Lost Films From the Japanese Colonial Period

Press Release

Thursday, 18:00 – Screening With Live Performance + Intro: Crossroads of Youth 청춘의 십자로/ Onstage: Chung Chong-hwa, Senior Researcher (Korean Film Archive)

Monday 18 February, 18:10 – Screening + Discussion: Spring of the Korean Peninsula 반도의 봄 / Onstage: Baek Moonim (Yonsei University), Lee Hwa-jin (Inha University) Chung Chong-hwa (Korean Film Archive) and season co-curator Kate Taylor-Jones

Marking the centenary of the first Korean film (made in 1919) BFI Southbank and KCCUK will present “Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films From The Japanese Colonial Period”, which will feature all surviving feature-length Korean films produced before 1945.

The season, which runs from Thursday 7 February – Thursday 28 February, is co-curated by University of Sheffield Senior Lecturer Kate Taylor-Jones and KCCUK’s Film Curator Hyun Jin Cho and will include a diverse treasure trove of melodramas, propaganda films and newsreels from the colonial period as well as giving audiences the opportunity to learn about the stars, the directors and the politics of this complex and controversial time in Korean history.

Early Korean Cinema – Tuition


Early Korean Cinema – Tuition

The season opens at BFI Southbank on 7 February with Korea’s oldest surviving film Crossroads of Youth 청춘의 십자로 (Ahn Jong-hwa, 1934). Audiences will have the opportunity to experience this tale of love, desire, betrayal and revenge on the streets of Seoul as it was first premiered in 1934, with live performances from musicians, a narrator and actors, bringing the work to life.

Early Korean Cinema – Sweet Dream

The majority of the films programmed were made under Japanese occupation (1910 to 1945), and so are products of a complicated and difficult period in Korean history, however, to just reject these films as nothing more than colonial propaganda would be to dismiss the skills, desires and ambitions of the Korean filmmakers.

Early Korean Cinema – Hurrah! For Freedom

These include Military Train 군용열차 (Suh Kwang-je, 1938), Volunteer 지원병 (Anh Seok-young, 1941), Patriots Day in Joseon 조선의 애국일 (Unknown, 1940), Japanese Chronicles 일본실록 (Unknown, C.1943) Jose on News No. 11. 조선시보 제11 (Unknown, C.1943) and Tuition 수업료 (Choi In-gyu and Bang Han-joon, 1940).


Early Korean Cinema – Angels on the Street

The season closes on 28 February with the most recent film in the programme, which celebrates Korean independence in 1945 and was the first film made after Japan’s defeat. Hurrah! For freedom 자유만세 (Choi In-gyu, 1946) charts the life and death battle that Korean freedom fighters faced under Japanese occupation.

Directed by Choi In-gyu who had previously made colonial propaganda films, Hurrah! For Freedom shows

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