Boy 11.30am

Legend TK Avenue
Trash 9.15am

Legend Steung MeanChey
Shiiku, The Catch 11.30am
The Gate 5.30pm

Platinum Cineplex
Japanese Shorts 1pm
Vientiane in Love 7pm

French Institute Le Cinema
Cartoons from the World 10am
From the Heart of Brahma 1pm
Nuoc 2030 2pm
Angkor’s Children 4pm
Nine Muses of Star Empire 5.30pm
Short Doc: Cambodia Visions 7.15pm
Garuda Power 9.15pm

Bophana Center
Short Film Corner 9.30am
Selapak 2pm
Maria Bethânia, Musica é Perfume 4pm
O Samba 6pm

Chaktomuk Theater
The White Soldier 10am
Pram Ang 2pm
Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten 6pm

Koh Pich (Open Air)
Still I Strive 6pm


AEON MALL Major Cineplex

Set Me Free 6pm
Mea Culpa 8.15pm

Legend City Mall
Boomerang Family 2pm
River of Exploding Durians 5.30pm

Lengend TK Avenue
Lucy 9.15am
Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten 11.30am

Legend Steung Mean Chey
Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants 9.15am
The Selfish Giant 3.40pm

Platinum Cineplex
O Samba 5pm
Down This Road 6.30pm

French Institute Le Cinema
Nine Muses of Star Empire 9.30am
Cambodia Forests, Water, Life 1pm
Light Fly, Fly High 2pm
Short Doc: Cambodia Visions 3.45pm
Cambodia Forests, Water, Life 5.30pm
Bonne Nuit Papa 6pm
Vientiane in Love 8.30pm

Bophana Center
Hunters of Modern Crime 10am
Selapak 11am
From the Heart of Brahma 1.30pm
Short Doc: Cambodia Visions 2.30pm
The Stolen Warriors 4.30pm
Angkor’s Children 6pm
Turn 7.30pm

Koh Pich (Open Air)
The Host 6pm

AEON MALL Major Cineplex

Colt 45 6.30pm
The Gate 8.15pm

Legend City Mall
The Crossing 9.15am
Set Me Free 4pm

Legend TK Avenue
Lucy 11.30am
The Last Reel 5.30pm

Legend Steung Mean Chey
The Selfish Boy 9.15am
A Werewolf Boy 5.30pm

Platinum Cineplex
Men Who Save the World 6.30pm
Turn 9pm

French Institute Le Cinema
Pram Ang 10am
Inside the Belly of a Dragon 2pm
Le Grand Tour: Cambodia-Thailand 4pm
Cambodia Forests, Water, Life 6.15pm
The Empire of the Middle of the South 7:15pm
Ruin 9pm

Bophana Center
Cartoons from the World 10.30am
Japanese Shorts 2pm
Selapak 4pm
Bonne Nuit Papa 6pm
Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell 8.30pm

Koh Pich (Open Air)
Cambodia in Short 6pm


AEON MALL Major Cineplex

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten 2pm
The Last Reel 4.15pm

Legend City Mall
The Crossing 9.15am
Mea Culpa 4pm

Legend TK Avenue
Men Who Save the World 11.30am
Masquerade 6pm

Legend Steung Mean Chey
Garuda Power 11.30am
Boomerang Family 3.40pm

Platinum Cineplex
Cartoons from the World 9.30am
Nine Muses of Star Empire 1.30pm

French Institute Le Cinema
Still I Strive 10am
Haramist 1pm
Cambodia in Short 2pm
Maria Bethânia, Musica é Perfume 4pm

Bophana Center
Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell 10am
Hunters of Modern Crimes 2pm
Europe’s Last Dictator 3pm
Inside the Belly of a Dragon 4pm



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