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Korean film scene goes experimental in 2020

Encouraged by the astounding achievements of 2019, the Korean film scene is set to go more adventurous this year, bringing zombies, clones and spacecraft to the big screen.

Though such subjects have sometimes been a taboo in the local film industry -- due to past failures -- it looks like the achievements of 2019 have encouraged such experimental items to take part in the major entertainment scene.

In the past, Korea’s film scene had been focused heavily on periodical works, romance or comedy, and criticized for the limited diversity. However, science fiction delving into unfamiliar and futuristic topics are expected to present a fresh challenge to the local film industry.

Following are a few of the must-see films set to be released this year. 

Concept image for “Peninsula” (NEW)
Concept image for “Peninsula” (NEW)

Fans of zombie flicks will rejoice that director Yeon Sang-ho of “Train to Busan” will release the movie’s much-awaited sequel “Peninsula” this summer.

The original -- featuring Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi -- was one of the most popular zombie movies here, breaking the vaulted milestone of 10 million viewers in 2016 when it was released.

“Peninsula” will be set four years after the zombie outbreak of the original film, telling the story of the survivors.

“Victory” is about the journey of the eponymous spacecraft. The film has garnered great anticipation after it announced its star casting of heartthrob actors Song Joong-ki and Kim Tae-ri. The movie, created with a high production budget here of 24 billion won ($20.7 million), will be the first Korean movie to incorporate robotics motion capture technology.

Korea’s first film centering on human clones will also be released this year. Park Bo-gum and Gong Yoo team up on the big screen for the first time in “Seo-bok.” In the film, Ki-heon, a former intelligence agent played by Gong, comes across mankind’s first human clone and faces off against forces trying to possess the clone. Park plays the first human clone, Seo-bok. 

Concept image for “Call” (NEW)
Concept image for “Call” (NEW)

Director Lee Chung-hyeon, a promising newcomer who swept the domestic short film awards last year with his 14-minute “Bargain,” makes his feature film debut with thriller “Call.”

Featuring actresses Park Shin-hye and Jun Jong-seo from the Cannes-nominated “Burning” alongside veteran Kim Sung-ryoung, the film tells the story of two women living in two different time periods, connected through a mysterious phone call.

Song Kang-ho, lead actor of Cannes-winning “Parasite,” is making his return to the screen with the movie “Emergency Declaration” this year. Although disaster movies may seem to be a cliche, coming back almost every year with similar plots and settings, “Emergency Declaration” maybe worth the watch just to witness the chemistry between Song and another award-scraping actor Lee Byung-hun.

As the title -- an aviation term used to declare the need for emergency landing of an aircraft in abnormal situations -- implies, the film is a suspenseful disaster film unfolding inside a plane.

While an August release is expected for “Peninsula,” no dates have yet been set for “Victory,” “Seo-bok,” “Call,” and “Emergency Declaration.”

By Choi Ji-won  (