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Director Brings President's Assassination to Big Screen

2005/01/25 | Permalink | Source

By Joon Soh
Culture Editor

Bringing a controversial historical moment to the big screen has made the film "The President's Last Bang (Kuddae Kusaramdul)" a hot topic in the usual entertainment circles as well as in the political arena.

However, director Im Sang-soo insists his film, which mixes fact and fiction to tell the story of the assassination of President Park Chung-hee on Oct. 26, 1979, wasn't made with any specific political intent in mind.

"Some are wondering whether 25 years is too short a time to have passed to be making (the incident) into a film, but I ask who should be deciding when is the right time", Lim told reporters at the world premiere of the film in Seoul, Monday. "I say whenever an artist makes it into something, that makes it the right time".

Since the project was made public in December, "The President's Last Bang" has generated reactions from conservative groups who felt a film about the assassination was inappropriate. Earlier this month, Park's only son, Park Ji-man, took legal action in an attempt to prevent the film from being released. A decision is due Feb. 1.

Park's daughter, Grand National Party leader Park Guen-hye, has avoided commenting on the film.

The unflattering portrayal of the president in the film is expected to add more fuel the debate. The president, played by Song Jae-ho, is shown as a womanizer who has a penchant for younger companions, enjoys getting drunk and listening to "enka (traditional Japanese songs)".

And as the film's ironic English title suggests, "The President's Last Bang" has its share of humorous moments, making for an odd mixture of black comedy and docudrama.

Yet at the same time, the film also depicts the scene of the assassination, which took place during a private drinking party, with graphic and gruesome details.

"One of the main reasons I made the film is because we don't know all of the facts of the incident", Lim said. "But I couldn't make a film with just the few details I had. There needs to be details from moment to moment to make it come alive and the details in the film came strictly from my imagination".

However, Lim says despite the attention drawn by the subject, the film is about more than just President Park.

"There are, of course, many aspects to any film, but in this film I wanted to show that any one individual is a universe within himself. It doesn't matter if he is a president or a security guard.

"So in a way, this film is also about those who were implicated in the situation without knowing anything, those who haven't been able to go home afterwards and those who were sped through three trials and then quickly executed".

"The President's Last Bang" also stars Baek Yoon-sik as Kim Jae-kyu, then chief of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) who shot and killed President Park; Han Suk-kyu as a KCIA official and Kim's right-hand man; and singer Kim Yoon-ah as Sim Soo-bong, a singer who was at the scene of the assassination. The film is scheduled to be released Feb. 3.

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