Monster-Themed Film Sets New Record in Seoul

Homegrown monster-themed film "The Host" has set a new ticket sales record in South Korea by drawing more than 12.37 million viewers, its distributor Showbox said.

The movie, directed by Bong Joon-ho, on Sept.2,2006 broke the 12.30-million-viewer record set in February by a period drama, "The King and the Clown", Showbox said in a statement.

"The Host" features an ordinary family's fight against great odds and uncooperative bureaucrats to rescue their daughter, kidnapped by a monster living in the Han River that flows through Seoul.

The monster is a mutant spawned by toxic waste released from a US military morgue.

Ticket sales totaled 12.378 million across the country as of 2:00 pm Sept. 2, Showbox said, adding the tally would rise as the film was still showing in 280 cinemas nationwide.

Bong says he got the idea for "The Host" from a 2000 incident in which US military officers were accused of releasing toxic waste into the river, sparking anger and anti-US sentiment.

But he denied having any anti-US or environmentalist messages to convey with his film, which received favourable reviews at the Cannes film festival in May and has been exported to 11 countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The success came as the local film industry denounced the Seoul government for opening its market wider to foreign competitors.

South Korea in July slashed its protectionist screen quota for homegrown movies by half to 73 days a year as part of free trade negotiations with the United States triggering anger from actors, directors and producers.

Introduced in 1966, the protectionist system specifies the number of days in a year on which cinemas must show homegrown movies.(AFP)