[ENTERTAINMENT]Poor draw for subtitled films is puzzling

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Poor draw for subtitled films is puzzling

The Korean Film Commission learned one lesson from the World Cup -- goodwill cannot make an event successful if the advertising is bad.

For the World Cup, the movie organization screened several Korean films with English, Japanese and Chinese subtitles. "We get a lot of requests on our English Web site, asking for English subtitled Korean films," said Lee Keun-sang, director of International Business at the film commission. "So we just thought that the World Cup would be the right opportunity."

For most of June, three newly released Korean films were screened with English subtitles at Megabox Cineplex, Japanese at CGV Myeongdong and Chinese at MMC, three of the biggest theaters in Seoul. Tickets cost the usual 7,000 won (about $5).

Though detailed statistics are not available yet, the number of foreign viewers was less than expected by the theaters and the film commission. Most of the time, the majority of people there were Koreans just wanting to see the film and, according to one worker at CGV Myeongdong, the Korean audience found the subtitles a nuisance that detracted from the film.

But the theaters did not have many signs advertising the foreign language subtitles, or if they did put up signs, they often did so in Korean only.

Considering that the Korean Film Commission laid out 100 million won for the subtitles and press kits, it was not a good bargain for the organization. Mr. Lee at the Korean Film Commission, said, "We understand that we should have been more careful."

Another event, a free screening of older Korean hits with English subtitles only at Megabox Cineplex, however, drew more people. Shin Seong-cheol, a marketer at Megabox, told the Joong-Ang Ilbo English Edition that the theater averaged 50 viewers per film in the 196-seat theater. Especially good considering that the movies were screened in the middle of the week, during Korea's remarkable World Cup run.

"We got many phone calls asking about specific schedules," Mr. Shin said. Several of the movies selected were some of the most popular in Korea, including "Shiri" and "Joint Security Area."

With the local press criticizing the event, would the film commission try again? Mr. Lee said yes.

"After all, it was during the World Cup. I guess people were too busy watching soccer matches and we missed the mark."

by Chun Su-jin

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