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Top issues in the 2011 Korean film industry

2011/12/07 | Permalink | Source

From sleeper hits to leading directors shooting abroad, society-changing films and game-changing moves, 2011 has been a surprising year for the Korean film industry. KANG Byeong-jin profiles the issues.

Unexpected smash hits from "Sunny - 2010" and "Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon" - a year when dark horses rather than anticipated large-scale films led the race at the box office.

South Korea's box office in 2011 had integrity. Films emerged that were more ambitious than ever with large-scale budgets and marketing campaigns to fit, but cinema-goers were not taken in by it all. This trend started last February during the Lunar New Year holiday season. New titles from hit directors such as Kang Woo-seok's "GLove" (a.k.a. G-Love) and Lee Joon-ik's "Battlefield Heroes" were released, but the winner in the end was director Kim Seok-yoon's "Detective K". Released in May, "Sunny - 2010" also far exceeded expectations. Although the film's director KANG Hyeong-chepl had made an impressive debut with "Speedy Scandal" which clocked up 8 million admissions, "Sunny - 2010" featured actors with weaker ticket-selling power and had a story that centered on women - something that had never really been popular at the box office. But ultimately, "Sunny - 2010" took in more than 7 million admissions.

Of course, summer proved to be the most dramatic season at the 2011 box office. Big-budget films "Quick", "Sector 7", "The Front Line", and "Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon" duked it out at the cinemas and in the end, the least anticipated of them all, "Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon" was the winner. Unlike its competitors who boasted 3D technology, war scenes and speed, "Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon" had the humble ambition of showing audiences some arrow action and the simple story of a man who throws himself into battle with nothing but a bag of arrows and his wits to rescue his sister. But the excitement and pleasure of the arrows he shot hit the mark. "Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon" beat the record set by "Sunny - 2010" earlier in the year to become the biggest box office success of the year. The hit films of 2011 tell nothing but the truth of success: it doesn't matter how big your ambitions are; it matters what audiences want to see.

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