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Movie About President Park Stirs Up Controversy

2004/12/21 Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

A feature film about the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in the late 1970s is currently in post-production and is expected to be released in February.

KangJeGyu & Myung Film began shooting "Kuddae Ku Saramdul (People at That Time)" in September. The film, based on Park's assassination on Oct. 26, 1979, is expected to stir up controversy prior to its release as there are numerous conflicting opinions about what actually happened.

Though filming was completed last month, KangJeGyu & Myung Film has divulged little about the movie to the public out of concern that some politicians and people involved in the 1979 incident may get offended and demand that the movie not be made.

With a production cost of 6 billion won, the film is directed by Im Sang-soo of "Paramnan Kajok (A Good Lawyer's Wife)" and recounts the day of the president's death, but avoids using real names. Actor Baek Yoon-sik from "Pomchoeui Chaegusong (The Big Swindle)" plays a character based on Kim Jae-kyu, then chief of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) who shot and killed President Park and Kim's political rival, Cha Ji-chul, during a party at the president's "safe house", an unregistered location for the late president managed by KCIA, in Kungjung-dong, Seoul.

Kim was convicted on May 20, 1980, and was executed four days later by the military government headed by President Chun Doo-whan, who rose to power through a military coup in 1979.

The film also stars Han Suk-kyu as a KCIA official and Kim's right-hand man and Song Jae-ho as the president. Kim Yoon-ah, lead singer of the rock band Jaurim, plays a character based on Sim Soo-bong, a singer who was at the scene of the assassination.

Although the assassination triggered a turning point in modern Korean history, politicians have been reluctant to discuss it. Virtually no historic evaluation has been made concerning the former KCIA chief, which has resulted in numerous conspiracy theories regarding the assassination and his execution.

Several civic groups have argued that Kim should be regarded as a hero since he helped the democratization of the country by ending Park's 18-year-long military dictatorship. A larger number of people, especially conservatives who supported the late president's policies, disagree and call Kim nothing more than a murderer.

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