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A New Wave of K-cinema: Korean women directors

Presented by Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

This screening series, which consists of contemporary films directed by Korean women, will feature films that explore the complexities of diverse conditions, including the trauma of domestic violence, investigations into gender and class politics, humanity's relation to nature and the environment, and love and friendship. Use the code "KoreanWomen" for a $2 discount on any screening in the series!

Thursday, June 8, 2023 to Thursday, June 29, 2023


This screening series, which consists of contemporary films directed by Korean women, opens with two works by Yim Soon-rye, a prominent director and an advocate for women in film. The films explore the complexities of diverse conditions, including the trauma of domestic violence, investigations into gender and class politics, humanity’s relation to nature and the environment, and love and friendship. Each film in the series conveys its narrative through the unique lens of its director’s keen perception, remarkable sensibility, and earnest engagement with its subjects. Take a 10-film tour through this new wave of Korean women directors.

Screenings will take place throughout the month of June, and all films will be shown in the museum's Ted Mann Theater.

  • June 8, 7:30pm | WAIKIKI BROTHERS (2001)
  • June 10, 3:00pm | LITTLE FOREST (2018)
  • June 11, 3:00pm | KIM JI-YOUNG, BORN 1982 (2019)
  • June 15, 7:30pm | HELPLESS (2012)
  • June 17, 3:00pm | CART (2014)
  • June 18, 3:00pm | LUCKY CHAN-SIL (2019)
    In-person conversation with Director Kim Cho-hee
  • June 22, 7:30pm | NEXT SOHEE (2022)
    In-person conversation with Director July Jung & Actor Kim Si-eun
  • June 24, 3:00pm | CRUSH AND BLUSH (2008)
  • June 25, 3:00pm | TAKE CARE OF MY CAT (2001)
  • June 29, 7:30pm | PAJU (2009)

June 8, 2023 | 7:30 pm | Waikiki Brothers: Yim Soon-rye’s second feature received incredible critical response upon its release in 2001, establishing Yim as one of Korea’s most significant directors. Seong-woo, lead singer and guitarist of Waikiki Brothers—a band originally formed with his friends back in high school—returns to his hometown with his bandmates in the hopes of sustaining their fragile lifeline. Unsurprisingly, the band stagnates, and Seong-woo is torn between the dream that’s out of reach and his thin grasp on reality. Yim’s insightful and humane perception of the cruel split between reality and dream in Korean modern society permeates this portrayal of her sympathetic and intricate characters.

June 10, 2023 | 3:00 pm | Little Forest: Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden) plays Hye-won, a young woman who returns to her childhood home in the country to escape the disappointments of city life, where she is greeted by an empty house and “Little Forest,” her mom’s old garden. Based on the synonymous popular manga series by Daisuke Igarashi, Yim’s film is a soothing entity that gently guides one through the landscape of beauty and happiness to realize the simple value of daily life. Little Forest encourages us to perceive our lives, and indeed the world, with an eye toward modest mindfulness.

June 11, 2023 | 3:00 pm | Kim Ji-Young, Born 1982: Kim Do-young’s debut feature is based on Cho Nam-ju’s bestselling novel of the same name. Upon its 2016 publication, the book prompted controversy among men in Korea, a phenomenon that deepened the valley between women and men in the country and added fuel to the hostility against feminism. Ji-young is an ordinary woman in her late 30s who tries her best to ensure everyone’s happiness, all the while subconsciously unleashing accumulations of repression, discrimination, and self-abandonment that manifest in metaphysical forms. This film may be about one woman, but it is also about the rest of us.

June 15, 2023 | 7:30 pm | Helpless: Kim Min-hee’s (The Handmaiden) brilliance shines through in her masterful performance in Byun Young-joo’s third narrative feature. Based on the bestselling Japanese novel Kasha (All She Was Worth) by Miyuki Miyabe, Helpless is a psychological thriller about Seon-yeong’s (Kim) sudden disappearance and the devastating truth about her past, which slowly reveals itself during her fiancé’s (Lee Sun-kyun, Parasite) investigation. Seon-yeong, an ultimate embodiment of social, cultural, emotional, and moral violence and exploitation, was never given a fair shake. There is no room for redemption or hoping for better days in Seon-yeong’s life. As the title suggests, there is only endless agony.

June 17, 2023 | 3:00 pm | Cart: Cart, based on a true event, is Boo Ji-young’s second feature dealing with labor rights and deeply rooted issues of work exploitation especially geared toward part-time, temp workers in Korea. Sun-hee is a rather docile, passive worker who hopes to finally become a full-time employee after five years of earnest dedication at a corporate supermarket. When she and her coworkers receive sudden texts from the company notifying them of their termination, instead of remaining passive, they unite and fight back.

June 18, 2023 | 3:00 pm | Lucky Chan-sil: Chan-sil is a 40-something Ozu enthusiast who finds herself unemployed after the sudden death of her longtime employer, a renowned film director. Penniless, she makes desperate attempts to survive. Despite some existential disillusions, Chan-sil wants to move forward by living sincerely, committed to the modest, genuine values in her life. Inspired by her personal story, director Kim Cho-hee shares her candid insights into life through her portrayal of Chan-sil, underscoring her values of love and kindness, but also life’s random variables and unresolvable distresses, for a film that ultimately conveys a message of liberation, happiness, and decency.

June 22, 2023 | 7:30 pm | Next Sohee: Bae Doona (The Host) plays a detective investigating the death of high school senior Sohee, an apprentice at a call center where horrific, exploitative working conditions are common practice. Based on a true story, Next Sohee depicts the jarring reality of marginalized workers in a society that values inhumane competitiveness while promoting compliance in the name of the “common good.” Jung July’s insightful criticism on a capitalistic society that justifies oppression is manifested through the endless cycles of devastation and destruction in which Sohee, and many other “next Sohees,” are placed.

June 24, 2023 | 3:00 pm | Crush and Blush: Lee Kyoung-mi’s debut film Crush and Blush is a delightful comedy featuring Kong Hyo-jin. Co-written with Park Eun-gyo and Park Chan-wook, the film centers around Yang Mi-sook, a high school teacher who struggles with a chronic condition that causes her face to turn extremely red, especially under stressful circumstances. The drama begins when she shamelessly pursues a married colleague, who was once her teacher, after ten years of an enduring crush. Determined to succeed in her love mission, she boldly marches on embracing herself, however seemingly unpopular or uninteresting.

June 25, 2023 | 3:00 pm | Take Care of My Cat: Jeong Jae-eun’s debut feature, Take Care of My Cat, beautifully captures the essence of camaraderie between five high school girls and how their dynamics shift as they enter adulthood. Five friends grow apart as their lives take them in different directions until a stray cat shows up. Jeong’s sophisticated perceptions of girlhood and womanhood are employed in her intricate cinematic language used to portray friendships and the way environment and life changes influence relationships.

June 29, 2023 | 7:30 pm | Paju: Park Chan-ok’s second feature swims through the complex layers of humanity. Eun-mo is suspicious of her brother-in-law Joong-sik for her sister’s death, yet somehow helplessly gravitates toward him. Park’s mastery of storytelling contours the seemingly tranquil base tonality, with a perfect amount of grey, cold, and melancholy. Eun-mo’s love for Joong-sik also becomes a suffocation of its own, and Park’s brilliance blurs the dichotomous line of outcomes, navigating audiences through the unknown particles in everything, including human feeling. Paju is a lesson in letting go of one’s desire in the hopes of understanding everything.

Tickets to the Academy Museum are available only through advance online reservations via the Academy Museum’s website and mobile app. 

Film screening tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors (age 62+), and $5 for students and children (age 17-). Matinees are $5 for all. Ticket prices for Academy Museum members are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students, children, and matinee-goers.

General admission tickets for the museum’s exhibitions are $25 for adults, $19 for seniors (age 62+), and $15 for students. Admission for visitors ages 17 and younger, and for California residents with an EBT card is free.

Use the code KoreanWomen for a $2 discount on any screening in the series!

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