A still from Korean movie, Road to Boston
A still from Korean movie, Road to Boston Image Credit: Screengrab

Dubai: Calling all K-culture fans and cinephiles! The Korean Film Festival is returning to Abu Dhabi with its eighth season this July. For the first time since 2017, Dubai audiences will also catch some screenings in the emirate.

Film enthusiasts can experience the rich tapestry of Korean cinema with screenings taking place at VOX Cinemas in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall from July 4 to July 7, and Dubai Festival City from July 12 to July 14.

Organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the UAE and the Korean Cultural Center, this year's festival explores the theme of ‘freedom’ through an impressive lineup of movies, spanning various genres and eras.

Audiences can look forward to a selection of fantasy, comedy, historical drama, mystery, musicals, and independent films.

Historical films such as ‘Road to Boston’, ‘Noryang, Deadly Sea’, and ‘Hero’ will vividly depict the Korean people's quest for freedom, while contemporary films like ‘Dream Palace’, ‘Love Reset’, and ‘Sleep’ will tackle modern societal challenges and the resilience required to overcome them. Films like ‘Pororo Movie: Dragon Castle Adventure’ will keep children entertained, and ‘Alienoid Part 2: The Return to the Future’ will take you on a fantastical journey.

According to a press release shared by the Korean Cultural Center in Abu Dhabi, announcing the festival, Lee Yong-hee, Cultural Attaché of the Korean Embassy, said: "We are thrilled to bring the Korean Film Festival back to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This event not only showcases the rich and diverse storytelling of Korean cinema but also strengthens cultural ties between Korea and the UAE. We invite everyone to join us in celebrating freedom through film.”

Here's a sneak peek at the films, which will be screened during the festival:

1. Road to Boston (Opening Film)

Directed by: Kang Jekyu | 2023 | 108 Min |Genre: Drama

Abu Dhabi: 4 July, 7 pm and Dubai: 12 July, 3 pm

After setting a new world record and winning the gold medal in the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Son Kee-chung covered his chest with the laurel wreath on the podium while the Japanese anthem played. From this incident, he emerged as a national hero to Koreans but was banned from running under Japanese oppression. In Seoul, 1947, after Korea's liberation from Japan, Son appears to Suh Yun-bok, a hopeful known as ‘the next Son Kee-chung’ in marathons.

Suddenly, Son asks Suh to participate in the Boston Marathon. To regain the glory of the Berlin Olympics that had been accredited to Japan, Son proposes they run with the Korean flag across their hearts for the first time! Korean marathoners, who can't even afford a pair of sneakers, start off on an unforgettable journey to Boston, USA.

2. Love Reset

Directed by: Nam Dae-joong | 2023 | 119 Min| Genre: Comedy

Abu Dhabi: 5 July, 5 pm and Dubai: 12 July, 5 pm

Despite heavy opposition from their families, Jung-yeol and Nara succeed in getting married through the sheer power of love. Fast forward two years, and the two are leaving the courthouse after receiving a 30-day divorce settlement period when a car accident causes them to lose both their memories. The amnesia-stricken couple quickly fall for each other again, and their family members devise an elaborate 30-day plan to help them recall their memories and complete the divorce.

3. Noryang: Deadly Sea

Directed by: Kim Han-min | 2023 | 153 Min | Genre: History, Drama

Abu Dhabi: 5 July, 7 pm / Dubai: 12 July, 7 pm

After seven long years of war, the Koreans can finally heave a sigh of relief in 1598. With his last, dying breath, old Toyotomi Hideyoshi orders the retreat of the Japanese fleet out of Korean waters. But Admiral Yi, chief commander on the Korean decks, is not one to let the enemy slip away to their wives, children, and homeland without one final, spectacular ass-whooping. The resulting game of advanced Battleship sees scheming and clever diversions galore on both sides, with royal amounts of shameless deceit and betrayal. Admiral Yi surely wouldn’t have said no to a couple of drones to help him make his tough decisions, seeing as he had to make do with a single Japanese turncoat to spy on the enemy fleet.

4. Pororo Movie: Dragon Castle Adventure

Directed by: Kang Seung Hun, Yun Jae Wan | 2022 | 70 min | Genre: Animation

Abu Dhabi: 6 July, 3 pm / Dubai: 13 July, 3 pm

Arthur, the dragon king, rules the kingdom selfishly by turning away from the people and eventually becomes a powerless little dragon. His power is sealed in a red jewel called ‘Dragonheart’. After a long time, a wizard Ged appears to Arthur to release his curse and restore his strength. But, Arthur is deceived by Ged’s lies and is robbed of Dragon castle by him, and flies away with Dragonheart into the Porong Porong forest. Arthur meets Pororo and his friends. But suddenly, the Dragonheart is absorbed by Crong, and Crong becomes a giant dragon.

*The film is screened in collaboration with Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA).

5. Sleep

Directed by: Yu Jason | 2023 | 94 Min |Genre: Mystery

Abu Dhabi: 6 July, 5 pm / Dubai: 13 July, 5 pm

Hyun-su and Soo-jin are newlyweds. Seemingly out of nowhere, he starts talking in his sleep. From that night on, whenever he falls asleep, he transforms into someone else with no recollection of what happened the night before. Soo-jin is overwhelmed with anxiety that he’d hurt her family while she sleeps and can barely sleep a wink because of this irrational fear. Despite sleep treatment, Hyun-su’s sleepwalking only intensifies, and she begins to feel that her unborn child may be in danger.

6. Hero

Directed by: JK Youn| 2022 | 120 min |Genre: Musical, History

Abu Dhabi: 6 July, 7 pm / Dubai: 13 July, 7 pm

Ahn Jung-geun, a commander in the Korean Independence Army, leaves behind his country, his family, and his mother, Cho Maria. Ahn Jung-geun and his comrades cut off the last segment of their ring fingers as a symbol of their dedication to liberate their nation and as a solemn oath to kill Ito Hirobumi, a man at the center of Japan’s occupation of Korea, within three years. To keep his oath, Ahn Jung-geun arrives in Vladivostok. Meanwhile, Seol-hee, the independence fighters’ informant, disguises herself to get close to Ito Hirobumi.

7. Dream Palace

Directed by: Ka Sung-moon | 2023 | 112 min | Genre: Drama, Independent

Abu Dhabi: 7 July, 3 pm / Dubai: 14 July, 3 pm

Hye-jeong, who lost her husband in an industrial accident, moves into a sparky new town apartment called Dream Palace. However, things go awry when a construction defect occurs in her unit. To scrape up the cost of repairs, she joins the discount promotion of the apartment. But her neighbors ostracise her for devaluing the apartment. To protect the unit, she purchased as the exchange for her husband’s life, she dives into the demonstration once more.

8. Alienoid Part 2: The Return to the Future

Directed by: Choi Dong-hoon | 2024 | 122 min | Genre: Fantasy, Action

Abu Dhabi: 7 July, 5 pm / Dubai: 14 July, 5 pm

Ean has become trapped in the distant past while trying to prevent the escape of alien prisoners who are locked up in the bodies of humans. She eventually locates the Divine Blade, which can open a door through time, and sets off to find Thunder to return to the present. Meanwhile, Muruk, who helps Ean escape various predicaments, is unnerved when he begins sensing the presence of a strange being in his body.

Those interested to visit the festival can get more details on the official website K-FilmFest.com.