‘Youth,’ 78, is Korea’s oldest pic

Nitrate negative of silent film discovered

SEOUL — The Korean Film Archive has discovered a print of “Crossroads of Youth,” a silent film from 1934 that ranks as the country’s oldest pic still in existence.

A nitrate original negative was discovered by the son of a former theater owner and handed over to the archive.

Eight of the film’s nine reels were in viewable condition and have undergone restoration in Japan.

Directed by An Jong-hwa, who shot 12 films between 1930 and 1960, “Crossroads of Youth” is the only existing film from Korea’s silent era.

The archive has one other silent film, 1948’s “The Prosecutor and the Woman Teacher,” however it was made without sound due to a shortage of film stock in the early years of Korea’s independence.

The archive’s the oldest talkie is “Sweet Dream” (1936), discovered in a Chinese archive two years ago. Korea’s first talkie, “A Tale of Chunhyang,” was made in 1935.

“Crossroads of Youth” is about a brother and sister who leave their small town and move to the city. The film stars Shin Il-seon, who was the female lead in Na Un-gyu’s legendary lost classic “Arirang” (1926).

After screening selected clips to the press Tuesday, KOFA will hold the first public screening of the 73-minute film in May to celebrate the opening of its new cinematheque.