Tuesday, January 08, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] Why Korea Reverses the Fortunes of Hollywood Movies

Around 6,000 people have watched “Wild Hogs” in Korea, some 60,000 checked out “Chuck and Larry”, but a staggering 1.35 million have seen “August Rush.” This may puzzle some in the U.S., where “August Rush” ranked a modest 77th in terms of box office takings and made US$28.48 million as of December 20. “Wild Hogs” by contrast raked in $168.27 million to become no. 10 at the U.S. box office but closed within a week of opening in Korea. What is it that reverses the films’ fortunes here?


So what makes a movie a hit or a failure in Korea? Experts point to familiar storylines and music. “Dramas that succeed in Korea are usually those with Cinderella-type stories in which characters prevail against heavy odds,” said Prof. Sim Eun-jin of Chungju University’s film studies department. “The general public tends to be drawn to romantic love stories with clear changes in emotion.” Some think that Korean viewers are trying to find something in foreign films that they can’t in Korean ones. “Japanese literature and foreign independent films like ‘Once’ are attracting people in their early to mid-20s, especially women in Korea,” said Hong Seong-nam, a movie critic. “Not many domestic films feature the fun and inspiration of everyday lives, and this seems to prompt Korean viewers to turn to overseas.”

American comedies, on the other hand, are almost always a disaster here.

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