The Korean film, "TaeGukgi" (The Brotherhood of War), which is competing in the race for the U.S. Academy Awards' nomination for best foreign film for the first time among Korean movies, earned $1 million in ticket sales at box offices in the United States. The record was made in just four weeks after its premiere on Sept. 3. The film, titled "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring" directed by Kim Ki-duk
, was the first Korean movie to earn more than $1 million in ticket sales. The film posted the $1 million record in eight weeks since its premiere.
Steve Lee, president of 3AM, the distributor of "TaeGukgi" to the U.S. market, confirmed in a telephone interview on Oct. 6 of its stateside success. "The combined ticket sales of the Korean movie in 44 box offices in the U.S. exceeded the $1 million mark on Oct. 3", he said.
"About 20 percent of audiences for the film were not Koreans, but foreigners, proving that the Korean movie has competitiveness in the American market", he added. The income of the Korean blockbuster exceeding $10,000 per screen outpaced the Chinese film, "Hero", which topped North America's box office for the third consecutive week.
Earlier, 3AM planned to screen the Korean film directed by Kang Jae-kyu in big cities, including Los Angeles and New York, but expanded the regions to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and later Boston, reflecting its high popularity. As of Oct. 3, it ranked 40th in the U.S. box office.
Story and technical quality do not lack in comparison with Hollywood movies
Prof. Jennifer Richard of UCLA, playwright and film critic, said there are two factors for Korean movies to attract attention from Americans. One is the fact that Korean films do not fall behind Hollywood movies in terms of story and technical quality. And the other factor is the admiration Americans have for Korea, a mysterious Asian country.
U.S. society increases interest in Korean culture, including Korean film
Reflective of the growing interest in Korean movies in the American community, a series of international film festivals centering on Korean movies were held in Los Angeles. The Hollywood Egyptian Theater proclaimed a "Week of Korean Movies" and screened only Korean films on Sept. 24 and 25. During the period, films directed by Park Chan-wook
, Kim Ki-duk
, Hong Sang-soo
and Kim Jee-woon
, including "Samaria", "Revenge Is Mine" and "Woman Is the Future of Man", were screened. Tickets for the showings were sold out, reflecting Americans' keen interest. Participants also had the lucky opportunity to meet with director Park Chan-wook
after watching the movie.
The degree of interest in Korean movies by young Americans is also high. For instance, the first LA Korean International Film Festival was held at the University of Southern California (USC) from Sept. 23-Oct. 2. At the event, director Park Chan-wook
, who won the Grand Prix at the 57th Cannes Film Festival with the film, "Old Boy", attended. Participants showed keen interest in the background of the rapid growth of Korean movies and how the Korean film industry operates. Experimental films, animations and documentaries produced by second-generation Korean-Americans were introduced at the Lucas Building on the USC campus on Oct. 1-2.
Illegal copies of Korean films, dramas are rampant
Reflective of the growing popularity of Korean films in the Los Angeles community, some interesting phenomena has occurred. Illegal copies of Korean movies are circulating. It is also fashionable with some Chinese and Vietnamese youth to purchase Korean clothes, ballad CDs and DVDs.
Among movies and drama works gaining high popularity among minorities other than Koreans in the U.S. are "Bed of Ginko Tree", "Winter Love Song" and "Fall Fairy Tale".
Korean products on auction sites are increasing, reflecting foreigners' interest
Affected by the high popularity of the Korean film "TaeGukgi", Korean war-related products have emerged as popular goods on auction sites in the U.S. The number of Korean war-related goods sold through the auction site, Ebay (www.ebay.com), increased by 30 percent from 450 before the stateside release of the Korean film to 580 after its premiere.
Korean movies are deserved to win Academy awards
In the U.S. media and cultural circles, the Korean film was appraised as an "epic war movie reminding audiences of the director Spielberg". Comments such as these are causing Korean expatriates in the U.S. to really rejoice. It also reflects an upgraded status of Korea in the global community. Now, the "ball" has been thrown back to the "court" of the domestic cultural circle. It depends on the cultural circle's efforts whether we can receive an Academy award in the immediate future.
(Yoo Min of the Los Angeles PR Office)