Long before Bong Joon Ho, Hong Sangsoo, and Park Chan-wook catapulted South Korean cinema onto the world stage, the foundation of their country’s film industry formed in the aftermath of the Korean War.
The period kickstarted a wealth of eclectic and innovative filmmaking that culminated in the 1960s. Closer inspection of this decade, now widely considered Korea’s premier film renaissance, reveals the arrival of seminal works from auteurs such as Kim Ki-young, Shin Sang-ok, Yu Hyun-mok, Kim Soo-yong, and Lee Man-hee, alongside a meteoric rise and reinvention of genres—from melodramas and period epics to action, horror, war, and giant monster movies.
Although the military dictatorship still imposed tight constraints throughout this era, what these filmmakers managed to accomplish under such conditions, in arthouse fare and unabashed popular entertainment alike, continues to reverberate and inspire to this day. This September, Film at Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema are thrilled to showcase this rich period and its remarkably varied films, encapsulating a generation’s collective endeavor to define a national cinema.
Highlights include Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid, one of the unquestionable masterpieces of Korean cinema which tells the story of a bizarre ménage à trois formed between a music teacher, his wife, and their increasingly assertive housemaid; Kang Dae-jin’s The Coachman, the first Korean film to win a major overseas award, the Silver Bear (Special Jury Prize) at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival; Hong Eun-won’s A Woman Judge, the second Korean feature to be directed by a woman and considered lost for more than 50 years until a 16mm print was recovered in 2015; Special Agent X-7, a highly entertaining and beautifully shot color spy film from Chung Chang-wha (The King Boxer), which was also long considered lost until the 35mm print was discovered in 2013; Kim Kee-duk’s The Great Monster Yonggary aka Yongary, Monster from the Deep, Korea’s first monster movie and an entertaining take on Godzilla and Gamera “that’s long on rampages and short on sensible behavior”; Shin Dong-hun’s The Story of Hong Gil-dong, South Korea’s very first animated feature film which follows the iconic Robin Hood-like figure Hong Gil-dong and was considered lost until 2008; and A Day Off, Lee Man-hee’s spare, lyrical film concerning the strained relationship of a poor young couple, belatedly recognized as one of the decade’s masterpieces after censors refused to allow its release.
Organized by Young Jin Eric Choi, Goran Topalovic, and Tyler Wilson. Co-presented by Subway Cinema in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center New York and the Korean Film Archive.
Choi Jee-Woong and PROPAGANDA; Darcy Paquet; Kyungmi Kim; Taekyung Goh; SRS Cinema; Chae Yunsun; Kwon Munkyu; Sung Yeon Tae; Shon Kisoo; Roh Changwoo
New RestorationThe Coachman is a crowd-pleasing drama told with warmth and sympathy about a family trying to lift its way out of poverty and into the middle class, and a revealing portrait of a society in transition. Winner of the Silver Bear (Special Jury Prize) at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival.
Intro by Young Jin Eric Choi on Sept. 5The second Korean feature to be directed by a woman, A Woman Judge is a revelatory directorial debut from Hong Eun-won that deftly weaves together elements of family melodrama, detective procedural, and courtroom drama to tell a compelling story that resonates to this day.
New RestorationAnother masterpiece from Kim Ki-young (The Housemaid), Goryeojang is a dark fairy tale about maintaining one’s humanity amid the inherent corruption of human society, and the disastrous consequences of fear-based politics, told within the microcosm of a famine-inflicted village.
International Premiere of New 4K RestorationLee Man-hee’s breakthrough feature, The Marines Who Never Returned, remains one of the greatest Korean War films ever made, skillfully balancing tense battle sequences and heartfelt camaraderie between the soldiers and their newly adopted orphan girl.
Programmer Intro on Sept. 1Mixing humor and social critique in its story of a poor young troublemaker who falls in love with a wealthy ambassador’s daughter, The Barefooted Young is the finest example of Korea’s “youth film” genre.
New RemasterA young man and woman under anesthesia for oral surgery meet in a shared dream and fall into an increasingly bizarre love triangle with their dentist in Yu Hyun-mok’s lusty and sinister headtrip of a film.
New RestorationDirector Lee Yong-min applies his exaggerated and slightly absurd style to a classic Korean horror story template about a woman who is deceived, betrayed, and killed before coming back as an angry ghost to exact her revenge.
Presented on 35mm!A deep and searching exploration of community with gestures of sapphic desire, The Seashore Village offers a fascinating, radical examination of postwar Korea’s fractured sense of identity and unfolds in sumptuous, on-location black-and-white cinematography.
Live DJ Score · International PremiereThe Korean Intelligence Agency dispatches its top agent, X-7, to put a stop to a gold-smuggling operation run by North Korean spies in Hong Kong in this highly entertaining and beautifully shot color spy film from Chung Chang-wha (The King Boxer).
Intro by Young Jin Eric Choi on Sept. 5This epic co-production between Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studio and Korea’s Shin Films spectacularly reimagines the tale of princess Miao Shan, played in this Korean version by legendary actress Choi Eun-hee.
Presented on 35mm!Korea’s first monster movie is an entertaining take on Godzilla and Gamera “that’s long on rampages and short on sensible behavior," according to Mystery Science Theater 3K.
New RestorationThe iconic Robin Hood-like figure of Hong Gil-dong, who became the champion of the poor by stealing from the corrupt Joseon Dynasty officials, comes vividly to life in South Korea’s very first animated feature film.
New RestorationA delightful companion piece to The Story of Hong Gil-dong, Shin Dong-hun’s second animated feature tells the story of Hopi, a tiger-skin-wearing thief, who turns over a new leaf after being trained in martial arts by Master Sakpung, and ultimately defends the country from an attack by a Jurchen general.
New RestorationShot in widescreen with sharp black-and-white visuals, Kim Soo-yong’s dramatically tense and visually stunning war drama follows a deserter from the North Korean People’s Army and his encounter with a pair of widows living in a southwestern rural village.
Presented on 35mm!Director Chung Chang-wha (The King Boxer) tells a revenge tale set in the Joseon Dynasty period and in the process creates a distinctly Korean-style sword-fighting action film.
Presented on 35mm!A tale of doomed romance and Joseon Dynasty palace power games, Eunuch is a lush widescreen technicolor entertainment with elements of sensuous eroticism and bursts of violence that critiques the oppressive social structure of the past, especially when it comes to the role of women.
Tickets are $17; $14 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $12 for FLC Members.
See more and save with a 3+ Film Package ($15 for GP; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for FLC Members) or All-Access Pass: $125 for General Public and $99 for Students. Please note our double-feature screenings are excluded from the 3+ Film Package.
Add dinner at Café Paradiso, located in FLC’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, with our $30 Dinner + Movie Combo.
Enjoy two films for the price of one at select double features! Valid on September 2 & 17 with The Story of Hong Gil-dong + Hopi and Chadol-bawi, September 9 & 16 with The Great Monster Yonggary + Space Monster Wangmagwi, and September 14 with A Swordsman in the Twilight + Special Agent X-7. Discount automatically applied when adding both tickets to your cart; double features excluded from 3+ Film Package.
Passes are available to pick up at the box office. Your pass will grant access to one (1) for every film in the series, with exceptions listed on our website where applicable. We recommend arriving at least 15 minutes prior to a screening as late seating cannot be guaranteed. Student All-Access Pass holders must present a valid student ID when picking up their pass at the box office.
Complimentary tickets for FLC Members and Patrons are eligible for standard-priced screenings and events in this series. Learn more about becoming an FLC Member.