, BUSAN, South Korea, Oct 20 – The phenomenal success of “Gangnam Style” is just the start of a new surge of attention for Korean entertainment, according to the man responsible for some of South Korea’s biggest films.
“When you look at Korean music or Korean films they are very Hollywood-like in terms of production standards,” said producer Jonathan H. Kim, speaking on the sidelines of last week’s Busan International Film Festival.
“There’s also a degree of people from other countries looking at Korean movies and saying ‘Wow: their values are similar to ours’.”
A 30-year veteran of the Korean film industry, Kim has been behind five of his country’s 50 biggest box office hits. Among them is war epic “Silmido” (2003), the first film to attract more than 10 million viewers in South Korea.
As well as producing films, Kim is a business advisor to the sprawling CJ Entertainment & Media group, South Korea’s largest in terms of film production, investment and distribution.
He also hosts seminars on investing in its entertainment industry and its potential for growth at home and beyond.
“These films travel well because production values are very high,” Kim told AFP. “But it is also about Korean people’s passion and their impatience. If the movies aren’t great, people just leave the theatre.”
Kim believes the current strength of Korean cinema – and the global appeal of Korean entertainment in general – had its beginnings in 2003, with the emergence of film directors such as Park Chan-Wook (“Oldboy”) and wildly successful TV dramas such as the drama “Winter Sonata”.
“A lot of territories saw Korean films as an alternative to B-grade Hollywood movies as they were cheaper and artistically we were getting a lot of awards from festivals,” said Kim.
Attention has been renewed, helped by the box-office success of heist-thriller “The Thieves” and the dance moves of 34-year-old rapper Psy, whose “Gangnam Style” has amassed more than 450 million YouTube hits.
South Korea’s K-pop has in the past 10 years defied language barriers to entice fans around the world, but glossy products such as Super Junior and Girls’ Generation have not won Psy’s level of global recognition.
The rapper has performed his unique horse-riding dance at the MTV awards in Los Angeles and appeared in a cameo on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”.
“The surprise with Psy is that he didn’t try to look Hollywood. It’s pure Korean,” said Kim. “That is making a lot of people re-evaluate the Korean wave and cinema is at the forefront of that.”