The beginnings of Project K and the Korean Film Festival at Uni Campus Bockenheim

The first Korean Film Festival Frankfurt, then called “Project K – The Korean Film Festival”, was organized by Project K e.V., Korean Studies of Goethe University Frankfurt, Korean German Network e.V. and the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea Frankfurt. The latter three groups first got together in 2012 and founded the Project K association with the goal of being a door opener for Korean film and culture in Frankfurt and later nationwide.

The first edition of “Project K- The Korean Film Festival” was held at Uni Campus Bockenheim from October 12 to 14, 2012. In addition to 21 film screenings, including film classics such as KIM Ki-duk’s “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring” and “Pieta,” BONG Joon-ho’s “Mother” and PARK Chan-wook’s “Oldboy,” there was a multi-faceted accompanying program that spanned the three days.

The Hanji exhibition featured traditional Korean paper art, which has multiple uses, lasts up to 1000 years, and is aesthetic to boot. In addition, at the Hangeul booth, visitors* could either write their names in Korean script on hanji themselves, or through the guidance of a calligrapher.

At the photo event, visitors could try on Hanbok, the traditional Korean costume, and have their picture taken. The cultural program was rounded off with a demonstration of Darye, the Korean tea ceremony and the preparation of tea.

„”Through Project K’s Korean Film Festival, I have had the chance to learn more about Korean culture and meet people who have the same passion and interest as I do. The team did a great job with the decor and the different offerings, creating something I hadn’t experienced before.” – Nile W., a visitor to the festival in 2013 and later a team member.

The music of Korea and especially K-Pop was represented by the possibility to sing at the Korean Karaoke Noraebang or just listen to it and by the opening party on Friday, as well as the K-Pop party on Saturday. To make the cultural experience complete, there was the opportunity to taste delicacies of Korean cuisine at the HANSIK booth, as well as Korean snacks and drinks at the K-Lounge.

The following year and the second and final edition of “Project K – The Korean Film Festival” at Uni Campus Bockenheim, a total of 18 film screenings were held from October 17 to 20, 2013. Also this year, the accompanying program was decorated with the offerings of the obliging year, even adding to it. Under the motto “4 Days in Seoul”, visitors* were taken to Seoul’s five popular districts of Namdaemun, Hongdae, Itaewon, Myeong-dong and Insa-dong and got to feel the Korean world in the middle of Frankfurt.

As a complement to last year’s opening on October 17, there was an image performance by renowned artist KIM Baek-ki of the KoPAS (Korean Performance Art Spirit) group, in which different colors and symbolic objects were used to transport visitors* to the inner world of humanity.

On the following three festival days there were taekwondo demonstrations, the traditional martial art of Korea, which is considered a sport for self-defense.

In addition, there was the Baduk Workshop, a board game with stones, which is considered to be the oldest documented board game of mankind, where visitors could not only have the strategy game explained to them, but also try it out for themselves.

Furthermore, the K-pop Dance Contest, organized by Re[mark]able, was born, which is still held every year.

What made this year special were the K-Talks on “Korean Cinema,” “The Makings of Korean Wave,” and “130 Years of German-Korean Relations,” where small discussion groups were opened after the speeches and exchanges took place.

The goal of Project K has not changed until today, namely to spread Korean film and culture. Project K has its roots at the University Campus Bockenheim and still consists mainly of Korean studies students* of Goethe University. In addition, organization and meetings also took place on campus until the pandemic.

Micael A., who has been a member of Project K since the beginning, described the work in organizing the festival as stressful and difficult, but the teamwork was all the more important because “there you could see how motivated all [members] were to bring this festival to life and how great their interest is in Korean film culture and Korea itself. No member was afraid to get their fingers dirty, sweat, and pitch in.” And so it was to be for the ensuing years, despite members coming and going.

And so, over the past 10 years, a small 3-day film festival at the University Campus Bockenheim has developed into Germany’s largest Korean film festival, which this year brings the culture and, above all, the film world of Korea closer to German audiences at several locations in Frankfurt and, through an online program, even throughout Germany.