No Accounting for Taste for the Bizarre

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No Accounting for Taste for the Bizarre

"Aachi & Ssipuk," a Korean animation directed by Cho Beom-jin, was invited to the 11th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, held from Feb 15 to 18 in Japan. The Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival is famous for its emphasis on experimental animation, including shorts and digital works. Well-known Japanese animations such as "Jin-Roh" ("In-Lang"), directed by Hiroyuki Okiura, which was screened in Korea last year, were introduced to large audiences through this festival. This year a section called "Digital Theater" was established, which led to the Korean animation's invitation.

The Korean film is not a standard work in this genre; it is digital animation which makes it not only creative but also original. It was made using a program called "Flash," which is very popular in Korea these days. So far, four episodes of three minutes each of this animation have been produced. The director, Cho Boem-jin is to produce a feature length animation for screening in 2003 with a 2 billion won ($1.6 million) budget.

The style of animation used here is unusual as it features roughly designed characters similar to the American cartoon "Beavis and Butt-Head," and its subject is human excrement. In this way it mirrors the current trend in Korea of fascination with bizarre and strange things. However, this animation is not hurriedly-made after the fad over such things. It was planned three years ago, when nobody expected that kind of trend. "When I planned this project in 1999, everybody told me that it wouldn't work with this queer plot and uncanny characters, especially in Korea." Mr Cho said.

"It is set in a city in future where human waste is the only source of energy. The yardstick to decide a person's worth becomes his or her ability to purge their bowels. The duty to defecate becomes even more consecrated than the obligation to pay taxes," he said. The government provides laxative pills to help citizens perform their duty, but a group of gangsters attempts to steal all the pills. A war ensues between government and gangsters, with the city's energy needs hanging in the balance.

"Aachi & Ssipuk" has been a success in Japan. Digital animation has come into the spotlight there as an alternative to existing types of animation because production and distribution of digitally produced films are much more efficient.

The most remarkable thing about this digital animation is that it was shown via a digital projector in the theater in Yubari, and the animation data was simultaneously transmitted from Tokyo. Mr. Cho remarked, "I didn't have to make a film at all. All I had to do was to send a mobile image file directly to the screen. It was a good chance for me to test digital distribution along with digital screening." He hopes that the good reviews that he has got in Yubari would lead to interest by distributors in Japan.

by Ki Sun-min

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