Wang Kaihao

Chi­nese films make big splash in South Korea, but industry in­sid­ers want more. re­ports in Seoul.

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS CANADA -

Seoul re­cently hosted a film fes­ti­val, where nearly a dozen Chi­nese fea­tures from the past few years were screened in­clud­ing Mon­ster Hunt, the high­est-gross­ing Chi­nese film, Mon­keyKing: Hero Is Back, an an­i­ma­tion hit from the past sum­mer and Black Coal, Thin Ice, an award-win­ning thriller.

The Chi­nese Film Fes­ti­val, an event held ev­ery two years since 2006, is jointly or­ga­nized by China’s State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion and the Korean Film Coun­cil.

“We want to not only show an­cient Chi­nese cul­ture but also re­veal mod­ern Chi­nese peo­ple’s at­ti­tude to­ward life so that Korean au­di­ences can un­der­stand them bet­ter,” says Mao Yu, deputy di­rec­tor of the film bureau un­der the state ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Han Sang-hee, the di­rec­tor for industry pro­mo­tion at the Korean Film Coun­cil, 72 Chi­nese films were screened in South Korea last year, com­pris­ing 6.6 per­cent of the to­tal 1,095 films shown in Korean cine­mas then. While their box-of­fice ticket sales com­prised less than 1 per­cent, Han be­lieves Chi­nese films have the scope to do well in South Korea.

“Many Korean movie­go­ers’ im­pres­sion ofChi­nese cin­ema is still about the ‘golden times’ of Zhang Yi­mou and Chen Kaige,” he says, adding that lo­cal au­di­ences have yet to fully grasp de­vel­op­ments in con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese cin­ema.

“Such film fes­ti­vals will pro­mote the lat­est suc­cess and can be a so­lu­tion, but closer industry co­op­er­a­tion is the long-term cure.”

In 2014, the two coun­tries signed a film co­pro­duc­tion agree­ment to pro­mote closer cul­tural ties.

“It’s bet­ter to usher more co­pro­duc­tion than to di­rectly in­tro­duce Korean films into China, and vice versa,” says Park Keun-tae, the pres­i­dent ofCJGroupChina. “Dif­fer­ences in cul­ture, his­tory and movie­go­ers’ habits may be ob­sta­cles, but co­pro­duc­tion can look for a bal­ance.”

The group is among South Korean con­glom­er­ates that are also in the busi­ness of films.

South Korea’s all-time high­est­gross­ing The Ad­mi­ral: Roar­ing Cur­rents, an epic pro­duced by CJ En­ter­tain­ment& Me­dia, an af­fil­i­ate of CJ Group, record­ing theKore­ans’ fight against Ja­panese in­va­sion in 1597, met with lit­tle com­mer­cial suc­cess in China last year.

Miss Granny, a co­pro­duced fan­tasy de­rived from the Korean film of the same name, earned more than 350 mil­lion yuan ($55.56 mil­lion) from the Chi­nese box of­fice, mak­ing it the most suc­cess­ful Si­noKorean film so far.

Thriller Peace­ful Is­land, an­other CJ project with Korean di­rec­tor Chang Yoon-hyun and a Chi­nese cast, is sched­uled for re­lease in China in De­cem­ber.

The group also opened an industry park on the out­skirts of Bei­jing ear­lier this year to help Chi­nese film­mak­ers.

“A typ­i­cal case of co­op­er­a­tion ... is Korean tech­ni­cal sup­port in Chi­nese films,” saysHan, adding that it isn’t enough.

“We will prob­a­bly have more two-way tech­ni­cal ex­changes in the fu­ture,” he says.

In 2012, the Korean Film Coun­cil opened its busi­ness cen­ter in Bei­jing to of­fer small-scale film com­pa­nies from South Korea an op­por­tu­nity to at­tract Chi­nese in­vestors. Four to five projects have been si­mul­ta­ne­ously in op­er­a­tion each quar­ter since then.

China and SouthKorea launched Share Your Dream, an an­nual short film fes­ti­val, in Bei­jing last year to fa­cil­i­tate ex­changes among young film­mak­ers.

Dur­ing last week’s Chi­nese Film Fes­ti­val, of­fi­cials from both coun­tries also held their first meet­ing on jointly pro­mot­ing an­i­ma­tion films.

“The com­mon Asian cul­ture will help our an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tions to march to over­seas mar­kets to­gether,” Han says.

With box-of­fice rev­enues in China ex­pected to rise 50 per­cent this year, lead­ing cin­ema op­er­a­tors in South Korea are plan­ning a stronger pres­ence in the world’s sec­ond­largest film mar­ket.

CGV, for in­stance, South Korea’s largest mul­ti­plex chain af­fil­i­ated to the CJ Group, will use its new tech­nol­ogy ScreenX in China soon af­ter its de­but in the coun­try.

The multi-pro­jec­tion sys­tem uses


The Chi­nese Film Fes­ti­val in Seoul draws A-lis­ters like Kwon Sang-woo (left) and Zhou Dongyu.

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