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by Alex Brzezicka

Five reasons this week's festival shouldn't be missed.

From Squid Game, the most binge-watched series in the history of Netflix, K-Pop (we stan TXT and Young K) or Academy Award-winning Parasite, Korea has given us a whole lot of cool culture. Needless to say, we are obsessing over the creators that have been massive players on the Korean scene for a while now. No shame about that only if we’re thirsty enough to taste the full spectrum of Korean arts. It’s not too late to catch up on the game and, dozens of films and albums later, come back victorious. The K-pill kicks hard to even novices but if you want (and we know we do) to have an in-depth, wild ride into the Korean cultural cannon, there’s much more to it.   

Anyone ready for initiation, you’re on the right path, as London Korean Film Festival 2021 is about to start. From 4 to 19 November, in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Centre and Institute of Contemporary Arts, they’ll be showing a diverse cinematic mix, from the most ground-breaking productions, stunning shorts, animation and independent hidden gems.

If you’re not convinced yet, let us tell you five reasons why you need to be there…

It’s the biggest Korean Film Festival in Europe

No need to travel far, especially it might be still a bit tricky. The organisers of the festival made sure to bring their best with the outside of the country largest programme. All dedicated to the best Korean cinema. You can choose your favourite from over 30 screenings.

Oscar-winner Youn Yuh Jung stars in The Housemaid and Woman Of Fire

Youn Yuh Jung has risen to the stars this year when winning the Best Supporting Actress award for the feisty grandmother’s role in drama Minari at this year’s Oscars. Over the years, she’s become one of the most renowned and intriguing figures in the Korean film industry, from debuting in Kim Ki-young’s Women of Fire to the enigmatic role of Miss Cho in the 2010 remake of erotic thriller The Housemaid. LKFF celebrates her legacy. 

Broaden your horizons

As much as we’ve all enjoyed Squid Game, and all it’s unique aesthetics, it’s time to move on to pastures new. Let’s treat our new favourite drama as the first stepping stone in the Korean cinema journey. At the end of this quest, there’s also a reward. It’s not an enormous amount of cash but something even better. A window to another cultural dimension that impatiently waits for us to be opened. It’s priceless. 

Discover new indie talent

Despite the pandemic-caused surge in arts, Korean independent cinema has managed to stand its ground and even flourished on poor post-covid soil. Indie directors’ focus is usually on the characters, central to the core of the stories. They’re not your typical protagonists but unusual, bit broken, people offering incredible insights into alternative lifestyles and different worldviews. There are plenty of tales to choose from: Limecrime, a drama about two boys obsessed with hip-hop, Made on the Rooftop, a heart-break romance screened first at Seoul International Pride Film Festival’ and many more. 

Celebrating female voices

Though it seems like the film industry does its best to push for more marginalised genders’ representation, it’s still baby-stepping. The change is a process so it’s great to see the festival introducing to the international audience to two vital films by women: Director Lee Woo-jung’s Snowball and Co-directors Park Sohyun, Kangyu Garam, Soram and Lee Somyi’s #AfterMeToo. First is a coming-out-of-age story about teenage girls and the need to escape the familiar, and the latter comments on post-movement activism and resistance.

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