[Guest Film Review] "Ha Ha Ha" 2017/05/13, Hong Sang-soo distinct and quite repetitive style found its apogee in this film, although this time, he implemented a lighter tone, that was probably the main reason it received the Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, a huge accomplishment considering the status of the director up to that point,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 24 Final 2016/03/26,
Throughout all his trials and tribulations, Yeong-sil has remained a surprisingly good sport. There's good reason for this. As bad as jail might be, Yeong-sil at least has his sketchbook, which gives him a chance to think over matters of science. That's always good for a nice matter of calm, even if this time, Yeong-sil's friends can't help him. There's just disgrace and corporal punishment, while Yeong-sil sulks and starts to hate the world,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 23 2016/03/20,
Yeong-sil struggles with another of the usual engineering problems for his current clock design as he works on a deadline. In an ideal world, this is all Yeong-sil would have to worry about. But in "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama", the scientist ends up being forced to think in terms of geopolitical questions. This time around, after deciding that they find Yeong-sil's super diorama clock to be more cool than morally offensive, the Chinese attempt to poach him as their own scientist,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 22 2016/03/19,
Once again, Yeong-sil lounges around just in the peripheral issue of major political questions, this time out on the frontier. Nothing immediately important happens. There ends up being a timeskip following a somewhat anticlimactic death scare for King Sejong, leading me to believe that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" focuses on certain historical incidents more out of obligation than because of actual relevancy,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 21 2016/03/13,
I don't really feel that bad for Hee-ji considering how often he manages to get embroiled in life-or-death situations, and then proceeds to enravel all the nearby characters in those same crises. Aside from how generally dangerous Hee-ji is as a friend, he has this bad habit of sucking the oxygen out of the room with his own mostly irrelevant storylines. There's a great montage here that's pretty much a greatest hits collection of Hee-ji either being a jerk or being interrupted by a conspiracy whenever he tries to act a little more senxible for a change,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 20 2016/03/12,
Hee-ji struggles with whether to honor his love for science or his love of not being threatened with murder by his political allies. It's taken awhile, but I think I'm finally appreciating Hee-ji as a sort of tragic character who debates which side is the right side for the sake of progress. I wonder whether the historical Hee-ji actually had to deal with problems anything like this, but whatever. I'm partially relieved if only to learn that for the most part the various characters in "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" are in fact based on real people, what with the brief credits scene,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 19 2016/03/06,
Eight months later, Yeong-sil is making decent progress on his scientific endeavors. Hee-ji, though, he just skulks at home having flashbacks of past fire-related incidents, grumbling about the obvious superiority of Yeong-sil and, I kid you not, projecting his weird fixation issues on a makeshift Joseon-era mannequin. It bears repeating. In terms of personality and inner conflict, Hee-ji is the real main character of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama". Hee-ji is the one always making difficult decisions while Yeong-sil just tries to think of a better way to build a clock,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 18 2016/03/05,
Hee-ji suffers from his usual character conflict here. Yeong-sil is such a genius, Hee-ji feels eternally incompetent, so Hee-ji must struggle between his love of science and his desire to burn things. Again with the fire! Forget about clocks, King Sejong really needs to do something about public services. One of these days someone is going to try to burn something important, and at that point, he's going to wish there was a fire brigade to deal with the problem,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 17 2016/02/28,
While this episode certainly has its share of ominous brooding when it comes to authority figures of dubious reputation, fortunately, for the most part no one actually tries to cash in on the threats. Yeong-sil presents a simple, easily understood alternate scientific theory, and from there it's just a matter of put up or shut up. Good clock design can only get a man so far when the amount of possible elaboration is such that a near infinite variety of models is possible,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 16 2016/02/27,
Hee-ji belatedly feels some guilt here about jealously trying to use violence to drive Yeong-sil out of the field of science. It's lucky Hee-ji didn't go all the way, even if he was technically operating at the behest of a conspiracy. I continue to find the scientific conspiracies the most baffling part of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama". They don't even have hired goons or anything, the bad guys are perfectly fine with beating people up in broad daylight while still wearing their fancy clothes. Eggheads have never been so scary,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 15 2016/02/21,
Now that Yeong-sil is apparently dead, all anyone can seem to talk about is what a great smart guy he was. Which is awkward, considering that the principal men involved in the assassination attempt on the poor scientist still have their government positions, and just can't seem to escape the fact that even in death Yeong-sil is way smarter than they are. "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" has the kind of villains who seem pathetic even when they win, because their competence begins and ends with cloak and dagger conspiracies,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 14 2016/02/20,
This episode opens up with Yeong-sil and his science buddies admiring the stars and pondering over the mysteries of the universe as Jang Yeong-sil's scientific bagpipe music plays in the background. It's a capstone to a whirlwind of successful research, and I really hate these scenes because they mostly just remind me of the story that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" could be telling, except that now it's time for the requisite unnecessary violence on the part of science-hating extremists,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 13 2016/02/14,
A major scene in the early part of this episode does a good job explaining the contradictions of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" as a whole. We start out with Yeong-sil working, idly wondering about the political situation but mostly just puzzled as to why his current astronomical calculations aren't working. Then a bunch of aristocratic bullies show up and force a physical confrontation. Wrestling moves are involved. At long last Yeong-sil inadvertently comes up with a breakthrough and rushes back to inform his team,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 12 2016/02/13,
Yeong-sil has learned a valuable lesson from the constant apparently unnecessary attempts on his life. While it's great that Yeong-sil has managed to gain an official scientific position within the Joseon, nobody likes him. The other scientists don't really have a good reason for doing so, but that's besides the point. Pecking orders aren't based on logic. Up until now science has been a means of social advancement in Korea, and King Sejong can't change that overnight,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 11 2016/02/06,
After a large scale and mostly unnecessary swordfight the Chinese portion of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" concludes, as usual leaving me asking the wrong kind of questions. Is anybody else noticing the irony here? Song Il-gook is in an action-heavy drama, as a guy who logically does not know how to fight and spends most his time in the action sequences chronically dodging hits? When even the token woman picks up a sword and starts hacking away I have to wonder whether "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" would make more sense if it just ignored logic entirely and made Yeong-sil a kung fu scientist. For all we know, he might have been one,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 10 2016/01/31,
Hee-ji (played by Lee Ji-hoon) is the actual main character of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" at the moment, on account of the fact that he's the only Korean character who actually has any idea what's going on in the Chinese portion of the story. I feel like I'm constantly repeating myself on this point but...why exactly is Yeong-sil the main character when he doesn't know what's going on, no one wants to tell him what's going on, and it doesn't even seem to matter whether or not he knows what's going on?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 9 2016/01/30,
Having finally managed to escape the cutthroat environment of Korean politics, so that he can study astronomy in China, Yeong-sil at long last manages to arrive in China to discover that...there are also violent bureaocratic elements at play in Chinese astronomy. And much as was the case in Korea, Yeong-sil has only the faintest awareness of what's going on. He just expresses surprise and curiousity regarding a few novel scientific devices, and proceeds to stumble clumsily into more random death plots and sword fights,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "May 18" + DVD Giveaway 2016/01/30,
Jin-woo (played by Lee Joon-gi) is a high school student in Gwangju, circa 1980. Sin-ae (played by Lee Yo-won) is a local nurse who goes to his church. Min-woo (played by Kim Sang-kyung) is his older working brother. Heung-soo (played by Ahn Sung-ki) is her father, a former military officer. They all live fairly normal lives. But a meeting with history ruptures this destiny, as a military crackdown provokes a full-scale resistance movement lasting for a full week,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 8 2016/01/24,
The extended opening of this episode is simply a direct continuation of the cliffhanger from last time. Yeong-sil is stuck in a noose, reliant entirely on the whims of the weather to confirm whether or not his heretical scientific theory is true and thus, can release Yeong-sil from the risk of death. For all of King Taejong's established authoritatiran attitude I'm still at a bit of a loss as to why he takes these issues to such a ridiculous extreme. It's almost like King Taejong takes issues of bad science personally,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 7 2016/01/23,
I'm increasingly getting the sense that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" is less about the actual titular scientist and more about the political struggles that were necessary for King Sejong to manage the important reforms that marked his reign. It's clear that several of the events we see in major focus were actual real historical watermarks in King Sejong's early career (he's still not actually King yet). Although this is mostly a hypothesis on my part since once again Jeong-sil has very little screentime in his own story compared to other characters who aren't very good at staying alive in difficult historical times,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 5 2016/01/16,
After a weird opening setpiece where Yeong-sil's personal problems and the greater political situation randomly come into violent agreement, we get a few interesting scenes of Yeong-sil trying to make a go of life with palace scientists. Yeong-sil ends up making enemies by stupidly expressing his opinion and then backing it up with factual evidence. That's a really big problem in a scientific infrastructure where qualifications are considered more relevant than facts,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 4 2016/01/10,
Yeong-sil continues to struggle with authority this episode, as the climax involves him getting into a violent altercation with an official and eventually using the power of science to spring an elaborate trap. As good as Song Il-gook is at action scenes, I can't help but find it a tad absurd how "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" is apparently taking the position that Yeong-sil could have or should have used his scientific abilities to win fights. That much sounds like a running sketch idea for a late night comedy program,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 3 2016/01/09,
Like most historical persons from the early Joseon period, we don't actually know very much about the life of the real Jang Yeong-sil- so a lot of the story ends up having to be completely made up. I didn't mind this so much in the first two episodes of "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama", since by and large these were just kid Yeong-sil having adventures with science. And there's elements of that here too, as the production team gets into fifteen century clocks. Suffice to say, accurate timekeeping was much more difficult back before everything was digitized,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 2 2016/01/03,
As much as Yeong-sil loves science one fact is unassailable- his cultural background is unimpressive. So while other better pedigreed kids in the family study all day, Yeong-sil has to do hard labor and wait until nighttime to do science, which is fortunate because this episode Yeong-sil decides to learn everything he can about the moon. In this case "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" takes an unusual approach to the scientific method by using it to explain wrong science- specifically, geocentrism,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 1 2016/01/02,
Yeong-sil (played by Song Il-gook) first appears as a decrepit old man moving across a vast field for one purpose- to view an eclipse. While the action soon moves into flashback mode eclipses remain an important plot point. While technically irrelevant to daily life, knowing when and how an eclipse will happen is a sure sign of scientific advancement. Under New Joseon, currently led by King Taejong (played by Kim Young-cheol), science is a pretty big deal,...More
Kim Sung-kyun, "I'm like a snack bar" 2015/03/17, Source, Actor Kim Sung-kyun can be a bone-chilling bad guy at one point and weaken the hearts of women with his warmth the next.
We met Kim Sung-kyun at a café recently and he said, "I thought being rough and tough was the only way I could survive. I have been selfless not caring about the money and just continuously doing small roles. I was happy". He was happy doing what he wanted to do but now he's going a different way,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Deal" 2015/03/07,
Kang-cheon (played by Park Sung-woong) is a übermensch serial killer. While I don't have any inherent problem with serial killer tropes in general, the übermensch serial killer is especially annoying primarily because it's so heavily fetishized. Dostoevsky pointed out the issues with the idea of the extraordinary man being a murderer way back in the nineteenth century. And this was back before serial killers and their bizarre fan clubs even came into existence. Newsflash- actual serial killers are cowards who would piss their pants if they had to face a task more difficult than hand-to-hand combat with a forty kilo accountant,...More
Veteran actors shine in 'The Deal' 2015/03/04, Source,
The stellar performances of three veteran actors take center stage in upcoming film "The Deal". The plot is hardly groundbreaking - the subject matter is a serial killer being chased by a detective and a victim's husband plotting his revenge,...More
[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2014.11.21 ~ 2014.11.23 2014/11/24, "Interstellar" and Co. Conquer…
Christopher Nolan's sublime "Interstellar" once again held steady at the top as Nolan's cosmic cinemascope added another 1.2M admissions (54.6%) to its Korean cause. Since its released on the sixth, "Interstellar" has banked $49.2M, about a ninth of the film's worldwide bottom line (which is nearing $450M). Its recent performance in Korea saw it surpassed "The Attorney" and its allotted 5.6M ($37.6M); and in doing so, becomes Korea's fifth highest grossing film of year,...More
[HanCinema's Film News] New Korean Films Inbound... 2014/11/15, K-Films Coming Soon: ★★★★ "Late Spring": A sculptor loses his zest for life after being diagnosed with a progressive disorder, but with the help of those around him he finds new meaning and purpose. (11/20) ★★★★ "He Who Loves the World": A documentary detailing reverend Son Yang-won (1902-1950, known as 'the Saint with the heart of Jesus') and his selfless caring of patients during the Korean War. (11/20) ★★★ "Mot": A group of teenagers celebrating their last winter vacation leaves one of them dead and the other missing, years later they reunite to discover the truth. (11/20) ★★★★ "Dad for Rent": A lazy, unemployed dad, supported by his wife, gets outed by his daughter when she puts him up for rent online. (11/20),...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Tower" 2014/10/18,
Disaster movies are not really a huge genre in Korea. With budget and scale being an issue for those more into the action than the human element and those focusing on the human element limiting their destruction, it is a tricky type of film to pull off. "The Tower" is definitely in the former category of going for big visuals, big dangers, big everything. At the end of the day though, it offers more style than substance,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Tale of Cinema" 2014/06/20,
Sang-won (played by Lee Ki-woo) is a young college student who finds himself making an unexpected reconnection. Well, not really. Sang-won is a hopeless romantic, and unsurprisingly assumes that any kind of mild emotional sentiment at all must be the symptom of some greater, universal truth. Yes, that's right- this is once again an archetypal lead character from a Hong Sang-soo film,...More
[HanCinema's Column] Unconventional Korean Dramas 2014/02/01,
Being a movie fan making a jump to dramas can be a daunting experience. The two are very different in many ways. From budget to tropes, from acting to directing, they are worlds apart. While there are genres even Korean films do not often touch, Korean drama is much more limited in its diversity. Sageuk, melodrama, dailies, romantic comedies, the types and formats of series are limited,...More
[HanCinema's Box Office Review] Marvel's Month of May 2013/06/01,
Not since the beginning of April has a Korean film managed to claim the top spot at the box office. It was Jo Dong-oh's "Running Man" who last had that honour, but a string of Hollywood hits prevented such local flicks from tasting gold. In April it was Tom Cruise in "Oblivion", followed by Marvel's "Iron Man 3", and this past week saw the "Iron Man" tag Vin Diesel in the sixth instalment of the "Fast and Furious". Although the foreign flicks are still enjoying a long stretch of golden glory, there were a number of Korean films that came close to toppling these outsiders for supremacy,...More
[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2013.05.17 ~ 2013.05.19 2013/05/20,
It was a tightly contested tango and the top this past weekend, but it was once again "Iron Man 3" that came out on top. Marvel's blockbuster took first with 696,310 (27%), which moves its total admissions count in Korea to just under 8.5M. Tony Stark's latest adventure was almost toppled though, with both Jeong Geun-seop's "Montage" and Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" cracking more than 500,000 admissions in their first weekend. In addition to these two new entries, Jeong Ik-hwan comedy drama "Happiness for Sale" and Ken Loach's "The Angels' Share" also made their way into Korean cinemas,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Montage" 2013/05/17,
It's been fifteen years since the apparent murder of a young child. Detective Chang-Ho (played by Kim Sang-kyung) discovers something astonishing at an emotionally charged location- a place only known by himself, the child's mother, and the the girl's kidnapper. With this, a race quickly begins to try and apprehend the criminal before the statute of limitations run out,...More
"Montage" Uhm Jung-hwa and Kim Sang-kyung 2013/04/23, Source,
Actress Uhm Jung-hwa and actor Kim Sang-kyung are leading the prevention of kidnapping.
Uhm and Kim have been chosen as the ambassadors of the "2013 the 7th Missing Children's Day" which is carried out by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Green Umbrella children's foundation. The message delivered in the movie "Montage" is what had them chosen as the face of this campaign,...More
Uhm Jung-hwa and Kim Sang-kyung in "Montage" 2013/04/04, Source, Uhm Jung-hwa and Kim Sang-kyung's movie "Montage" will be released on the 16th of May.
Three victims who've lost their daughters and granddaughters to a kidnapping case 15 years ago come together in the end when a case like that happens again. The storyline and twists of the scenario have made "Montage" one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year,...More
Korea's most anticipated films of 2012 2012/02/10, Source, With the start of the new year, the Korean film industry looks to its brightest prospects. Kang Byung-jin profiles eight highly anticipated films of 2012.
"The Fortune Tellers"In production. Directed by Sin Jeong-won. Starring Kim Soo-ro, Lee Je-hoon, Kang Ye-won. Produced by Dasepo Club, Saram Entertainment. Distributed by N.E.W.Release planned for the first half of 2012.
Korean fortune-tellers not only tell the future, but they also chase away ghosts. The background of "The Fortune Tellers" is Uljinri where a decades-old evil spirit rules. When mysterious accidents and events keep happening without avail, fortune-tellers from all over the country gather to hold a shaman ritual,...More
Big-budget films to open in 2012 2012/01/05, Source,
A scene from "The Thieves", which is expected to wow movie fans this year with its A-list cast. / Courtesy of Showbox/Mediaplex
By Lee Hyo-won While 2011 saw the release of some novel, genre-defying works, not many local films aside from "Sunny - 2010" and "War of the Arrows" (a.k.a. "Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon") managed to draw crowds at the box office. This year, a lineup of big-budget films featuring the return of big stars await moviegoers,...More
Jeonju Int'l Film Festival Kicks Off 2011/04/29, Source,
Jeng Il-woo (left) and Kim So-eun
The 12th Jeonju International Film Festival opened with a red carpet ceremony in North Jeolla Province on Thursday. Some 2,000 directors, actors and cinema fans from Korea and abroad flocked to Jeonju for the event,...More
"I Saw the Devil" to compete at San Sebastian film fest 2010/08/24, Source,
Movie poster of thriller "I Saw the Devil" [Showbox]
Korean thriller "I Saw the Devil" has been invited to compete under the Official Selection category at the 58th Edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival next month, according to official website of the fest on Tuesday.
"I Saw the Devil", helmed by famed Korean director Kim Jee-woon, will be competing against 16 other movies by internationally recognized directors for the Golden Shell and Silver Shell awards at the fest to be held at San Sebastian, Spain from September 17 to 25,...More
"Dong Yi" continues to lead Mon-Tue dramas 2010/05/06, Source,
Official poster of "Dong Yi" [MBC]
MBC TV series "Dong Yi" continued to bring in high ratings this week, taking the lead in the rivalry amongst shows in the Monday and Tuesday primetime slot.
Research firm TNS Media Korea revealed that "Dong Yi", into its seventh week of showing, recorded an average viewership rating of 22 percent on May 3 and 4, decreasing a slight 0.1 percent from last week,...More
Hong Sang-soo's jolliness peaks in "Ha Ha Ha" - Part 1 2010/04/26, Source,
From left, film "Ha Ha Ha" director Hong Sang-soo and cast members Yoon Yeo-jeong, Yoo Joon-sang, Moon So-ri, Ye Ji-won, Kim Young-ho and Kim Sang-kyeong pose during a press screening held at a CJ CGV theater in Seoul, South Korea on April 22, 2010. [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
If one had to come up with a subtitle for director Hong Sang-soo's tenth film "Ha Ha Ha", it could be "Cute". The movie is guided by the memories that movie critic Joong-sik (played by Yoo Joon-sang) and aspiring movie director Moon-gyeong (played by Kim Sang-kyung) have about their summer trip to Tongyeong. And just like any other film by director Hong, these men go to an unfamiliar place where they chase after women, drink, lie and talk both nonsense and of their dreams. But no matter how pathetic or loser-like they act, one cannot hate them,...More
Among the various factors that constitute human life, culture has the greatest capacity to nurture connections and exchange. One culture quickly absorbs the advantages of another culture and develops to integrate naturally into a large wave.
Stars aligning for the Year of the Rat 2008/02/06, Apart from being famous worldwide, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Al Gore and Zinedine Zidane have one other thing in common -- they were born in the Year of the Rat, according to the traditional zodiac system still widely used in Korea.
With the first day of the Lunar New Year tomorrow, rats, the first a,...More
In conclusion, the interrelationship is inverse proportion according to the trend in 2007 box-office success in Korean film industry. Among the 100 movies released this year, only 4 movies had more than,...More
KBS starts the New Year with two new epic dramas, "Hong Gil Dong", a Korean Robin Hood story and "More
Born in the Year of the Rat 2007/12/31, Source, In the Year of the Rat, Korean pop culture is led by those born in another, in 1972. Coincidence or cosmic determination? Readers may decide for themselves. Known as the "president of culture" in the 1990s, Seo Taiji releasef his 15th anniversary,...More
"May 18" demonstrates the power of cinema as it halts the inevitable passage of time with its clutch on the i,...More
Lee Yo-won Conjures the Spirits of May 18 2007/07/25, Source, It's May 27th, 1980, and the armed civilians of Gwangju are preparing for their final stand. A young woman on a truck pleads through a loudspeaker. "The soldiers are coming. Please, help us". Together,...More
New Movie Releases for Dec. 15 2006/12/15, Source, Thanks for staying with us.
It is Friday, which is good news for those of you looking forward to the latest movies.
This week, we have two new Korean releases, one about the wonders or shortfalls of plastic surgery, and the other a murder suspense.
More from Son Heekyung.
Lee Byung-hun to Join Same Agency as Tom Cruise 2005/05/18, Source, The Korean showbiz firm Web has signed a contract with the U.S. entertainment agency CAA, which manages actors Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz as well as movie director Steven Spielberg and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The contract paves the way for Korean actors and movies to enter the gl,...More
[Local Films With English Subtitles] 2004/11/04, Source, ■ `New Korean Connection'
Korean Film Archive
Critically acclaimed feature and short films from the last five years are being shown at the theater of the archive, located in Seoul Arts Center, southern Seoul. All screenings are free. Located near Nambu Bus Terminal Station, s,...More
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