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Kim Jong-hak hit by gap between producer and CEO

Posted July. 25, 2013 05:42,   


The entertainment industry is a representative high-risk, high-return industry. The movie “Graduation” (1967) familiar to mid-life people cost only 3 million U.S. dollars to produce but raked in more than 100 million dollars. The return amounted to more than 30 times the investment. The worst case of failures is the American movie “Cleopatra" (1963) staring Elizabeth Taylor. The movie cost 65 million dollars, an astronomical amount for that era, to produce, but it only earned 20 million dollars. Its producer 20th Century Fox was forced to the verge of bankruptcy. The movie “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” released in 2002, cost 100 million dollars, but earned a mere 4.4 million dollars, proving to be a nightmare to Warner Brothers.

TV dramas are the centerpiece of Korea’s entertainment industry. Among the leaders who ushered in heyday of this industry in Korea is producer Kim Jong-hak, who created “Sandglass.” As a director, he was armed with passion and sensitivity, plus expertise in theory. In 2007 when producing the drama “Taewang Sashingi, or Story of the First King`s Four Gods,” he remained at the filming site even after having a car accident. As Hallyu, or popular Korean pop culture, was facing a slump several years ago, he proposed a collective story-writing system, saying that Korean dramas are only dependent on stories written by just a few playwrights. He had been mentioned as a candidate to be invited to politics during all different election campaigns, but he rejected decisively.

After quitting a broadcasting company in 1995, he established Kim Jong-hak Production in 1998. He doubled as CEO as well as chief producer. Rumors had it that his company was experiencing increasingly serious financial difficulties. Taewang Sashingi dealt a devastating blow. The main culprit of the fiasco was the production cost in excess of 40 billion won (35.9 million dollars). The drama was fairly successful in viewership, but ended up incurring loss, driving his firm to a deeper financial trouble. After producing the TV drama “Shinui” last year, he was accused of not paying actors and faced legal action.

American poet Archibald MacLeish said that artists don’t see the world the way the world would anticipate, and then they pay the price to the world. He pointed to the way of living among artists, who lack understanding of the reality in the earthly world, and even seek to deny the reality. The American entertainment industry is spearheaded by Jewish. Even Jewish who are deemed professionals in business experience failures in the entertainment industry. Kim Jong-hak, who brought his own “sandglass” to a halt by himself by committing suicide at a 10 sq. meter rental studio room, might be vividly demonstrating that he was undeniably an artist.

Senior editorial writer Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga.com)