S. Korea faces tough decision to pick its choice for foreign film Oscar


By Kim Hyun
SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s movie agency on Tuesday faced a tough decision to pick its contender for next year’s foreign film Oscar, with three movies vying for the status with an equally distinctive aura.

Two of them are box office record holders — "The King and the Clown" by Lee Joon-ik and "The Host" by Bong Joon-ho. "Time" by Kim Ki-duk, the low-budget, less popular movie, was backed by the director’s overseas recognition.

With no history of the Academy nominating a Korean movie, local experts are upbeat that chances are higher than ever this time with the renaissance of home-grown movies.

"We used to invite five jurors to make the decision and this year we have seven, because we decided each work has a good quality to compete in the Oscar race," said Tae Eun-jung, an official of the Korean Film Council that will make the submission to the U.S. Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Committee.

An Academy award or merely its nomination will provide a powerful backdrop for the movie to reach the huge U.S. market, she said.

The main criteria include the quality of the film, the possibility of its commercial success in the United States and the marketing ability of its distributor. The seven jurors, who are directors, producers, critics, journalists and scholars, will announce their pick this week, the council said.

"The King and the Clown" is a period drama revolving around two low-class clowns and the real-life merciless King Yeonsan in the late 15th century. Its lower-class humor, brilliant depiction of Korea’s traditional tight-rope walking and the deftly-woven plot broke the local viewer record of 12.3 million in March.

While the clown story delivers traditional Korea, "The Host" received critical acclaim at home and abroad with its tasty mix of political satire, humanity and gender-bending story telling. With the story of a family fighting a monster of the Han River, the movie is now screened in Japan, Hong Kong and France and is eyeing the U.S. market.

The low-budget movie "Time" is referred to as Kim’s most friendly work, which toned down his uncomfortable depiction of brutal reality. The director, who is popular abroad and controversial at home, tells the story of a woman who makes the extreme decision of plastic surgery to keep her bored lover.

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Source: Yonhap News