Hyuil (A Day Off). 1968. South Korea. Directed by Lee Man-hee. Screenplay by Baek Gyeol. With Jeon Ji-yeon, Shin Seong-il, Kim Sun-Cheol. In Korean; English subtitles. 73 min.
Unseen for decades, A Day Off is a masterpiece of 1960s Korean cinema. Lee Man-hee’s long-neglected melodrama, starring the legendary actor Shin Seong-il, shattered conventions of traditional Korean cinema with its Antonioni-esque modernist aesthetic and its depiction of poverty and despair in late 1960s Seoul. But the film never made it to Korean theaters in 1968. Censored (like The March of Fools) for its intimations of abortion and suicide, the film was forgotten until 2005, when the Korean Film Archive found and preserved a unique print in its collection. Today, A Day Off routinely appears on critics’ lists of the top 100 Korean films ever made. New digital preservation by the Korean Film Archive; courtesy Hong Young-soo