By Lee Hyo-won
BUSAN _ The Korean Peninsula is sizzling up with not one but two hot spots. Deep south in Korea's largest port city, the 12th Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival (PIFF) turned into a cinephile's playground as the festive opening event unrolled Thursday night. Even the rain -- and a political catwalk by three contending presidential candidates -- did not extinguish the fervor of movie lovers.
Meanwhile, up north in Pyongyang, the inter-Korean summit is drawing all ears and eyes, but even the Dear Leader didn't forget to express his love for South Korean cinema, showing appreciation for the DVD of Park Chan-wook
's film "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
", among other gifts from the South, Wednesday.
Some 8,000 plastic raincoat-sporting moviegoers equipped with umbrellas and towels to keep dry along with blankets to keep warm, waited anxiously for the stars and celebrities to illuminate the red carpet.
Crowds went wild as a stream of celebrated filmmakers, world's leading festival programmers and sleek, tuxedo-clad actors and gorgeous, skin-bearing actresses arrived one after another. PIFF festival director Kim Dong-ho
arrived with the makers of this year's opening piece "Assembly", the big budget war movie from China.
Guests included veteran director Im Kwon-taek
, China's film maestro Jiang Wen, Iranian autere Dariush Mehrjui and "Secret Sunshine
" director and former Minister of Culture Lee Chang-dong
Those with an iron grip in the international movie scene made their way through the runway, including Cannes festival's Thierry Fremaux, Berlin festival's Christoph Terhechte, Media Asia head John Chong and China's leading producer Wang Zhonglei.
Glamorous in an array of evening gowns ranging from micro-mini to trailing long behind them in rainbow hues, actresses Kim Tae-hee
, Park Jin-hee
and Uhm Jung-hwa
threw the crowd into a frenzy. Heartthrobs Ji Jin-hee
, Daniel Henney
and Lee Dong-gun
also created a stir as they strutted down the red carpet. Local TV stars like Soo Ae
and Yoon Eun-hye
also made appearances.
A splash of international celebrities sparkled, including Daniel Dae Kim, who plays opposite Kim Yunjin
in the hit ABC TV series "Lost", and Singapore's Royston Tan and his flashy team from the film "881".
VIP guests included three contending presidential candidates including Lee Myung-bak of the Grand National Party and Chung Dong-young of the pro-government United New Democratic Party, whose flashy political intervention, crafted in Hollywood style, surprised the crowd. Top designer Andre Kim, wearing his signature white attire and never missing a big event, also joined in the show.
But VIP of VIP guests Ennio Morricone, the musical genius for award-winning scores of timeless classics such as "Cinema Paradiso", concluded the runway show.
Naturally, the Busan Symphony Orchestra filled the damp night air with renditions of "Gabriel's Oboe", Morricone's piece from "The Mission", and "Love Theme" from "Cinema Paradiso".
The hosts of the night, actress Moon So-ri
and her husband, director Jang Jun-hwan, explained this year's festival slogan. "Beyond the Frame" signifies PIFF's visions of transcending borders and genres to celebrate the human spirit, said Moon, and Jang invited crowds to dive into the "sea of cinema".
A grand spectacle of fireworks officially announced the start of the annual movie feast, which was followed by the world premiere of director Feng Xiaogang's "Assembly". Most of the stars, however, made a quick run for the exit as soon as the runway show was over.
Afterward, the private opening party at the garden of Paradise Hotel greeted the stars and celebrities. Morricone, who was planning on topping the late-night event with the festival's first hand-printing ceremony, was unable to do so due to fatigue.