English Subtitles Make "JSA" Accessible to a Wider Audience

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English Subtitles Make "JSA" Accessible to a Wider Audience

The movie "JSA" (Joint Security Area), a tale of friendship, ideology and murder along the Demilitarized Zone, has attracted 5.3 million viewers nationwide since its release on Sept. 9. The film is now being screened with English subtitles at one cinema - making it accessible to English speakers in Korea.

The subtitled version of "JSA" started its run at the Cine Core theater in downtown Seoul on Saturday, and will continue through the end of December. "Over the last two days, more than 100 foreigners in Korea have watched the movie after seeing it advertised in newspapers and on Web sites," said Park Kyung-ae, manager of the cinema's planning department.

"JSA" attracted attention in the foreign press prior to its release, partly because its subject - inter-Korean relationships - was once taboo in Korean cinemas.

The timing of the movie's release also assured it international attention, coming as it did amid warming inter-Korean relations and following a summit meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas in Pyongyang on June 31.

The film's producers did not initially plan to add English subtitles, but foreign interest in the movie prompted them to make the addition.

"After the film previewed in September, we received a lot of calls from foreigners, including Swiss, Swedes and Germans, requesting English subtitles," said Park Jae-hyun, a public information officer of Myung Film, the production company. "They wanted to understand exactly what was going on in the movie." It took nearly a month of intensive work to prepare the English subtitles, but the effort has been rewarded by an enthusiastic response from foreigners in Korea.

"I saw the movie twice and enjoyed the way the plot developed the friendship between the North and South Korean soldiers," said Kendra Pugh, a Korean-American studying at Yonsei University. "The North Koreans were depicted as regular people, not as the enemy, and it showed very clearly that even though we can be raised in different environments, given a little time and trust, any person on this planet can become a friend."

Directed by Park Chan-wook, "JSA" is in fact one of several Korean movies dealing with inter-Korean relations. What sets it apart from the others, however, is the way the film shows how human emotion can override ideology. "JSA" has won acclaim from both the public and critics for realistic scenes that depict the tragedy of a divided nation - particularly flashback sequences filmed in black-and-white.

The film also boasts a talented cast of accomplished actors, including Song Kwang-ho, Lee Byung-heon and Lee Young-ae. Cine Core (02-2285-2096) can be reached from exit 15 of Chongno 3-ga subway station. Daily screenings are at 11:50, 14:00, 16:10, 18:20 and 20:30.


by Kim Jae-seon

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