The Korea Herald


Hunchback mortician tale gets belated theater release

Jeon Kyu-hwan’s drama ‘The Weight’to hit theaters next month

By Claire Lee

Published : Oct. 25, 2013 - 19:08

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A scene from “The Weight.” (NEW) A scene from “The Weight.” (NEW)
Art house film director Jeon Kyu-hwan’s drama “The Weight” is finally hitting local theaters next month, a year after the movie won the Queer Lion prize at last year’s Venice International Film Festival.

The film, which is Jeon’s fifth feature-length film, tells the story of a hunchback mortician and his transgender sister. It is the first Korean movie to win the prize at Venice, which is given to the best film with LGBT themes.

Actor Cho Jae-hyun, who plays the mortician, won the best actor prize at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Canada, for his performance in the film. He is said to have agreed to star in the low-budget movie for free.

Cho’s hunchback character, named Jung, accepts corpses of those who died without any family or friends to pay for the funeral, and uses the bodies as inspiration for his paintings. Jung was raised by his abusive adoptive mother whose biological son, Dong-bae, wishes to become a woman.

Many of Jeon’s previous films, including Berlinale-featured “Varanasi” and “Dance Town,” have dealt with the underbelly of society. His characters have included a struggling North Korean defector, a migrant worker exploited in Seoul, and an ex-con pedophile.

“The Weight” premiered during last year’s Busan International Film Festival. Other than Cho’s best acting prize at the Fantasia International Film Festival and the Queer Lion prize at Venice, the film also nabbed Jeon the Best Director award at the 16th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, and the Silver Peacock award for best director at the International Film Festival of India.

Born in Seoul in 1965, Jeon made his feature-film debut in 2008 with “Mozart Town,” which is the first installment of his “Town” trilogy. He eventually created “Animal Town” (2009) and “Dance Town” (2010), all of which dealt with the lonely and shady sides of contemporary, metropolitan city life.

The director is said to have broke into Korea’s entertainment industry as a manager for actors including Cho and Sol Kyung-gu.

“The Weight” opens in theaters in Korea on Nov. 7.

By Claire Lee (