With the 4th Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) now underaway, festival blogger Michael Collins takes a look at this year’s films, the darker side of the K-Pop phenomenon and considers the culinary offerings of the burgeoning Korean Wave here in Melbourne:
Korean pop culture is now rooted firmly in the world’s consciousness. PSY’s Gangnam Style has put K-Pop and Korean culture on the map, but there’s much more to the genre than flawlessly crafted dance numbers and heady pop tunes.
The feature documentary 9 Muses of the Star Empire, showing at this year’s festival, explores the extreme training and work schedules imposed on would be K-Idols.
Director Lee Hark-joon’s film follows the difficult birth of a K-Pop group, the thoroughly modern odyssey of how the performers cope with the pressures from their management as well as their own ambitions and dreams. This is the most in depth look there’s been so far of the carefully constructed idols.
The performers are filmed over the course of a year, enduring hard work and intense pressure that goes beyond the breaking point, often driving the stars to tears.
As a PR consultant in the documentary tells the members of 9 Muses, “image is everything”.
While K-Pop has thus far been the primary catalyst of Hallyu (한류; ‘Korean Wave‘), another important element is food.
Korean food is quickly becoming a favoured alternative to ramen and dumplings and in a city with an ever-evolving palate, certain areas of the Victorian capital are embracing Korean food with an insatiable appetite.
From the CBD to the expanding K-Town area of North Melbourne, marinated galbi and nakji are becoming local favourites – not to mention the delectable fried chicken – which will have you swearing never to return to a certain colonel.
Enjoying a sumptuous Korean BBQ or hotspot could be just the thing you need before heading off to a KOFFIA film.
Aside from 9 Muses of Star Empire, other films on offer include Korean ganster flicks, Pieta and Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, and the award-winning period thriller Masquerade, which won an unprecedented haul of 15 Daejong Film Awards.
So hwanho! Come along and lift your soju to the best of Korean culture at this year’s festival.
– Michael Collins, KOFFIA Blogger
The 4th Korean Film Festival in Australia runs from Thursday 5 September to Wednesday 11 September 2013. Tickets on sale now.