Youn Yuh-jung, the veteran Korean actor who won an Oscar for her endearing performance in “Minari,” is not finished making a comeback. Her 50-year-old debut film “Woman of Fire” is to be rereleased after being heavily restored.
“Woman of Fire” (aka “Hwanyeo”) was directed by one of Korea’s most influential helmers Kim Ki-young, who had a lifelong fascination for female psychology and melodrama.
At the Oscars ceremony in April, Youn paid tribute to Kim in her acceptance speech. She dedicated her trophy to Kima and called him “a very genius director.”
Released in 1971, “Woman” was the second film in Kim’s so-called Housemaid trilogy. It followed the atmospheric 1960 film “The Housemaid” which is widely considered to be one of Korea’s best movies and was remade by Im Sang-soo in 2010. The plot involves a musician and his wife whose lives are thrown into turmoil when a femme fatale comes to live with them.
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After releasing Korean-language copies in May, the restored film is being released in international markets by NEW ID, an aggregator and distribution company that is part of Korean mini-conglomerate Next Entertainment World.
NEW ID is now completing localization for international markets. It said that the film has been licensed to streaming platforms including TUBI, IMDb TV, Amazon Prime Video and The Roku Channel. The actual release dates have yet to be determined.
The original negatives of the film had been lost and restoration work instead relied on a 1971 release print that had burned-in French-language subtitles. Restoration involved not only usual work of removing scratches, stains and tears, but also recreating the images in place of the sub-titles. The technical services were provided by NEW ID, an in-house post-production unit.
“Growing demand for post-production solutions needed to prepare local content for export to global platforms has rapidly increased. That’s why NEW ID has developed a post-production platform with AI technology to easily flag and edit content to meet global distribution standards. More audiences can enjoy movies — old and new – all over the world,” NEW told Variety.
Other companies are also getting in on the Youn Yuh-jung-Kim Ki-young trend.
Korean distributor Blue Film Works says that it will give a theatrical release to a 4K remastered version of “An Experience to Die For.” The 1990 picture was the third and final collaboration between Youn and Kim. It was given a screening at the 1998 edition of the Busan International Film Festival, but it did not receive a commercial theatrical outing.
“Experience” is a suspense-revenge drama that involces two women who feel betrayed by their husband, albeit for different reasons, and who agree to kill the other woman’s man.
Youn made history as only the second Asian woman and first Korean to win an acting prize at the Oscars. Her other credits over a 50-year career include Im’s “Housemaid” remake which appeared in competition in Cannes, and “The Bacchus Lady” which tackled the subject of old-age prostitution and played at the 2016 Berlin festival.