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[Opinion] Park Chan-wook and Bong Jun-ho

Posted December. 04, 2003 23:06,   


Since it was revealed that Park Chan-wook (40), director of recent hit movie “Old Boy”, and Bong Jun-ho (34), director of “Memories of Homicide”, the biggest Korean hit movie this year, are members of the Democratic Labor Party, there has been an ongoing issue. The Democratic Labor Party now expects to storm the general election next year just as the two members have been acknowledged for their great work with new technology and know-how in the movie industry. Moon Sori, who performed passionately, establishing her image as a talented actress with her performances in “Oasis” and “Family Affairs” is also a member of the party. Just as the handsome actor Richard Gere changed people’s perception of Tibetan Buddhism, we now look at the Democratic Labor Party with a different view.

Traditionally, Hollywood has been a playground for the Democrats. In part, this was a reaction against the McCarthy era that after World War II expelled many Hollywood celebrities inclined to progressive ideologies in a witch-hunt, and in part due to the influence of anti-war movies such as ‘No Tomorrow’ and ‘Easy Rider’ that contributed to an anti-government atmosphere. Additionally, the Democratic Party tolerates violence and sex, but the Republican party loathes drugs, sex and homosexuality. Hollywood is one of the three largest donors to the Democratic Party along with the legal industry and labor unions. Statistics show that in the last twelve years 64 percent of political donations from Hollywood have gone to the Democratic Party while 35 percent have gone to the Republicans.

Famous actors and actresses such as Robert Redford, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Nicholas Cage, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon and Sharon Stone are all Democratic supporters. Celebrities who support the Republicans are fewer and include Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator who became the governor of California and Bruce Willis of Die Hard. Mel Gibson, who has been in many patriotic movies and is homophobic as well, is the actor most hated by leftist Hollywood celebrities. Elia Kazan, director of famous films such as East of Eden, “On the Waterfront”, and “Splendor in the Grass”, spoke against his Communist colleagues during the era of McCarthyism and spent the later days of his life in solitude and frustration.

The reason that the political world pays continuous attention and love to celebrities in the cultural, artistic and sports worlds is because these stars are widely recognized and have a strong ability to mobilize the public. When celebrities appear at political events or speeches and create a positive atmosphere, that has a hugely powerful effect. Some stars rush into the political world themselves to become successful there, but most find themselves coming back to their world from the political one where they could be only bridesmaids. In that respect, it is fortunate that our two promising directors have made their own intentions clear saying, “Film-making and political orientation are two separate things, and [we] intend to remain directors.”

Editorial Writer Oh Myeong-chul, oscar@donga.com