Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: December 2011

Have a Merry, Nerdy Navidad

I’ll be traveling over the holidays, so I doubt I will get many chances to update the website. So I’ll just say “Happy Holidays” now.

And, for all the nerds out there, here’s a quasi-present — the trailer to the movie Prometheus:

Old Movie Billboards in Korea

Yonhap has a great feature about one of the artists who used to paint the movie billboards for cinemas around Seoul (using what I believe is the Britishism “hoarding” instead of billboard). Before multiplexes dominated, Korea had mostly small theaters, with one to three screens, and they advertised their movies with large, hand-painted posters out front. Especially for the major theaters, those billboards could be really big and impressive.

The artist in the Yonhap story, Park Chun-tae, started painting movie billboards in 1959, when he was just 15 years old (!), and produced thousands and thousands of signs until he retired in 2005. It’s an interesting bit of Korean movie history and a good article — although it is a bit of a shame the writer let it end in the typical old-guy-bitterly-complains-modernity-lacks-the-soul-of-the-old-days cliche.

I’m pretty sure there are not any theaters in Seoul that use painted billboards anymore (although the Dream Cinema was using them for its retro-revival film series a while ago). But I like how you can still come across the occasional old, faded movie billboard on the side streets of Korea, indicating where an old theater used to be. Sometimes they might even be the poster for an old “ero” theater, where they used to screen soft-core porn — it always amused me to discover ancient, sun-bleached smut lingering on, years after a seedy theater closed, haunting an alley like an erotic (if sad) ghost.

Anyhow, if you want to check out some old movie billboards, some paintings by Park and a couple of other artists are on display at the Chungmu Art Hall (near Dongdaemun) until the end of the month.


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