By Kim Tae-jong
All summer long, Jang Min-soo, 22, a college student, was looking forward to watching Steven Spielberg's sci-fi blockbuster "War of the Worlds."
But just before going to the theater, something made him decide he didn't want to see the film. Thanks to a chance encounter with a spoiler on the Internet, he found out exactly how the film ends, and just like that, his desire to watch the blockbuster film vanished.
"I was just reading a preview article on a Web site, and one of the replies posted under the article had a really obvious notice mentioning what the plot twist of the film was," Jang said. "I was so angry that I just didn't want to see the movie."
Many recent thrillers and horror films have plot twists or surprise endings, but for every unpredictable ending, there is a spoiler waiting to ruin the fun. Victims like Jang say spoilers are everywhere and it is really difficult to avoid them.
Some people enjoy spoiling film endings and they seem to take it almost as a hobby. One of the most notorious local spoiler stories was one in which someone shouted from a bus the name of the actual criminal in the thriller "The Usual Suspects" to people lining up in front of a box office when the film opened.
Sometimes even movie posters in theaters and on streets may have a criminal's face circled by a pen or pointed out with a brief comment such as "He is the culprit."
Others create their own blogs, online journals, and post spoilers or reviews for recent movies and even invite and encourage other people to share their spoilers with as many people as possible.
The main page of the U.S. Web site (www.themoviespoiler.com) reads "The most fun you can have at the movies without being there," where stories about endings of recent movies are posted.
By abusing the anonymity of cyber space, some even disseminate false endings and reports for new movies, which also discourages moviegoers.
So when new films open, people from film marketing companies are often busy trying to stop these spoilers.
"The damage from ruining the plot of a film can be really serious, especially for movies with surprise endings. But there is no perfect way to prevent it," said Sohn Hyun, a manager from film marketing company Film It Suda.
Film It Suda is currently promoting the new thriller "The Big Scene
," which has a plot twist at the core of the film, so they have been very cautious not to spoil key parts, Sohn said. "We just keep an eye on the bulletin board of the official Web site of the film, and as soon as we find postings that spoil the film for fans, we erase them."
But it seems that spoilers are not just spread by pranksters. Local television programs and news articles frequently divulge the plot of upcoming movies from beginning to end.
"I don't read movie reviews and avoid watching or listening television or radio programs about films," said Lee In-ho, 30, graduate school student. "Their careless revelations always ruin the joy of seeing a film."
Lee said he found out too much about the local film "Addicted
" while listening to a movie panel discussion on a radio show as they compared the film with Japanese movie "Secret" and they went into great detail about almost every aspect of the film.
"I was really angry. I think there are many similar programs for movies on TV and radio and they compete to provide information that they shouldn't tell to their audience," Lee added.
However, there are others who argue that spoiling certain parts of a movie may be a necessity in providing a well-rounded review.
"If you can't say a film is really bad in fear that you might spoil the ending, the real victims are the moviegoers," Kim Heoun-sic, a pop culture critic, wrote in a recent column. "Too many restrictions to stop spoilers prevents necessary and frank criticism.
"A good movie can't be ruined by simply revealing its ending," Kim added.