9 Muses of Star Empire
PRODS Lee Sukkee, Kim Minchul
SCR Lee Harkjoon, Ko Dongkyun, Jong Chanmi
CAM Seo Yeontaek
ED Milena Z. Petrovic
PROD CO Style Chosun / Minch&Films. A Chosun Ilbo presentation
If Psy’s "Gangnam Style" is the only thing you know about Korean pop, you really haven’t been paying attention. Thanks to YouTube, manufactured K-pop bands have literally millions of fans worldwide; the phenomenon has left hallyu—the short-lived fashion for Korean pop culture in East Asia—in the dust.
TV journalist Lee Harkjoon, previously best-known for reportage on refugees from North Korea, gained extraordinary access to the inner workings of K-pop agency Star Empire, and spent a year observing the casting, training and attempted launch of the new girl-group 9 Muses. You may be surprised to see just how "manufactured" 9 Muses are: the (very) long hours of rehearsals are beyond physically demanding, and the upper echelons of management don’t seem to have any scruples about dehumanizing the girls.
But once you’ve got used to seeing young women treated as robots, you’ll find the course of events fairly predictable: there are betrayals, rivalries and injuries, and there’s the hushed-up scandal of an illicit sexual relationship between the manager and a band member. Still, nothing beats seeing it for yourself, and this offers what must be definitive insights into the processes that keep K-pop going. The film is too hip to be Korea’s answer to a Frederick Wiseman documentary, but it sure cuts to the quick of the industry.
— Tony Rayns
Preceded By: Wedding March
DIR Park Chaiyoung / South Korea, 2013, 6 min.
A celebration of Korean nationalism, of the institution of marriage, of the fulfillment of parenthood and of the joys of material possessions… all in the form of a charming homage to Buñuel and Dali’s Un Chien Andalou. (TR)