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Playwright Takes On Big Screen

2005/08/07 Source

Two Feature Films Based on Jang Jin's Plays Hitting Theaters This Month

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

This month will be an exciting and nerve-wrecking time for Jang Jin as two of his popular theatrical productions have been made into movies and are both competing at the local box office this week.

The big screen debuts of his plays are "Welcome to Dongmakgol" and "On Air (Paksuchil Ttae Tonara)"-"The Big Scene". Jang is not only the playwright of the original versions but also the producer of "Welcome to Dongmakgol" and the director of "On Air"-"The Big Scene"

"I know it's very unusual for two movies by one person to be opening at the same time so I was a bit worried about that at first", Jang told reporters in a news conference last month. "But now I hope audiences will enjoy the two movies as they have completely different attractions".

Opening last week, "Welcome to Dongmakgol" is a story of a remote mountain village called "Dongmakgol" where North and South Korean soldiers as well as an American soldier are stranded during the Korean War. "On Air"-"The Big Scene", opening this Friday, is of a murder investigation, which is broadcast through a live reality TV show.

Jang is well known for his quirky characters and his acerbic wit in such movies as "Guns & Talk" (Killerdului Suda) and "Someone Special" (Anun Yoja), but these films were not as successful as his plays such as "Taxi Drival".

"I believe that all creations come from some sort of deficiency. As a theatrical play has spatial limitations, I always had this desire to make my plays into films", Jang said.

But the question is how these two movies will translate onto the big screen. Their original versions, which used Jang's clever dialogue and peculiar sense of humor to tackle social and historical issues, are perfectly suited to the theater.

"I think, I can say as the producer, the film version of `Welcome to Dongmakgol' was beautifully rendered by director Bae Jong, more so than in my original play. So I hope the good impression that audiences have from the film will lead them to enjoy `On Air' as well", Jang said half jokingly.

In a news conference after the preview screening of "On Air"-"The Big Scene" last week, he told reporters that the movie is about the ironic relationship between the mass media and the public.

"The idea actually just popped into my head _ I wanted to know why people are so easily controlled by the mass media. The public's attention seems to be always on the surface of truth rather than on truth itself", Jang said.

The film is a mixed bag of genres _ mystery thriller, police investigation and black comedy. Although there are a few changes in some episodes, and characters are a little different to the original play, the main theme and story are almost the same, Jang added.

"If you put it in a bad way, you might say the film doesn't have any consistency, but in a good way, you could also say that the film is well seasoned by its various flavors. I didn't intentionally make the film to appeal only to a broad audience, but rather I wanted to enjoy freedom of expression as a filmmaker", Jang said.

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