Korean War in Film

27 08 2010

Screenings and discussions at the University of Sydney by Korean Media and Culture Club. Every Wednesday at 5.00pm between 1 Sep. and 15 Sep.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War (1950-1953), which resulted in over 4 million civilian and military deaths and a legacy that still poses a threat to global security today. Why do so few people know anything about this “forgotten War”? “Korean War in Film” is a joint initiative undertaken by the SLC Department of Korean Studies together with School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

Associate Professor Judith Keene, Dr Jane Park, and Dr Leonid Petrov will show how the Korean War was seen at the time through the eyes of communist and anti-communist film-makers. Among the films to be screened are the most successful Korean (North and South) and American blockbusters. Each film will be individually introduced and followed by a discussion on the nature of Korean conflict.

The first round of Korean War in Film screenings at the University of Sydney took place in May 2010 and attracted much attention from students, researchers and the members of local Korean community. In Semester 2, the screenings will be conducted under the auspices of the Korean Media and Culture Club. KMCC is an informal club with the main goal to promote Korean culture through academic discussion on Korean media and culture within the University and to foster social interaction between people of similar interests through social activities including seminars and film screenings.

Films will be screened on Wednesdays, 1 Sep. ~ 15 Sep. 2010 
Time: 5– 7pm
Venue: Old Geology Lecture Theatre, Edgeworth David Building (adjacent Parramatta Rd and Footbridge Theatre)
Speakers: Associate Professor Judith Keene, Dr Jane Park, Dr Leonid Petrov.
Free entry
For more questions, contact Dr. Leonid Petrov at leonid.petrov@sydney.edu.au or Tel: (02) 93514362

The following films will be presented:

1 September (Wed) – “Taegukgi” [The Brotherhood of War]
(Director: Kang Je-gyu, 2004, 148 min., English subtitles)
The full impact of brotherly love is shown in this touching Korean blockbuster that teams up superstars Jang Dong Gun and Won Bin. The film revolves around two brothers who are drafted into the army by force during the outbreak of the Korean War in the 50s. Jang Dong Gun plays Lee Jin Tae, a simple family man who makes every effort to excel in his duties in order to achieve an early release from the military services for his younger brother Jin Seok (Won Bin).

Unaware of his older brother’s good intentions, Jin Seok is increasingly upset by his brother’s cavalier actions. Misunderstandings between the two keep accumulating until Jin Seok accidentally comes across an unposted letter to his family and makes a fateful decision. “Taegukgi” became the highest-grossing Korean film of all time when it was released in 2004

8 September (Wed) – “Pork Chop Hill”
(1959, Director Lewis Milestone, 94 min.)
This US-made film about the Korean War is based on the eponymous book by military historian S. L. A. Marshall and depicts the fierce Battle of Pork Chop Hill between the U.S. Army’s 7th Infantry Division, and Chinese and Korean Communist forces at the tail end of the Korean War.

In April 1953, while the Panmunjeom cease-fire negotiations continued, a company of American infantry was to recapture Pork Chop Hill from a larger Communist Chinese army force. Successful but depleted, they were ready for the large-scale Chinese counter-attack which they knew would overwhelm and kill them in hand-to-hand fighting.

15 September – “Cheolgil Ueseo” [On the Railway]
(1960, Director Kim Song Gyo, 90 min. English subtitles)
One of the classics of North Korean cinematography, this film emulates the best examples of Soviet and Chinese film-making traditions.

In the autumn of 1950 when North Korea was retreating after the unsuccessful attempt to unify the country, the locomotive engineer Ko In Ho tries to evacuate precious machinery and equipment when he is barred from going farther North because the railway bridge is wrecked in a bombing. Thus, In Ho stays on the UN-controlled area, where he is obliged to drive the enemy’s military train, watching for an opportunity to smuggle out his own train. Finally he manages to establish contact with the underground North Korean cell operating in the South and throws the southern transportation network into chaos…

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