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Digitally remastered film 'Nakdong River' revealed in 70 years

Digitally remastered film 'Nakdong River' revealed in 70 years

Posted October. 08, 2022 07:36,   

Updated October. 08, 2022 07:36


On Thursday night, Nakdong River, a 44-minute film made in 1951 during the Korean War and released in 1952 in the Yeongnam region, including Busan, was revealed for the first time at the 27th Busan International Film Festival. It is a monumental film that shows the creative activities of active artists even during the war. The original film file of Nakdong River was recently discovered by the Korean Film Archive and digitally remastered successfully.

This film, directed by Jeon Chang-keun, is the third film to be preserved among the 14 films produced during the Korean War, following "The Street of Sun (1952)" in 2013 and "A Bouquet of Three Thousand People (1951)” in 2020. It holds significant historical value as it is the only Korean War film in existence with no loss in video or sound.

The movie starts by showing the flow of the Nakdong River as if it is highlighting the title of the movie. And then, Dancer Cho Yong-ja, in a white mourning dress, shows her movements with the Nakdong River as the backdrop. The choral song “Nakdong River,” in which the first line starts with “look at the splendid history of Gaya and Silla,” powerfully captures the atrocities that occurred during the Korean War and the great river history.

The first half of the monochrome film shows the peaceful days of the residents, with innocent children jumping into the river naked. The main character named Il-ryoung, played by Lee Tak-kyun, proudly explains the river's history. However, in August 1950, the North attacked all the frontlines of the river, devastating the adjacent areas, and Il-ryoung decided to participate in the war. His wife, Ok-nam, played by Choi Ji-ae, waits for him to come back but loses her son to a bombing. The movie also inserts actual footage of the battle here and there to show the horrors of the war.

In the process of remastering, as soon as the soundtrack by composer Yoon Il-sang was revealed, it drew huge attention. The choral song, "Nakdong River," which is found at the beginning and end of the film, combines the words of poet Lee Eun-sang’s poem as lyrics to the orchestral piece of Yoon. The score used in the movie draws attention as it is considered the first original version of Yoon’s orchestral piece, “The Poetry of Nakdong River."

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com