Korean Megahit Producer Jonathan Kim Questions Trend Toward Blockbusters

Jonathan Kim is well-placed to lead the debate on Korean blockbusters.

Kim produced 2003’s “Silmido,” the first Korean-made film sell to more than 10 million tickets and has produced five of South Korea’s top 50 grossing pictures.

“Silmido,” about a South Korean army unit trained to raid and assassinate the North Korean president, then partially eliminated by their own government to hush up the program, embarrassed the Korean government into recognizing and compensating the survivors. His pic “Taegukgi” proved that “Silmido’s” success was repeatable.

During the 2004-2006 boom period that followed “Silmido” and “Taegukgi,” Kim famously warned against the trend for expensive but shallow films built around TV stars who had huge followings in Japan. And when Japanese distributors stopped buying, the Korean industry slumped.

The current crop of blockbusters — handsome pictures that connect well with mainstream Korean audiences — seems much more securely rooted, domestically, at least.

“One thing I will certainly be asking is what difference any of these blockbuster films is making overseas,” says Kim. “That’s exactly the same question as is being asked in China where local films are doing better at home, but are becoming ever harder to sell abroad.”

Kim will lead a Busan Film Festival panel, “Producing Blockbusters: 10 Korean Producers of Huge Box Office Hits” at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Event Hall, BEXCO Exhibition Hall 4.

 

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