Poster Design of Korean Films ④ - In the 1990s

Korean Films of the 1990s Seen through Posters

Korean Film Archive

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

Praise of Death Poster (1991) by Kim Ho-sunKorean Film Archive

Three decades after the 1960s, another renaissance dawned on Korean cinema in the 1990s. The new decade, which ushered in the ‘era of systematic pre-production in filmmaking,’ Korean films began spreading their wings. And ‘incidents’ happened in the world of movie posters. The era of computer graphics opened and new images began to pour in.

Praise of Death Poster (1991) by Kim Ho-sunKorean Film Archive

Praise of Death (Kim Ho-sun, 1991)

This is a beautiful poster whose portrait photo of the heroine, Yun Sim-deok in vintage style and decorative logo title design stand out. You can feel how much effort was put into the selection and layout of the fonts, including copy, credits, and English titles. It is a work that shows how much posters create anticipation for movies.

White Badge Poster (1992) by Chung Ji-youngKorean Film Archive

White Badge (Chung Ji-young, 1992)

Ahn Sung-ki's tired face and Lee Kyoung-young's fearful and tense expression correspond with the head copy ‘I have to go back to being dashingly alive. I have to go back to being alive no matter what.’ This is one of the famous Korean movie posters of the early 1990s. The green-toned visuals, which give a washed-out feeling, are images generated by computer graphics. Designs incorporating computer-manipulated images have appeared a lot since the early 1990s.

Blue in You Poster (1992) by Lee Hyeong-seungKorean Film Archive

Blue in You (Lee Hyeon-seung, 1992)

It is a poster made from photos taken expressly for the design. Both the photo and the title are designed in blue tone, the key color of the movie. Perhaps because dir. Lee majored in design, the names of designers in each field appear in the credits more than the others. Photos by Son Gi-chul, design by the late CEO Jeong Seung-hye of Achim Pictures, and the copy written by Shim Jae-myung, who planned this film at the time and is now the CEO of Myung Films.

The Story of Two Women Poster (1994) by Lee Jung-gookKorean Film Archive

The Story of Two Women (Lee Jung-gook, 1994)

Korean movie posters in the 1990s developed dramatically with the influx of professional designers. This poster is also beautifully designed. It can be seen as a poster attempting a kind of ‘color marketing,’ which was designed in a consistent tone with a brown color representative of the movie.

Deep Scratch Poster (1994) by Kim Sung-hongKorean Film Archive

Deep Scratch (Kim Sung-hong, 1994)

The poster, featuring semi-nude photos of Shim Hye-jin and Jin Hee-kyung to advertise an erotic thriller, was quite a sensation at the time of its release. The black and white photo gives the first impression that it is classy and sophisticated rather than titillating. The pose, with the actress’ long-nailed hands covering her chest and the phrase "If I can't have it, I will dig into it!" are the perfect match. Photographer Son Gi-chul took the picture.

The Young Man Poster (1994) by Bae Chang-oKorean Film Archive

The Young Man (Bae Chang-ho, 1994)

It is the debut film of rookie Lee Jung-jae, who burst onto the movie scene in the early 1990s. The picture of an actor in a top-off had only been seen in overseas underwear advertisements, so the fact that a Korean actor appeared as such drew considerable attention at the time. There is a rumor that a lot of posters were stolen from the theater. Photographer Gu Bon-chang took the picture.

The Young Man Alternative Poster (1994) by Bae Chang-oKorean Film Archive

An alternative poster of The Young Man

This is a poster from a time when computer graphics gradually began to be used more often, breaking away from the old-school way. Before, posters were made by cutting and pasting pictures by hand. Many effects created by Photoshop were applied to the poster.

I Wish for What Is Forbidden to Me Poster (1994) by Jang Gil-suKorean Film Archive

I Wish for What Is Forbidden to Me (Jang Gil-su, 1994)

In the early 1990s, Choi Jin-sil was 'a bright and cute actress.' So, when this poster was released, her transformation was, in short, a "shock" to the public. Choi’s new look was surprising enough to give the impression that the main character in Yang Gui-ja's novel of the same title was embodied in Choi. This is a good example of how strong an impression an actor's photo can leave on the audience.

The Ginko Bed Poster (1995) by Kang Je-kyuKorean Film Archive

The Ginko Bed (Kang Je-kyu, 1995)

This poster appropriates the motif of Klimt's "Kiss" and became a hot topic when it was released. This was designed by 'Cineworld' that produced the vast majority of ads of Korean movies in the early and mid-1990s. The picture was drawn by Lee Jong-hyeok, a painter and film director. In order to match the movie title, the designer scanned real bark and fallen leaves and completed the poster with computer graphics so that the audience can feel wood texture.

'301, 302' Poster (1995) by Park Chul-sooKorean Film Archive

301, 302 (Park Chul-soo, 1995)

This movie had a unique theme and advertising campaign. This movie attracted a lot of attention for its brochure design of an unconventional and sensational series that does not feature the actors’ faces. The inter-relation between food and sex is well expressed using visual metaphors of cucumbers, peaches, dolls, and so on. It was designed by Baek Jong-ryeol, a former graphic designer.

A Hot Roof Poster (1995) by Lee Min-yongKorean Film Archive

A Hot Roof (Lee Min-yong, 1995)

The poster, with the actors' photos placed small on the frame and hundreds of dogs packed in the center, gives the exact impression of the original Korean title, Dog Day Afternoon. It is a poster of a metaphorical expression that remains faithful to the title without directly explaining the story. I would like to applaud the hard work of the marketing and design teams who completed this unique film by a rookie director with such challenging visuals.

A Petal Poster (1996) by Jang Sun-wooKorean Film Archive

A Petal (Jang Sun-woo, 1996)

There is a South Korean flag in the distance, and a girl with a sad face stands helplessly with a petal-shaped pin in her hair. As if taken at the site of the 1980 Gwangju, the gripping power of this photo shows how great emotions a poster can convey to the audience. The photo, taken in b/w, conveys the sense of realism of the time and the typography delivers a hopeful feeling. The photo is the work of artist O Hyeong-geun.

The Contact Poster (1997) by Chang Yoon-hyunKorean Film Archive

The Contact (Chang Yoon-hyun, 1997)

It is a poster that expresses the sensibility of the generation which experienced the electronically connectedness with fresh typography whose consonants and vowels are separated. The bluntly smeared photo by O Hyun-geun also strengthened its mood. Graphic designer Kim Sang-man's debut work. His works include Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Parasite and so on. Later, he became a director and helmed Girl Scout, Midnight F.M., and The Tenor-Lirico Spinto.

2 types of posters for 'A Promise' (1998) by Kim Yu-jinKorean Film Archive

A Promise (Kim Yu-jin, 1998)

In the 1990s, posters of foreign films such as Grand Blue and A River Runs through It were hung in cafes across the country and became popular as interior props. At that time, posters of sophisticated Korean movies also began to sell as interior props, and this poster, taken by photographer Yun Hyeong-mun was one of the most popular at the time. In the late '90s, Korean movie posters began to attract attention as a "a work of design" audiences wanted to own.

2 types of character posters for 'The Power of Kangwon Province' (1998) by Hong Sang-sooKorean Film Archive

The Power of Kangwon Province (Hong Sang-soo, 1998)

It is a poster that stands out with the application of blank space, and its photography, typography, copy, illustration, and layout are refined. The black and white photos, which combine landscapes of Gangwon-do with stills, express the empty feelings of the two main characters.

The Power of Kangwon Province Main Poster (1998) by Hong Sang-sooKorean Film Archive

Like the structure of this movie in which the stories of the male and female protagonists are intertwined like a puzzle, posters for male and female characters were produced separately. A two-person poster that shows the uneasy feelings of love was also used as the main poster.

Tell Me Something Poster (1999) by Chang Yoon-hyunKorean Film Archive

Tell Me Something (Chang Yoon-hyun, 1999)

Busy police vehicles stand under the bridge, and streetlights and car headlights flash brightly over the bridge. A murder seems to have occurred on a night when the soggy humidity engulfs the whole body. When looking at this international poster painted in oil, the first attempt in the Korean movie posters, the feeling would be felt at once. This is one of the best Korean movie posters of the 1990s, worthy even of being hung in the Museum of Modern Art.

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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