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Filmmakers eye hit with stories from other genres

2008/11/03 | 509 views | Permalink | Source

A good movie tends to have a good script. What if a director fails to get one? No need to worry, because Korean filmmakers are quick to borrow from other genres such as comics and novels.

A striking case in point is "My Wife Got Married", a provocative tale about bigamy adapted from the bestselling novel of the same title, written by Park Hyun-wook. The movie debuted on Oct. 23 and shot up to No. 1 at the box office here, demonstrating that good storytelling works across different platforms.

Other filmmakers with a similar cross-breeding approach seem to have taken heart from the positive performance of "My Wife Got Married".

"Antique", to be released Nov. 13, falls into the same category, though the original story comes from a bestselling Japanese comic series. Directed by Min Gyoo-dong, the film features Joo Ji-hoon, who surged to stardom through his stellar performance in the hit TV drama "Princess Hours". In the movie, which explicitly targets female audiences, Joo plays Jin-heok, a cake shop owner who serves food on preposterously expensive antique chinaware, while other popular actors such as Kim Jae-wook and Yoo Ah-in strengthen the cast.

Another major movie adapted from a different genre is "Sunjeong Manhwa" ("Pure Comic Strip"), directed by Ryoo Jang-ha. The romantic film, to be released on Nov. 27, is based on a record-breaking Korean comic serialized on Daum, a major portal website.

The original comics by Kang Do-young demonstrated the power of the online readership, attracting a total of 60 million page views and 500,000 comments from visitors. This surprising achievement encouraged Ryoo to work on the film adaptation, but he did not take chances. He went on to sign up on Yoo Ji-tae ("Old Boy"), one of the most sought-after Korean actors to pull off a transfer of popularity from online to offline.

"Sunjeong Manhwa", which means "Romantic Comics" in Korean, involves a 30-year-old businessman who encounters a high school girl in the elevator every morning on his way to work - fateful meetings that prompt a cascades of emotions that gripped numerous online fans.

Although the movie industry's interest in popular stories in other genres is not new, it gained momentum when "200 Pounds Beauty", starring Kim Ah-joong, became an unexpected box-office hit in 2006. A small but significant detail about that film is that its original story comes from a popular Japanese comic series.

Korea also has a host of creative minds in the comic industry whose bestselling comic series are often adapted. The most representative figure is Huh Young-man. Two of his comic works having been successfully adapted for the big screen. "Tazza: The High Rollers" ("Tazza: The High Rollers"), based on Heo's best-selling series, was made into a convincing film by Choi Dong-hoon. Another comic series of Heo's, "Le Grand Chef", also staged a respectable performance at the box office even though its sprawling story had to be condensed into tight movie form.

By Yang Sung-jin

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