Go to contents

[Opinion] Shim Hyeong-rae Phenomenon

Posted August. 07, 2007 05:45,   


On August 6 in the afternoon, a theater showing “D-War” was full of families with children on summer vacation. The heat around this film, which is said to be re-writing the history of audience records by attracting more than 3 million audience members 6 days after the release, was easily felt. What people said about the film was true. The story was quite incomplete, but the CG was superb. It might not be anything great compared to big Hollywood films, but the audience welcomed it. An audience member in her forties said, “The movie is a pure “made in Korea” film, and isn’t the director Yeong-gu Shim Hyeong-rae great?”

Shim said, “I never gave up. There were days when I felt nervous with the lack of technology available. But now D-War has achieved a level of purely Korean technology. I have no fear. I only look at what’s ahead and run,” read a letter that was played at the end of the film, a message from director Shim to the audience. It was a confession about his will and passion towards the film, which were only strengthened by the 7 years of lonely suffering when nobody trusted him after the failure of his last film, Yonggary. The audience burst into applause at the letter.

The heat of D-War is hot on the Internet, too. The comments left by netizens resemble a war. The attack on the blog site of independent film director Lee Song Hee-il, who wrote that, “D-War is not a film,” was so severe that it can be called a cyber-terror incident. Supporters are moved by Shim Hyeong-rae’s passion, tenacity, and his spirit that knows no surrender. Some critics say that D-War is becoming a cultural phenomenon. Film fans are apparently consuming not D-War, but Shim Hyeong-rae.

It is not easy for South Korean films to satisfy the ears and eyes of audience goers who are familiar with Hollywood blockbusters. Nevertheless, this “easy to watch” film D-War is causing a storm. Perhaps the audience prefers a ‘kind’ film to a ‘wise’ one. Perhaps it appealed to them more because it was a “family film” released after a long pause, a pause that was filled with films about gangsters and sex. But the greatest contribution, more than anything else, is the life story of ‘silly Yeong-gu.’ His tenacity and endurance meant something in this flippant world. People say that he “opened up a blue ocean in the film industry with D-War,” but to me it seems that the life story of Yeong-gu itself is the blue ocean.

Editorial Writer Huh Mun-myung, angelhuh@donga.com