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Wonder Girls to return in August as four-member group

  June 30, 2015  
After a three-year hiatus, the Wonder Girls are returning as a four-member act later this summer. The popular K-pop girl group has been inactive since 2013 when member Sun Ye got married and had a child. Sun Ye and So Hee, who left JYP Entertainment in December 2013 to acting, will not be participating in the upcoming release. Instead, original member Sun Mi, who withdrew from the Wonder Girls in 2010 and has since launched a solo career, will rejoin the group.

In another surprising twist, the Wonder Girls will be promoting as a band rather than a dance group, with Ye Eun on keyboard, Hye Lim on guitar, Sun Mi on bass and Yu Bin on drums. The comeback single is produced by none other than Park Jin Young (JYP).

The Wonder Girls' comeback is set for August 3.

Text / Sanwei

Sheena Ringo to hold first overseas concert in Taiwan

  June 30, 2015  
One of the most popular Japanese rock stars in Asia, Sheena Ringo is finally holding her first overseas concert this year, and she has chosen Taipei as the venue.

As part of her 2015 concert tour, Sheena will play only one show at the Taipei World Trade Center's Nangang Exhibition Hall on August 16. According to local organizers, tickets to the show were sold out within hours of going on sale.

To commemorate the concert, the Taiwan branch of Universal Music is releasing a special compilation album exclusively for the Taiwan market. Featuring tracks chosen by her Taiwan fans, the special album features a cover designed by her usual designer Central67.

Sheena's 2015 Japan hall tour kicks off on October 14 in Tokyo.

Text / Rockman

Eason Chan and A-Mei Chang win at 26th Golden Melody Awards

  June 29, 2015  
Taiwan's 26th Golden Melody Awards were held on June 27 in Taipei. Triumphing over tough competition, Eason Chan and A-Mei Chang were crowned Best Mandarin Male Singer and Best Mandarin Female Singer. For Chan, who beat out Jacky Cheung and Khalil Fong, this is his second win after 12 years, while Chang has now won the top honor three times.

Though Jolin Tsai wasn't nominated for Best Mandarin Female Singer, she came out as one of the biggest winners of the night, with her Play taking Best Mandarin Album, Best Vocal Recording Album, as well as Best Single Producer for "Lip Reading." Song of the Year went to Fire Ex.'s "Island's Sunrise." William Wei ("Wolves"), Francis Lee (Karen Mok's "Departures") and Buddha Jump (Gei Ni Kan) won for Best Composer, Lyricist and Arrangement, respectively. Arai Soichiro picked up Best Album Producer for his work on Departures, and Waa Wei's "In an Unsure World" was selected as the Best Music Video. Buddha Jump also won Best Band while MURMURSHOW was named Best Group. As for Boxing, the Payuan rap band discovered by A-Mei Chang, the band was nominated in four categories and won Best Newcomer.

In the Taiwanese-language categories, Ricky Hsiao won Best Taiwanese Male Singer for the third time, as well as Best Taiwanese Album for The Most Beautiful Flower. Li Ai Qi won the first Best Taiwanese Female Singer award of her twenty-odd year career. This year's Golden Melody Awards also honored diva Jody Chiang and lyricist Chen Yang with Special Contribution Awards.

Text / Garden
Translation / Sanwei

Hashimoto Kanna to lead new Sailor Suit and Machine Gun film

  June 26, 2015  
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Kadokawa Pictures has greenlighted a new film based on Akagawa Jiro's 1978 pulp classic Sailor Suit and Machine Gun. The popular novel has been adapted for the screen thrice before, becoming a career springboard of sorts for each of the three starlets who previously held the lead role: Yakushimaru Horoko, Harada Tomoyo and Nagasawa Masami. Now, Hashimoto Kanna, a member of the idol group Rev. from DVL, has been chosen to take over the iconic role in a new film adaptation, which will be a continuation of the main character's story as told in the 1981 film rather than a remake. This will be the 16-year-old singer-actress's first lead role after appearing in supporting roles in Assassination Classroom and I Wish.

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun tells the story of Hoshi Izumi, a regular high school student whose life is turned upside down when her father suddenly passes away. She's then approached by a distant relative, who happens to be the leader of a small mafia branch, to take the reins of the organization. Thus, the teenager begins her journey into an unfamiliar world of politics and violence.

The film is set to be released in Japan in spring 2016.

Text / Frood

Film adaptation of Chihayafuru to star Hirose Suzu

  June 26, 2015  
Rising star Hirose Suzu has been tapped to star in a two-part film adaptation of Suetsugu Yuki's popular manga series Chihayafuru, which has won both the Manga Taisho Award and the Kodansha Manga Award and has sold over 4.5 million copies to date. Having impressed critics and audiences alike with eye-catching supporting roles in films like Crows Explode and Umimachi Diary, the 17-year-old actress is now tackling the first big-screen starring role of her young career.

Hirose will play Ayase Chihaya who becomes interested in karuta, a card game that originated in 19th century Japan, thanks to her childhood friend Wataya Arata (Mackenyu, Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future). Chihaya soon decides to make it her life's goal to become the best karuta player in the world, but she and Arata are unable to continue spurring each other on in their shared passion due to his moving away. Years later, Chihaya establishes the Mizusawa Karuta Club in high school with her friend Mashima Taichi (Nomura Shuhei, Daily Lives of High School Boys). As time passes and she climbs the ranks in competitive karuta, Chihaya maintains hope that she'll have the chance to be with Arata once again.

To be directed by Koizumi Norihiro (The Liar and His Lover), parts one and two of the film will be released successively in Japan in March and April 2016.

Text / Frood

AKB48, Johnny's and J Soul Brothers top Oricon in first half of 2015

  June 24, 2015  
AKB48 and Arashi continued their dominance of the Oricon single chart in the first half of 2015. However, Sandaime J Soul Brothers also managed to pull off a major upset on the album chart.

Selling 820,470 copies, the EXILE spin-off group's latest album Planet Seven was the top album for the first half of 2015, defeating AKB48's Koko ga Rhodes da, Kokode Tobe!'s sale of 780,591 copies over the same period. Butou, Southern All Star's first album in nearly a decade, was in third place with 500,776 copies sold.

Nevertheless, the idol girl group maintained its victory on the single chart, with AKB-related groups taking six spots in the top ten. AKB48's Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai and Green Flash were the two top singles, selling 1.77 million and 1.04 million copies, respectively.

Arashi also showed off its supremacy as Japan's top male group with two singles in the top ten, as television drama theme songs Aozora no Shita, Kimi no Tonari and Sakura landed in fifth and seventh place, respectively. Sales of both singles were in the 500,000 range. Fellow Johnny's group Kis-My-Ft2 also appeared in eighth place with Thank You Jan!

All of the top 25 singles on the half-year chart are by groups. In comparison, the album chart has three solo artists.

Arashi remains the top-grossing artist overall, with their music-related products earning a total of 5.94 billion yen. Their Arashi Blast in Hawaii is also the best-selling video release on the half-year chart.

Text / Rockman

Takeuchi Yuko and Hashimoto Ai star in Zan e -Sunde wa Ikenai Heya-

  June 24, 2015  
Actresses Takeuchi Yuko (Strawberry Night) and Hashimoto Ai (Parasyte) are set to appear onscreen together for the first time in the film adaptation of Ono Fuyumi's Yamamoto Shugoro Prize-winning 2012 novel Zan e -Sunde wa Ikenai Heya-. The horror mystery novel took Ono a total of nine years to write, and is widely regarded as her best work to date. Ono has expressed delight that her story has enticed Nakamura Yoshihiro, who directed last year's hit The Snow White Murder Case, to return to the horror genre after a lengthy absence.

The film follows a mystery writer played by Takeuchi Yuko, who receives a letter from a fan named Kubo (Hashimoto Ai). A college student, Kubo tells the writer that she's been hearing strange noises in her new apartment, prompting the writer to help her investigate. However, as the two dig deeper, they begin to realize that the truth is more horrifying than anything they could imagine.

Having recently finished filming, the movie will be released in Japan on January 30, 2016.

Text / Frood

2015 New York Asian Film Festival announces lineup

  June 11, 2015  
New York City's Subway Cinema has announced the full lineup of the 14th New York Asian Film Festival.

This year's opening night film is the North American premiere of Philip Yung's crime drama Port of Call. Based on a true story, the film stars Aaron Kwok as a detective investigating the gruesome murder of a prostitute from Mainland China. The film was also the closing film of this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Aaron Kwok will be attending this year's festival as the recipient of the Star Asia award. In addition to Port of Call, Kwok will also attend a screening of Cold War.

The festival's Centerpiece Presentation film is Sabu's Chasuke's Journey, starring Matsuyama Kenichi as a tea server in heaven who goes down to Earth to save a woman who dies due to a mistake made in heaven. The fantasy comedy played in competition at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

This year's lineup features five retrospective programs. Korean female producer Shim Jae Myung will attend the festival for a program dedicated to her company Myung Films. The program includes the company's recent productions - Revivre and Cart - as well as some of its best known films. There is also a tribute dedicated to late Japanese actors Takakura Ken and Sugawara Bunta, who both died in the past year, as well as retrospectives of the latest films from Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong.

The sole world premiere film this year is Hong Kong's Robbery. Starring Derek Tsang, pop singer J. Arie, Lam Suet and Stanley Fung, the Fire Lee film is a dark comedy about a convenience store robbery that goes out of control.

The festival also includes the international premiere of Golden Horse-winning comedy A Fool, the international premiere of Korean period drama Empire of Lust, the international premiere of Malaysia's Banglasia, as well as the North American premieres of Insanity, La La La at Rock Bottom and both parts of Solomon's Perjury.

This year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner is Hong Kong director Ringo Lam, who returns to filmmaking this year with Wild City, his first feature film since 2003's Looking for Mr. Perfect. The festival will screen Full Alert and City on Fire.

With at least eight films coming out this year, Sometani Shota is the clear choice for the Rising Star Award. The young Japanese actor will attend screenings of Tokyo Tribe and Kabukicho Love Hotel.

The 14th New York Asian Film Festival will run from June 26 to July 11.

Text / Rockman

Lee Min Ho to star in big-budget action comedy Bounty Hunters

  June 9, 2015  
Popular Korean star Lee Min Ho (Gangnam Blues, The Heirs) has been cast in the leading role of the upcoming action comedy Bounty Hunters, a big budget pan-Asian production jointly produced by Hong Kong's Pegasus Motion Pictures, China's Harmonious Entertainment Shanghai and Korea's Starhaus Entertainment.

The China-Korea co-production will be directed by Korean director Shin Tae Ra, who has carved a niche in action comedies with his last two films My Girlfriend is an Agent and Runway Cop. Based on an original screenplay by Edmond Wong (Ip Man), the film is about five bounty hunters who meet by chance and team up to fight against criminal forces. Executive produced by Raymond Wong, the film has a budget of 200 million yuan (~US$32 million) and will feature location shooting in South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Bounty Hunters will begin shooting in August.

Text / Sanwei

Taipei Film Festival unveils 2015 line-up

  May 29, 2015  
The Taipei International Film Festival has unveiled the line-up for its 2015 edition.

A total of 40 Taiwan films from four categories are nominated for the Taipei Film Awards, the biggest event of the festival. The Narrative Features section includes the world premieres of Lee Chung's The Laundryman (co-written by Meeting Dr. Sun director Yee Chih Yen), Cheng Yu Chieh and Lekal Sumi's Wawa no Cidal, Yu Kuang Chong's 8,000 Miles from Hip Hop and Tom Lin's Zinnia Flower. Starring Karena Lam and Mayday's Stone, Zinnia Flower is also the closing film of the festival.

The documentary section includes Midi Z's Jade Miners, activist documentary Sunflower Occupation and New Taiwan Cinema documentary Flowers of Taipei. Other premieres include festival opening film Maverick, Alex Yang's Love in Vain, omnibus My Dream Place Born in 60 Seconds and When Miracle Meets Maths, the first film of the Metro of Love project. Ringo Lam's action film Wild City will also have its Asian Premiere at the festival.

This year's Outstanding Contribution Award goes to actor-director Ko I Ching, who is being recognized for his contribution to New Taiwan Cinema and his concern for social issues. Before receiving his prize at the Taipei Film Awards, Ko will attend a special screening of his 1997 film Blue Moon.

Other titles at the festival include 100 Yen Love, Tsukamoto Shinya's Fires on the Plain, Philip Yung's Port of Call, Im Kwon Taek's Revivre and the new restored print of King Hu's A Touch of Zen.

The 17th Taipei Film Festival runs from June 26 to July 16. The Taipei Film Awards will be held on July 18.

Text / Rockman

Shu Qi and William Feng to star in remake of My Best Friend's Wedding

  May 29, 2015  
Shu Qi (Journey To The West: Conquering the Demons), William Feng (The Golden Era), f(x) member Victoria and Ye Qing (Brotherhood of Blades) will be starring in the Chinese remake of romcom My Best Friend's Wedding, to be co-produced by Columbia Pictures and China Film Co., Ltd. Released in 1997, the original starred Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz and Rupert Everett, and was one of the year's bestselling films. The movie won many accolades and has become one of Roberts's signature titles.

Similar to the original, the Chinese version follows a journalist who realizes that she is in love with her best friend after he tells her he's marrying a younger woman he's just met. He asks her to be a part of the wedding party, and she agrees – but only as a ploy to win him over.

The movie joins a spate of upcoming Chinese remakes of Hollywood romcoms, including Bride Wars, which stars Angelababy (Temporary Family) and Ni Ni (The Flowers of War), and Only You, which stars Tang Wei (The Golden Era).

My Best Friend's Wedding will begin filming in July 2015 and is slated to be released in 2016.

Text / Frood

Death Note drama main cast announced

  May 28, 2015  
Nippon Television has finally unveiled the main cast of its live-action Death Note television drama.

Kubota Masataka, currently co-starring with Yamashita Tomohisa in Flowers for Algernon, plays Light, a disillusioned university student who discovers the "death note" and uses it to execute his own brand of justice. Yamazaki Kento – currently seen in hit NHK morning drama Mare – plays L, the eccentric detective investigating the "death note" cases. In one of the more radical departures from the original manga, the mysterious Near (a male character in the manga) will be played by young actress Yuki Mio (Amachan). Near was not included in the hit 2006 film adaptation of the manga.

The producers have also said that the drama version will be slightly different from the setting of the original manga, though they have not detailed the changes. Written by Izumi Yoshihiro (Rookies), the Death Note television drama will air on Nippon Television in July.

Text / Rockman

Choi Min Sik and Na PD win Grand Prizes at 51st Baeksang Arts Awards

  May 27, 2015  
Korea's 51st Baeksang Arts Awards, which presents awards in both film and television, were held last night in Seoul.

Veteran actor Choi Min Sik won the Grand Prize in Film for his commanding performance as admiral Yi Sun Shin in the record-breaking naval blockbuster The Admiral: Roaring Currents. Best Film, however, went to a relatively smaller work in Im Kwon Taek's Revivre which also won Best Supporting Actress for Kim Ho Jung. Kim Seong Hoon and his crime hit A Hard Day continue to do well in the award season, winning Best Director and dual Best Actor prizes for Lee Seon Gyun and Jo Jin Woong.

Yeom Jung Ah won Best Actress for her role as a mother and labor activist in the human drama Cart, which was also recognized for Best Screenplay. The Pirates' Yu Hae Jin followed Daejong with another Best Supporting Actor win.

Han Gong Ju director Lee Su Jin lost out on Best New Director to July Jung (A Girl At My Door), but his leading actress Chun Woo Hee did win Best New Actress. Haemoo's Park Yoo Chun, meanwhile, completed his sweep of Best New Actor awards. This is also the singer-actor's second Best New Actor trophy from the Baeksang Arts Award, as he previously won in the Television category in 2011.

In the Television section, influential variety show producer/director Na Young Suk took the Grand Prize on the strength of his popular series of Grandpa Over Flowers and Three Meals a Day programs. SBS's family black comedy Heard It Through the Grapevine won Best Drama and Best New Actress for Ko Ah Sung, while tvN's office drama sensation Misaeng swept three prizes – Best Director, Best Actor for Lee Sung Min and Best New Actor for Im Si Wan. Mama's Song Yoon Ah beat out co-star Moon Jung Hee to win Best Actress.

In the Variety categories, Non-Summit took Best Variety Program honors, and Jun Hyun Moo and Lee Guk Joo were named the Best Variety Entertainers. Popularity Awards went to Lee Min Ho (Gangnam Blues), Park Shin Hye (The Royal Tailor), Lee Jong Suk (Pinocchio) and Krystal (My Lovely Girl).

Text / Sanwei

Asian winners at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival

  May 27, 2015  
With a significant Asian presence at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Asian cinema left its mark on the Croisette with several major prizes.

Seventh time proved to be the charm for Taiwan's Hou Hsiao Hsien, whose first wuxia film (and seventh film in the competition) The Assassin earned the auteur his first Best Director award at the festival. The second Taiwanese recipient of the award after Edward Yang, Hou last won the Jury Prize in 1993 for The Puppetmaster. Acclaimed for its breathtaking visuals, the film was a strong favorite to win the Palme d’Or. However, the jury – led by the Coen Brothers – chose Tamil-language French film Dheepan for the top prize.

Meanwhile, Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart and Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Our Little Sister were well-received by many critics, but did not receive any awards.

In the Un Certain Regard sidebar, Japan’s Kurosawa Kiyoshi won the Best Director prize for his dreamy drama Journey to the Shore. The film stars Fukatsu Eri as a woman who takes a journey with the spirit of her dead husband (Asano Tadanobu).

Despite being met with an extended standing ovation following its premiere, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendour went home empty-handed, as did Kawase Naomi’s An, Korean indie drama Madonna and noir drama The Shameless. Indian drama Fly Away Solo was one of the two winners of the Promising Talent award.

Outside the main festival, Miike Takashi’s Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld and Korean crime drama Coin Locker Girl played as special screenings in the Director's Fortnight and Critic's Week programs, respectively.

Text / Rockman

Fukushi Sota cast in Fuji TV getsuku drama

  May 22, 2015  
Fuji TV has announced that Fukushi Sota has been cast as the lead in its new getsuku drama, Koinaka. Despite having debuted just four years ago, the popular actor has been handed the reins to one of the most coveted timeslots on Japanese television. The drama will be Fukushi's first "golden time" drama. Most recently, Fukushi was seen co-starring in Kyo wa Kaisha Yasumimasu alongside Ayase Haruka. The drama was a smash hit, averaging 16% in week-to-week ratings.

Koinaka follows Fukushi's Miura Aoi, a former high school swimming star who's become an unmotivated young adult. Despite claiming to have the goal of becoming an architect, Miura whiles away his days by coasting through his job as an assistant at a small architectural firm. One day, he re-encounters his first love Akari, and old feelings are stirred up, but she has a new love – whose name is also Aoi.

Koinaka will begin airing in July 2015.

Text / Frood

26th Golden Melody Award Nominations

  May 18, 2015  
Nominations for Taiwan's 26th Golden Melody Awards were recently announced. Jolin Tsai's Play leads all artists with nine nominations, though she missed the shortlist for Best Mandarin Female Singer.

A-mei Chang (Only the Paranoid Survive), A-Lin (Guilt), Lala Hsu (Missing Person), Waa Wei (Hai Shi Yao Xiang Xin Ai Qing a Hun Dan Men) and Karen Mok (Departures) are nominated for Best Mandarin Female Singer, while Jacky Cheung (Wake Up Dreaming), Eason Chan (rice & shine), Khalil Fong (Dangerous World), William Wei (Journey Into the Night) and Yang Pei An (Beast in the Dark) are nominated for Best Mandarin Male Singer.

Jay Chou is not in the running for Best Male Singer, but he is nominated for Best Album Producer, and his Aiyo, Not Bad is up for Best Mandarin Album alongside Missing Person, Wake Up Dreaming, rice & shine and Play. The songs "Missing Person," "Wake Up Dreaming" and "Play" are also competing for Song of the Year along with "Face of Paranoia" and Fire Ex.'s "Island's Sunrise."

New Formosa Band (No. 10), MJ116 (Fresh Game), MURMURSHOW (MURMURSHOW), PiA (Sheng Huo Bu Jiu Shi Zhe Yang) and Gentleman (Imperfect Gentleman) are nominated for Best Group, while Chthonic (Timeless Sentence), Trash (Start From Zero), Chairman (One World), Buddha Jump (Gei Ni Kan), Magic Power (Fighting For Love) and Boxing (Wild Boxing) are nominated for Best Band. Boxing is also nominated for Best Aboriginal Singer, Best Aboriginal Album as well as Best Newcomer with Adrian Fu (Good Morning, Hard City), Shi Shi (Girls), Chen Hui Ting (21g) and Wang Hui Zhu (A Voyage of Vera). Best Composer, Lyricist and Arrangement nominations are filled with familiar faces, with lyricist Lin Xi in particular receiving double nominations for Eason Chan's "Listen Up" and Karen Mok's "It's All Good."

In the Taiwanese-language categories, Lo Shih Feng, Hsu Fu Kai, Shih Wen Pin, Hsieh Ming You and Ricky Hsiao are nominated for Best Taiwanese Male Singer and Li Ai Qi, Zeng Xin Mei, Guo Ting Yun, Zhan Ya Man and Sun Shu Mei for Best Taiwanese Female Singer. Chthonic's Timeless Sentence, New Formosa Band's No. 10, Ricky Hsiao's The Most Beautiful Flower, Hsieh Ming You's Ye Shou and Zhan Ya Man's Polaris are up for Best Taiwanese Album.

The 26th Golden Melody Awards will be held on June 27 at the Taipei Arena.

Text / Garden
Translation / Sanwei

Former Kara member Nicole to make Japan solo debut

  May 13, 2015  
Six months after making her solo debut in Korea, former Kara member Nicole Jung is ready to make her solo debut in Japan.

A pop-dance song based on Nicole's experiences training in the United States, Something Special comes almost exactly a year and half after the Korean-American idol officially left Kara. To coincide with the launching of her solo activities, Nicole is also launching a Japanese fan club at the end of May. She will also attend solo live events in Japan for the first time soon after the single's release.

Last October, Nicole released First Romance, her Korean-language solo debut. She announced the news of her Japanese debut during her performance at KCON 2015 Japan late last month.

Kang Ji Young, another former Kara member who left the group last August, is also active in Japan, acting in several television dramas and the hit sci-fi film Assassination Classroom.

Text / Rockman

Asian trio enters Cannes' Un Certain Regard lineup

  April 30, 2015  
The latest films by three Asian Cannes regulars complete this year's Cannes official selection, festival organizers announced last week.

This year's Un Certain Regard section will open with An, the latest film from Japanese auteur Kawase Naomi. Starring Kiki Kirin as an elderly woman who brings her expertise in making red bean snacks to a local dessert shop, An marks Kawase's sixth film in the festival.

Also in the festival sidebar section are Apichatpong Weerasethakul's dreamscape fantasy drama Cemetery of Splendour and Brillante Mendoza's Taklub. Weerasethakul won the Palme d'Or five years ago with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and Mendoza's kidnapping drama Kinatay won the Best Director prize six years ago.

New digitally remastered prints of King Hu's A Touch of Zen, Mizoguchi Kenji's The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, Fukasaku Kinji's Battles Without Honor or Humanity and Kurosawa Akira's Ran will also be screened as part of the Cannes Classics section.

Outside the main festival, Miike Takashi's Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld will have its world premiere in the Director's Fortnight section as a special screening. Korean noir thriller Coin Locker Girl will also have its international premiere as a special screening in the Critic's Week section.

The 2015 Cannes Film Festival and its sidebar programs run from May 13th until the 24th.

Text / Rockman

51st Baeksang Arts Awards Nominations

  April 27, 2015  
Nominations for the 51st Baeksang Arts Awards, which gives out awards in both film and television, were recently announced.

In the Film section, smaller movies came up big with July Jung's small-town drama A Girl At My Door, Lee Su Jin's indie hit Han Gong-ju, Kim Seong Hoon's sleeper hit A Hard Day and Im Kwon Taek's 102nd film Revivre vying for Best Film against Kim Han Min's naval blockbuster The Admiral: Roaring Currents, Korea's biggest film of all time. The Best Director race also offers a diverse range of filmmakers in veteran Im Kwon Taek, Daejong winner Kim Seong Hoon, hitmaker Yoon Je Kyun (Ode to My Father) and indie auteurs Hong Sang Soo (Hill of Freedom) and Zhang Lu (Gyeongju).

In a departure from other award ceremonies, Baeksang nominated both Lee Seon Gyun and Jo Jin Woong from A Hard Day in the Best Actor category, along with Choi Min Sik (The Admiral: Roaring Currents), Ahn Sung Ki (Revivre) and Sol Kyung Gu (My Dictator). Similarly, both Bae Doo Na and Kim Sae Ron from A Girl At My Door are shortlisted for Best Actress with Shin Min Ah (Gyeongju), Yeom Jung Ah (Cart) and Daejong winner Son Ye Jin (The Pirates).

Best Supporting Actor nominations went to Lee Kyung Young (Whistle Blower), Park Sung Woong (The Deal), Song Sae Byuk (A Girl At My Door), Yoo Yeon Seok (Royal Tailor) and Daejong winner Yu Hae Jin (The Pirates). Han Ye Ri (Haemoo), Jo Yeo Jeong (Obsessed), Kim Ho Jung (Revivre), Lee Jung Hyun (The Admiral: Roaring Currents) and Moon Jung Hee (Cart) received nods for Best Supporting Actress.

July Jung and Lee Su Jin cap off their films' strong showings with Best New Director noms, along with Lee Byeong Heon (Twenty), Hong Seok Jae (Socialphobia) and Jin Mo Young (My Love, Don't Cross That River). The Best New Actor category is loaded with stars in Lee Min Ho (Gangnam Blues), Park Yoo Chun (Haemoo), Kang Ha Neul (Twenty), Byun Yo Han (Socialphobia) as well as Jo Bok Rae (C'est Si Bon). Meanwhile, Chun Woo Hee (Han Gong-ju), Esom (Scarlet Innocence), AOA's Kim Seol Hyun (Gangnam Blues), Lee Honey (Tazza: The Hidden Card) and Lim Ji Yeon (Obsessed) are up for Best New Actress.

In the Television section, a few titles dominate the nominations. SBS family black comedy Heard It Through the Grapevine and MBC romance psychodrama Kill Me, Heal Me are nominated for Best Drama, Director and Screenplay, SBS legal thriller Punch and jTBC slice-of-life series Yoo Na's Street are nominated for Best Drama and Screenplay, and tvN office drama sensation Misaeng is nominated for Best Drama and Director.

Punch scored doubled Best Actor nominations for Cho Jae Hyun and Kim Rae Won, along with Ji Sung (Kill Me, Heal Me), Jo In Sung (It's Okay, That's Love) and Lee Sung Min (Misaeng). Mama's Song Yoon Ah and Moon Jung Hee share Best Actress noms with Kim Ok Bin (Yoo Na's Street), Lee Yoo Ri (Jang Bo Ri Is Here!) and Park Shin Hye (Pinocchio).

The Best New Actor race will be of great interest with four idol-turned-actors – D.O (It's Okay, That's Love), Lee Joon (Heart It Through the Grapevine), Park Hyung Sik (What Happened To My Family) and Im Si Wan (Misaeng) – in the running, while Heard It Through the Grapevine's Ko Ah Sung and Baek Ji Yeon, Han Sun Hwa (Rosy Lovers), Kim Seul Gi (Discovery of Love) and Nam Ji Hyun (What Happened to My Family) are nominated for Best New Actress.

In the Variety categories, popular shows Infinite Challenge, Non-Summit, Running Man, The Return of Superman and Three Meals a Day will compete for Best Variety Program honors.

The 51st Baeksang Arts Awards will be held in Seoul on May 26, 2015.

Text / Sanwei

Tiny Times 4 set for release in July

  April 24, 2015  
After months of speculation, writer-director Guo Jingming finally announced that the fourth and final installment of his successful Tiny Times film series is set for theatrical release on July 9.

As indicated in the final moments of Tiny Times 3, the youth drama was originally set for theatrical release during the Lunar New Year holiday. However, the release was reportedly affected when Taiwan actor Kai Ko, who has a major supporting role in the series, was arrested for drug use during Chinese authorities' crackdown on vice-related crimes in the entertainment industry. The film's distributor confirmed late last month that Ko will be cut out of the film.

Ko has also been replaced by Jing Boran in fantasy adventure Monster Hunt, and the release of his romantic comedy A-Choo has been stalled.

The teaser poster that Guo released on his Weibo account comes with the tagline "I suppose this is good-bye then," hinting that this will be the final film of the hugely successful franchise. Guo confirmed this on his post, writing, "On July 9th, let us spend our final two hours with them. When the lights come on, let us whisper our farewells. I suppose this is the final farewell."

Based on Guo's own novel series of the same name, the Tiny Times series follows the trials and tribulations of four girls living in contemporary Shanghai.

Text / Rockman

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