"The Gift of Love", a low-budget film about the deadly North Korean famine of the 1990s, is proving a surprise success at the box office.
According to the Korean Film Council on Tuesday, 6,280 people watched the film from Aug. 15 to Monday, racking up W47 million (US$1=W1,216). Director Kim Gyoo-min-I, a North Korean defector, spent W40 million on the production.
"If a low-budget indie film can attract more than 5,000 viewers, it can be regarded as a hit", said an industry insider. "Despite the niche subject of human rights abuses in North Korea, the film achieved some success".
The film finished production in July 2017, but distributors worried they would be subtly punished by the new government as it was cozying up to the North. It only got access to cinemas when it won about a dozen awards at international film festivals.
"Citizens' support was a big help", Kim said.
The film was screened in only two theaters at first, but people called the producer and theater operators asking them to increase the number of screenings. Volunteers handed out movie fliers at rallies on weekends.
Thanks to the support, the number of theaters had increased to 15 nationwide. "With the success of the film, I will work harder to make good movies", Kim pledged.
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