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‘The King and the Clown’ Hits 10 Mil. Viewers

2006/02/10 | Permalink | Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

"The King and the Clown", a film about a notorious tyrant and his court jesters in the Choson Kingdom, is expected to hit the 10-million-viewer mark on Saturday, becoming the third domestic film ever to do so.

The film will reach the mark in 45 days, after being released on Dec. 29. The record indicates one out of every five in the whole Korean population has seen the flick.

Based on the acclaimed play "Yi", the film is a fictional twist on historic events and characters like the tyrant King Yonsan, his concubine Chang Nok-su and an effeminate male court jester Kong-gil.

Although the film received positive reviews from critics during preview screenings, expectations were low. Few expected this kind of huge success for a film with a relatively low production budget of 4.4 billion. It also lacks so-called A-list celebrities.

The film's homosexual motif, portrayed through a love triangle of King Yonsan, Kong-gil and another male jester Jang-saeng, also generated low expectations when it opened as the motif has been one of the taboo subjects in Korean cinema.

The film stood out due to a well-constructed storyline. It started showing on 255 screens, but the number increased to 397 a couple of weeks later as moviegoers flocked to cinemas, encouraged by early viewers' recommendations online or in-person.

Now the question is, can it join the 11-million-viewer club of Korean films. Only two local films, "Taegukgi: the Brotherhood of War" and "Silmido" are members of this club as they attracted 11.74 million and 11.08 million viewers, respectively.

The former, which needed 14.7 billion won for its production, surpassed the 10-million-mark in 39 days, while the latter, which spent 8.2 billion won, needed 58 days to do so.

The achievement of "The King and the Clown" has roused people's curiosity about the original play, "Yi". The play attracted some 30,000 theatergoers in a two-month encore season since last December. It plans to tour nationwide later this month. A musical version of the text is expected to premiere in October as well.

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