South Korean film culture has entered a new golden age and a Korean wave washes over the world. In this year's festival, we focus a little more on Korean films.

Korean films in the festival program

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The Handmaiden

It is the 1930s in Korea and plots are threatening the peace in Lady Hideko's life. The enigmatic and fragile heiress has employed a young pickpocket named Sook-he as her handmaiden. Unbeknownst to Lady Hideko, Sook-he has previously been hired by a conman as part of a plot to steal her substantial inheritance. The young girl, however, finds herself increasingly attracted to her mistress and it will soon become clear that love and carnal urges have the power to shift loyalties and unearth buried secrets.

This psycho-erotic drama is based on the Victorian crime novel »Fingersmith« by British author Sarah Waters. Depicting the Korean upper class during the Japanese rule, the movie explores the dynamics between men and women, Japan and Korea, and passion and greed. The suspense filled narrative with its twists and turns also allows space for an intimate portrayal of a relationship between two women caught in a time of oppression.

Book tickets here.

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Missing You

The hunt for a serial killer is over. However, not everyone is satisfied with the verdict murderer Ki-Bum has received, particularly as he was only convicted for one of his murders. Hee-ju was just a little girl when her father, a police chief, became one of Ki-Bum’s victims. Now that she’s an adult, her mind is set on one thing: to revenge her father. So when Ki-Bum is released after 15 years in jail, Hee-ju embarks on a revengeful game of cat and mouse with the murderer. And she is not alone. Her father’s former partner is also seeking closure for what happened 15 years previously.

A unique and distinctly Korean twist on the thriller genre, »Missing You« is a revenge saga with hidden depths. The complex characters are carefully drawn leveling cutting criticism at Korean society and its predominantly patriarchal attitudes. With its high intensity and horror elements, »Missing You« manages to be both a thrilling experience and thoughtful piece of social commentary.

Book tickets here.

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Seoul Station

»Seoul Station« is the animated prequel to Sang-ho’s successful horror film »Train to Busan« which depicts a zombie outbreak at Seoul Station, South Korea. In »Seoul Station«, former quasi-slave Hye-sun and her crook boyfriend, Ki-woong, become separated at the station and struggle to survive in the epicenter of chaos. Hye-Sun's father also gets entangled in the brutal zombie catastrophe whereupon the government seals off the area thinking an insurgency has begun.

»Seoul Station« is a vehemently gritty film where Seoul's social classes are placed front and center. Yeon Sang-ho gushes blood onto the screen as the protagonists face two adversaries - the zombies and the soldiers. Feelings of helplessness and alienation are constantly present as the undead seek victims and soldiers turn the sealed off area into a killing zone -thereby portraying the government, not for the first time in South Korean cinema, as a machine presenting its true face in a time of crisis.

Book tickets here.

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Tunnel

As Lee Jung-soo drives through a tunnel, a large section collapses blocking his way out and covering his car in a suffocating heap of rubble. Regaining consciousness, he manages to maintain a humorous sort of stoicism; listening to classical music on the radio, sipping slowly at his water supplies and talking to the outside world on his mobile phone. However, as his rescue mission, hindered by press invasion and astounding levels of political corruption, becomes more protracted and his mobile phone battery starts to run low, Lee Jung-soo is gripped by brittle panic and the horror of not making it out alive begins to look like a reality.

At its core »The Tunnel« is a tense disaster drama that throbs with an urgent frustration and doesn’t miss a chance to draw shrewd parallels between the action and real-life disasters in Korean history. Ultimately the only thing more terrifying than Lee Jung-soo’s nightmarish situation is the behavior of the people responsible for it.

Book tickets here.

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The Wailing

A small Korean village in a remote and mountainous area is shaken by a series of sudden and violent murders. When a couple is brutally slaughtered by a family member, local officer Jong-goo mistakenly attributes the cause of the murders to a bad mushroom trip. However, when the village is struck by more grisly violence, people start to mutter about the newly arrived Japanese man living in the woods and the rumors of a curse he may have brought with him. Things take a devastating turn for Jong-goo when his own daughter starts developing the same symptoms as the perpetrators of the other crimes and to save her, he is forced to consult a shaman.

Hong-jin Na takes the thriller elements from his earlier films and combines them with horror and the supernatural to tremendous effect. Slow burning and hypnotically intense, »The Wailing« is an exhilaratingly nightmarish journey into the realm of fear and terror.

Book tickets here.

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Train to Busan

For her birthday Seok-Woo takes his daughter by train to see her mother in Busan. He and her mother are divorced and he is finding it hard to juggle his career and parental obligations. Soon after boarding the train Seok-Woo realizes that the trip might turn out to be more than he had bargained for, and when a horrifying zombie outbreak threatens the entire country, the passengers must unite to avert the danger and avoid infection.

»Train To Busan« not only provides exhilarating zombie action but also manages to comment on social inequalities by symbolically addressing class differences and corruption in South Korean society. Yeon Sang-ho has also created an animated prequel in »Seoul Station«, and the transition between the two aesthetics makes for an interesting concept. Along with the performances of some of South Korea’s most accomplished actors, cinematographer Lee Hyung-deok’s work contributes greatly to this innovative take on the zombie genre.

Book tickets här.

Also screening at horror night.

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Yourself and Yours

Youngsoo is emotionally burdened by both his mother’s illness and rumors that his girlfriend, Minjung, is out drinking and flirting with other men. The latter leads to an argument, which appears to herald the end of the couple’s relationship. Waking the next day Youngsoo begins to see Minjung everywhere - or at least someone who appears to be very like her. Illusory or not, as time wears on, Youngsoo finds it increasingly difficult to escape his debilitating jealousy.

In »Yourself and Yours« Hong Sang-soo’s uses the doppelganger as a concept with which to delve into Youngsoo’s psyche, creating a character that is cleverly and carefully observed. Balancing cinematic techniques with playful exploration of the human ego, he examines romantic obsession in an inquiring, self-reflective fashion, continually interweaving the ambiguous and the realistic to embark on a cinematic journey through the mind of the troubled Youngsoo.

Köp biljetter här.

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Presented with The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Kingdom of Sweden