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Three Korean Hit Movies Bring Hope to Industry

2005/08/18 Source

A troika of Korean films that opened within the last four weeks is blazing a trail at the box office. "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance", which opened on July 28, "Welcome to Dongmakgol" (Aug. 4) and "48 Hours Live Broadcast" - "The Big Scene" (Aug. 11) had drawn a total of 8.18 million viewers as of Wednesday, and their respective producers expect the trio to break the 10 million barrier this weekend or early next week.

That three films in completely different genres should be enjoying such a harvest in as many weeks is seen by the movie world as a good omen for Chungmu-ro, Korea's Hollywood. The industry had been on the brink of crisis due to financial problems, controversy over the power of star actors and an offensive by Hollywood blockbusters, with the viewer share of Korean films plummeting to 32 percent in July. With the three films, it has bounced back quickly to 64 percent as of Monday, according to CGV statistics.

Of the three, "Welcome to Dongmakgol" is the most popular, drawing 3.67 million viewers so far and maintaining until last weekend a three-week hold on first place on the Box Office after it overtook "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance", which opened a week earlier. The film, a fantasy reflecting the tragedy of the Korean War, has been bringing in family audiences, including the over-40s and children, and stands poised to break this year's record of 5.18 million viewers set by "Running Boy (Marathon)".

Film critic Shim Young-sup said the news was particularly welcome at a time of almost unprecedented concerns about the Korean film industry. "The significance of major productions like 'Silmido' is still there, but it's particularly good news that the three films have firmed up the backbone of the Korean film industry with a new character". Lee Seung-jae, president of major film producer LJ Film, said it was significant that the three were not light comedies or fashionable films but rather in a line of "well-made commercial films" that have appeared since 2002. "Rather than being movies in the same vein that squeeze each other out, the three films of very distinct genres worked a synergy effect", he said.

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