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Korean films' diverse genres pursue summer season niche

2007/07/23 | 2047 views | Permalink | Source

With the crucial summer season in full swing, Korean filmmakers are getting ready to mount counterattacks against Hollywood blockbusters in August. This time around, what is noticeable is Korean films' strategic discretion in selecting and diversifying genres.

In recent years, a handful of the so-called Korean blockbusters clashed with American counterparts, only to end up with not-so-spectacular results. "The Host", for instance, garnered a rare success at box office, while the majority of hit wannabes withered helplessly.

To find some niche ground and increase the odds for survival, major films releasing in August zoom in on selective genres such as sex, monster and horror. Of course, these genres are hardly groundbreaking, but considering the uniformity in genres of Korean films during the past summer seasons, the latest penchant for diverse genres is a welcome development.

"Temptation of Eve", for example, is not aiming to hit it big at box office. This four-piece ("Temptation of Eve - Angel", "Temptation of Eve - Good Wife", "Temptation of Eve - Kiss" and "Temptation of Eve - Her Own Art"), erotic thriller, produced by cable channel OCN, is even stuck with a limited release in theaters. But it generated plenty of publicity when it held a press event in Shinchon, western Seoul, on Tuesday, thanks largely to four actresses Shin So-mi, Jin Seo-yeon, Yoon Mi-kyeong and Seo Young.

OCN, as predicted, is promoting the film as a "sexy and provocative" drama, and plans to air the erotic film on its own cable network in August once the brief theater screening is over.

The highlight of the August fare, meanwhile, is "D-War", a long-delayed Korean monster flick known for high-quality special effects. Although it remains uncertain how much box office revenue the film will get, a growing number of Korean moviegoers and critics are paying attention to the gambit by comedian-turned-director Shim Hyung-rae. The press preview is scheduled today in Seoul, a crucial test that will shed light on whether the movie's special effects are really, as director Shim repeatedly claims, on par with other Hollywood big-budget action films. Showbox, which plans to release "D-War" in Korea on Aug. 1, expects the film to secure about 500 screens.

On Aug. 9, four Korean films will be released, perhaps overcrowding the summer film lineup of most theaters. "The Houseguest and My Mother", directed by Lim Yeong-seong, puts a fresh and comic spin on the the 1961 classic "Mother and a Guest" directed by Shin Sang-ok. "For Eternal Hearts", directed by Hwang Kyoo-deok and the opener of Puchon International Film Festival this year, is a tale of fantasy-laden relationships set against the democratization movement in Korea.

"Wide Awake", a thriller which will be also released on Aug. 9, portrays a man who wakes up in the middle of surgery to find himself trapped in a new reality. The film, directed by Lee Kyoo-man, stars Kim Myung-min, Yoo Joon-sang, Kim Tae-woo and Jung Yoo-suk. "Du Saramida" ("Someone Behind You"), a horror film, involves a high school student who comes to witness her aunt murdered -- a traumatic event that touches off a series of mysterious events at school and at home.

By Yang Sung-jin

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