August 03, 2013 08:18
Romance has apparently all-but disappeared from Korean films these days. It is something of a time-honored rule of thumb to include some love interest among the main characters of a Korean movie, regardless of genre. As recently as last year, box-office hits such as "The Thieves" and "Masquerade" all featured romantic tugs-of-war, or characters with a burning passion for someone. Even if the romance was not at the heart of the movie, it was always there to add spice to the plot.
However, this trend now seems to be on the wane. With the exception of the romantic comedy "Very Ordinary Couple" and disaster movie "The Tower," most of the films in the top 10 at the box office so far this year do not deal with common forms of love and romance.
For example, the thriller "Cold Eyes" featuring actor Jung Woo-sung and actress Han Hyo-joo eschews romance in favor of camaraderie between the main characters. The movie is still sweeping box office and recently attracted 5 million moviegoers.
"Miracle in Cell No. 7" focuses on parental affection using a correctional facility as a backdrop, while other recent hits like "New World" and "Fist of Legend" have no room for female characters as they center on the world of men.
Critics and filmgoers alike seem to be welcoming the turning tide. "Films reflect reality, which these days include more people living a hardscrabble life and barely managing to keep themselves together," said Kim Won, a film critic. "Cinematic characters that have no time for romance, as they have to fight for their lives, seem to be more appealing and sympathetic to moviegoers."
Instead of typical romantic interests, so-called bromances or male ensembles are more visible in recent Korean films like "New World" and "Secretly Greatly."
"These days, the kind of brotherhood or camaraderie you can witness in desperate situations, such as on the battlefield, is more popular amongst viewers than the stereotypical romance between a man and a woman," Kim said.
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