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[movie 2007] Brilliant Vacation / May 18 (화려한 휴가)


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July 31, 2007

'May 18' breaks Korean film b.o. slump

By Mark Russell

SEOUL -- Breaking Hollywood's 12-week dominance of South Korea's boxoffice, "May 18," a dramatic retelling of the 1980 Gwangju Massacre, earned about $9.8 million over its five-day opening. It marks the first Korean film to take the top weekend spot since "Paradise Murdered" opened at No. 1 here in April.

CJ Entertainment's epic about the killing of protestors by South Korean paratroopers scored the strongest boxoffice opening of the year, with 1.44 million admissions through Sunday. That topped the 1.41 million admissions earned by "Voice of a Murderer" in its five-day opening in February.

After three brutal months of Hollywood domination, Korean films' share of the boxoffice has slumped to 41%, its lowest level since 2001.

This has been a mixed blessing for CJ, which also is the distributor of Hollywood blockbuster "Transformers." The Michael Bay hit topped the 7 million admission mark over the weekend and has grossed about $48.2 million to date, toppling "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and its roughly 6 million admissions to become the most popular foreign film ever in Korea.

"Basically, we're happy with the numbers," a CJ spokesman said of their homegrown hit. "More important is the reaction of the people who've seen it. We have really good word-of-mouth and think 'May 18' will get 5 million admissions at least. But it could do a lot more."

Most summers in Korea see Hollywood come out strong in May and June, only for Korean movies to reassert their strength as the summer goes on. But this year, Hollywood movies have been stronger than usual and domestic films weaker.

Now, more strong Korean films could be on the way, with Showbox's $33 million "D-War" opening Tuesday and Studio 2.0's horror film "Epitaph" opening Wednesday.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


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July 31, 2007

Viewers young and old touched by 'May 18'

Story of the 1980 pro-democracy uprising brings feelings of guilt, pain for those who remember


The big-budget domestic film "May 18," which chronicles the historical events of the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in South Korea's southern city of Gwangju, took the top box office spot in five days after its release, besting several Hollywood blockbusters.

According to the film's distributor, CJ Entertainment, on July 30, ticket sales for "May 18" totaled about 1.43 million between its July 25 premier through July 29, making the movie the best opening-week performer among South Korean films so far this year. Before "May 18," CJ Entertainment's own "Voice of a Murderer" had previously held that spot, with a five-day opening sales tally of 1.4 million tickets.

"May 18" knocked the Hollywood film "Live Free or Die Hard" out of first place.

CJ Entertainment said the age of first-week audience members of "May 18" varied from those in their teens to viewers in their 50s. In addition, many viewers have posted reviews on the Web site of "May 18," quite a few saying they wept because of the events portrayed.

The film "May 18" is set againt the historical backdrop of the Gwangju Democratization Movement, which occurred between May 18 and May 27, 1980, events simply called "5.18" or "May 18" in Korea. At the time, the military, led by General Chun Doo-hwan, brutally cracked down on Gwangju citizens rising up against military rule. The government has maintained that civilian casualties numbered about 200, but some historians and groups made up of the families of victims say that over 2,000 were killed that spring. After the uprising was crushed, Chun became president in August the same year.

For the period of Chun Doo-hwan's reign, the incident was portrayed by the media - then strictly government-controlled - as a rebellion inspired by Communist sympathisers. After civil rule was reinstated in 1987, the incident was recognized as an effort to bring democracy to a South Korea ruled by a dictatorial military regime. The government has since issued a formal apology for the incident, and the May 18 National Cemetery was established in Gwangju to honor and preserve the memory of the victims.

Viewers of "May 18" have reacted with tears, but the cause of their sadness seems to differ depending on their age and historical perspective in terms of the events of 1980 in South Korea.

Some of those who remember the massacre in Gwangju in 1980 expressed a guilty conscience about their uncomfortable memories of the event. A 40-year-old Internet user named Kwak Hye-jeong asked, "What did I do at the time when our brothers and sisters were suffering? I have no choice but to weep because of a guilty conscience." Another Internet user identified as "Alpican" wrote a review titled, "I was a coward." The user said, "At that time, I was in Gwangju, but I didn't take to the streets and hid under the bedcovers at home. I cried with a deep remorse when I saw the film." An Internet user in his 50s said, The film reminds me that I vented my pent-up anger after the fact, when I saw photos of the events taken by foreign journalists.

Some viewers pointed out that "May 18" placed the focus on one family's love in the midst of the violent events, in contrast to the hit 2004 movie "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War," which focused more on sweeping historical consequences, in that case related to the Korean War. An Internet user identified as "Ji-in" said, "I had hoped the director would let viewers know why Gwangju citizens had to fight against the military government at that time through explanatory subtitles." Another Internet user identified as "On-the-spot soldier" said, "Solders were also victims, because they were dispatched there by orders."

Younger viewers of "May 18" seemed to experience 'historical education.' Teenage viewers mainly responded with questions such as "Did this thing really happen?" or "Could I fight like they did if my family members were hurt?" A 15-year-old Internet user wrote, "Though I live in Gwangju, I hadn't appropriately understood the Gwangju uprising. However, the movie let me understand the uprising with my heart." The movie was shown to some 180 teenagers at an international youth film festival on July 23 in Seoul, and most of the teenagers reacted with tears. In addition to that showing, an organization for victims of the Gwangju uprising recently held an event to show the film to some 1,000 teenagers.

Source: The Hankyoreh


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Guest angel2nyt

i cant wait to watch this..

even just to d/l this movie..

ive been wanting to see this since 2 months ago when i heard about this movie

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i watched it today, and it was...amazingly good.

i didnt even know the history of it but it made me cry hard because it was so unfortunate and horrible that those innocent people had to go through that terror.

some of the parts confused me (cus the military people started using some big words in the movie)

so i looked up some historical info on 518 and summarized it.

Power hungry ROK Army Lieutenant General Chun Doo-hwan seized control of the Korean military in 1979.

With this new found power, Chun sought to rid of all of those who are against him, including opponents and even the citizens of Korea.

On May 18, 1980, Chun, who wanted to suppress student demonstrations all around the country, ordered the military to go to the city of Kwang-Joo, where students were protesting against the closing of the university due to Chun's rule.

The college students were met with violence from the 20,000 army troops, who beat and even killed some students, along with innocent victims who were randomly caught in the fight.

After that incident, the students moved into the downtown area, where they were joined by citizens of the Kwang Joo.

The army announced that they will soon leave and celebration erupted in the crowds...only to be later met by the troops shooting at the innocent and defenseless people.

Ignited by violent suppression with bayonets, however, people in Gwangju rose up, arming themselves with stolen guns and military jeeps in self-defense, and drove off the army units dispatched to quell the protest.

Records say that at least 207 people were killed and 987 injuries occurred in this massacre,

Witnesses of the incident say that it was not only 207 people, but close to 1000-2000 people who lost their lives in this unfair battle.

Unfortunately, even after this massacre, Chun became president of Korea and performed other illegal acts, of which he was tried and punished for.

He was originally sentenced death for his actions, but was later pardoned by another president due to the lack of evidence for his actions.

Chun still lives today, with an estimate of about $4 billion dollars, hidden under his belt. The money was gained during his reign of terror.

for more info:



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..i read abt this part of korea history before ..but never seem a movie purely on May 18 before . ..that why i been wanting to watch this movie sincei t was annouced ...

i came across this site where there were translation of the comments by the people who had watch the movie



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..i read abt this part of korea history before ..but never seem a movie purely on May 18 before . ..that why i been wanting to watch this movie sincei t was annouced ...

i came across this site where there were translation of the comments by the people who had watch the movie

yeah i watched it for the comments too.

I wondered what the big deal was about...

after watching the movie, it is a HUGE deal.

on the main website, it remembers just a few of the many lives lost in kwangju and reading about what their dreams and hopes were before they died broke my heart.

I strongly encourage EVERYONE, not just the Koreans, to watch this.

i cant believe chundoohwan is still alive....and living as if nothing happened...

Can't someone strap him down and make him watch the movie?

i doubt he even feels guilty

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July 30 2007

May 18 off to a Promising Start


May 18 opened strong, taking in US$ 10.1 million in its first weekend. The CJ Entertainment title took the top spot at the box office with over 2 million viewers in its first week. May 18 also broke another deadlock by becoming the first Korean film to lead the pre-sales in thirteen weeks. In its first few days – ahead of the opening weekend – the film attracted already 126,000 viewers. All these factors together cause hopefuls to speculate about whether May 18 may achieve the most successful opening week for a Korean film. Over the weekend the number of screens was raised from 490 to 520.

Reports show that the film about the Gwangju massacre moves the audiences emotionally, a change of pace from the special effects laden films and horror titles crowding the cinemas during summer. Another aspect going for May 18 is its subject matter; films dealing with modern Korean history have often proved to find an audience in Korea, including Silmido and Tae-guk-gi.

The film also boosts a strong cast with AHN Sung-ki (Silmido), KIM Sang-kyung (Memories of Murder), LEE Yo-won (Take Care of My Cat) and LEE Jun-ki (King and the Clown) who engage the audience on a personal level in a film depicting highly political and societal issues.

Director KIM Ji-hoon chose to focus on the emotions of the people involved rather than to visually impress with camera trickery; this also contributes to setting the film apart from the other films which rely heavily on spectacular scenes. KIM previously directed the acclaimed Mokpo, Gangster’s Paradise.

Yi Ch’ang-ho (KOFIC)

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I saw this movie on a special preview date of 11 July in Seoul and I cried at the horrific violence and innocent lives lost over a period of few days starting from 18 May 1980. The cast- lead and supporting- did a magnificent job in portraying their roles. I watched mainly because of Lee Jun Ki, but found myself crying along with most of the audience. I do not know if it will be rated PG if ever screened outside of Korea later.

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Guest sweetkiss

wah i watched this movie today and it was really good... i watched it mostly cuz of lee junki but it was reallly goood...i think it couldve done better if d-war wasnt released the same wk...newaiiz its very emotional i cried a lot and i heard a lottt of sniffling...it reminded me of wen i watched tae guk ki lol

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Guest Angel4you

i want to watch this movie!

my mom was in Gwangju on May 18... she was studying in Gwangju...

my mom's friend's mother saved my mom's life.

my mom was going somewhere and happened to bump into her friend's mother from her hometown.

her friend's mother dragged my mom to the bus station and shoved my mom into

a bus and told her to go back to her hometown because it was too dangerous for her to be there.

the bus my mom left in... was the last bus to leave Gwangju...

i have to really thank my mom's friend's mother. if it weren't for her, i might not be here today. O_O.

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^ Thanks for sharing your mom's experience with us, Angel4you.

August 7, 2007

Two women from Gwangju massacre make movie a hit


Actress Lee Yo-won plays Shin-ae, the lead female character in “May 18.”

Provided by CJ Entertainment

“May 18” is turning into the biggest movie surprise of the summer. Shin-ae, the film’s main female character, is a nurse who becomes a street orator and persuades people to join the protests, even as others are being killed by soldiers acting under martial law and the orders of the Chun Doo Hwan dictatorship.

The film’s director, Kim Ji-hoon, based his female lead on Jeon Ok-ju and Ahn Sung-ryea, both of whom were involved in the democratization movement.

CJ Entertainment, the controversial film’s distributor, said that 3.4 million tickets for May 18 had been sold as of Sunday, making it the biggest box office hit among Korean films so far this year.

Based on the suppression of the 1980 Gwangju democratization movement, when hundreds of citizens were killed, the film has been filling theaters since it opened on July 25.

Jeon and Ahn spoke exclusively to the JoongAng Daily.

Jeon, a dance-teacher-turned-orator, now lives in the Seoul suburbs. She has chosen to live far from Gwangju, where she “lost too many things,” but her memories of the killing have not gone away and she still has nightmares about May 1980.

She watched May 18 with her teeth clenched.

“What’s in the film represents only 10 percent of the brutality that took place,” she said.


Jeon Ok-ju, a dance teacher who became a Gwangju street orator

in May 1980. By Chun Su-jin

Ahn, meanwhile, became a democracy fighter and a Gwangju city fixture after treating fellow citizens who had been shot, beaten or slashed by soldiers who attacked the protesters with fixed bayonets.

Ahn agrees that the film diluted the massacre’s cruelty, but both said they are grateful it has been made. “This was a chapter of history that should never be repeated and the film was a reminder of that,” said Ahn.

Kim rejects claims that his film, which opened just four months before the presidential election, has political intentions.

“I wanted to tell the human interest stories about the movement. I hope my film plays a role in keeping these memories alive,” Kim said.

A related story

[·Pages from history, written in Korean blood]

[·The voice that galvanized an outraged city]

[·Haunted by the death of a high school girl]

By Chun Su jin [sujiney@joongang.co.kr]


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Film Review

Korean Film Revives Tragic, Fading Memory

Film "May 18" Retells of Kwangju Massacre of 1980

By Don Kirk

CSM Correspondent


A scene from film "May 18"

The memories flash back in a rush of images: kids flinging rocks at policemen in a typical antigovernment display that I witnessed one sunny May day in 1980 in Kwangju, the restive center of the Cholla region in southwestern Korea. When I returned two weeks later, the city was cut off by soldiers, and students were careening through the streets as helicopters dropped leaflets imploring "Sons and Daughters, return home."

For the next 10 days, after Gen. Chun Doo Hwan declared martial law on May 18, rebels held sway over a historically hostile regional center in revolt against national leaders.

That atmosphere is revived in a new film, "May 18(화려한 휴가 in Korean)," about a rustic enclave soon to assume a tragic place in history. Above the title, the words, "The Day a Nation's Conscience Died," recall the assault by special forces ordered to retake Kwangju in retribution not just for the rebels' insolence but for that of mentors seen as "leftist" or "communist" foes almost as bad as the leaders of North Korea.

The revolt was the bloodiest event in the sequence that culminated in the rise of democracy – and also of an anti-Americanism fostered by the claim that the US had gone along with Chun's pulling troops under Roh's command from the line with North Korea to send them south.


Bodies of Demonstrators in Gwangju—

Bodies of Gwangju citizens brutally killed by airborne soldiers

sent by military coup leaders during the popular Gwangju upring in May 1980.

The Seoul Times file photo

Chun's worst enemy was Kim Dae Jung, hero of Cholla who was already under house arrest in Seoul and, after the revolt, sentenced to death. Only a deal with the Americans rescued Mr. Kim, who went into exile in the US for two years before returning and winning the presidency in 1997. Chun, who had seized power after the assassination of long-ruling Park Chung Hee, and his ally, Gen. Roh Tae Woo, meanwhile, were convicted for the massacre and massive corruption – though not until Mr. Roh had served a full term as the first president elected under Korea's "democracy constitution" proclaimed after massive riots in June 1987.

But today, the story is in danger of fading from consciousness as people focus on the North's nuclear weapons and an election that may return a conservative to power for the first time in a decade.

"It's practically forgotten except among the Cholla people," says Shim Jae Hoon, who visited the city during the revolt. "It's a generation since that happened. It's not the only revolution in Korea."

Still, the movie, produced by CJ Entertainment, Korea's largest film company, perpetuates the mystique of a tragedy that's been dramatized on TV, in documentaries, and in one movie that focuses on the suffering of a victim.


Coup leader Gen. Chun Doo Hwan—

Coup leader Gen. Chun Doo Hwan (right) in the military.

Chun was jailed later and then pardoned for his role in the massacre.

The Seoul Times file photo

Members of the audience were weeping after one of the screenings that I attended, and the stars were treated like heroes for dying heroically on film.

The innocence of ordinary civilians willing to fight for their beliefs exemplifies the idealism that leftists today say is needed to keep democracy alive – and to expel American troops.

"The general mood of the film was right," says Chi Jung Nam, who is from south of Kwangju and knew people there at the time of the assault. "People will look at Kwangju in a new light. The younger generation will want to learn."

Still, Mr. Chi, a journalist, worries about the action-packed telling of the story.

In the film, the rebels, led by a fictitious former colonel, revel in defiance and mayhem. Troops fire point-blank into a boisterous crowd – minutes of carnage that didn't happen that way. "Too much dramatization," says Chi. The director, Kim Ji Hoon, he says, "may have overdone it."

Mr. Kim says the film shows the rebels "not as terrorists but as people who wanted to defend their country." Yes, they "were fiction," he says, "but I tried to venerate them so the 10 days of revolt were as close to the facts as possible."


Airborne Troops Facing Gwangju Citizens—

Coup leaders headed by Maj. Gen. Chun Doo Hwan sent airborne troops

to crush pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju in May 1980.

The Seoul Times file photo

The truth was terrible enough to deserve an accurate retelling, says Chi, sounding like critics of Oliver Stone's "Platoon," about Vietnam.

"The people of Kwangju will be embarrassed by so much divergence," he says. Other Koreans "will think it's what happened, and the younger generation may have a wrong understanding of history."

There is no doubt, though, of the brutality of the troops in an uprising that ended in scenes of clubbing, bayoneting, and shooting that reminds one of the slaughter on Tiananmen Square in Beijing after students took over the heart of the Chinese capital in 1989.

As I visited Kwangju while rebels held the city, a student in the governor's building asked to see my passport and logged in details before giving me a "press card" that I carried in my wallet for years. Another student, in fluent English, hurled imprecations against the regime's evils.

I had returned to Seoul, writing stories about the rebels' defiance, when the troops finished them off. When I went back to Kwangju just a few days later, pine coffins were strewn around the building. Older people, wearing dark suits and dresses, walked quietly among them, lifting up lids, looking for loved ones. I never again saw the people I had interviewed.


A dead body wrapped in plastic sheet during 1980 Gwangju Massacre.

The Seoul Times file photo

Surprisingly, the film avoids incantations against the Americans – indicative perhaps of decreasing anti-Americanism.

"I'm sure the US has a lot of influence," says director Kim, "but I felt if I emphasized the US role, it would interrupt the flow of the film."

The film also avoids politics. There is no mention of Kim Dae Jung and little of Chun except as a distant figure from whom came word to snuff out revolt. News photos of the time record some of the clubbing and bodies of the victims.

Now the memory of victims lives on in rows of more than 200 gravesites by a monument on the edge of town. When I last visited, I was startled to find in the museum by the cemetery a blown-up photograph of myself in a clinic standing by a wounded rebel. I hadn't known about the picture until it showed up in a book.

This article is from The Christian Science Monitor

Source: The Seoul Times


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  • 2 weeks later...

Friday, 24 August 2007

Korean films vie for Oscar glory

Written by Darcy Paquet

SEOUL -- Three films from South Korea have applied to be the country's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 2008 Academy Awards.

The producers of Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine", Kim Ki-duk's "Breath" and local hit "May 18" all submitted applications to the Korean Film Council by the August 23 deadline.

One title among the three will be selected next month by a specially appointed committee. Last year's selection was period drama "King and the Clown". "Secret Sunshine" and "Breath" both screened in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, with the former picking up a Best Actress award for Jeon Do-yeon. "May 18", currently at #2 in the box office with 6.2 million admissions, is based on a real incident in 1980 in which government troops shot and killed hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators.

Each country devises its own rules for selecting one film to be submitted to the Academy for the Best Foreign Language Film category.

South Korea has never had a film selected to be one of the final five nominations voted on by the entire academy.

Source: Variety Asia


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Guest Vivian87

this is such a touched movie :tears: I wanna watch it soon, thanks 4 info and piccies :blush: and Junki look so young in this film XD, kawai :blush:

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Guest mishybear

oh my gosh.

i saw this in theatres with my cousins while i was in korea for the summer.


we all cried.. and we used up like a whole tissue package. lol maybe we're just the crybabies.... but im sure other people in the theatre cried as well..... lol

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