KOFA discovers film from 1960s about Korean pop music

By Claire Lee

Institute also announces its top 101 Korean films of all time

  • Published : Jan 16, 2014 - 20:01
  • Updated : Jan 16, 2014 - 20:01
An original reel of a film from the 1960s dealing with the history of Korean pop music has been discovered, the Korean Film Archive announced on Wednesday.

Titled “A Half Century of Korean Pop Songs,” the flick is said to chronicle Korea’s popular music history from the 1920s to the late 1960s. The archive will hold a special screening of the film for music specialists in March and show it to the public in May. 

Veteran singers Patti Kim (top) and Yoon Bok-hee’s earlier days are captured in “A Half Century of Korean Pop Songs,” a newly discovered film produced and released in 1968. (KOFA)

Directed by Kim Gwang-soo in 1968, the documentary film features color footage of some of the most popular singers of the 1960s, including Nam In-soo, Baek Nyun-sul and Hyun In. Viewers can also witness veteran singers Patti Kim and Yoon Bok-hee in their earlier years at the peak of their careers.

The original reel of the film was thought to have been lost until KOFA learned in 2012 that Park Woong-il, one of the film’s producers, has been keeping it privately for 46 years.

The state-run institute worked on persuading him for about a year to donate the negative so they could restore and digitalize it for public screenings.

“We don’t have a lot of video footage of singers in the 60s and 70s available,” music critic Lee Jun-hee said in a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. “So it is very meaningful that we have found a film like this.”

The institute, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, also announced their newly compiled list of the 101 best Korean films of all time, selected by 62 leading cineastes in the country.

Three films shared the No.1 spot: director Kim Ki-young’s legendary 1960 film “The Housemaid,” director Yoo Hyun-mok’s 1961 drama “The Aimless Bullet” and Ha Gil-jong’s 1975 film “The March of Fools.”

A scene from Kim Ki-young’s 1960 film “The Housemaid.” (KOFA)

“The Housemaid” is a domestic horror-thriller featuring a working class femme fatale, while “The Aimless Bullet” portrays the miserable life of an impoverished family shortly after the Korean War. “The March of Fools” deals with struggling, helpless university students under the authoritarian regime.

Three films by director Lee Jang-ho were among the top 10: “The Heavenly Homecoming of the Stars” (1974), “Good Windy Day” (1980) and “Declaration of Fools” (1984). No film released after 2000 made it into the top 10 except for Bong Joon-ho’s 2003 thriller “Memories of Murder.”

Veteran director Im Kwon-taek had the most number of films on the list. A total of seven films by Im were chosen, including “Chunhyang”(2000), “Seopyeonje” (1993), “Surrogate Mother” (1986) and “Ticket” (1986). “Surrogate Mother” was a success at the 1987 Venice Film Festival, with leading actress Kang Soo-yeon winning the best actress prize and becoming the first Korean to receive the honor.

The oldest film included on the list is the 1934 silent film “Crossroads of Youth,” while the most recent is Kim Ki-duk’s revenge tale “Pieta” (2012), which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

The 101 films will be screened at the KOFA Cinematheque in Sangam-dong, Seoul, over the next year.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)