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Korean Christians seek “Code” ban

Militants claim "Da Vinci Code" insulting and inciting

SEOUL — South Korea’s largest Christian group has filed a provisional injunction to the Seoul District Court in an effort to block the release of Sony Pictures Releasing International’s upcoming “The Da Vinci Code”.

In a statement, the Christian Council of Korea (CCK) charged that the film “may disparage and insult the divinity of Jesus Christ” and “will incite even greater conflict and chaos than the novel – to Christians and non-Christians alike – as it makes people believe that a fictional tale is historical fact.”

The CCK is also reportedly considering filing a civil suit ahead of the film’s skedded May 18 release.

The decision to turn to the courts has proved controversial even within Christian circles. A member of the executive committee of the National Council of Churches in Korea has spoken out publicly against the CCK’s action, calling the measure an “extreme overreaction.”

Religious organizations wield considerable influence in Korea, where some 40% of population profess to be Christian. They have successfully targeted controversial films in the past. Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”

saw its release delayed for years due to pressure from Christian groups. It secured a small release in 2002.

In the 1980s and 1990s, local filmmakers Im Kwon-taek and Park Chul-soo also saw controversial films derailed midway through production due to protests by Buddhist organizations.

In a decision that may provide a precedent for this case, a judge from the Seoul District Court last year ordered documentary footage removed from Im Sang-soo’s politically-themed “The President’s Last Bang” on the grounds that viewers could be “confused” about the film’s mixing of fact and fiction. An appeal regarding that decision is currently in process.