K-Noir and J-Noir


Korea Portal, has reported Korean action-thriller The Villainess was given “a rousing applause that lasted for four minutes” at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Korean Film Noirs have always been at the heart of the Korean cinema rennaissance and year over year, the quality of the stories as well as their production value have steadily increased to the point of arguably rivaling  fare from America or Europe.

As if echoing this, England’s ‘The Daily Mail’ published an interview with The Villainess director, Jung Byung-Gil, titled “Why Korea’s ‘film noir’ movies are wowing Cannes” which also traces the roots of the genre’s foothold in Korea, linking it to historical scandals and sensational crimes throughout Korea’s post-war history.

In our interview with Miyazaki Daisuke, he expresses his hope to one day help create a “J-Noir” movement in Japan through mid-budget movies. Though he sees the post-Bubble Era gloom as well as post-Great East Japan Earthquake anxiety as emotions which can be tapped into for material, The Daily Mail article and Korea’s success also reveal the challenges ahead. Firstly, film noir has taken off in Korea, a fact Miyazaki points out himself, whereas it has not in Japan. The audience just isn’t there yet. Second, and related to the first, more filmmakers have to want to tackle the true-to-life crimes and scandals that are at the very heart of film noir. The dark underbelly of society is the sustenance on which the genre thrives. And while Japan is certainly not free of sensational crimes or scandals, filmmakers, especially the major studios, have been reluctant to deal with them, at least as “Film Noir”; family or courtroom dramas, yes, but rarely morally dark, thrillers. Those which have attempted to do so have been low-budget, independent movies which barely attract enough audience attention much less societal appreciation. Even more odd are the movies which actually criticize the victims of the crimes or scandals. However, Miyazaki is aware of the trend and understands that to create a J-Noir will require bigger budgets than the usual Japanese indie movies and a courage to be both topical yet entertaining, just like the film noirs of Korea.
Read more about what he has to say regarding J-Noir among other topics in our interview here