Programme

Kim Ki-young, Mister Monster

In this edition, we continue to celebrate the centenary of Korean Cinema with a retrospective dedicated […] Read more

In this edition, we continue to celebrate the centenary of Korean Cinema with a retrospective dedicated to Kim Ki-young (1919- 98), one of its most exciting storytellers, and whom leading New Korean Cinema directors Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho, Kim Ki-duk and Im Sang-soo cite as a major influence. Boldly going against the neorealist style that dominated South Korean Cinema in the 50s and 60s, Kim produced melodramas with mass appeal that might easily be shrugged off at first glance. Unlike the formalist, almost rigid filmmaking style of his contemporaries, Kim’s films are audaciously bombastic in their expression of emotions, marked by rapid editing, restless camerawork and deliriously imaginative art direction (look no further than the use of colored candies during a sex scene in Insect Woman, 1972). Kim’s films, however, were more than just exercises in style offering genre thrills. Films such as Yangsan Province (1955) and The Housemaid (1960), meanwhile, delved into one of the most oftexamined social issues in Korean cinema – the never-ending conflict between the haves and the havenots as well as the exploitation of the poor. It’s not a mere coincidence that Bong Joon-ho also used the motif of stairs to highlight the class conflict that lies in the core of his Palme d’Orwinning thriller, Parasite , just as Kim used it in The Housemaid. His psychodramas and suspense thrillers often highlighted urgent social and gender issues during a turbulent period in Korean history. Films such as Insect Woman (1972) and Promise of the Flesh (1975) examined the plight of women in a male-dominated society, tapping into female desires and the psychology of toxic masculinity that still plagues Korean society today.

35mm prints and DCPs courtesy of the Korean Film Archive

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