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Hanbando Expected to Reel in Summer Filmgoers Updated: 2006-06-27 12:00:00 KST

Hanbando Expected to Reel in Summer Filmgoers
The Korean film industry is going through a low unseen in recent years, with movie theatres no longer required to guarantee a screening quota for domestic productions starting from July.
But there are hopes that things will look up, with the release of one of the summer's most anticipated Korean films.
Son Hee-kyung has this story.

Following a wave of box-office hits out of the Hollywood studios, are Korean movies experiencing an unprecedented slump?
At least for now, the answer seems to be yes.
Hollywood flicks have been on a roll on the silver screen, since May, starting with the adrenaline-packed "Mission Impossible 3."
And last month Korean films took up only 34 percent of market share, their lowest, since July 2005.

But, things may soon pick up.
The release of director Kang Woo-suk's "Hanbando,” meaning the Korean Peninsula is expected to mark a turning point for Korea's movie industry this year.

SON HEE-KYUNG, REPORTER: "With production costs of 10 million U.S. dollars, this ranks as one of the summer's most anticipated Korean movies. Critics say, the film "Hanbando" is already witnessing immense popularity online because of the director's reputation, its stellar cast and the ongoing focus on inter-Korean issues."

Anticipation is building for his latest work, as Kang directed "Silmido" in 2004, the first Korean film in which ticket sales broke the 10 million mark.
At a pre-screening news conference held in Seoul Monday, Kang said his film was not an easy feat because of its nationalistic content.

DIRECTOR: "This is my 15th film. The reason I have chosen this genre is because I was always keen on directing a movie that criticizes Japan's brutality in the past."

That includes the brutal murder by Japanese assassins of the last Empress, the Joseon Dynasty's Queen Min, in 1895.

ACTOR: "People say "Hanbando" is about Korea and Japan, but in this film, Japan plays a secondary role. The film challenges Koreans to think about reunification."

In the film, the two Koreas have agreed to reopen a railroad, but roadblocks appear as Japan claims ownership.

MOVIE CRITIC: "Ticket sales will very much depend on how strongly Korean audiences feel about nationalism. In the movie, director Kang Woo-suk has artfully combined sensitive issues in an action-thriller. As the film will go up against Hollywood blockbusters like "Superman Returns" this summer, all eyes are on how audiences and critics respond."

Critics say the situation could get worse for the domestic film industry before it gets better with a new screen quota set to kick in in July.
Going forward, cinemas will only be required to show Korean-made films for 73 days a year, half of what's been mandated up to now.

Son Hee-kyung, Arirang News.
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