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‘Ka-ja! Korea through Films’: Korean Film Festival 2023 at SM Cinema

THIS YEAR’S Korean Film Festival (KFF) took audiences on an extraordinary cinematic journey with Korea’s filmmaking excellence, rich and captivating narratives, and breathtaking locations and vistas. Ka-ja! (Let’s go!) Korea through Films: Korean Film Festival 2023 allowed moviegoers to experience the heart and soul of Korea through its carefully curated selection featuring seven award-winning films.

Box-office sensation, “Life is Beautiful”, is a joyful and uplifting musical about a terminally ill wife who asks her husband to help find her childhood sweetheart as a birthday present.

The festival ran from September 23 to 26, 2023, at five SM Cinema branches in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao: SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, SM Seaside Cebu, and SM Lanang. Admission was free and on a first-come, first-served basis.

Add to your must-watch list at the KFF: “The Book of Fish”, a stunning black and white drama by renowned director, Lee Joon-ik.

The Korean Film Festival 2023 was presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines (KCC), in partnership with SM Cinema, the Korean Film Council, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), and the Korea Tourism Organization Manila Office.

Not to be missed is “Gyeongju”, about Choi Hyeon, a well-known professor, who visits a colleague’s funeral and suddenly remembers a painting they saw together from a teahouse in Gyeongju. Wondering if it still exists, he makes a spontaneous trip to the place.
“Director’s Intention” tells the story of Sun-hwa, a location manager in Busan who finds shooting spots for films. One day, she joins a new project out of the blue. But as soon as she walks into the door, she recognizes the director at once. It’s Do-young, her ex-boyfriend who left her and went to Seoul to fulfill his dream. They were lovers in the past but now Sun-hwa has to face him as a business partner. To make things worse, all he says is “no”.

Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-hwa led the opening ceremony recently at the SM Cinema Mall of Asia. He was joined by National Commission for Culture and the Arts Chairperson Victorino Manalo, SM Supermalls Senior Assistant Vice President Perkin So, and Film Development Council of the Philippines Daniel David Morales. Flying in from Korea to join the opening were renowned K-film producers, The Lamp CEO Park Eunkyung, and Film Production Director, Lee Yeonhwa — the creative geniuses behind the box-office sensation, “Life is Beautiful”, which was the festival’s opening film. Both Park and Lee also topbilled the festival’s Meet the Mentor series held at the De De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde.

Audiences will love “Everglow” about a documentary producer, Kyung-hoon, who visits Jeju Island to film Jin-ok, a ‘Haenyeo (female diver)’, who is listed on the Guinness World Records. At first, she strongly refuses to be filmed somehow, however soon she notices Kyung-hoon’s sincere heart and decides to be in the documentary. As they spend more and more time together for shooting, they open up to each other not only their heart, but their deepest wounds related to the ocean. The bond between them shortly grows into love despite their 40-year of age gap.
A beach famous for surfing has been tarnished, which makes surfers worry. A 12-year-old surfer, Bijoo, is also forced to leave due to the beach’s poor condition in “Jukdo Surfing Diary”.

Audiences got the unique opportunity to enjoy the award-winning selection of films that have captured audiences worldwide. These included the joyful and uplifting musical “Life is Beautiful”; the stunning black and white drama, “The Book of Fish”; the compelling independent film “Bori”; and must-see films “Director’s Intention”; “Everglow”; Gyeongju”; and “Jukdo Surfing Diary”. Audiences were in for a visual treat with scenic locations across Korea – Gangneung, Busan, Jeju, Gyeongju, Yangyang, Paju, and Sinan – providing the backdrop for each of the films.

Another KFF highlight is “Bori”. Bo Ri is the only family member who can hear. She talks to her friends while finding signing with her family difficult. Wishing to be deaf, she jumps into the sea and loses consciousness. Waking up in the hospital, she pretends she’s deaf.

For more information on the films, screening schedules, and updates, visit or



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