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Korean Films: Rated to Sell

2004/02/27 Source

Korean movies are enjoying a renaissance with some hit flicks recently, but the ratings given some of the latest films are the subject of criticism for being too low and allowing youths to see far too sexually suggestive and violent content. "Movies have lately been showing a downward trend in ratings", said Jo Hui-mun, professor of film at Sangmyung University. "Movies like Silmido and Taegeukgi would have been viewable only by ages 18 and over not too long ago, but both were given "age 15 and up" ratings.

"Ratings only decide the scope of distribution", said Jo. "The Korea Media Rating Board (KMRB) is getting confused by the commercial interests of movie companies that go on about 'freedom of speech' and consider ratings to be 'regulations.'"

Recent films such as Memory of a Murder, Musa, and Maljuk all contain sexually explicit content, but are viewable by ages 15 and over.

Parents are angry. On February 19, an organization called Haksamo, meaning "A Gathering of Parents Who Love Their Children's Schools", issued a statement in protest of the 15-and-up rating given the film Silmido.

"Film companies are engaging in commercialism to bring in more viewers, under the guise of the 'renaissance of Korean film,'" said the statement. "Is KMRB out to defend these film companies?"

Gwon Jang-hui of the Christian Ethics Movement called into question the qualifications of KMRB's members, claiming too many either work in the industry or are "unmarried women who've never raised any children". Ratings should be done "not as expert criticism, but a the level of members of the public and the parents of students, people who share common ethical perspectives", she said.

One member of the KMRB said, "youngsters are already exposed to games and dramas, filmmakers are all angry at being too severely judged",

Kim Hye-jun of the Korean Film Commission (KFC) said there is a need to include explanatory warnings with ratings of "12 and up" or "15 and up", warnings that explain what kind of harmful content a film contains.

"There needs to be monitoring by members of the general public and civic groups", said Kim, who is responsible for policy research at the KFC. "And like in foreign countries, film critics need to start including viewing guidelines on their homepages".

Kim Nam-in

Source :

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