After a mostly digital edition in 2020 the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) is pleased to be returning to cinema screens across the UK's capital for its 16th year, running from 4 - 19 November 2021. With the biggest programme dedicated to Korean cinema outside of the country itself, the festival is proud to present a rich and diverse line-up showcasing the year's biggest box-office hits, independent cinema, women's voices, animation, documentary, award winning shorts, plus a Special Focus celebrating the career of iconic actor and 2021 Academy Award winner Youn Yuh-jung.
This year's LKFF will begin on 4 November with an exciting Opening Gala from action cinema maestro Ryoo Seung-wan (The City of Violence, 2006; Veteran, 2015), one of Korea's biggest directors of blockbuster smash-hits, the UK Premiere of action-packed true-life political drama, Escape from Mogadishu (2021). Set in the capital of Somalia during the country’s 1991 Civil War, the film centres on the staff of the South Korean embassy who become trapped as war rages on the streets around them. Stranded and under fire, the group are approached by their counterparts from the North Korean embassy. Opting for an unlikely team-up, they make an audacious plan to reach the airport and escape the country. The film stars Kim Yoon-suk (The Chaser, 2008), Zo In-sung (The King, 2017) and Huh Joon-ho (The Merciless, 2017) and skyrocketed up the charts on its Korean release this year, surpassing 3 million admissions within a month to become the highest grossing film of 2021. The festival's Closing Gala on 19 November will be the UK Premiere of Im Sang-soo's Heaven: To the Land of Happiness (2020). Invited to screen at Cannes in 2020 and set to open Busan International Film Festival in October, this screening offers an early look at the latest work from an internationally renowned director to a London audience. Starring Choi Min-sik (Oldboy, 2003; I Saw the Devil, 2010) and Park Hae-il (The Host, 2006; Memories of Murder, 2003) and featuring the festival's Special Focus star Youn Yuh-jung in her fourth collaboration with director Im, the film is a warm-hearted road trip that follows two men, one an escaped convict, who get their hands on a large sum of money and take to the road dreaming of how they can use the cash to better their lives. A knockabout crime caper on its surface, with captivating action set-pieces involving both the cops and the gangsters that are hot on the heels of the mismatched pair, the film reveals itself to be a thought-provoking meditation on life and happiness as it takes us on a journey down its twisting roads.
Following the historic Academy Award wins of Bong Joon-ho's Parasite (2019), the depth of talent within Korea's screen industry has continued to be highlighted on the international stage this year. Not only has Netflix's recent TV phenomenon Squid Game (2021) taken the '#1 show’ spot in over 90 countries around the globe, but further awards success arrived earlier this year when veteran actor Youn Yuh-jung picked up Best Supporting Actress Awards at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs for her role in Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020). With these momentous award wins and her incredible performance still fresh in the minds of UK film fans, not to mention her unforgettable acceptance speeches, the LKFF is inviting audiences to take a deep-dive into the back-catalogue of this extraordinary actor with the strand Special Focus: Youn Yuh-Jung. This programme will draw from across Youn's career with retrospective screenings to present a comprehensive look at one of Korea’s most celebrated performers.