New Movie Explores Boardroom Crimes

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New Movie Explores Boardroom Crimes

A regular office worker in his 40s, who leads a run-of-the-mill life in the office and at home, gets a new lease on life when he starts dancing lessons.

This character from the influential Japanese movie "Shall We Dance?" was played by Yakusho Koji, 45.

Mr. Koji, one of the most popular actors in Japan, paid a visit to Korea last Tuesday to promote his latest movie. "Spellbound" ("Jubaku") is scheduled for release in Korea next Saturday.

"Spellbound" is based on a 1997 loan fraud incident which caused a great hubbub in Japan.

Mr. Koji stars as an executive member of the board of a huge banking institution, whose directors approve an illegal loan of 30 billion yen ($25 million) with the government's connivance.

The unrepentant directors attempt to assuage resistance among the other executive members against the misdeeds by assuring them that they will escape punishment. But the moral qualms felt by the character played by Mr. Koji and his allies prompt them finally to rise up against the wrongdoing.

The main characters protest against established authority, only to face great intimidation. The struggle against an immoral, but mighty, institution, incurs hardship and sacrifice.

The film's central characters show that not only great heroes but ordinary people can fight for the sake of justice.

Released in 1999 in Japan, this film quickly became the talk of the town, even attracting great numbers of middle-aged men, who usually shun the cinema.

It was so popular that 800 companies requested screenings in the office.

Mr. Koji remarked, "Many Japanese audiences said that they came because the movie caused them to ruminate over their lives and work."

One factor behind the film's popularity may have been that it dealt with an oft-neglected social group - men in their 40s.

"Spellbound" deals with the inner desires, impulses and feelings that many have to suppress to work and support their families.

"Though movies cannot have a direct effect, they can remain in the minds of their audiences," Mr. Koji said.

"Movies must be absorbed with the heart, not the head. After seeing 'Spellbound,' I believe the audience can learn to cherish what they instinctively feel, such as the courage to pursue justice, even after they have returned to their matter-of-fact routines.

"And this could prove a small but potent power to change society," he added.

When asked about his impression of Korean movies, Mr. Koji remarked, "Korean movies, such as 'Shiri,' were full of energy and have demonstrated great potential. If I had the chance I would love to appear in a Korean movie as well."

by Ki Sun-min

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