Virtual Event: Korean movie talk with Paul Quinn, 24 August 2021

Posted by: Hannah Giles  |  Posted on: August 3rd, 2021

Off the Wall:
Korean movies outside of the mainstream


Tuesday 24th August 2021

6:30pm – 8:00pm via Zoom

Speaker: Hangul Celluloid’s Paul Quinn


Register via Eventbrite



In a talk that takes a refreshing look at the post-2000 movies that weren’t part of the “Asia Extreme” Korean movie “mainstream”, Korean movie critic and podcaster Paul Quinn argues that some of those quirky, genre-bending movies can tell you more about Korean culture and society than a stereotypical blood-drenched revenge thriller.


Paul will talk for around 45 minutes, after which there will be plenty of time for Q&A. The session will end by 8pm.


The event is open to non-members of the British Korean Society, though attendees are encouraged to join the BKS to support our work and make future events like this possible. Find out more here.


Please register via Eventbrite.

Once you have registered you will be sent a Zoom link.





Today, post Parasite, there can be few international film fans unaware of Korean cinema.

But in the late 90s and early 2000s the story was almost the polar opposite. 20 years ago,

Korean cinema’s emergence onto the World Stage had barely begun; films were being released

in the West as a trickle rather than a flood; and even international film critics struggled to

relate Korean cinema to something already familiar.


For example, the tagline on the UK DVD release of Lee Myung-se’s 1999 classic Nowhere to

Hide asked “Is Hollywood ready for the next John Woo?” That release was on the Tartan Asia

Extreme label which from 2001 quickly became one of the main access points to Asian films in

the UK. The Asia Extreme label focused almost exclusively on hard-boiled, violent and/or

controversial content and, as Korean film was far more an unknown quantity than output

from Hong Kong and the like, the misconception that Korean cinema is inherently violent

almost invariably followed.


Meanwhile, back in Korea, at that very time cinemas were full to bursting with movies from

directors bringing new and vibrant originality and ingenuity to each and every genre. In stark

contrast to the largely false ‘inherently violent’ perception of Western audiences who simply

hadn’t had access to a broad enough range of Korean films, many film-makers from the so-called

“New Korean Cinema” (NKC) wave were choosing to use wit in narratives to centre on

the humane — rather than blood to focus on inhuman. They realised that the seemingly

innocuous and eccentric could surreptitiously deliver much-needed social critique far more

easily than overt depictions of guns, fists and Oldboy hammers, in an industry where societal

and political criticism was still a deeply dangerous minefield.


This talk will discuss that noticeably quirky side of Korean cinema during and since the NKC

wave and the seminal, genre-bending, off the wall narratives repeatedly used not only

to entertain and uplift but also quietly and subtly to give a deft insight into Korean culture

and specifically point to pivotal historical events, societal issues and injustices that were

still difficult to talk about openly, in a far more enticing and ‘masses-accessible’ manner than

violent content alone ever could.




Paul Quinn has been critiquing Korean cinema since 2008, when he launched the Hangul

Celluloid Korean film review and interview website ( Through

the following years to the present day, he has also written Korean film reviews and Korean

culture articles for a number of in-print and online magazines, including Neo, Unfolded,

the London Korean Film Festival brochure and the KCCUK newsletter; he has given Korean

film talks at various UK institutions and universities; and was published in Intellect

Books’ Directory of World Cinema: South Korea, covering the Korean romantic comedy genre.

Currently, as well as continuing Hangul Celluloid’s Korean film review output, Paul Quinn is

also involved in the ‘What’s Korean Cinema?’ podcast giving cultural and historical context

to films discussed, in the process being asked to compile director and cast interview questions

for Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release of Kim Ki-young’s Woman Chasing the Butterfly of

Death and (in collaboration with the Podcast on Fire network) provide a full-film audio

commentary for the disc’s extra features.



2 Responses

  1. […] Virtual Event: Korean movie talk with Paul Quinn, 24 August 2021 […]

  2. […] The talk, organised by the British Korean Society, is open to non-members (though obviously you are strongly encouraged to join!). Full details and Eventbrite link can be found on the BKS website. […]

Leave a Comment