Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Box Populi

Matt over at the Gusts of Popular Feeling blog has a great post about the Korean boxer Kim Duk Koo (Kim Deuk-gu) and the Kwak Kyung-taek biopic about him, CHAMPION. But then, everything that Matt writes about over at Gusts is worth a look... it is one of the most substantial and interesting sites anywhere on the Internet about Korean culture.

Good to see some pictures of director Kwak, too. Although Kwak's films are not really to my taste, he is a heck of a nice guy, and I'm convinced that he has a really good film inside him, just waiting to get out. Sometimes it takes a while for any artist to hit his stride, figure out what he's all about and how to express that best.

Oh, and nice to see Matt mention Mark Kozelek and his Sun Kil Moon band. I'm a big fan, especially of his Modest Mouse covers. Can't believe I missed him when he toured Korea a few years ago. Hopefully we will get him back before too long.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 24-26

Martin Scorsese's THE DEPARTED took top spot this past weekend in Korea... at least in Seoul. In yet another sign of the city/country split going on in Korea, SUNFLOWER actually did better nationally (thanks in part to its additional 124 screens), while THE DEPARTED was easily the more popular film in Seoul.

A similar split was going on at Nos. 3 and 4, with STEP UP winning in Seoul and the Aardman animation FLUSHED AWAY winning nationally.

Screen averages were especially amusing this week. For example,THE PRESTIGE played on just 44 screens, but easily beat SEXY TEACHER, which was on 230. Hah! I bet the theater managers with the 230 prints of SEXY TEACHER are pretty unhappy at the moment.
This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.The Departed11.2319096,700348,000
3.Step Up11.2315637,500133,200
4.Flushed Away11.2321037,000148,000
5.The Devil Wears Prada10.2613033,6001,655,400
6.How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men11.1627729,800494,900
7.The Prestige11.024423,100629,500
8.A Good Year11.1614518,400223,900
9.Sexy Teacher11.1623015,000401,000
10.Tazza: The High Rollers9.27386,0006,798,000

(Source: Film2.0)

So, of course I saw THE DEPARTED this weekend. And... once again, Scorsese is pretty mediocre. I was actually bored for most of the film, although it did pick up in the last 30 minutes or so. Yet again, here was a Scorsese movie that felt like a photocopy of a Scorsese movie (looks pretty much the same, but with some bad resolution). I really think MS needs to sit down with some digital cameras and some fresh, unknown actors, are re-teach himself all the things that made him great once upon a time.

And, in a random digression, I just re-watched Yim Pil-sung's ANTARCTIC JOURNAL, and found myself feeling very similarly about it as I did about DEPARTED -- both are bad movies made by very talented filmmakers. In Yim's case, ANTARCTIC was his first feature-length movie, and it is so silly and poorly plotted, it is hard to believe (not to mention having one of the most blatant disregards for basic physics I have ever come across in the movies). No doubt about it, AJ was a bad film. However, it was also clear that director Yim has some serious talent. A good producer and another year of pre-production could totally have turned that movie around.

Luckily, Yim is getting another chance to show what he can do, with the horror film HANSEL & GRETEL, being produced by Barunson. Much like AJ, H&G is about historical parallels and notebooks... but let's hope someone kicks his butt until the plotting makes sense.

Yim is also doing a short zombie film as part of the triptych DOOMSDAY BOOK, due out next year, too.

Friday, November 24, 2006

What's Going on in Korean Cinema

With the Christmas and Seollal (lunar new year) holidays approaching, expect a surge in major releases. Both big Korean movies and Hollywood blockbusters. The first "big" movie of the season will probably be Park Chan-wook's I'M A CYBORG BUT THAT'S OKAY (I'll try to review it after the press screening next week).

In the meantime, Darcy Paquet at has a very good write-up about the current state of Korean cinema. I'm not sure how much of his thoughts on the rise of independent cinema is real or just wishful thinking... But even wishful thinking can become real if enough people wish the same thing.

The rising interest in Japanese movies is quite interesting. Japanese culture was pretty much banned in Korea from the Korean War until 1998. Then the local market slowly opened. First, three award-winning Japanese films were allowed in. Then award-winning films in general were allowed. Then in January 2004, almost all Japanese po culture was allowed.

(Although, strangely, Japanese animation was still quite regulated. Strange, I say, because Japanese animation has long been the most ubiquitous form of Japanese culture in Korea. Some of it was dubbed into Korean (and sometimes even presented as Korean), and others were available on the black market and in Japanese culture cafes. EVANGELION has been hugely popular for years. Everybody knows GATCHAMAN (BATTLE OF THE PLANETS in America, and EAGLE 5 in Korea). And Japanese comic books were widely available in translation since I first came to Korea. Yet another one of Korea's non-ban bans.)

(Parantheses 2: I tried linking to the Wikipedia article on Evangelion, the first choice in that Google search I linked to, but it seemed to crash my Firefox brower every time. I have no idea why. Feel free to let me know if you have any theories/solutions.)

Anyhow, so Japanese movies and TV shows were allowed into Korea en masse, beginning January 2004. At first, a lot of people were worried that they would overwhelm local programming, revealing how much Korean media has cribbed from Japan. But then, surprise surprise, nothing happened. Japanese movies and TV and music barely made a ripple here. Except for Hiyao Miyazaki films and the 1998 release of LOVE LETTER, Japanese movies did poorly. Japanese TV dramas got fairly mediocre ratings. Life moved on.

Turns out, however, that there was a decent market for Japanese culture here. It just needed some time to incubate. This year has seen many Japanse movies do respectable numbers, led by THE SINKING OF JAPAN. I doubt Japanese product will overwhelm Korea, but it good to see the market growing more diverse.

It is especially good to know that most people in both countries have little interest in the annoying nationalism and stupid anti-Korea/anti-Japan garbage spewed by some in both countries. Among the people who really matter -- the filmmakers and writers and designers) (not to mention the average folk who care about movies and music and such) -- there is a healthy interest in the art and pop culture of their neighbors. And on a business level, the two nation's entertainment industries are growing more and more interconnected.

As for Darcy's feeling that there is a lack of energy in Korean movies these days... I am actually a little optimistic, for the first time in quite a while. The big guns of the industry (Bong Joon-ho, Kim Jee-woon, etc.) seem to be working on some good stuff right now. And there are a bunch of new directors making films with potential. CJ Entertainment and Nabi Pictures have teamed up to create a bunch of low-budget genre movies (I'm a big believer that low-budget schlock can be one of the most fertile fields for a film industry). In TV, the cable channels are increasingly churning out new shows to compete with the lame dreck on mainstream TV, much as HBO started to do in the 1990s. Sure, there is a lot of crud out there... but as Sturgeon's Law says, 95% of everything is crud.

(Or Sturgeon's Revelation, if you want to be pedantic).

(Note: While writing this entry, my Firefox browser crashed. But upon reopening it, I discovered that my entire post had been saved. I was so surprised and happy. All hail Firefox 2.0!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hobsbawn and History

Eric Hobsbawm has long been a favorite historian of mine -- not for his renowned Marxism, but for books like THE INVENTION OF TRADITION and its companion, NATIONS AND NATIONALISM SINCE 1780.

Anyhow, I just ran across an essay by Hobsbawm about the Hungarian uprising of 1956 in the Nov. 16 issue of the London Review of Books. Not terribly relevant to Asian entertainment or Korean history... But I did love the opening sentence of his essay:
Contemporary history is useless unless it allows emotion to be recollected in tranquillity.

A great, simple point about history and politics and all that stuff that gets people so hot and bothered. Lord knows more people over here in East Asia should follow his advice.

(By the way, a rather different view (i.e., negative and shrill) of Hobsbawm and his legacy can be read here.)

(Btw2: I never knew this until just now, but apparently Hobsbawm and Noble Prize winner Kim Dae-jung met a few years ago, at a conference is Olso.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Japan Movie Notes

Some fun news about Japan cinema over at Ryuganji (as usual). Most notably a sequel to ALWAYS, a Miike Takashi doing his version of the spaghetti-western classis DJANGO and an entry about this year's FILMeX (one of my favorite movie events each year in Japan).

I assume that anyone interested in Japanese movies (but who lacks the Japanese language abilities) already knows Hoga News and Jason Gray's blog. And even though the Tokyo International Film Festival is over, Maggie Lee is still blogging away (she teases that she might start a person blog soon, but for the moment we just have the TIFF blog). But if you do not any of those websites, you should check them all out asap.

Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 17-19

Another dreary week at the box office here in South Korea. The top film, HOW THE LACK OF LOVE AFFECTS TWO MEN, won the No. 1 spot with just 281,500 in attendance (about $1.87 million), one of the lowest figures for a No. 1 film in quite a while. But it was nice to see iHQ have one of its films open at the top of the box office. iHQ has been through a long streak of disappointments, so hopefully this will be the start of something good.

Interesting to see DEVIL WEARS PRADA and PRESTIGE holding on to the Nos. 2 and 3 spots for another week, especially while last week's No. 1, LOVE ME NOT, plummeted to No. 6.

TAZZA is pretty much finished, with 6.77 million tickets ($44.90 million), making it the seventh-biggest film in Korean history. Not a bad run at all.

Just three more days until THE DEPARTED opens in Korea. Much nerdy joy on my part.

This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men11.1632163,400281,500
2.The Devil Wears Prada10.2616957,8001,509,400
3.The Prestige11.0210450,400571,600
4.Sexy Teacher11.1626642,000221,000
5.A Good Year11.1620039,600131,800
6.Love Me Not11.0926129,200506,500
7.Cruel Winter Blues11.0929626,300484,800
8.Death Note11.0218725,000712,000
9.The Grudge 211.1617119,500107,400
10.Tazza: The High Rollers9.278918,0006,769,000

(Source: Film2.0)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Korea Music Charts - Flashback

Someone asked in a comments thread the other day about the extremely low sales of foreign music in Korea. Which got me thinking about how sales have changed over the past few years. So here are the Korean and foreign sales charts for October 2000.

This MonthArtistAlbum NameRelease DateThis Month's SalesTotal Sales
1.H.O.TVol. 510.02840,370840,370
2.FinKLVol. 310.06386,329386,329
3.Park Jung-hyunNaturally10.17157,536157,536
4.Jo Sung-moVol. 39.01137,5531,842,680
5.VariousAutumn in My Heart OST10.13117,538117,538
6.Y2KTry Again10.2353,15553,155
7.YurisangjaVol 410.1645,05145,051
8.Cho Jang-hyeokVol. 36.1638,030117,408
9.Park Ji-yoonVol. 48.1133,797354,701
10.Jaebum YimStory of Two Years5.1629,398272,941

(source: MIAK)

Foreign Sales:
This MonthArtistAlbum NameRelease DateThis Month's SalesTotal Sales
1.VariousMax 710.1776,52876,528
2.Jo Su-miOnly Love Special9.2744,72665,550
3.Limp BizkitChocolate Starfish10.2432,04732,047
4.RadioheadKid A10.0227,20927,209
5.VariousNeukkim 20,61524,615
6.Christina AguileraNew Package10.0218,85718,857
7.Ricky MartinRicky Martin1999.04.2812,893260,220
8.98 DegreesRevelation10.1211,68411,684
9.Green DayWarning10.0511,35411,354
10.Britney SpearsOops!... I Did It Again5.1611,286157,439

(source: MIAK)

The first thing you will notice is how much larger all those numbers are than October 2006. Shockingly so, I would say. (Although it is worth noting that back in 2000, cassette sales were still pretty significant in Korea, about half of those totals, so the numbers do not compare exactly).

The top title in 2000, by the seminal boy band H.O.T ("Hi-five Of Teenagers", in case you did not know), could sell 840,000 copies in just one month. Even more amazing, in September, Jo Sung-mo sold a staggering 1.7 million copies of his new album. Cut to 2006, and Rain could barely crack 70,000 copies of his new album.

In 2000, there were four albums that sold over 1 million albums. The biggest-selling album so far this year, the latest by SG Wannabe, has sold just 294,000 copies -- that would have been good enough for just No. 28 in 2000.

Then, as now, the top Korean albums far outsold foreign albums. The top foreign album of 2000 was Mariah Carey's Christmas Album, which moved 468,000 -- much better than anything now, but a fraction of what H.O.T sold.

Now, one reason Korean individual album sales are higher than Western albums is because that mirrors the overall trend. In 2000, 63% of sales were Korean music, while just 26% were foreign (Japanese music was illegal in Korea at the time), and 11% was classical.

But another reason that international music seems to sell less well is that Western music uses catalog sales a lot more. The Korean music industry is much more about selling now stuff now and moving on. In the West, think about how many of your albums are "classic" rock or Joy Division or whatever, stuff long since done but that still speaks to you today. In university, it seems like half the freshman class buys Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl each year. But who goes to university in Korea and suddenly thinks, "I really need the second S.E.S album"? And it seems like most Korean young people do not give a damn about their country's great classic rock tradition (Shin Joong-hyun, He6, etc.).

This lack of catalog sales is no accident. Because the Korean music industry (like in much of Asia) is so dependent on payola for promoting and marketing acts, it greatly limits the time available for music that is not part of the scene. Western labels generally won't get involved in payoffs, and catalog sales are too spread out to be worthwhile making pay offs (you need new, big-selling, splashy titles for that system to work best). So once again you can see how poor and corrupt business practices lead to a narrowing of the market, both in terms of what is available and what is known and appreciated by consumers. Business and art, intertwining (as always).

R-O-C-K in the D-P-R-K

Are you ready to rock? I said, are you ready to rock!? Then get your butt over to Pyongyang. Yes, North Korea is presenting ROCK FOR PEACE, a rock music festival running May 1-4, 2007. According to the site, the festival will be "the 2007 version of Woodstock rock festival in 1969". Just like Woodstock, "but in different location and in different goals." So far, 41 bands from 19 countries have already applied.

All are welcome to come ("including heavy metal"), with a couple of small caveats:
The lyrics should not contain admirations on war, sex, violence, murder, drug, rape, non-governmental society, imperialism, colonialism, racism, anti-DPRK, and anti-socialism.

As long as we are on the subject of North Korean music, you can check out a North Korean music chart here. Latoya Jackson? Old Lesbians of Choson? Scissor Sisters? I am assuming this whole site is some kind of a joke... but who knows? I have been wrong about bigger things. Other quality posts include: American film festival, pederast Mark Foley, and more Latoya Jackson. I rather like the Pyongyang T-Shirt controversy, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Even If You Can Say Something Nice, Sometimes It's Better Not to Say Anything

Those kings of the backhanded compliments, North Korea, have come out with some good press of Bong Joon-ho's monster movie, THE HOST. Apparently they were quite pleased by the film's critical stance toward the American military presence in South Korea.

Now, I would never claim to be Bong Joon-ho's best friend, but from my conversations with the man, plus what I have heard from those who know and work with him, the idea that he is a raging anti-American is pretty off the mark.

Why knows -- maybe the North Koreans are just buttering up director Bong so he will remake BULGASARI.

Bong's THE HOST will make its debut in France on Nov. 22. Maybe even on a good number of screens. Not sure about the United States; I have heard December and February.

Korean Music Charts - October

Chuseok may be a big season for the movies, but apparently it is not a holiday that inspires people to buy music, as October sales were in general down. Eight of the top-10 were new releases.

The biggest album of the month was, no surprise, the new Rain release. Hitting the stores just halfway though October, "I'm Coming" sold over 71,000 copies. Not bad, but not a number that will make anyone forget the glory days of the late 1990s.

Even Dong Bang Shin Gi did a lot better with their latest release, selling about 120,000 copies in September, despite being released on Sept. 28. Teeniebopper fans might be enthusiastic, however, it looks like most DBSG fans bought their albums right away, because the album sold half as many copies in all of October as it did in three days in September.

Not on the top-10 but notable - Uhm Jung-hwa's latest album made its debut in No. 16 with 7,456 album sales. But since it was released only on Oct. 25, it still has time to build. And SG Wannabe is the biggest-selling album still on the charts, albeit way down at No. 20. Its April 7 release, SG Wannabe Vol. 3, has now sold 294,975.

This MonthArtistAlbum NameRelease DateThis Month's SalesTotal Sales
1.RainVol. 4 - I'm Coming10.1371,21471,214
2.Dong Bang Shin GiVol. 3 - Oh! Jeong. Ban. Hab9.2869,231189,736
3.Sung Shi-gyungVol. 510.1051,60951,609
4.Shin Seung-hunVol. 1010.1045,68245,682
5.Jang Woo-hyukJang Woo-hyuk 2nd Album10.2425,72925,729
6.Big MamaVol 310.1325,02025,020
7.Kim Tae-wooKim Tae-woo Special10.2621,63621,636
8.JaurimAshes to Ashes10.2021,49721,497
9.Sin Ho-yeongVol. 1 - Yes9.1420,65065,500
10.Se7enVol. 410.3116,33416,334

(source: MIAK)

Plus, I believe MIAK has started reported digital downloads, at least when they can. Shin Seung-hun, for example, sold 40,000 digital downloads in October. Only a couple other artists were listed, though.

Foreign Sales:
This MonthArtistAlbum NameRelease DateThis Month's SalesTotal Sales
1.Richard Yongjae O'NeilLachrymae9.079,86213,220
2.Robbie WilliamsRudebox8.065,8286,102
3.BoAKey of Heart10.254,7214,721
4.EvanescenceThe Open Door10.014,1794,179
5.P. DiddyPress Play10.172,5552,555
6.QueenThe Platinum Collection2003.2.252,32856,683
7.ShinwhaJapan Single9.062,26417,316
8.Jo SumiWith Love: Best of Jo Sumi8.252,20013,714
9.Justin TimberlakeFuturesex/Love Sounds9.122,1797,557
10.Pussycat DollsPussycat Dolls9.272,0927,947

(source: MIAK)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The 80 Percent Solution

Well, it looks like we have the CJ CGV monthly box office report for October. The big news -- once again, Korean films topped 80% of the box office. That makes three months in a row that Korean movies have done so well, by far the strongest quarter they have ever had. Four out of 10 months for the year, too.

(Actually, I am not exactly sure about August. I do not have CGV's August report, and according to the Korea Film Council, local movies took in 77.2% of theatrical revenues in August. But CGV routinely reports slightly better numbers for Korean films. KOFIC uses a fancy computerized system so is more accurate, however it does not use every theater in the nation. In fact, the weekly and monthly reports only look at Seoul data, and Korean films tend to be even more popular outside of the nation's capital. Point being, even if Korean movies fell below the 80% level in August, they were at least extremely close).

The important part of such a strong and extended run, in my humble opinion, is how so many different films have carried the industry since August. In August, the big film was THE HOST. In September, you had MAUNDY THURSDAY and MARRYING THE MAFIA 3. In October it was TAZZA. All very different kinds of films, appealing to different audiences. Hopefully this will inspire the nation's producers, investors and other bigwigs to take more chances in the future and continue to press for diversity...

I will not be holding my breath.

Other good news in the report -- with 14.11 million tickets sold, this October was the strongest in the modern era. You can think the Chuseok holidays for the boost.

As of Oct. 31, Korean movies have accounted for 61.9% of the box office, and considering local films usually end the year strongly, there is a strong chance they will end the year over 60% for the first time.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 10-12

A VERY quiet weekend for the movies this past weekend. Box office we way down and spread out, with nothing really capturing people's attention. Moon Geun-young once again was able to open her film in the top spot, with her melodrama LOVE ME NOT (Sarang Ttauin Piryo Eopseo). But with just 327,000 admissions, that was not a huge accomplishment.

(Funny to think that we now live in an age where 327,000 admissions in three days is mediocre. I remember when Moon's film TALE OF TWO SISTERS broke records with an opening weekend of something over 700,000 admissions. At the time, it was pretty outstanding. Then the 1-million barrier fell. Then 1.6 million (a bunch of films). Then THE HOST scored 2.6 million in its opening weekend in July.)

DEVIL WEARS PRADA and THE PRESTIGE are continuing to do fairly well, with modest dropoffs from last week, and DEATH NOTE still doing okay, too (all were down about 33%).

This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.Love Me Not11.0934182,000327,000
2.The Devil Wears Prada10.2619368,5001,255,300
3.The Prestige11.0213060,400434,500
4.Cruel Winter Blues11.0929656,900260,900
5.Death Note11.0220048,000555,000
6.Silent Hill11.0916533,900115,700
7.Tazza: The High Rollers9.2717632,0006,684,000
8.Hearty Paws10.2621025,000901,000
9.Educating Kidnappers11.0224114,000394,000
10.The Guardian11.0210111,700150,700

(Source: Film2.0)
Next week looks like it will be similarly slow, but the week after that, things should start improving, with some big holiday releases beginning to roll out, starting with Martin Scorsese's THE DEPARTED (which, of course, I am quite nerded up about seeing).

Hyolee Moly!

Korea's most sex pop star, Lee Hyolee, is reportedly on the verge of signing the biggest contract ever for a Korean female singer, over $1.5 million for three years. No word on what exactly that sum would cover, since Ms Lee has never been much about album sales.

(And, yes, I know this news is a few days old. But since nothing has been signed yet and all is speculation, what the hey).

Hyolee is a curious figure (so to speak) in the new Korean music industry. Her albums do not sell particularly well. Her first album sold a tad over 144,000 copies back in 2003, and her second album, DARK ANGEL is not even listed on MIAK (not unusual, though, as often management companies decide for whatever reason not to cooperate with MIAK). In fact, at this point, Hyolee is all about mobile phone downloads and commercial endorsements -- like much of the local music business, only more so. She is one of the first post-sales pop stars, thriving in an age where musical success has little to do with moving CDs or filling stadiums.

Her new management company, Mnet Media is an interesting new affiliate of CJ Entertainment, a merger of some websites and GM Management (but strangely, not the TV station M-Net). CJE is certainly not shy about spending money, and this deal is incredibly rich, even by local, star-obsessed standards.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 3-5

Foreign titles took the top three spots this week (it has been months since that has happened), with THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA at No. 1 for the second week in a row. Never underestimate the power of the SEX AND THE CITY crowd. PRADA has now made about $6.2 million in Korea, and looks like it should top $10 million.

THE PRESTIGE came in at No. 2, based on its Seoul attendance, although nationally it was beaten by the Japanese manga-adaptation DEATH NOTE. Always interesting to me to see what films draw well in Seoul versus what films perform stronger in the small towns and countryside. The regional difference between the two films becomes even stronger when you notice that THE PRESTIGE was playing on 35% fewer screens, which means its per-screen average in Seoul must have been very strong (indeed, the theater where I saw THE PRESTIGE on Thursday night in Seoul was quite busy).

I quite liked THE PRESTIGE... it is so invigorating to see a mainstream movie that is at least trying to do something different. Good looking film, good acting, an engaging mystery but with a story and subject unlike the usual. Got kind of silly toward the end, though.

DEATH NOTE is a bit of a goofy project. Based on a hugely popular Japanese comic book, it is the story of a kid who finds a demonic notebook. If you write someone's name in that notebook, the person will die in 24 hours. You can even specify the cause. But a big part of the comic book's appeal is its extremely sharp, high-detail drawings, an effect you totally lose on the screen (of course).

(Oh, and DEATH NOTE just the first of two movies. DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME just came out last weekend in Japan to some impressive box office, taking in over $10 million in its first two days. I do not know when it will be released in Korea, though).

DEATH NOTE was also co-produced by Warner Japan. With domestic movie industries on the upswing around Asia, it is interesting to see the Hollywood majors taking an increased interest in local films. Warner, for instance, has invested in DEATH NOTE and some other Japanese movie, the huge Chinese hit THE BLACK STONE, and... uh, has more on the way (not officially announced yet, sorry).

Other notes... TAZZA is still chugging along. It could make it to 7 million tickets if it is lucky. TRACES OF LOVE saw its box office come crashing down in its second week of release. In general, it is a pretty quiet week at the box office, although it is nice to see the pie being divided up a little more widely, with the No. 10 movie pulling in over 10,000 bodies -- last week, we only had a top-7, and even then the No. 7 film did not crack 10,000.
This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.The Devil Wears Prada10.2622297,400940,300
2.The Prestige11.0213084,800246,100
3.Death Note11.0220067,000290,000
4.Tazza: The High Rollers9.2723653,0006,509,000
5.Educating Kidnappers11.0231045,000243,000
6.Hearty Paws10.2625842,700722,400
7.Righteous Ties10.1925737,0001,547,000
8.Traces of Love10.2624336,400611,100
9.The Guardian11.0210327,80087,300
10.Radio Star9.276713,8001,817,700

(Source: Film2.0)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Random Notes and Whatnot

The godfather of Korean rock music, Shin Joong-hyun got a write-up in the New York Times this weekend, by Norimitsu Onishi. It is a nice enough piece, although slightly slight and not breaking any new ground. I would link to a story I wrote about Mr. Shin for the Asian Wall Street Journal in the summer, but like most WSJ stuff, you need a paid subscription to read it (as you will for the NYT story in a week). You can, however, read about my WSJ story in this Korean government website story.

How did I miss this bit of news? It looks like miniskirts and hot pants will no longer be illegal in South Korea. Hard to believe it, but technically both are still no-nos... weird morality-law holdovers from the 1970s, although this law has not been enforced in ages. Korea still has far too many unenforced laws like that one. Like that old saying "Everything is permitted, but nothing is legal." Now, if only the government would scrap the cabaret laws which destroy Korea's live music scene.

Asian movie companies are making a bigger presence at this year's American Film Mart (the biggest film market in North America), although the overall market seems to be rather slow this year.

Nothing to do with Korea or Asian culture, but here is a link where you can look at 100 Hubble telescope pictures of the galaxies. Very cool.