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Korea registers its film classics

Seven films chosen to receive designation

SEOUL — South Korea will for the first time officially register a selection of classic films as national cultural heritage materials.

The Cultural Heritage Administration, with the cooperation of the Korean Film Archive, has chosen seven films to receive the designation, including the recently rediscovered “Sweet Dream” (1936); post-independence drama “Hurrah, Freedom!” (1946); Korea’s last remaining silent film, “The Prosecutor and the Woman Teacher” (1948); the Buddhist-themed “Hometown of the Heart” (1949); Korean War film “Piagol” (1955); succes de scandale “Madame Freedom” (1956); and period comedy “Wedding Day” (1956).

Future rounds of selections will be held every five years; movies must be 50 years or older to qualify.

The designations are expected to increase the films’ exposure among Korean audiences, with television broadcasts and special DVD sets already in the planning stages. The Cultural Heritage Administration is also expected to discuss the possibility of financing basic restoration work on the selected films.

The selection committee, composed of a range of film scholars and critics, admitted to a conservative slant in the first round of selections. In particular, the committee decided to pass over the period 1937-45, when Korean filmmakers were under intense pressure from the Japanese colonial government to make pro-Japanese and pro-military films.

“We are still in the process of searching foreign archives for more films from the colonial period, so with luck, there will be more titles to choose from during the next round of selections,” said Jo Seon-hee, director of the Korean Film Archive.

In 2001, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” became the first film to be included on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, forming an important precedent for categorizing films as cultural relics.

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