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Sunday Q&A - Korean Movie Industry

2005/09/26 Source

The Korean film industry has been growing every year. Korean movies have earned global recognition by winning awards at prestigious film festivals. Yet some criticize Korean movies for lacking variety. Reporter Sung Tae-kyung joins me now to discuss the growing Korean movie industry, and where it's headed.
Hi Tae-kyung.

Hi Min-jung. Have you seen a good movie lately?

I recently saw the Korean movie 'Welcome to Dongmakgol' by Director Bae Jong, and I really liked it.

Well you join some 7 million others, who also watched the movie. 'Welcome to Dongmakgol' is set during the Korean War. It depicts the friendship between soldiers from South and North Korea, as well as America, in a remote village called Dongmakgol.
The movie has been picked to compete in the Foreign Language Film category, at the upcoming U.S. Academy Awards.
Now 'Welcome to Dongmakgol' is just one of the many movies that shows you, how far Korean movies have come.
Just five years ago, people in Korea thought, only foreign blockbuster movies could attract more than a million movie goers.
Things have greatly changed since then.

Let's talk about the scale of the Korean movie industry. How many movies are being shown in a year, and exactly how many are flocking to the theaters?

During the first half of this year, a total of 35 Korean movies and 113 foreign films were released.
This is a 14 percent jump from last year.
But in terms of box office sales, Korean films account for about 50 percent.
American films take the next biggest share of the pie, and have in fact increased their on-year market share by 5 percent, this year.
During the first half of 2005, an estimated 20.7 million people bought movie tickets.

Now would you say then, that the demand is big enough to support the growing domestic movie industry?

Oh yes.
There's definitely a craving for good movies, especially since more companies have adopted the five-day work week system, Koreans have more time on their hands.
But some movie goers frown at the lack of creativity in Korean movies.
Some films heavily rely on the fame of star actors and actresses, often forgetting the merits of a good plot.
To ensure continued feasibility in the Korean movie business, perhaps we can learn from "Bollywood".

I believe it's called "Bollywood" because Indian movies are considered the next biggest thing to "Hollywood" movies.

That's right. India churns out about 1000 films every year, the largest number in the world. Every week, 70 million people go to the theaters. People say the success of Indian movies comes from their variety.
A vast range of stories with good music and dance, and you have a huge export market that amounts to 7 billion dollars a year.

And the last thing I want to talk about is Korea's screen quota system. What's happening with this?

Earlier this week, U.S. trade negotiators urged Korea to let more Hollywood movies into the country, if it wants to sign a free trade agreement with the United States.
Currently, theaters here have to screen Korean movies at least 146 days of the year.
The U.S. wants this mandatory number of days reduced, so they can get more of their movies played.
But this of course is still in negotiations so we will just have to wait and see for this one.

Thank you, Tae-kyung.

My pleasure.

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