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[Opinion] Chihwasun and Fevernova

Posted June. 04, 2002 01:09,   


When looking at what we (Koreans) have, typically the worst domestic products that come to mind are movies and soccer. Almost nobody that lived during the `70`s and `80`s saw a domestic movie. If you were to ask the young people at that time what movies left a big impression, they would answer without fail hollywood movies such as Doctor "Zhivago" and the "Godfather".

Domestic movies were produced as a means to import foreign movies. According to government policy, one foreign movie is imported for every domestic movie made. Therefore, many low quality movies that were unrecognized by audiences were produced. Movies such as New Village or anti-communist films would win awards and help import foreign movies, but frequently, they were just put into storage without ever being premiered.

Korean movies were barely able to survive foreign film import regulations and release times forced upon them by the screen quotas. People in the movie industry as well as audiences fell into despair when faced by well-made Hollywood movies and resented themselves for having a lack of movie making abilities.

After being ignored for quite some time by audiences, Korean movies made a comeback when director, Im Kwon-Tek`s "Su Pyon Jae" was released at the Dan Sung Sa theater. After realizing that Korean movies were "worth watching", it became clear that domestic movies were gaining popularity. Recently, director, Lee Jung Hyang`s "Jiburo" pulled in over 4 million viewers and after Im Kwon Tek`s "Chi Hwa Sun" won the award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival, the daily average attendance to this film more than doubled and pulled in over 5 million viewers.

In recent years, the quality of Korean films has improved and the average attendance rate of domestic films reached 46% last year. Among all the countries of the world, only in Korea is there such fierce competition between domestic and Hollywood movies. And the fact that "Chi Hwa Sun" won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival only proves how much Korean movies have grown in both quality and quantity.

Korean movies are at the height of it`s revival. Great numbers of young movie-goers are flocking to theaters and banking institutions are giving large financial support to movie producers and hoping for a domestic hit. If the Hyundai Automobile Company put one year`s net profits into the domestic film industry, no one would be able to say that Chungmuro (Korea`s Hollywood) couldn`t produce worldwide blockbusters.

Korean soccer, like the Korean movie industry, was barely able to get by. Korean soccer was pushed aside by both baseball and basketball and were always surrounded by empty stands when playing their matches. The J-league, Japan`s pro soccer league, gained a lot of success with fans while Korea`s K-league had no spectators at all. However, the Korean soccer team and the 40 thousand spectators that filled Suwon`s World Cup Stadium were filled with pride and emotion as the close match between Korea and the number one ranked France unfolded before them.

These days, everywhere you go, you can find soccer commentators. Even the taxi drivers have given up their political criticisms to comment on soccer. While people are saying things like "The French team is not trying their hardest," and "They don`t like to show how strong they are," the Korean team is also fighting with their own burdens. But no matter what anyone says, the old Korean team that was beaten 5 to 0 by European teams like Scotland, England, and France in the past, is not the same team it is today. When commenting on the close game between Korea and France, Poland team coach, Jerzy Engel stated, "It was close only to an extent." He also declared that "He would beat Korea. But if the game against France is any indication, just the opposite could easily happen.

The World Cup is not just a simple sporting event. It is politics, economics, culture, and art. The national image that korea can obtain by hosting a successful World Cup and showing the strength of their soccer team can not be defined in monetary terms. No South American team isn`t envious of the explosive success that Korea can obtain in such fields as politics and economics just by playing well in the World Cup. However, soccer can gives a huge synergistic effect to a politically and economically stable country such as France, which also has a blooming culture. Korea struggles to possess the number 1 and 2 slots in the production market for semi-conductors, automobiles, and ship building. While Korea is receiving applause for it`s movies, it is just beginning to be recognized on a worldwide scale. We even have to play soccer hard. We are not unlike those South American countries.

In such fields as soccer and movies where Korea has fallen short in the past, Korea`cent growth is very surprising and something to be very proud of. The Canne`s Film Festival`s Golden Palm award is not far off and the World Cup`s round 16 matches are just around the corner. If Korea is able to go all the way to round 8, Korea could explode on all sides. The political warfare will be unbearable and the rotten stench of it all will be revolting. And just like Sul Ki-hyun and Park Ji-Sung-Ah did in the game against France, let`s aim towards Poland`s goal and send the ball flying. Cha Doo-Ri, this time, please don`t fail us. While Poland`s goalkeeper is stupefied by the flapping net of the goal, let`s all get up and cheer and celebrate.

The World Cup is here.

Hwang Ho-Tek (Editorial Department)