By Kim Tae-jong
Lawmakers enter a large hall inside the National Assembly in Yoido, central Seoul, but they aren't gathering to open a regular session for the legislation of a bill. Instead, they are going to watch movie.
Many films have been shown recently in preview screenings for the National Assembly. Among them were the upcoming horror movie "Godsend", a story about a couple who agree to have their deceased son cloned on Aug. 5, and local movie "R-Point
", which revolves around a South Korean squadron in the Vietnam War on Aug. 13 at the Members' Office Building.
Special preview screenings have been commonly used as a promotional strategy for upcoming movies. Churches have screened movies related to the lives of Christ or priests such as Mel Gibson's controversial crucifixion film "The Passion of the Christ" and the local romantic comedy "Sinbu Suop (Love, So Divine)", a story about a student of the priesthood and a young woman. Films based on true stories such as "Silmido
", which is about a group of suicide commandos in the early 1970s, have also had special screening events for those who were actually involved in the situation that the movie depicts.
Preview screenings at the National Assembly, however, don't seem to be held merely for promotional purposes by movie companies but also for politicians who want to express their political views on certain issues.
Politicians are able to support their political ideas by watching movies dealing with controversial issues such as the documentary film " Fahrenheit 9/11", which conveys a critical look at the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Since the media covers these types of events, politicians' participation can stir up and influence public opinion. Without saying anything negative about President Bush, they can still oppose the dispatch of South Korean troops in Iraq, and while lawmakers watch a movie like "Godsend", they can indirectly express their objections to human cloning.
Some politicians who are interested in general cultural trends also saw movies that don't carry any political messages such as the romance "Ino Kongju (My Mother the Mermaid)".
Therefore, lawmakers can take advantage of preview screenings at the National Assembly to bring controversial issues to the center of the public's attention in cooperation with companies that want to promote their upcoming movies.
"Politicians who are interested in upcoming movies usually contact us and suggest to hold a preview screening event at the National Assembly", said Kim Sun-hee, staff from Laughing Boa
, the promotion company of "R-Point
". "Since we think that it is a good opportunity to promote our movie, we usually accept it".
Even though the National Assembly is not properly equipped to screen movies to a large audience and the sound and picture quality is not as good as a regular theater, many politicians seem to enjoy coming to see movies there, added Kim.