Poster Design of Korean Films ③ - In the 1980s

Korean Films of the 1980s Seen through Posters

By Korean Film Archive

Choe Jee-Woong [Movie Poster Designer (Propaganda)]

The Man of the Past Poster (1980) by Mun Yeo-songKorean Film Archive

After the 1970s, which did not achieve the renaissance of the 1960s, Korean films in the 1980s began to portray social contradicts realistically. In addition, a number of historical films and films with religious overtones had been made. Along with this, the trend of poster also changed. As the number of posters with portraits on the front increased, the number of famous photographers involved increased.

The Man of the Past Poster (1980) by Mun Yeo-songKorean Film Archive

The Man of the Past (Mun Yeo-song, 1980)

The unique title lettering is expressed like an edge of the frame, and the design with a photo in the center is impressive. The idea of connecting and repeating the first and last letters of the title is clever. The credits are also placed along the rectangular image in the center, which draws attention to the image. It is a poster whose bold layout, rather than its gripping image is what stands out.

Mandala Poster (1981) by Im Kwon-taekKorean Film Archive

Mandala (Im Kwon-taek, 1981)

Compared to the rather crude Korean poster, the international poster for Mandala is beautifully done in terms of design. Only one central photo in color, and the seven photos surrounding this are designed using repetition, trimming, and color change. As if expressing the Buddhist idea of reincarnation, the poster exudes a strange charm that draws the audience into the poster image. I think it is one of the best Korean movie posters of the 1980s.

The Hut Poster (1980) by Lee Doo-yongKorean Film Archive

An international poster for The Hut (Lee Doo-yong, 1980) designed in the same format as Mandala. This is an international poster presented at the film markets of international film festivals.

Warm It Was That Winter Poster (1984) by Bae Chang-hoKorean Film Archive

Warm It Was That Winter (Bae Chang-ho, 1984)

This poster introduced the concept of a teaser advertisement to the Korean film industry. It attracted many people's attention when it was released as a sophisticated and unconventional advertisement using black and white photos taken in a studio, rather than on the filming location. This image, taken by famous photographer Kim Jung-man, was used in a teaser advertisement to stimulate curiosity a few months before its release, not in the official poster.

Warm It Was That Winter Ad. On the Movie Magazine Screen (1984) by Bae Chang-hoKorean Film Archive

A magazine ad posted after the movie’s release (on the October 1984 issue of the monthly magazine "Screen").

Getting on the Elevator Poster (1985) by Yi Tae-wonKorean Film Archive

Getting on the Elevator (Yi Tae-won, 1985)

Unlike the Korean movie posters of the mid-1980s, which were full of pictures and phrases, this poster was promoted with thorough planning. Actively using calligraphy, lettering, and illustration, the production company conducted an advertising campaign completely different from others. Starting with this movie, a line for ‘PR and Marketing’ appeared in the ending credits.

Getting on the Elevator ads. (1985) by Yi Tae-wonKorean Film Archive

Various eye-catching commercials of Getting on the Elevator.

The Man with Three Coffins Poster (1987) by Lee Jang-hoKorean Film Archive

The Man with Three Coffins (Lee Jang-ho, 1987)

It is one of the masterpiece posters of the 1980s that are overwhelmingly beautiful in terms of color, photography, layout, and title calligraphy. On faded brown paper, a still in a similar tone is placed in the center. This design gives an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere, and the idea of placing the film company's name in a red seal in the upper left corner gives an impression that this poster is a work of art.

2 types of teaser posters for 'Our Joyful Young Days' (1987) by Bae Chang-hoKorean Film Archive

Our Joyful Young Days (Bae Chang-ho, 1987)

When talking about movie posters of 1980s, photographer Gu Bon-chang should not be left out. When "image cutouts" were used in most of the posters of 1980s, his photos were sensational enough to be regarded as “artistic photographs.” This was his first movie poster work, and Lee Tae-won, the CEO of Taehung Film Company liked his work so much that he continued to work with Gu in films such as The General's Son, The Road to the Race Track, Sopyonje and so on.

2 types of promo photos for 'Our Joyful Young Days' (1987) by Gu Bon-changKorean Film Archive

A publicity photo of Our Joyful Young Days; photo by Gu Bon-chang

The Home of Two Women Poster (1987) by Kwak Ji-kyoonKorean Film Archive

The Home of Two Women (Kwak Ji-kyoon, 1987)

This photo is also the work of photographer Gu Bon-chang. Just by looking at the actors' eyes and facial expressions, the characteristics of each character are conveyed at once. Unlike commercial ads that promote products, it is important for photos for movie posters to capture the emotions of the actors in detail, and Gu's photos always showed more than that. The design is modern: It places b/w portraits in every corner and adds strong red accents.

2 types of promo cards for 'The Home of Two Women' (1987) by Kwak Ji-kyoonKorean Film Archive

A movie card of The Home of Two Women; photo by Gu Bon-chang

Ae-Ran Poster (1989) by Lee Hwang-rimKorean Film Archive

Ae-ran (Lee Hwang-rim, 1989)

It is an impressive poster with exotic b/w photos colored with an airbrush, and a title design written in splendid calligraphy. At the time of its release, the film company produced a calendar with poster images, and the calendar was popular. Son Gi-chul took the picture for the poster, and director Lee Hwang-rim wrote the head copy. Director Lee Joon-ik, who worked as a designer at Cinecity, a movie advertising company at the time, designed the poster.

Do-Hwa Poster (1987) by Yoo Ji-hyeongKorean Film Archive

Do-hwa (Yoo Ji-hyeong, 1987)

Poster made with the concept of a notice in the Joseon Dynasty, put up on the street to search for the identified criminals. Even though Kang Soo-youn, one of the best actresses at the time, starred in the film, the image of this teaser was an illustration rather than a portrait of her. The erotic costume dramas that were popular in the late 1980s used a lot of provocative pictures and phrases, but this poster alone elevated this film into another level.

Eoh Wu-Dong Movie Program Brochure (1985) by Lee Jang-hoKorean Film Archive

Before Do-hwA, Eoh Wu-dong (Lee Jang-ho, 1985) created a sensation by introducing a brochure made with an illustration.

Hello God Poster (1987) by Bae Chang-hoKorean Film Archive

Hello God (Bae Chang-ho, 1987)

There is a green gradation that occupies half of the poster, and the three characters stand in the middle above it. Even though it was made with a still, the poster looks like it was made under thorough planning from the beginning, which shows the designer's ability. The photo of Ahn Sung-ki, who looks like a child in a hat, and the logo title placed in a wavy pattern convey the impression that it is a warm and cute movie.

2 types of posters for 'Karma' (1988) by Lee Doo-yongKorean Film Archive

Karma (Lee Doo-yong, 1988)

This poster is a good example showing that a lot of design unnecessary if a single photo is powerful enough. By placing the photo in the center of the black background, one can better immerse oneself in the image. The left poster showing only the back of actress stimulates the cinematic imagination. The right poster reveals the tense relationship between the characters. The poster photo is the work of photographer Gu Bon-chang.

A Sketch of a Rainy Day (1989) by Kwak Jae-yongKorean Film Archive

A Sketch of a Rainy Day (Kwak Jae-yong, 1989)

At the time, Korean film magazines presented mostly Hollywood movie posters as gifts, and this movie poster was provided as a gift to a film magazine, "Road Show" (September 1989 issue). This was a first for a Korean film. It was also the first time that the soft-filtered lovely photos that were often seen in chocolate advertisements were featured on a movie poster.

Poster and brochure of 'A Sketch of a Rainy Day' (1989) by Kwak Jae-yongKorean Film Archive

The brochure for A Sketch of a Rainy Day makes a poster when unfolded, and it is clear that a lot of effort was put into the design. It is noteworthy that the design company's name is included on the brochure.

Credits: Story

Planning and Production by Korean Film Archive 
Curation by Choi Jee-Woong [Movie Poster Designer (Propaganda)] 
Production Arranged by Lee Ji-youn·Song Eun-ji 
Edit Configuration by Agnes Park·Ko Sang-sok 
Translation by Hwang Miyojo"

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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