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200 Pounds Beauty Weighs in at the Box Office

2007/02/02 Source

Month-end box office tabulations for January, according to Film 2.0, have placed local comedy 200 Pounds Beauty past 6.23 million admissions, making it a major sleeper hit. The film has become the most successful Korean comedy of all time, edging past My Boss, My Teacher, which sold 6.1 million tickets earlier last year. 200 Pounds Beauty has also passed Shiri (1999)at 6.21 million, making it the eighth biggest box office draw in Korean history.

The comedy about plastic surgery has attracted appearance-conscious Koreans with its humorous tale of an extremely overweight singer, the 'ghost voice'behind a lip-syncing pop star. Fed-up of being ill-treated due to her weight, she hasdrastic full-body surgery, reappearing as a slim and sexy sensation. The film is based on a best-selling Japanese comic book series by Yumiko Suzuki and directed by Kim Yong-hwa who previously revealed his talent for comedies with his feature debut, Oh! Brothers (2003).

Actress Kim Ah-joong, who, at 169cm tall, weighs in at a petite 48kg, donned a life-like body-suit, put together by renowned Hollywood make-up artistsKris Kobzina and Christopher Burgoyne, to play the extremely obese 95kg Han-na. After saving up money through her singing work and her night job chatting up lonely men on a phone-sex network, Han-na transforms herself into a gorgeous, irresistible woman men drool over.

The film resonated with Korean female audiences concerned with their figureand reflects the booming surgery-culture now rampant in Korea. 200 Pounds Beauty is one of three releases in 2006 that have dealt with the plastic surgery issue. Kim Ki-duk's art-house feature Time looked at the troubling effects of the trend as it plays out in human relationships, while soft-porn turned auteur director Bong Man-dae's horror film Cinderella sees plastic-surgery in an even darker light, bringing death and mutilation to a group of young school girls seeking better looks.

200 Pounds Beauty has been accused of being too "pro-surgery" and of sending out a message that surgery improves your life. The overweight Han-na is certainly badly treated by most people until a plastic surgeon transforms her into the stunning center of attention. On the other hand, the film can be seen as a satiricalindictment of a hypocritical society that places too much value on appearance. Director KIM told the press, "Society is the problem. Placing more value on beauty, society also nags at the people that attempt to enter into that society through plastic surgery…I don't defend plastic surgery, but it's ironic that people place such importance on appearances and talk about 'originality' at the same time".

Actress KIM has also been at the top of the pop charts for singing the film's theme song "Maria". KIM was the recipient of Digital Music Awards "Song of the Month", presented by homepage service provider Cyworld, for the song downloaded the most by its users. The success of the song and music video have helped keep the film in the public spotlight. 200 Pounds Beauty was produced by REALies and KM Culture. It was distributed locally by Showbox, and released on December 14th. KM Culture is handling international sales.

Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)

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