[FOUNTAIN]What of Grandma Kim?

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[FOUNTAIN]What of Grandma Kim?

On April 1, Namkung Jin, minister of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, attended a preview of the film "The Road Home." Before he spoke, the cast of the movie was scheduled to make a "meet and greet" appearance, but the 7-year-old boy in the movie, Yu Seung-ho, was the only one to appear. The other main character, Kim Eul-bun, 77, was too tired to show up. Grandmother Kim had been worn down by all the hoopla around her after the movie became a big hit at the box office.

I wasn't too worried at her absence, knowing that the young female director of the movie, Lee Jeong-hyang, took care of Grandma Kim as if she were her own real grandmother. Before starting work, she also made it clear to Grandma Kim and people there that she would shoot the film as it presented itself to her without adding anything to it. She emphasized that there would be no inconvenience to the people living in the area and that there would be no attempt to commercialize the area. One of the reasons why Grandmother Kim enjoyed filming for six months was that she had peace of mind knowing that everything would go back to normal once the movie was completed.

The movie succeeded in portraying everybody's grandmother, from the worn-out black pants to the white cotton jacket. Following a dirt road for a couple of miles, you then continue up a mountain path to reach the house of Grandmother Kim, a house that appeared to be in imminent danger of collapse. The director of this movie searched together with a writer who once had written a book on villages in the hinterland for a small village as a shooting location. She was lucky to find not only a suitable location, but a star for her film as well.

In the movie's last scene, the grandson leaves his grandmother and she walks back to her house all alone, slowly climbing the hill. After the screening, Mr. Namkung exclaimed that the movie grandmother could have been his own.

As predicted, more than 3 million people have watched the film in the last three months, but something else happened. In the movie, the grandmother goes back to her home; but in real life, Grandma Kim decided to leave her house; the movie company and the local government office are going to develop the place as a tourist attraction.

The director and producer have a hit, but Grandma Kim lost her house and the village that she had known for her entire life. Is the 30 million won ($21,000) that she received ample compensation for disrupting her life?



The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Oh Byung-sang

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