Ki Joo-bong wins at Locarno Festival
Actor Ki Joo-bong of “Merry Christmas Mr. Mo” won the Best Actor award at the 71st Locarno Festival for his
role in director Hong Sang-soo’s latest feature “Hotel by the River.” The coveted top prize at the festival, which
wrapped on Saturday, local time, went to director Yeo Siew Hua’s “A Land Imagined,” which follows a lonely
Chinese construction worker who goes missing in Singapore. Ki’s achievement marks the second time a Korean
actor has won the Best Actor award, following Jung Jae-young, who won for his role in “Right Now, Wrong
Them” (2015), which was also directed by Hong. In “Hotel by the River,” which was the only Korean film invited
to compete in the Locarno festival, Ki plays a poet who is convinced that he is about to die.
The movie co-stars Hong’s regular muse Kim Min-hee, who plays a heartbroken woman who just went
through a painful breakup. The story develops as the two check into the same hotel. “Hotel by the River” is
Hong’s 23rd feature and is his sixth collaboration with Kim, which includes “Claire’s Camera” (2018) and “On
the Beach at Night Alone” (2017). A local release date for Hong’s latest directing effort has not been confirmed.
Meanwhile, Ki also received attention on the local cinema scene for his role in the espionage flick “The Spy
Gone North,” in which he makes a strong impact playing North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-il.