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Korean films ready for summer blockbuster season

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Song Kang-ho is seen in the upcoming film 'The King's Letters.' / Courtesy of Megabox
Song Kang-ho is seen in the upcoming film 'The King's Letters.' / Courtesy of Megabox

By Park Jin-hai

Upcoming Korean films are fully loaded with diverse genres and star casts, targeting audiences for the summer peak season.

From classic period dramas and disaster movies to films about the occult and thrillers, Korean films hiring veteran actors and rising stars will vie fiercely for viewers' attention in the most lucrative season of the year. Traditionally, cinema admissions tallied between July and August amount to 50 million, or approximately one quarter of the annual total. During the period between late July and late August, in particular, when most students and workers are on summer vacation, local movie theaters see 35 million tickets sold.

It is a boon for movie fans, fatigued with a lack of diversity in Korean films.

Veteran actor Song Kang-ho, the star of award-winning film "Parasite," will return as King Sejong, or Sejong the Great, in the upcoming period film "The King's Letters." The film will feature the last eight years of the fourth king of the 1392-1910 Joseon Kingdom. When only Chinese characters were used, knowledge was monopolized by people with power, so the king teams up with venerable monk Shin-mi, played by Park Hae-il, to invent Hangeul in 1443, which became Korea's popular writing system.

In Cho Chul-hyun's directorial debut, actor Song is expected to unearth various other aspects of the king as a human being than what people know of as the inventor of Hangeul. It will hit local theaters on July 24.

A scene from the film
A scene from the film "EXIT" / Courtesy of CJ Entertainment

The disaster comedy film "EXIT" will be released soon after. The film, starring Jo Jung-suk and Im Yoon-ah, tells the story of the young, unemployed Yong-nam, played by Jo, and his former college club junior Eui-joo, played by Im, and their reunion interrupted by a disaster. The two work together to escape the city attacked by a mysterious toxic gas.

Expectations are high for the film's mix of action-filled spectacles and comic elements. "EXIT" will be released on July 31.

Upcoming action film "The Divine Fury," starring heartthrob Park Seo-joon and veteran actor Ahn Sung-ki, will tell the tale of a martial arts champion and a priest who team up in order to fight a powerful evil force. Actor Park takes the role of a champion who gains divine powers. It will be action-packed along with occult elements.

"In the scenes shooting people getting possessed by evil spirits, we incorporated analogue filming methods and digital methods to make entirely new scenes. It includes a lot of spectacles and movie fans will be able to enjoy both Japanese type horror and Western horror elements in the film," Jason Kim, screenwriter and director of the film, told local media recently. "The Divine Fury" will be released in late July.

"Battle of Fengwudong," starring Yu Hae-jin and Ryu Jun-yeol, will invite moviegoers into the historic battle of June 1920, between Korean independence militias and Japanese forces in Manchuria.

It has been recorded as one of the earliest domestic support operations of the Korean independence fighters, who made the battle a victory despite a notable handicap in weapons and number of fighters.

The war action flick will hit local theaters in August.

Park Jin-hai


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