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Highly anticipated Korean movies to hit theaters this year

Poster for director Yoon Jae-kyun’s “Hero” (CJ Entertainment)
Poster for director Yoon Jae-kyun’s “Hero” (CJ Entertainment)

The COVID-19 pandemic last year caused many Korean movies to postpone their scheduled releases.

Although the virus continues to spread, many highly anticipated Korean films by star directors are lined up for theatrical release as soon as opportunities open up to do so.

Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave” is one of them. Park started filming last October with Tang Wei and Park Hye-il playing the lead roles. It has been five years since he released his last feature “The Handmaiden” (2016). 

Gong Yoo stars in “Seobok.” (CJ Entertainment)
Gong Yoo stars in “Seobok.” (CJ Entertainment)

“Decision to Leave” centers on a polite and honest police officer named Hye-jun (Park Hye-il). Hye-jun looks into a suspicious death that occurred on a mountain and comes to suspect the dead man’s mysterious wife, Seo-rae (Tang).

The script was co-written with Jeong Seo-kyeong, with whom Park has worked on multiple films, including “I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK” (2006), “Thirst” (2009) and “The Handmaiden” (2016).

Musical film “Hero” by Yoon Jae-kyun, who also directed “Haeundae” (2009) and “Ode to My Father” (2014), is expected to be released this year.

An adaptation of the original hit musical “Hero,” the film is based on the story of real-life Korean independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun’s final year after he assassinated Hirobumi Ito, a four-time prime minister of Japan and a key figure behind the country’s colonization of Korea, on Oct. 26, 1909.

Jung Sung-hwa, who performed the main character in the musical production, also plays Ahn in the movie.

Kim Go-eun plays Seol-hee, a palace maid who witnesses the assassination of Empress Myeongseong (1851-95) and becomes an active supporter of the independence movement.

Ryoo Seung-wan, who directed “Veteran” in 2015, will return with high-budget action film ”Mogadishu.”

The movie, set in 1990, is based on the true story of South Korean and North Korean embassy workers in Somalia escaping the country during the civil war there. Veteran actors Kim Yoon-seok and Huh Joon-ho as well as top actor Jo In-sung star in Ryoo’s upcoming film. 

Poster for director Lee Joon-ik’s “The Book of Fish” (Megabox Joongang Plus M)
Poster for director Lee Joon-ik’s “The Book of Fish” (Megabox Joongang Plus M)

Lee Joon-ik, a star director whose black-and-white biopic “Dong-ju” about poet Yun Dong-ju who was imprisoned for his involvement in the independence movement and died in a Japanese prison at the age of 27 was released in 2016, is back with “The Book of Fish,” another black-and-white biopic.

In Lee’s new movie, initially expected to open last year, actor Seol Gyeong-gu plays scholar Jeong Yak-jeon, the brother of one of the leading scholars in the late Joseon era Jeong Yak-yong, who meets Chang-dae, a young fisherman, while living in exile on Heuksando.

One of the most anticipated blockbusters this year is Lee Yong-joo’s “Seobok,” the director’s first feature since “Architecture 101,” a hit romance from 2012.

The sci-fi film, whose release was once postponed indefinitely in December last year due to the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, will be released this year.

It follows ex-intelligence agent Ki-hun (Gong Yoo), who receives his last mission from the director of the intelligence agency (Cho Woo-jin), to move the first-ever human clone, Seo-bok (Park Bo-gum), who has never known life outside of the laboratory, to a safe place.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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