Movies and books are alike each other in that regardless of their different production methods, they are records with stories embedded in them. Korean movies have never stopped advancing, and the Korean film industry is marking its 101st anniversary this year. Korean movies once were marginalized in the global film industry, but with all the hard work and passion of the filmmakers to push into the global market, their reputation has grown significantly on the global stage. In particular, “Parasite” from director Bong Joon-Ho recently won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay, the Academy Award for Best Director, and even the Academy Award for Best Picture, winning a total of four honors at the 92nd Academy Awards. This is truly a milestone achievement in the history of Korea’s film industry.
In addition, books have often become the source for movies in the history of Korean cinema, while being records of movies in the form of screenplays and review collections. Below are books related to movies that have been popular in the news.
How to share impressions with others
Some people record their impressions and assessment of a movie in a written form. The comments written by movie critics work as a standard for the audience that has not yet seen the movie and a channel for active communication for those that have watched it.
Lee Dong-Jin, a film critic and a broadcaster on TV, announced <Movies Begin Twice (Wisdom House)> in 2019, which is a 20-year collection of his film reviews. It contains his comments for a total of 208 movies, including those he has announced until today and those he has newly written for the book. Anyone reading through the book would be able to look back at the past 20 years of critic Lee Dong-Jin, the film industry, and the reader him/herself.
Also, another film critic Kim Jong-Won who has been one of the most active critics in the Korean film industry for the past 60 years published a critique collection titled <Movies and the Spirit of the Age (Jakga)> marking the 100th anniversary of the Korean film industry. Consisting of mainly three parts – history of films, screenwriters & actors/actresses, and general movies, the book is like the finale of the industry’s history and an important record.
The Association of Korean Media & Culture that analyzes and announces the characteristics and trends of the 21st-century media culture publishes a critique series with the title <Dissecting 10-Million-View Movies (Play and Human Being)>. As a review collection of movies that hit 10-million viewers in Korea, volumes covering a total of 5 movies such as “Inside Men”, “The Age of Shadows”, “A Taxi Driver”, “Along with the Gods”, and “Parasite” were published, and other collections are expected to join the line.
<Movies Begin Twice>, <Movies and the Spirit of the Age>, <Dissecting 10-Million-View Movies Vol. 5, Parasite>
The lingering taste of movies felt again through letters
Movie-lovers often read the texts of films they watched to feel the lingering impression they had experienced. Regardless of the running time of the movie, some audiences desire to be indulged into the atmosphere and the story of the movie once again. To satisfy them, movie producers publish books about the movies in the form of a screenplay collection or storyboard books.
The movie “Moonlit Winter”, which was the closing film at the 24th Busan International Film Festival in 2019, was an unprecedented middle-age female queer movie in Korean history. A famous Korean actress Kim Hee-Ae and a popular Japanese actress Yuko Nakamura starred as the main characters. Featuring the loss and recovery of love, the movie delicately reverberated among the audience drawing public attention and is now available on Netflix. <Moonlit Winter Scenario (Kl Books)> contains the director’s cut scenario, an interview with the director, and Yuko Nakamura’s first-ever interview in Korea.
Also, the movie “Parasite” by director Bong Joon-Ho presented a special gift to the Korean movie industry and fans with the globally prominent award in 2019, the centenary year of Korean films. <Parasite Scenario & Storyboard Book Set (Plain)> is now available in bookstores. The book is especially meaningful to movie lovers as the “plan for the movie” written and drawn by the director himself can be read in the form of a scenario book and a storyboard book. In particular, the scenario book is ever more cherishable as the reader can take a peek into the director’s world of films from a new perspective after reading his interview. <Parasite Scenario & Storyboard Book Set> had been the talk of the town ranking first among bestsellers on the back of the mega-hit of the movie when it was published.
Meanwhile, the movie “Microhabitat” is a piece that draws the ordinary city life of a lovely main character who is like the modern Little Princess. Not only did the movie win the CGV Arthouse Award at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 43rd Seoul Independent Film Festival, and the Jury Award for Independent Movies at the 16th Florence Korea Film Fest, it also was also watched by 50 thousand people in only 18 days of its release and ranked first among Diversity Movies at the Box Office for three straight weeks, setting new records for Korea’s history of diversity films. <Microhabitat Scenario Book (Bidansoop)> offers other parts uncovered in the movie, which allows readers to have a different experience compared with the original movie.
<Moonlit Winter>, <Parasite Scenario & Storyboard Book Set>, <Microhabitat Scenario Book>
Korean culture seen through videos
The power of stories offered by books not only attracts readers but also lures the audience when they are adapted into a movie. Even though the way books and films carry out the story differs and the success of a book does not always guarantee the success of its movie, the book’s popularity often works as an indicator for movie producers to choose it as the source for their movie.
<Kim Ji Young, Born 1982 (Minumsa)> met the cinema audience through a movie with the same title after it became widely popular among book readers. The book was a perfect replica of the typical life of Korean women in their 30s, which was mainly divided into two stories – the memory of Kim Ji-Young born in 1982, and all sorts of statistics and articles that support her experiences. The movie “Kim Ji Young, Born 1982” also recorded another success ranking first in cinemas after it hit no.1 bestseller in bookstores.
Also, <A Murderer's Mnemonics (Munhakdongne)> by Kim Young-Ha, a star writer in Korea, was made into a movie. It is a thriller in which the story is told from the perspective of a serial killer who “retired” 25 years ago after his 30 years of murder. He slowly loses his memories with the progress of his Alzheimer’s Disease. The movie won the Thriller Prize at the 36th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF) and the Jury Prize at the 10th Beaune International Thriller Film Festival.
There are also many films based on webtoons (webcomics). For example, popular webcomics such as <Secretly, Greatly (Balhae BOOKS)>, <Moss (WJ Funfun)>, <The Neighbor (Munse Books)>, and <Along with the Gods (Munhakdongne)> were adapted into films and received great love from both the fans of the original cartoons and the movies. In particular, the webcomic <Along with the Gods> was also made into a series of movies, where they made a new record by drawing 10 million viewers for each film in the series.
<Kim Ji Young, Born 1982>, <A Murderer's Mnemonics>, <Along with the Gods>
On top of the books introduced above, various movie-related books can be found in Korea including books on film studies such as <Introduction to Film (Konkuk University Press)>, books on writing screenplays for people studying film such as <Scenario (Amor Mundi)> and <Introduction to Dramatization (Sambo)>, books on film directors such as <Bong Joon-Ho, a Director Who Became a Genre Himself (Jakga)>, and books written by directors such as <Park’s Hommage (Maumsanchaek)>.
<Introduction to Film>, <Scenario>, <Bong Joon-Ho, a Director Who Became a Genre Himself>
Korean movies that mark the 101st year of film history this year have been widely recognized by the global film market with numerous pieces being invited to prominent film festivals and winning film awards even before the movie “Parasite” hit the pinnacle in the history of Korean films. Meanwhile, books have always been there supporting the achievements of the film industry. Books and movies are not two different fields, but a single amazing cultural product of Korea. The hope is high for the power the two hold – may they create a positive synergy effect and open a new horizon in the industry.
Written by Choi Ha-Yeong