Cho Se-hyun: Local Ex-pat hero and sometimes seemingly the lone voice of reason in the ROK
Cho Se-hyun, a former AP reporter in the States and in Tokyo, has a weekly column at the Korean Herald. His posts are usually right on the money, and today's (well, last weeks) was no exception
According to Korean newspapers and television, those movies, as well as some of popular dramas made for television, are sweeping Japan, China, and other Southeast Asian markets, while the American industry is bracing itself for an onslaught of Korean movies.
I don't know how accurate those enthusiastic reports and rosy predictions for Korean movies are. But I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed how abruptly boasting by the Korean press, filmmakers, actors and actresses turns into whimpering as soon as someone starts mentioning the need for lowering the country's screen quota system.
That basically sums up the bullshit spewing from the mouths of the media and the film industry.
So which statement is correct?
A: "Our movies are as good as Hollywood's"
B: "Our industry is not developed enough to compete with foreign films"
Which is it, dumbfucks?
The correct answer, by the way, is C: none of the above
Now, if when you say "Hollywood" you are only thinking of the formula action movies big on special effects and well-known names but low on everything else (I.e. Armageddon, Independence Day, Daredevil, etc.), then perhaps that statement could be true: Yes, your films are no worse than a lot of the "blockbusters" that come out of Hollywood (and almost the ONLY foreign movies we can see in Korea thanks to the shitty quota system, fuck you very much).
But to compare Korean movies to the good flicks that come out of Hollywood and elsewhere is...well...no comparison. I'm talking Schindler's List, Lord of the Rings, American Beauty (I'm not sure, but I think the message in that movie was that the guy should have porked the teenager and he would have lived), Shawshank Redemption (which I think Korean TV has shown at least twice a week over the past 10 years), Pulp Fiction, etc. etc. etc.
I've seen the bulk of new Korean movies over the past 5 years. The ones that get the big hype (JSA, Swili, Friend, Sassy Girl etc.) are just average films by world class standards. Korean films were so painfully shitty for so long that when finally some directors put out something even approaching mediocrity the whole country goes apeshit (and even some expats who seem to have lost the ability to discriminate).
So then why is choice "B" (industry can't compete with foreign films) likewise incorrect?
The Korean film industry has the big advantage of an audience that desperately wants it to succeed. Just make a mediocre to decent film and they'll flock to it (basically, it's no more difficult than making a movie for an audience no more critical than your own mother).
Cho Se-hyun has talked about this issue a while back (couldn't get the link, it's been archived) and accurately predicted the infantile reaction of the film industry to demands to drop the quota system. I'll let Cho Se-hyon finish this bitch off:
Indeed, there have been several Korean movies of late that have been successful at the domestic box office. In year-end assessments of the movie industry, television networks and newspapers were euphoric about how great those movies were. Some of them even proclaimed: "There is no Hollywood," "We beat Hollywood at its own game," and so on.
Yet, I bet my last won that the minute the United States and other countries start asking the government to lift the screen quota system, the movie industry will come up with some excuse to keep the system in place for another year. There just seems to be no end to greed in this country; some people don't seem to realize the simple truth that everything in the world is done on a give-and-take basis.
By the way, I saved Cho Se-hyun's picture from the Korea Herald to put on this post and this was the name of the picture that the Korean Herald people had named it:
What the fuck is up with that? I can't imagine that "The Cho" is very popular in this country. It's one thing when someone from the "Angry Expat Brigade" (of which I have raised in rank to a lieutenant, by the way) points out Korea's flaws, but when one of your own does it? That must really get under the skin of the nationalistic segment of this country that seems to dominate these days.