New York Museum to Feature Work of Im Kwon-taek

      December 17, 2003 16:04

      Im Kwon-taek

      New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) is planning to invite Korean screen master Im Kwon-taek to perform a retrospective of his work next February. MoMA plans to conduct double showings of 15 of the director's representative works between Feb. 5 and Feb. 23 at the museum's Gramercy Theatre. It will be the highest number of films ever shown during a retrospective at the museum.

      Korean films are not well known in the United States, but Im is steadily earning more recognition. Im's film "Chihwaseon," based on a life of painter Jang Seung-yeop, won him the award for Best Director at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

      Founded in 1928, MoMA has included film as an art form since 1935 and has dedicated a separate exhibition hall for the showing of movies 365 days a year. The museum has a collection of 45,000 films from around the world, and organizers the world over rely on material from MoMA when organizing movie events and programs.

      Clint Eastwood said that the biggest honor he has received during his life was holding a retrospective at the MoMA -- a sign of how great the honor is for Im.

      During an exhibit titled "10 Years of Korean Film" held at MoMA in 1993, New Yorkers gave a good response to 11 of Im's films, including "Seopyeonjae." In 1996, directors Im, Shin Sang-ok and Yu Hyeon-mok got together for the showing of 15 of their films, and in March 2002 Shin was honored with a retrospective. According to Han Dong-shin, the president of Open Work, a company promoting Korean art in the United States, it is unprecedented to have two directors from the same country be honored with a retrospective at MoMA within one year.

      Im has directed 99 films since his 1962 debut, "Be well, Tumen River,", and has been the mainstay of Korean cinema since the May 16, 1961 military coup under Park Chung-hee. Im began to get the world's attention with his 1981 film, "Mandara," in which he created his own unique world. Among the 15 films MoMA plans to show, "Gilsoddeum" displays the pain of separated families, while "Jagko" and "The Taebaek Mountains" convey the pain of the Korean people after the Korean War. Films such as "The Surrogate Woman," "Come Come Come Upward," "Seopyeonje" and "Ticket" portray the tenacity of Korean women, while "Chunhyang" tells of Im's hometown in Jangseong, South Jeolla Province. The work is often described as masterful renderings of Korean emotion.

      Han Dong-shin said that the works selected for Im's retrospective were chosen because they deal deeply with Korean culture, society, and politics, which Americans and the American media know little about.

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