The Korean Film Archive has announced the discovery of a print of the 1934 silent film Crossroads Of Youth, making the film the oldest Korean movie with a still existing print.
The film’s original nitrate negative was discovered by the son of a former theater owner, who handed it over to the archive. Eight of the film’s nine reels were found to be in at least viewable condition and were sent to a Japanese film lab for restoration. Although sound technology was just beginning to become commonplace in Hollywood productions, it had not yet traveled across the Pacific to the countries of western Asia.
Crossrodas Of Youth (Cheongchun’s Sipjaro or literally translated Turning-Point Of The Youngsters) is a melodrama about a brother and sister who move from their small village to a nearby big city. The 73-minute film was directed by An Jong-hwa, who directed a dozen films between 1930 and 1960.
This discovery makes Crossroads Of Youth the only surviving movie from Korean cinema’s early silent era. The Archive has only one other silent Korean film- 1948’s The Prosecutor And The Woman Teacher, though that film’s lack of soundtrack is more due to the lack of available film stock in the early year’s of the country’s independence. The first Korean talkie, A Tale of Chunhyang, was made just a year after Crossroads was released. The Archive’s oldest Korean talkie is 1936’s Sweet Dream.
Clips from Crossroads were screened for the press yesterday during the Archive’s announcement. It plans on screening the completely restored film in May during its celebration for the opening of its new cinematheque.