The South Korean investment/production bubble has popped and the local industry is suffering from the after-effects of an injection of too much blind and eager money into the sector. But the few new films that have managed to struggle through are worth checking out.
Period films are going strong. CJ Entertainment has Jeon Yoon-soo's sexy biopic of 18th-century artist Shin Yoon-bok, Portrait Of A Beauty. The film, which stars Kim Min-sun, hypothesises he was actually a woman masquerading as a man.
Fine Cut is handling Choi Ho's dictatorship-era rock-music film Go Go 70s, while Studio 2.0 will be showcasing the action drama Once Upon A Time In Seoul, about street orphans in the ganglands of the post-Korean War era.
On a lighter note, Studio 2.0 has holiday film Romantic Island starring Lee Sun-kyun from the hit local TV series Coffee Prince; CJ has My Wife Got Married, based on a bestselling novel about a woman who refuses to love just one man; and Fine Cut will showcase Min Kyu-dong's Antique, a gay-themed romantic mystery based on a popular Japanese manga.
Korean sales companies are reaching outside their territories to foreign films. Fine Cut/Cineclick Asia is handling Siddiq Barmak's Afghanistan-set Opium War which premiered at the Rome International Film Festival, and M-Line has the UK comedy Sisterhood and US psycho thriller The Torturer.
However, Korean sales agents have few market premieres on their AFM slates having taken advantage of the recent Pusan festival and market and, to a lesser extent, Tokyo and Tiffcom. Low-budget arthouse films such as Pusan's New Currents award co-winner Land Of Scarecrows, sold by Studio 2.0, and M-Line's psycho horror film Evil Spirit: VIY had their debuts at Pusan.
At Pusan and then Tiffcom, Mirovision drummed up interest for this summer's big horror film Death Bell. All will be offered to buyers in Santa Monica.