Korean films are known for their quirky plots, soulful quality, and clever twists and turns. Coupled with beautiful scenery and an equally beautiful-looking cast, Korean films surely have the right recipe for success.
But Korea, and its capital city Seoul, is also known for being one of the most expensive cities in the world. Movies, too, can be a bit expensive. But fear not for your wallet’s health, because the ticket price also depends on which time of the day you’re watching – Morning screenings are less expensive that evening screenings.
But did you know that there are places when you can watch Korean films for free? When I was living in Korea as an exchange student, I took advantage of these places. Of course, one can obviously watch Korean movies with subtitles on the internet. Streaming sites abound. But what’s the fun of watching on a teeny-tiny screen when you can actually go out and see a good movie with other Korean film geeks like you?
Here are three places I frequented which offer Korean movie viewing for free!
1. IndiePlus Cinema through Community Korea
Before coming to Korea, I chanced upon the Community Korea Facebook page through another Facebook friend. The first post I saw was a giveaway for free movie tickets to back-to-back movies about gay life in Korea at IndiePlus Cinema in Sinsa. I just followed the instructions, emailed my contact information, and in less than a day, I got a reply saying I was one of 10 lucky recipients of the movie tickets! While on the lookout for free movie tickets, be sure to act fast, by the way.
Since then (well, throughout my stay in Seoul, anyway), I’ve been actively checking the Community Korea Facebook page for free movie tickets and other promos and events around Seoul. Because of Community Korea and IndiePlus, I got exposed to Korea’s indie film scene and discovered the diversity of thoughts, feelings, and ideas contained in Korean society. You know, things you wouldn’t normally see in mainstream films.
Another thing I like about IndiePlus is the interesting discussion that comes after the film showing. Usually, it’s the film director who comes, so film buffs like us can glean valuable insights on what goes on into the creative process. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t speak Korean. The host is a bi-lingual Korean who can translate perfectly!
2. Seoul Global Village Center
Another one of my favorite places to watch free movies in Seoul is at the Seoul Global Village Center in Itaewon. It’s not exactly a real movie theater. In fact, we just watch movies from a small conference room of sorts, with less than 15 people or thereabouts. However, what’s nice about this place is that you get to see other foreigners who also love Korean films.
Sometimes, there are interesting discussions about the film as well. And, there’s also free chips, cookies, and soda to munch while watching! Thursday nights in Seoul can be this much fun!
3. Korean Film Archive
If you want a place that’s essentially a treasure trove of anything and everything related to Korean movies, then the Korean Film Archive is the place for you. It’s basically a repository of all the films ever produced in Korea. Just search for the film, borrow it, and watch it. You may need some assistance from a Koreans-speaking friend though, while searching for movies, since the database is in Korean.
There’s even a small library about Korean films, and films around the world in general. There are comfy chairs and tables where you can read these books. On the first day that I went there, the place teemed with people quietly enjoying their movies and their books. I felt completely at home.
Getting a membership card is easy, too. It’s also for free. Just sign up, and you can get your card before you leave the Korean Film Archive.
And here’s an added bonus! The Korean Film Archive also has an official Youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/KoreanFilm) where you can watch classic Korean films with English subtitles. It’s a great way of seeing the old Korea, how much has changed from then and now, and how glorious the peninsula was, is, and will be.