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Film About WWII Sex Slaves Conquers Box Office

2016/03/12 | 1002 views | Permalink | Source

A moviegoer selects "Spirits' Homecoming" at a ticket booth at a theater in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap

A film depicting the lives of women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II is set to draw more than 3 million viewers.

"Spirits' Homecoming" directed by Cho Jung-lae racked up the highest advance-ticket sales even before it opened, and the number of theaters showing the movie rose from 513 on opening day on Feb. 24 to 876 a week later.

Cho said, "I made the movie in hopes of welcoming home the souls of Korean women who are lost in foreign lands. Rather than incite vengeance, I wanted to inspire healing and solace".

The most famous movie about the former sex slaves was "The Murmuring" directed by Byung Young-joo in 1995. Two decades have passed since then without another film being made about them, in contrast to the steady stream of movies about the holocaust. 

One reason for the success of "Spirits' Homecoming" is that there has been a dearth of movies about the painful subject. But another factor was the absence of Hollywood blockbusters competing at the time of release.

The patriotic nature of the film does not shield it from critical review. The Japanese soldiers are flat characters who are simply bent on evil acts, while the bird's-eye view of the brothels drew accusations of voyeurism.

Movie critic Kang Yoo-jung said, "Depicting a painful period of history through fiction rather than documentary deserves applause. As victims, we did not attempt this as much as those depicting the holocaust. You have to admire its pioneering spirit, regardless of how accomplished it is".

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