Go to contents

[Opinion] Stars and Money

Posted June. 30, 2005 06:27,   


“Stop it, I have had enough.” This is a line from the movie “Friends,” and was singled out by Naver as the second greatest line in Korean movies. The line touched Korean people spiritually and struck an emotional chord among them. Four years ago, when the movie showed signs of taking off in a big way, I interviewed the director, Kwak Kyeong-taek. He said he received 35 million won for production and 15 million won for the scenario. When asked “Don’t you think the money is too little?” he replied, shaking his head, “We should not change our attitude depending on circumstances. I was so grateful to the producer for allowing me to make movies when I was eager to do so. I hope colleagues, including me, maintain the attitude we had in the early days of our career.”

Before long, the initial attitude disappeared. Even though the movie “Friends” was recorded as the biggest hit of 2002 in the Korean movie history, lawsuits were filed by the actors, the producer, and the director. The law suits were dropped and they made peace, but the tarnished image will not be easily improved. In particular, when money is involved, the development tends to be reduced to the ugly scandal.

In Chungmuro, fights are going on. Director Kang Wu-seok, who made “Public Enemy,” started the argument. He said it is difficult to make movies because actors are asking for too much money. At a conference, movie producers blamed some entertainment agencies for using their influence on stars and demanding dividends. Politicians also said that “we will pool our wisdom in order to help this dispute end in a peaceful manner as human dramas do, not as duels do.”

Actors such as Choi Min-sik and Song Kang-ho said their images were undermined and asked director Kang to make a public apology. These developments can be compared to the cruel twist of a killing rampage that pours cold water on the “Korean Wave” that is about to take root.

In an interview with a newspaper, actor Ahn Sung-ki made remarks befitting his status as an actor representing Korea. For his 40-plus year career, he never asked for a certain amount of money or complained about small guarantees. He didn’t do so because he wanted to keep his self-respect. He said he believed that hard work and love for movies are always followed by money. Anyway, it is movie makers that choose between stars and actors and make good movies.

Kim Soon-duk, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com