While Adam is in the middle of his week-long Hong Sangsoo series, now is the best time to let everyone know that The Korean Film Archive (KOFA), a Seoul-based organization dedicated to the preservation and archiving of its country’s films, has made available seventy classic films from the ’50s to the ’90s on YouTube for free viewing now. This news was first reported on Twitter several months ago by Darcy Paquet of koreanfilm.org (itself a cleearinghouse for Korean film writing in English) and it’s a pleasant surprise that the project has already come to fruition.
What’s exciting is that these aren’t umpteenth generation VHS copies chopped into multiple parts without subtitles; they are well-preserved and rendered (several are HD) full length films with subtitles optional with YouTube’s closed captioning and interactive transcript features. One drawback I’ve found is that KOFA did not allow viewing of these films on devices of any sort, including handhelds (iPods, iPhones) or set-top boxes, so you will be confined to your computer desk or will have to hook your computer to your TV. However, all of that is worth the chance to see the exciting range of obscure and extremely rare titles that they’ve put up: Kim Ki-young’s Woman of Fire (1971), Im Kwon-taek’s Sopyeonje (1993), Kang Dae-jin’s A Coachman (1961) and many, many more. Simply put, to paraphrase my friend John, this is Korean film history in a single package.
Head on over to KOFA’s YouTube channel and get started watching!