[ENTERTAINMENT]He Makes the Music That Makes the Film

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[ENTERTAINMENT]He Makes the Music That Makes the Film

"A Fistful of Dollars" was a great film, but what would it have been without its hallmark whistling theme tune? And would "Cinema Paradiso" have seemed so heavenly without the accompanying romantic strings?

These classic cinema sound tracks, both written by Ennio Moricone, demonstrate the contribution good music can make to a film's success.

Fitting, distinctive musical accompaniment was one element vitally missing from Korean films until the mid-1990s. Until then, Korean films' so-called "original" sound tracks were almost an afterthought, and were generally popular foreign songs, chosen without any professional criteria for the hazy reason that "they would go well with the atmosphere of the film." In 1999, the Bee Gees' old hit "Holiday" had a second coming in Korea when it accompanied "Injeong Sajeong Bol Geot Eopda" ("Nowhere to Hide").

But then Cho Sung-woo appeared, and Korean moviegoers got a taste of truly original - and domestic-made - sound tracks. Since 1996, when Mr. Cho, now 38, made his debut as producer and exclusive songwriter of original sound tracks for domestic films, he has created 14 distinctive movie themes and has established the sound track as an important component of a film.

In his most recent work for the film "Seonmul" ("Last Present"), he collaborated with Secret Garden, a popular New Age group. The European band were so impressed by Mr. Cho that they decided to include one of his compositions in their best-of album, scheduled for U.S. release in the fall. This means Mr. Cho will achieve a first for Korean artists on the U.S. music scene: he will be the first Korean artist to have authored a song on an album released in the United States.

Mr. Cho gave no obvious sign in his early adulthood that he would end up in the music business. He majored in philosophy at Yonsei University, a field unrelated to music in which he still retains interest (he is soon to be awarded his doctorate in philosophy, and lectured at Yonsei University until last semester).

They may not be visible on his resume, but the seeds of his musical development were always there. He said: "I played guitar in a band with my friends when I was a college student. I couldn't give up my passion for music, despite my major in philosophy. I was especially interested in original sound tracks. They should be in harmony with the image on the screen."

He is currently working on sound tracks for two domestic films, "Say Yes," starring Park Jung-hun, and "Bom Naleun Ganda" ("Spring Days Pass By"), starring Lee Young-ae.

"Grabbing some popular songs from overseas may be convenient and quick," he said. "But that is undesirable for the development of domestic films and music. I hope film directors and musicians show more interest in creative original sound tracks."

by Choe Jae-hee

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