Friday, 22 May 2015


Films always make for a topic of fascinating discussion.After all, films are not just about stories unfolding on celluloid or watched for sheer entertainment but it is also our reference point towards understanding cultures,rituals,traditions and exploring newer lands and faraway countries as it takes us into a state of phantasmagoria during those 120 minutes of a roller coaster ride where an intense drama awaits to take charge of your senses filled with heart-wrenching emotions and tears,songs and dance sequences filmed in picturesque locations of foreign shores and intermittent doses of rib-tickling comedy to give some relief to the narrative and a nail-biting climax with some stylishly choreographed action sequences that are sewn together to make it one wholesome package. Thus in the eleventh post of the Wow Korea series I shall discuss "Seoul loves Bollywood" when I share with you some Hindi films that have enjoyed great popularity in South Korea! However,before that I shall give you a brief introduction of the flourishing film industry in Seoul.

This may come as a news to you when I say that South Korea is an Asian media powerhouse where PSY is just a drop in the ocean. South Korea not only consumes more domestic entertainment than foreign films but Japan,China and larger part of South East Asia also rely largely on the South Korean entertainment industry!

Take these figures-In 2012 itself, domestic films alone earned 44 million USD while foreign films brought in 35 million USD. Though the graph of domestic films has seen it's own fair share of highs and lows,but it was in the 1990's that the film industry of South Korea finally came into it's own. For instance the film,Shiri which released in 1999 was so popular that it generated more funding and a renewed sense of interest among the Korean film industry on producing films domestically. And together with the policy regulations which mandated that at least 40% of films exhibited must be domestically produced,it went on to pip foreign films in terms of box office revenues and ticket sales during the last ten years. 

The plots of Korean films are largely based on the country's troubled past be it the Japanese occupation,Korean War and the division of the Peninsula. Thus many of the films produced in South Korea are both historical and personal. Add to it Korea's love for romance,drama and slapstick comedy and you have one complete package that showcases Korea's impressive film industry.

Those interested in watching Korean films could start with JSA(Joint Security Area) released in 2000 which is about North and South Korean soldiers who befriend one another while stationed at the demilitarized zone.

Those looking for a heartwarming story could watch Miracle In Cell Number 7 (released in 2013) which is about a mentally ill father who is held on a false charge of murder and rape and his tender relationship with his adorable six year old daughter.

And now I come to the most interesting part of this post where Indians would be happy to learn about Koreans love for Hindi films! 

It comes as no surprise to say that Khans not only rule Bollywood but share immense popularity in Korea too with Shah Rukh Khan's My Name Is Khan and Aamir Khan's 3 Idiots being the two most successful Bollywood films in South Korea during the recent past.In fact, these two films are certified hits in South Korea with 3 Idiots and My Name is Khan grossing over 3 million dollars and 2.6 million dollars respectively.

According to Choe Kwang-shik, Korea's minister of culture, sports and tourism,"Movies that deal with humanism will garner positive response from the Korean audience." Thus not surprisingly many Koreans sympathized with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black as well because it was about a woman who was able to succeed in life despite her disability. Another film that earned critical applaudits was Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par which was about a dyslexic child who gradually overcomes his challenges at learning with a loving teacher gently guiding him.This film garnered a lot of positive feedback especially from the educational sector who saw a lot of positivity in the subject of the story.And with the annual Busan International Film Festival,many avid local film lovers have also become aware of the term "off-beat" films with Anurag Basu's Barfi which was screened there that went on to earn acclaims. 

However,Bollywood here's a point in caution-As it is clearly evident from the above paragraphs,South Koreans love emotional Bollywood dramas and genre-wise Hindi films have much to offer in this regard.Thus it is important that such films must be marketed in South Korea which cater to the tastes and preferences of the target audience.So,no dishoom-dishkiyaoon please!

Secondly,it is important to note that Korean films are generally one hour and forty five minutes long, however Hindi films continue to get lengthier with the passage of time as more songs are thrown into the narrative. Cut out the songs, edit the length and Voila! Hindi films could be running to a full-house in South Korea!  

Hope you enjoyed reading this article! For those of you who have missed out on some of my earlier posts in the Wow Korea Series,click here to read: Wow Korea! Part-IWow Korea! Part-IIWow Korea! Part-III, Wow Korea! Part-IVWow Korea! Part-VWow Korea Part-VIWow Korea! Part-VII ,Wow Korea! Part-VIII ,Wow Korea! Part-IXWow Korea Part-X

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