Major Korean Films Offered With English Subtitles

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

CGV Yongsan in central Seoul will devote a screen to the exclusive showing of popular domestic movies with English-language subtitles, an unprecedented move by a movie theater.

"It's to serve the many foreigners in Korea who want to watch Korean films. They won't have to wait for DVDs with English-language subtitles anymore", Chong Choe from CJ Entermatinment's International Strategy team told The Korea Times.

The country's largest motion picture studio, CJ Entertainment and multiplex theater giant CGV have teamed up for this long-term project, and will begin with "A Man Who Was Superman", starring high-profile actors Jun Ji-hyun (`My Sassy Girl's" Gianna Jeon) and Hwang Jung-min ("Happiness"). Coming to CGV Yongsan Jan. 31, it will have regular showings for the entire duration of the film's run in Korea.

For the time being, there will be seven showings per day through Feb. 4. "That's a lot of showings, and we plan to maintain this for the entire duration of `A Man Who Was Superman'. This shows how committed we are", said Choe.

"This is just the beginning, not just a one-time deal", he said. The entertainment giants will select movies with mass appeal to show at the exclusive screen throughout the year.

Following "A Man Who Was Superman", this year's line-up include the retro film "Modern Boy", starring Kim Hye-soo and Park Hae-il, due for release in April; "The Good, the Bad, the Weird", with superstar trio Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho and Jung Woo-sung in June; and the historical epic drama "The Divine Weapon" and director Park Chan-wook's upcoming (unnamed) film project later on in the year.

The Yongsan chain will be a pilot program for English-language subtitle project. "We'll have to see how this goes", sad Choe, when asked about the possibility of offering such services at CGV theaters in other parts of the country.

Until now, small independent movie theaters have offered a handful of homegrown works with English-language subtitles, such as the critically acclaimed indie flick "In Between Days" by Kim So-yong last fall.

Large multiplex theaters serve as barometers of the popularity of films, and even highly anticipated works disappear in less than a week if they fail to attract large audiences. To devote an entire screen is significant, especially given that the Yongsan chain is a major location among the CGV chain. Building such a framework is only possible if there is a demand.

It signals the increasing recognition of Korean films' international appeal. By releasing a Korean film subtitled in English, the film is no longer limited to the local market, and may even speed up exports of Korean films to other countries. Entertainment giant CJ seems to have recognized this and taken action, and if other companies follow suit it will considerably affect the Korean film industry and its globalization.

For the time being, expatriates in Seoul may now expand their movie-going habits to include not just Hollywood blockbusters but local films as well.

CGV Yongsan is connected to Yongsan station on subway line 1 and near exit 4 of Sinyongsan station on line 4.
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