KCCNY & NYAFF Present A League of Its Own: Hit Korean Baseball Movies at Home, July 16-26

2020 is proving a banner year for Korea: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite made Oscar history; the nation’s widely praised response to the Coronavirus epidemic made headlines, and now Korean Baseball goes live on ESPN… finally! This is the perfect time for an event that pairs two blockbuster sectors of the entertainment business at which the country excels: Baseball and Cinema. Korean Cultural Center New York (KCCNY) and the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) team up to present a free streaming series that highlights Korea’s glorious sports history, pitching legends, and the peninsula’s favorite baseball teams through a selection of three major films of the genre streaming free and unlimited from July 16 to 26. Whether you’re a KBO League fan or a Korean cinema lover, this exclusive online event offers the thrills that you’ve been craving after months of quarantine!

The lineup consist of:

Mr. Go (Kim Yong-hwa, 2013)

From the director of Along with the Gods and 200 Pounds Beauty, massive baseball blockbuster movie Mr. Go follows this insane premise: what if… a Chinese circus-trained gorilla joined a major Korean baseball league? In other words, it’s the perfect film for a world gone bananas. At turns unexpectedly realistic and laugh-out-loud hilarious, this warm tale of a debt-ridden Chinese kid and her bat-swinging, show-stealing primate friend, brings jaw-dropping action and plenty of emotion to the screen. Facing tragic circumstances and a rather nasty loan shark, the unlikely pair is forced to relocate to Seoul, where they end up leading the Doosan Bears to a prodigious winning streak. That is, until a second ape shows up in the game! And it’s not just about the grand spectacle of CGI-crafted gorillas going apesh*t on each other, the film also prominently features the teams and fields of the KBO, including the brief cameos of MLB superstars Ryu Hyun-jin and Choo Shin-soo.

Perfect Game (Park Hee-gon, 2011)

This stirring drama is based on a legendary real life game that rocked Korea in the 1980s. As the country struggled towards democracy in a time of unrest, baseball mania took the public by storm. Fans across the nation were enthralled by the rise of two titan pitchers: Choi Dong-won (Cho Seung-woo), the ace of the Lotte Giants, and Sun Dong-yeol (Yang Dong-geun), the rising star of the Haitai Tigers (now the Kia Tigers). Regional allegiances put their once friendly rivalry to the ultimate test as tensions mount and the stakes are raised to feverish heights.

YMCA Baseball Team (Kim Hyun-seok, 2002)

Like many of the best Korean films, YMCA Baseball Team blends and bends genre, defying easy categorization and labeling: a landmark of the sport movie genre and a comedy that effortlessly blends the slapstick, the social critique and the cleverly quirky; it also revisits early colonial history and turns the spotlight on the true story of the first Korean baseball team. In this tale of rivalry and resistance to colonial oppression, a scholar-gentleman’s son refuses to follow the path his father has set for him and devotes himself to the foreign sport. Awkward team-building (in class-ridden early 20th century Korea), friendships and maybe a touch of romance awaits as the rookie Korean sluggers and pitchers prepare for the ultimate game against the Japanese military team. Oh, and it’s also the occasion to appreciate the finest of the finest Korean actors and see what they were like 18 years ago… Song Kang-ho, Hwang Jung-min, Kim Hye-soo and the late Kim Joo-hyuk lead the team: A different league indeed.

Enjoy these films for free at koreanmovienight.org