Long thought lost, Choi In-kyu and Bang Han-jun’s Tuition was made in Korea during the late Japanese colonial period of the 1940s. Offering our delegates a sneak preview of the BFI’s fascinating upcoming season of beautifully restored, long-lost treasures of Korean cinema (taking place at Southbank in early 2019), we’re absolutely thrilled that this invaluable film will be seen on the big screen for the first time in over 70 years.
Released in 1940, Tuition depicts the lives of ordinary people facing hardship during difficult economic times. Inspired by a true story, the film follows young Yeong-dal (Chang-jo Jeong) who lives alone with his grandmother, as his parents have left to find work and make money for their family. Struggling to make ends meet, he sets off on a long journey to his aunt’s house in a distant village, in hopes that she can lend him money for his school fees – for the school where he and his fellow pupils are taught lessons in Japanese, despite speaking nothing but Korean at home.
Only recently rediscovered and restored via the Korean Film Archives’ The Past Unearthed Project, attempting to recover this and other lost and hidden films from the ’30s and ’40s, Tuition is both an indispensable resource in the history of Korean cinema and also, more simply, the profoundly heartwarming tale of an earnest little boy winning through despite almost insurmountable odds.