[ENTERTAINMENT] A Princess Poised for International Fame

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[ENTERTAINMENT] A Princess Poised for International Fame

Once upon a time, in a legendary kingdom called Bula, a princess named Bari was born. She was the seventh daughter of the king and the queen, who already had six daughters. Disappointed that she was not a boy, the royal couple abandon her.

Cursed for deserting Bari, the king and the queen fall ill with a fatal disease. Their only chance for survival is an elixir available only in the mysterious west land, where China and India are located. They ask their six daughters to seek the elixir for them but are refused. Then Bari shows up and volunteers to journey to the west out of filial duty.

This is the storyline of a Korean traditional exorcist dance, "Bari-degi," which has been adapted into the animation, "Princess Bari." Co-directed by Jang Sun-woo, director of the movie "Geojit-mal" ("Lies") and Park Jae-dong, a renowned cartoonist, this fantasy is currently under production. It is scheduled to be released in 2003, and there is talk of it later being produced as a computer game. With its spellbinding plot of retribution and the Korean traditional idea of seon, the counterpart of Japanese zen, this animation has already gained much attention, not only in Korea but also in the international arena.

To satisfy the high expectations, the producers and directors of this animation are taking their time with production, which is projected to last about a year and a half. The director, Park Jae-dong remarked, "We are to test every production possibility in creating an animation of high quality."

Indeed, the production crew of "Princess Bari," seem to be unencumbered by budgetary worries. Last September, the twenty crew members spent 370,000,000 won ($284,000) on location surveys that spanned 34 days in China and India along the Silk Road, the setting of west land described in the animation.

There is a good reason for this seemingly disregard for pecuniary measures. Recently, they succeeded in securing foreign capital, which covers 25 percent of their production costs. Mr. Park said, "The French company, RG Prince, decided to provide one million dollars, on condition of having exclusive distribution rights for "Princess Bari" in Europe."

RG Prince, which distributed the French animation, "Kiriku et La Sociere" ("Kiriku-wa Manyeo") in Korea last year, is taking an avid role in subsidizing Korean animation. Mr. Park added, "The originality of 'Princess Bari,' which comes from Korean traditional ideas such as seon, seems to appeal to Europeans, who have a taste for variety."

Not only Europeans but also Japanese have shown an interest in this Korean production. NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) is currently negotiating for the exclusive right to release "Princess Bari" in Japan.

For those who want to know more about this project, an elaborate Web site for "Princess Bari," www.bari.co.kr can give you more information in Korean and English.

by Chun Su-jin

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