Lackluster Movies Lead to Dearth of Award Picks

By Shin Jeong-sun, Baik Su-jin | November 30, 2023 11:39
A lack of standout Korean films this year has led to a shortage of year-end award picks.Many jurors of Korea's two major cinema awards -- the Daejong Film Awards and Blue Dragon Film Awards -- were disappointed by the shortage of popular entries. "Out of five entries, at least three should be of similar level to trigger fierce debating among the jury, but there weren't many close competitors this year," one juror complained.Another said, "Perhaps it was because of lackluster ticket sales in lockdown, but there were more low-budget films than in previous years. If this trend continues, I'm worried we'll see an even more pronounced decline."Industry watchers point out that many of the films that hit theaters this year were filmed before the coronavirus pandemic but had been gathering dust in the warehouse while audiences were locked down, which makes them feel already outdated.They worry the situation could grow even worse because not many movies started shooting this year as the industry runs out of steam.
Kim Hye-soo (left) and Yoon Yeon-seok pose at the annual Blue Dragon Film Awards in Seoul on Nov. 24.
Kang Hye-jeong, head of Filmmaker R&K, which won best film at this year's Blue Dragon Awards for "Smugglers," said, "I've heard only a few productions started filming this year. At this rate, the slump could continue for two to three more years."According to the Korean Film Council, an average of 16.4 movies opened in theaters every month this year compared to 18.1 last year.But audiences have increased. A total of 107.9 million people went to movie theaters as of October, surpassing 100 million a month faster than last year.But they preferred foreign films. Korean movies accounted for 58 percent of films opening in theaters until October last year, but this year 58 percent have been foreign films.Movie industry analyst Kim Hyung-ho said, "The numbers show people are willing to pay to watch movies in theaters, so if good films are made, it won't be long before one draws more than 10 million viewers again."

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