June 14, 2006
The posters for the latest film from director Bong Jun-ho "The Host," the most anxiously awaited domestic release this year, each depict one of its five stars — an ordinary family confronting a monster that emerges from the Han River. The unprecedented five different posters are all topped with the line "The fight has begun," but each is devoted to one of the characters played by Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doo-na and Ko A-sung.
They are Gang-doo, who although not the most responsible of fathers fights the monster with his bare hands to rescue his only daughter; grandpa Hee-bong, who looks after his granddaughter Hyun-seo as well as his two sons and one daughter; uncle Nam-il who always grumbles but comes through when it matters; demure aunt Nam-joo; and Gang-doo’s daughter Hyun-seo. In the background, we see an ominous image of the Han River, from where the monster will emerge.
The film pits that average family against a monster with huge sharp teeth, the head of a fish and a reptilian body that cost nearly half of the production budget to create. It is scheduled to hit theaters on July 27.
Screened during Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, the creature movie was singled out as one of the best films at the festival by the New York Times, while Variety magazine called director Bong Jun-ho one of the most promising in Korea. Riding a wave of positive reviews, the film is already setting a new record for export deals of any Korean film in Cannes: Argentina, China, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Spain, Mexico, the U.S. and the U.K. forked out over US$2.3 million to buy the film. By then it had already brought in $4.7 million for the Japanese distribution rights.