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Jumping Korea

Korean movies mesmerizing Hollywood
Celebrities in the Korean film industry are now moving on to the world stage beyond Korea. Director Kim Ji-woon and Park Chan-wook are about to be introduced to a global audience and director Bong Joon-ho is also ready to launch a global joint project. Not only directors but also Korean movie stars including Bae Doona and Lee Byung-hun are now actively pursuing their career on the global stage. The fact that Korean movie stars and directors have started working in Hollywood, the Mecca of commercial movies, demonstrates that the stock of Korean movies has risen considerably.
Korea's three representative directors in Hollywood
Director Kim Ji-woon has created his own film-making style through a slew of movies in various genres- action, noir, and thriller. Smitten by his films which are very well made and entertaining, Hollywood has hired him to direct the movie <The Last Stand>. The movie begins as a fugitive riding a super car is fleeing to the Mexican border when lazy sheriffs in a quiet village stop him. In this movie, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a comeback to the movie business. Thus, many people are drawn to him in this film. Indeed, the movie has now gained favorable reviews in Hollywood thanks to the witty dialogue and fierce action scenes. Schwarzenegger praised the director by saying: “In spite of the language barrier, director Kim showed a very innovative style in terms of camera movement and story-telling.”
Director Park Chan-wook is now considered a film making maestro who took the  Cannes Film Festival by storm with his movies <Old Boy> and <Thirst>. <Stoker>, his debut film in Hollywood, is being eagerly awaited by many movie fans. Produced by Ridley Scott and starring famous actors including Nicole Kidman, this movie shows how much Hollywood trusts him. According to IMDB(Internet Movie Database), <Stoker> was listed as one of the top 20 most anticipated movies this year. This movie begins as a teenage girl who just attended her father’s funeral meets an uncle out of the blue and mysterious things start to occur one after the other.
Director Bong Joon-ho creates his movies with perfect detail, as his nickname ‘Bong-tail’ suggests. <Snowpiercer> is a 40 million dollar co-production involving collaboration between directors from Korea, America, Japan and France. The cast are also quite international: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Song Kang-ho. It’s about survivors of a new glacial age in 2031 aboard a train. Just like Noah's ark, the train continuously travels around a world where life has become nearly extinct. This new film is scheduled to be released in America and Europe simultaneously this summer.
History: Korean movie stars in Hollywood
The work of Korean movie stars in Hollywood has been considered as only partially successful in the past. Park Joong-hoon starred in <American Dragons>(1997) and was referred to as ‘The first Korean movie star taking a leading role in a Hollywood film.’ His second film in Hollywood, <The Truth About Charlie>(2002), did not do much at the box office and Park had no option but to consider himself a trailblazer for those who would come after him. Korea’s famous actor Jang Dong-gun’s <The Warrior's way>(2010), his debut film in Hollywood, not only received poor reviews but also failed at the box-office. Jun Ji-hyun also made a big effort to become an international movie star with her spectacular action movie <Blood : The Last Vampire>(2009) but was not successful. Rain(Jeong Ji-hoon) starred in <Speed Racer>(2008) but it was considered to only have appeal in the Asian market.

However, these continuous efforts now seem to be paying off. In spite of the language barrier and a bias against Asian people, Lee Byung-hun successfully starred in <G.I. Joe 1, 2>(2009, 2012) and <Red 2>(2013) and raised his profile in Hollywood. Director John Chew, the maker of <G.I. Joe 2>, said, “Lee dispelled the notion that Asian actors can do only action scenes in Hollywood.” As his English gets more proficient and his acting in emotional scenes looks much more natural nowadays, his future in Hollywood seems bright.
The masterpiece of Andy and Lana Wachowski, <Cloud Atlas>(2012), starred Bae Doona. She was chosen for her superb acting talents. She played one of the main roles after beating a galaxy of Hollywood stars. She mastered the British accent and successfully revealed the inner workings of the character she played. Tom Hanks, who also starred in the film, praised her highly. He said, “Bae Doona is the soul of this film.”

The power of Korean movies
Hollywood now expects that Korea’s movie directors will help tackle some chronic problems in Hollywood such as story lines that are too predictable and a lack of creativity with their great producing ability, shooting skills and fresh sensibilities. <A Tale of Two Sisters> by Kim Ji-woon and <Old Boy> by Park Chan-wook have been re-made in Hollywood, which proves their excellent story-telling skills.
What's more encouraging is that camera director Kim Ji-yong and music director Mog were chosen for <The Last Stand> and camera director Jeong Jeong-hoon, a long-term partner of Park Chan-wook, was chosen for <Stoker>. Working with their own staff in Hollywood to make debut films means that Hollywood greatly trusts not only these directors but also their staff.

Last year, the Korean movie audience reached 100 million in numbers. This boom is thanks to the success of films in various genres including history films, action blockbusters, thrillers, dramas, romantic comedies and social dramas. A pool of movie stars from different generations and with different acting styles has also been a big contributing factor. Large firms including “CJ Entertainment” now actively participate in global projects and joint productions with foreign counterparts, accelerating the success of Korean directors and movie stars. Formosan director Ang Lee superbly combined Asian sentiment and Hollywood style to great success and is now a world-prominent maestro. Now, it seems there is no reason why Korean directors cannot become as successful as him. We also dream of a day when a movie made by a Korean director and starring Korean movie stars tops the box-office list in the future.

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