Gangnam Blues

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Gangnam Blues
Gangnam 1970 Poster
Teaser poster
Hangul 1970
Hanja 1970
Revised RomanizationGangnam 1970
Directed byYoo Ha
Produced byYoo Ha
Yu Jeong-hun
Written byYoo Ha
StarringLee Min-ho
Kim Rae-won
Music byJo Yeong-wook
CinematographyKim Tae-seong
Hong Seong-hyuk
Edited byPark Gok-ji
m.o.vera Pictures
Distributed byShowbox/Mediaplex
Release date
  • January 21, 2015 (2015-01-21)
Running time
135 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
BudgetUS$9 million
Box officeUS$16.1 million[1]

Gangnam Blues (Hangul강남 1970; lit. Gangnam 1970) is a 2015 South Korean noir action film written and directed by Yoo Ha, and starring Lee Min-ho and Kim Rae-won.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] The film is set in the 1970s against the backdrop of the real estate development of Seoul's Gangnam district amidst socio-political turmoil and terrorism. The friendship of two childhood friends is tested as they find themselves entangled in the collusion and battles between political powers and criminal organizations.[10][11][12]


In the 1970s, during the height of political corruption, Gangnam, the southern part of Seoul, is starting to be transformed into a developed area. Childhood friends Jong-dae and Yong-ki struggle to get by, until their shanty homes are demolished by local thugs. Desperate for cash, they get involved in violent political clashes, and are separated during one of the skirmishes. Three years later, Jong-dae lives as an adopted son of former gang leader Gil-soo and unknown to him a small-time gangster. Meanwhile, Yong-ki has raised as a made man inside Seoul's most powerful criminal organization, the Myeongdong-pa under Yang Ki-taek. Jong-dae meets foxy Min Seong-hee and is entangled in real estate business from tips Min Seong-hee gets from Park Seung-gu they enter into bigger business. Jong-dae finally meets Yong-ki and they together hatch plans to co-operate and become rich. Min Seong-hee introduces Jong-dae to a disgraced politician, Seo Tae-gon, who still has political controls and they plan to raise him back to the political arena. They enter high-stakes battle going over land in Gangnam, by other political parties to fund secret presidential election and slush funds and drives up the plot-value of the city from inside information about future plan to turn Gangnam as an extended part of the capital. As the gangs fight over the rights to various plots and to maintain power structure, Yong-ki betrays his people and eliminates opposition with Jong-dae. Yong-ki who had to save his skin from suspicion of his boss kills Gil-soo. Jong-dae realizes this and keeps an eye on him. Meanwhile, Yong-ki's gang motivates him to overthrow Jong-dae and take over the whole operation when it is all over. After Seo Tae-gon's final mission they face each other and Jong-dae threatens Yong-ki to disappear and eliminates his gang members. Seo Tae-gon, to turn a new leaf in his career, recruits two new goons as his henchmen and puts them in charge to assassinate both Jong-dae and Yong-ki and they do so while Seo Tae-gon announces his nominee-ship for election and dances with Min Seong-hee. The ruling government declares its intent to adjoin Gagnam to its capital. After years an aged Seo Tae-gon addresses the developed city of Gangnam about his commitment to the city.


  • Lee Min-ho as Kim Jong-dae [13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]
  • Kim Rae-won as Baek Yong-ki
  • Jung Jin-young as Kang Gil-soo
  • Kim Ji-soo as Min Seong-hee
  • Kim Seolhyun as Kang Seon-hye [22][23][24]
  • Yoo Seung-mok as Seo Tae-gon
  • Han Jae-young as Park Chang-bae
  • Jung Ho-bin as Yang Ki-taek
  • Choi Jin-ho as Park Seung-gu
  • Um Hyo-sup as Kim Jung-kyu
  • Heo Seong-min as Jae-pil
  • Kim Yoo-yeon as Jeom-soon
  • Ji Dae-han as Chang Deok-jae
  • Choi Byung-mo as Section chief Mun
  • Lee Seok as Chun-ho
  • Kwak Min-ho as Min-kyu
  • Jeon Bae-su as Chairman Gu
  • Park Min-gyu as Cheol-seung
  • Jang In-ho as Myeong-chun
  • Park Hyeok-min as Gyeong-pyo
  • Jo Mun-ui as Saudi Kim
  • Park Tong-il as Mayor of Seoul


This was the final film in director-screenwriter Yoo Ha's "street series" trilogy, after Once Upon a Time in High School (2004) and A Dirty Carnival (2006). He called it "a story about people who are used, then discarded, about lives that are, like the buildings they live in, unauthorized. [...] represents the obsession over land ― land from which we are born, to which we return when we die. It is a feast of all things wretched."[25]

Yoo originally didn't want to cast Lee Min-ho in the leading role, finding Lee's breakout performance in TV series Boys Over Flowers "a bit cheesy" and that the actor was "so handsome he was like a manhwa character." But after being convinced by his wife, Yoo realized the potentially huge impact of "flower boy"[26] actors completely transforming their image, and together they collaborated to "burn to the ground" Lee's previous screen persona as a chaebol's son.[27] Lee filmed a sex scene with actress Kim Ji-soo, but it was not included in the final cut because Yoo felt it was unnecessary to the flow of the film.[28][29]

Yoo also asked actor Kim Rae-won to shed 15 kilograms since his character works as a rag man in the beginning of the film; Kim lost the weight in one month, which he said also made his fist-fighting scenes as a gangster more realistic.[30]

Filming began on April 16, 2014 and wrapped on August 31, 2014.[31][32][33]

The early Korean working title was Gangnam Blues (Hangul강남 블루스), which was changed to Gangnam 1970 in October 2014.[34][35] Gangnam Blues was retained as the international English title.[25]


South Korea[edit]

Gangnam Blues was released in 684 theaters in South Korea on January 21, 2015. Despite its "restricted" rating, it topped the box office on its opening day, with 152,500 tickets sold.[36][37] Within 5 days, it had reached the 1 million admission mark (1,097,103).[38][39][40][41] After 35 days of release, the film recorded 2.19 million admissions.[1]

An uncensored version (running time: 141 minutes) became available for streaming on VOD service IPTV on March 19, 2015.[42]


The film was released with a different cut for the Chinese market in March 2015, in order to capitalize on Lee Min-ho's big fan base in the region. The new cut included more scenes of Lee, including those further developing the relationship between Lee's character and his love interest (played by Kim Ji-soo), as well as an alternate ending.[43][44][45]

Critical reception[edit]

Modern Korean Cinema's Pierce Conran called the film "an evocative and immensely entertaining saga that pits a common tale of brotherhood and betrayal against a thrilling period setting mired in violence and corruption" and praised it as "one of the most beautifully designed and lushly filmed Korean productions ever made." He found Lee Min-ho "thoroughly convincing as a rising gangster with a cool exterior and emotional core," but that Kim Rae-won's performance had "a little less depth," yet nevertheless was Kim's best performance since 2006's Sunflower, in which he also played a gangster.[46]


"Anak" by Freddie Aguilar was used in both Filipino and Korean Version of the 2015 for its trailer and actual feature.[47]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
51st Paeksang Arts Awards [48] Best New Actor
Lee Min-ho
Best New Actress
Kim Seol-hyun
Most Popular Actor
Lee Min-ho
19th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival [49][50] Producers' Choice Award Won
52nd Grand Bell Awards Best New Actor Won
Best New Actress
Kim Seol-hyun
36th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor
Lee Min-ho
Best New Actress
Kim Seol-hyun
Technical Award
Shin Jae-myung
Popular Star Award
Lee Min-ho
Kim Seol-hyun
5th Marie Claire Film Festival Rookie Award Won
11th Max Movie Awards Rising Star Award Won


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  2. ^ Tae, Sang-joon (17 September 2013). "HOWLING Helmer YOO Ha Returns with Action Noir". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  3. ^ Lee, In-kyung (13 December 2013). "Lee Min Ho Confirmed to Star in Movie Gangnam Blues". enewsWorld. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  4. ^ Tae, Sang-joon (16 December 2013). "LEE Min-ho Cast in YOO Ha's Action Noir". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  5. ^ Lee, Sun-min (16 December 2013). "Way back to Gangnam for Lee Min-ho". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Lee Min-ho Rides Wave of Popularity to Leading Movie Role". The Chosun Ilbo. 1 January 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  7. ^ Kim, Ji-soo (13 January 2014). "'My next film project is noir'". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 8 September 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  8. ^ Lee, Kyung-nam (18 March 2014). "Kim Rae Won to Make Screen Comeback through Gangnam Blues". enewsWorld. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  9. ^ Kim, Hee-eun (21 March 2014). "Kim Rae-won cast in Gangnam Blues". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  10. ^ Frater, Patrick (14 March 2014). "FilMart: Showbox Styles Yoo Ha's Gangnam Blues for Pre-Sales Debut". Variety. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  11. ^ Noh, Jean (14 March 2014). "Showbox gets Yoo Ha's Gangnam Blues". Screen Daily. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  12. ^ Kim, Su-yeon (14 November 2014). "GANGNAM BLUES, Sold Well in Asia: China, Japan, Myanmar, Singapore and More". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  13. ^ Hong, Hye-jin (7 January 2015). "Curiosity drives Lee to role in Gangnam 1970". K-Pop Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
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  15. ^ Doo, Rumy (13 January 2015). "Lee Min-ho talks violence, poverty, and pressure on Gangnam 1970". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
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  25. ^ a b "Herald Review: A darker past in Gangnam 1970". The Korea Herald. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  26. ^ A South Korean colloquial term for "pretty boy."
  27. ^ Ha, Soo-jung (12 December 2014). "Director Cast Lee Min Ho in Gangnam 1970 After Being Brainwashed By His Wife". enewsWorld. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  28. ^ "Director of Movie Gangnam 1970 Reveals That Lee Min Ho and Kim Ji Soo's Sex Scene Was Edited Out". Soompi. 13 January 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Lee Min-ho misses chance to show off muscles". K-Pop Herald. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  30. ^ "Kim Rae-won sheds 15kg for Gangnam 1970". K-Pop Herald. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  31. ^ Choi, Eun-hwa (4 September 2014). "Lee Min Ho and Kim Rae Won Share on Wrapping Up Filming Gangnam Blues". enewsWorld. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  32. ^ 이민호-김래원 주연 '강남 1970', 내년 1월로 개봉 연기. Sports Chosun (in Korean). Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  33. ^ 이민호 김래원 '강남 1970', 내년 1월 개봉 변경…성수기 시장 노린다. TenAsia (in Korean). Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  34. ^ Jung, Si-woo (8 October 2014). 이민호 '강남블루스'→'강남 1970'으로 제목 변경…11월 개봉확정. TenAsia (in Korean). Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  35. ^ 이민호-김래원 주연 액션영화 '강남 1970' 제목 확정 11월 개봉 (출처) 본 기사는 조선닷컴에서 작성된 기사 입니다. The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). 9 October 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
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  50. ^ Jin, Min-ji (9 July 2015). "Producers' Choice honorees selected". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 10 July 2015.

External links[edit]