Mon, May 24, 2004 - Page 16 News List

South Korea positions itself among the players in Asia's film business

AFP , SEOUL

Movie experts yesterday welcomed the Cannes Film Festival runner-up Grand Prize award for Old Boy, saying it underlined growing international recognition of South Korean films.

"The prize underlines the progress South Korean films have made," movie critic Huh Moon-yong said.

Most of the Korean movies that earned international recognition in the past depicted traditional culture and emphasizing specifically Korean themes.

By contrast, the ultra-savage Old Boy, directed by Park Chan-wook, 41, is based on a Japanese comic book character who is held for 15 years in a hotel basement and tortured by unknown

abductors.

The bizarre and violent tale of a man who goes on a revenge spree kept critics in Cannes on the edge of their seats with its twisted narrative and shocking violence.

"The Cannes festival has begun recognizing the unique style of South Korean films," Huh said.

Park's film marked a departure from the Korean films which had previously screened at international festivals, said Lee Geun-pyo, a sales team manager at South Korean film company Showeast.

"This is a great event in our movie industry as Old Boy marked a departure from past Korean movies that have appeared in international festivals," said Lee.

A string of domestic films riding on a wave of box-office success here are stirring international interest.

In February, South Korean director Kim Ki-duk received the best director prize at the Berlin Film Festival with Samaria, a film that deals with the issue of under-age prostitution.

In 2002, Oasis directed by the incumbent culture minister, Lee Chang-dong, received the best director award in the Venice Film Festival.

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