Poster Design of Korean Films ① - In the 1960s

Korean Films of the 1960s Seen through Posters

Korean Film Archive

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

A Petty Middle Manager Poster (1961) by Lee Bong-raeKorean Film Archive

The 1960s is regarded as the ‘first renaissance of K-cinema.’ After the Korean War, Korean society gradually stabilized. The production and distribution of films also began to influence society, and audiences were steadily increasing. Movies established themselves as one of the most representative popular cultures in South Korea. With the advent of the ‘era of cinema,’ poster design also blossomed.

A Petty Middle Manager Poster (1961) by Lee Bong-raeKorean Film Archive

A Petty Middle Manager (Lee Bong-rae, 1961)

Korean movie posters in the 1960s were mainly collages of colorized black-and-white movie stills. Conversely, this poster shows a sensuous and stylish design, breaking away from this monotonous feeling. In particular, the design made by placing black and white stills on a square of red, yellow, and green was fresh enough to draw the attentions of the contemporary audience. The arrow design from the top left to the bottom right is also remarkable.

My Sister Is a Hussy Poster (1961) by Han Hyeong-moKorean Film Archive

The style of the poster for A Petty Middle Manager could have been popular at the time, or it could have been the work of the same designer. The poster for My Sister is a Hussy (Han Hyeong-mo, 1961) was designed in a similar style.

How To Marry a Millionaire Poster (1962) by Jeon Hong-jikKorean Film Archive

How to Marry a Millionaire (Jeon Hong-jik, 1962)

Like the romantic comedy poster, this was also designed to be fun. The three friends talking about their husband-to-be on the phone is enough to arouse curiosity about the movie. Among the red title chinese characters contrasting with the mint-green color of the background, we can appreciate the designer’s efforts to highlight the movie genre such as putting a heart shape inside the chinese character, which means ‘Marry.’

The Phone Call at Night Poster (1963) by Kim Eung-chunKorean Film Archive

The Phone Call at Night (Kim Eung-chun, 1963)

The prosecutor assigned to a murder case receives threatening phone calls every night. The idea of emphasizing the dial is inspired, and the red background highlights the movie genre. Poster also provides that this is a movie with a rich story line featuring various characters by putting supporting actors’ faces on the dial. Thanks to the clear subject matter of ‘telephone,’ it is quite clear how excited the designer must have been to work this poster.

KISS ME and THE WOMAN'S KEY posters (1963) by 박성호;손전Korean Film Archive

Kiss Me (Park Seong-ho, 1963) / The Woman's Key (Son Jun, 1963)

These posters use the method of cutting out only figures from a photo, which was a trend in the early 1960s. The arrangement of the text also gives various variations such as slanted lines and wavy shapes, emphasizing diversity in simplicity. At the time, many designers used a method of listing not only the leads but also the supporting actors. It seems to reflect the taste of the audience, whose movie-viewing choices largely depending on the cast.

My Dear Poster (1964) by Kim Seong-bokKorean Film Archive

My Dear (Kim Seong-bok, 1964)

The poster arouses curiosity about the movie just by showing Shin Seong-il and Um Aing-ran, the top star pair of the time, just before kissing. The still in red frames and mint backgrounds looks like an artwork hanging in an art gallery.

Youth College Poster (1966) by Kim Eung-chunKorean Film Archive

Youth College (Kim Eung-chun, 1966)

As befits a youth comedy musical, the poster’s design, with its lively and humorous concept, gives us feel-good vibes by looking at it. It may seem cluttered because many people are arranged in colorful images, but it gives a well-organized feeling due to the large title located in a red circle in the center. The title designed with Chinese characters also conveys a cheerful and rhythmic feeling.

Red Ants Poster (1966) by Jo Hae-wonKorean Film Archive

Red Ants (Jo Hae-won, 1966)

You can feel the same mystery and suspense from this poster as any of Alfred Hitchcock’s. A strong black arrow points to a bloody diamond necklace, which informs the audience that the murder surrounding this necklace is the main theme of the movie. It is a great poster that effectively expresses the genre through collage, trimming, and split screen using stills.

Tarantula Poster (1966) by Kim KiKorean Film Archive

A poster for Tarantula (Kim Ki, 1966) that looks like it was made by the same designer as the poster for Red Ants.

Mist Poster (1967) by Kim Soo-yongKorean Film Archive

Mist (Kim Soo-yong, 1967)

This poster stands out for its bold layout, designed horizontally rather than vertically. In particular, the way Shin Seong-il is looking down at Yoon Jeong-hee lying on the floor is unique. Shin’s face is overlapped five times, as if in a rising mist. This design can also be seen in the poster of the American film, Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg, 1967) which seems to visually express the amplitude of emotions felt by the main character.

Cool Hand Luke Poster (1967) by Stuart RosenbergKorean Film Archive

A poster of Cool Hand Luke

Black-haired Youth Poster (1966) by Kim Kee-dukKorean Film Archive

Black-Haired Youth (Kim Kee-duk, 1966)

The image on this poster is an illustration, not the collage style commonly used in the 1960s. As some of the top stars of the 1960s such Shin Seong-il, Go Eun-ah, and Moon Hee appear on the front, it is probable that many posters must have been stolen at the time. The title placed like a signboard on the pillar Shin is holding and the white box at the bottom, which looks like it is on a stage, add fun to the design.

I Don’t Want to Be Forgiven Poster (1964) by Kim MukKorean Film Archive

I Don't Want to Be Forgiven (Kim Muk, 1964)

The poster stands out with the dramatic expressions of the actors and a unique layout. Even in the 1960s, it was used the Korean alphabet (hangul) mixed with Chinese characters; usually, the credits were written vertically in Chinese characters. One of the characteristics of the poster in this period is the harmony of Hangeul and Chinese characters.

Dial M For Murder Korean Poster (1954) by Alfred HitchchckKorean Film Archive

Korean release poster of Dial M for Murder in 1957

It is also similar to the atmosphere of Alfred Hitchcock's movie posters at the same time, and it seems that Korean movie posters were also influenced by them.

Poster Design of Korean Films ② - In the 1970s
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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