Korea's Big Moment

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COURTESY OF KOREA PICTURES

The superhit "Friends" tapped a vein of nostalgia in South Korea

Korean director Jang Sun Woo has never been one to shy away from sex and violence—or worry about what the censors might think. In Petal, he restaged the 1980 Kwangju massacre, when Korean soldiers killed or wounded thousands of protesters. His 1994 To You From Me shocked audiences with its explicit sexual themes—and the main character's obsession with her own derriere. Last year he had Korea's censors in conniptions with Lies, an S&M whipfest that begins with a kinky sculptor deflowering a schoolgirl. Lies was in-your-face auteur cinema at its rawest—the censors took the scissors to it, the art-house crowd loved...