London Korean Film Festival 2021: Special Focus Announcement

After a mostly digital edition in 2020 the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) is pleased to be returning to cinema screens across the UK’s capital for its 16th year, running from 4 – 19 November 2021. With the biggest programme dedicated to Korean cinema outside of the country itself, the festival is proud to present a rich and diverse line-up showcasing the year’s biggest box-office hits, independent cinema, women’s voices, animation, documentary, award winning shorts, plus a Special Focus celebrating the career of veteran actor and Academy Award winner Youn Yuh-jung.

This year’s LKFF will begin on 4 November with a typically exciting Opening Gala, the UK Premiere of director Ryoo Seung-wan’s action-packed true-life political drama, Escape from Mogadishu (2021). Set in the capital of Somalia during the country’s 1991 Civil War, the film centres on the staff of the South Korean embassy who become trapped as war rages on the streets around them. Stranded and under fire, the group are approached by their counterparts from the North Korean embassy. Opting for an unlikely team-up, the group make an audacious plan to reach the airport and escape the country. From action cinema maestro Ryoo Seung-wan (The City of Violence, Veteran) the film stars Kim Yoon-seok, Jo In-sung and Huh Joon-ho and skyrocket up the charts on its Korean release this year, surpassing 3 million admissions within a month of its release and becoming the highest grossing film of 2021. The festival’s Closing Gala on 19 November will be the UK Premiere of Im Sang-soo’s Heaven: To the Land of Happiness (2020). Invited to screen at Cannes in 2020, and set to open Busan International Film Festival on 6 October, this screening offers an exciting early look at the latest work from an internationally renowned director to a London audience. Starring Choi Min-sik (Oldboy, 2003 I Saw the Devil, 2010) and Park Hae-il (The Host, 2006 Memories of Murder, 2003) and featuring the festival’s Special Focus star Youn Yuh-jung, the film is a warm-hearted road trip that follows two men, one an escaped convict, who get their hands on a large sum of money and take to the road, dreaming of how they can use the cash to better their lives.

With her Oscar win and incredible performance in Minari still fresh in the minds of UK film fans the LKFF is inviting audiences to take a deep-dive into the back-catalogue of this extraordinary actress with the strand Special Focus: Youn Yuh-Jung. This programme will draw from across Youn’s career with retrospective screenings of some of her finest work to present a comprehensive look at one of Korea’s most celebrated performers. Key titles include the European Premiere of a brand new digital restoration of the actor’s very first role, Woman of Fire (1970), from Korea’s idiosyncratic master filmmaker Kim Ki-young and shown on the big screen for the first time in 50-years. Infused with director Kim’s typically audacious use of colour, this intense thriller provided a bold introduction to a dynamic new screen presence in Youn Yuh-jung. Also presented in a new 4K restoration and being shown for the first time outside of Korea, and Youn Yuh-jung’s third collaboration with master-auteur Kim Ki-young, is Angel, Become an Evil Woman (1990). This tale of two women who plot to murder their unfaithful husbands was scorned by its own director and not seen publicly until after his death at the 1998 Busan International Film Festival. Youn’s collaborations with acclaimed director Im Sang-soo will also be highlighted with screenings of A Good Lawyer’s Wife (2003), nominated for Venice’s prestigious Golden Lion, and The Housemaid (2010), nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Further screenings include E J-yong’s 2016 festival favourite The Bacchus Lady (2016) with more special presentations, introductions and events still to be announced.

Further highlights from this year’s festival include the UK Premiere of Aloners (2021), the directorial debut of Hong Seong-eun which won the Grand Prize at Jeonju International Film Festival 2021 and earned further acclaim at Toronto International Film Festival 2021. With a sensitive and absorbing central performance from newcomer Jeong Da-eun, Aloners peels back the layers of angst and loneliness of a young woman who has actively shut herself off from the world around her. The latest sweeping, sumptuous epic from the modern specialist of the historical drama, Lee Joon-ik (The Throne, Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet), The Book of Fish (2021, UK Premiere) stars Sol Kyung-gu (Oasis, Peppermint Candy) as a scholar exiled to an island who trades his knowledge in Confucianism with a fisherman in order to write a book about the sea. Following a debut at Cannes 2021, the latest work from celebrated auteur Hong Sangsoo In Front of Your Face (2021, UK Premiere) finds a middle aged actress readying herself to meet a director interested in casting her for a film role. As is typical for Korea’s prolific filmmaker, the low-key, minimalist style and plotting gives way to profound themes.

Full LKFF2021 programme details will be announced shortly, including screenings, introductions, Q&As and more. The London Korean Film Festival 2021 runs from 4 November – 19 November with cinema screenings in London and around the UK 

Facebook: @theLKFF
Twitter: @koreanfilm
Instagram: @london_korean_film_festival

For any press requests please contact festival publicist Christopher O’Keeffe: (+44 7413 157 011)

Notes to Editors

About London Korean Film Festival:

The London Korean Film Festival will return to celebrate its 16th year from 4 November – 19 November 2021, featuring 35+ cinema screenings in leading venues around London. 

The London Korean Film Festival has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the longest running and most respected festivals dedicated to Korean cinema in the world. We’ve built a name upon presenting lineups consisting of everything from the country’s most successful blockbusters to thought-provoking independents from its finest auteurs. Across a variety of finely curated strands we aim to cater for general audiences to committed cinephiles, and everyone in between.

The 16th London Korean Film Festival is organised by the Korean Cultural Centre UK with the support of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, Korean Film Council. 

More about the KCCUK:

Since being opened by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in January 2008, under the jurisdiction of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the KCCUK has gone from strength to strength in its role of enhancing friendship, amity and understanding between Korea and the UK through cultural and educational activities.

As well as presenting a diverse range of ongoing monthly events focused on Korean film, drama, education and literature, the KCCUK regularly welcomes Korean luminaries from many cultural fields to discuss their work, organises the annual film festival as well as traditional and contemporary musical performances and holds a number of exhibitions throughout the year, allowing artists to showcase their talent. From the KCCUK’s central London location (just off Trafalgar Square), the institution’s dedicated cultural team work to further develop established cultural projects, introduce new opportunities to expand Korean programmes in the UK and to encourage ongoing cultural exchange.