Edinburgh Film Festival brings Korean film to Scotland

The prestigious Edinburgh International Film Festival is to show a series of South Korean films as part of this year’s programme. The Focus on Korea strand of the festival will run from 22nd to the 30th of June and will be showcasing five different films, both independent and mainstream, which highlight the best Modern Korean cinema has to offer.

Focus on Korea is being supported by the Korean Cultural Centre UK, the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korean Film Council in order to help further international recognition of Korean film.

The films to be shown are Ryoo Seung Wan’s The Berlin File, O Meul’s Jiseul, Shin Su-won’s Pluto, Chun Ji-young’s National Security and Lee Hyun-jung’s Virgin Forest. The short films Day Trip, directed by acclaimed director Park Chan-wook and his brother Park Chan-kyung, and Homo Coreanicus, by Yang Ik-je, will also be screened alongside Virgin Forest.

As well as the Focus on Korea segment, the festival will also be playing host to one of Korea’s most respected directors, Bong Joon-ho. Best known for his works Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006) and Mother (2009), Bong will be chairing the jury for the International Feature Film Competition. The competition, which is held at the festival every year highlights some of the best cinema being made outside of the UK and the shortlist this year includes South Korean Director Kang Yi-kwan’s Juvenile Offender.

If you want a taste of North Korean cinema instead, the festival will also be showing Comrade Kim Goes Flying, the first ever Western-financed North Korean film on the 22nd and 27th June.

Most tickets cost £5-6 and can be booked online or at one of the three festival box office sites in Edinburgh. More information about all of the films mentioned is listed below.

Pluto(2012) – Shin Su-won

Pluto tells the story of the lengths the top students at an elite-boarding school will go to in order to get the best grades. In only her second film, director Shin Su-won draws on her experience as a former teacher to give new insight into bullying in schools in South Korea.

 22nd June 2.45pm / 24th June 8.30pm


The Berlin File (2013) – Ryoo Seung-wan

Fresh from its UK premiere at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival in London, this action thriller will be making another appearance at the EIFF. Set mostly in Europe, the film follows North Korean spy Pyo Jong-seong who goes on the run from both North and South Korean intelligence agencies after a failed illegal arms deal. After a series of dramatic and unfortunate events Pyo and his wife, a translator for the Berlin North Korean embassy, attempt to escape the clutches of both countries’ intelligence agencies.

23rd June 3.55pm / 25th June 6pm

National Security (2012) – Chun Ji-young

Set in 1985, a tense time in a Korea on the brink of true democracy, National Security tells the true story of a pro-democracy campaigner who was tortured and interrogated for three weeks at the Namyeongdong detention centre. With graphic depictions of torture, this film is not for the feint-hearted, indeed many audience members chose to leave screenings at the Busan International Film Festival.

23rd June 9.30pm / 30th June 5.15pm

Juvenile Offender (2012) – Kang Yi-kwan

A 16-year-old young man recently released from a young offender’s institution grapples with his understanding of family as he is put into the custody of a mother who abandoned him while discovering that his girlfriend gave birth to his child and put it up for adoption. Knowing what it is like to fell neglected by your family, he tries his hardest to provide a stable life for his new family.

24th June 6pm / 26th June 8.35pm

virgin forestVirgin Forest (2012) – Lee Hyun-Jung

A documentary which shows the director and her brother’s journey to visit the home of their late grandmother. Part documentary/part improvised drama, the film examines the clash of different ideas and philosophies both between the past and the present and between the siblings. Screened alongside short films Day Trip and Homo Coreanicus.

25th June 8.30pm / 27th June 6.15pm 

Jiseul (2012) – O Meul

Filmed in all black and white, Jiseul tells the true story of a group of villagers on Jeju Island who hid in a cave for 60 days to escape a military attack from the South Korean army during the Jeju Uprising of 1948. The name ‘Jiseul comes from the Jeju dialect word for potato which is spoken throughout the film by a cast of local actors. Despite a small crowdfunded budget, the film got huge returns at the Korean box office and even won the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

26th June 6.15pm / 28th June 6pm


Comrade Kim Goes Flying (2012) – Anja Daelemans, Nicholas Bonner, Kim Gwang-hun

The first ever Western-back North Korean feature film, Comrade Kim Goes Flying is sure to give a unique insight into the secretive country’s national cinema. Colourful and fantastical, the film harks back to the Technicolor Hollywood films of the 1950s and tells the story of a plucky coal-miner who fights against the odds to fulfil her dream of becoming an acrobat.

22nd June 7.40pm /27th June 8.35pm

Visit the Edinburgh International Film Festival website for more information on all the films and to book.