Los Angeles’ famous house of wax relocates to Korea

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Los Angeles’ famous house of wax relocates to Korea

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About 120 global celebrities including actors, singers, politicians, sports heroes and Nobel Prize winners will be spending the next year in Seoul. They includeNicole Kidman, Michael Jackson, David Beckham and President Roh Moo-hyun, all of whom will be gathered at COEX in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul before moving to their new home in Busan.
OK, not the real celebrities, but life-sized wax figures at the World Wax Museum-Exhibition.
After the Movieland Wax Museum, once the world’s largest, closed its doors on October 31 in Buena Park, California, ending its 43 year history, 80 lifelike Hollywood figures and authentic movie sets from films such as “Doctor Zhivago,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “the King and I” were flown to Seoul. Nearly the whole collection from Movieland Wax Museum will be shipped to Korea by 2007 and relocated to Busan’s new Movie World Museum, which will be the largest wax museum in Asia. Additional figures were created by Japanese artist Satoru Mazusaki and Korean studios Haenoon Art Studio and Digi Spot. Busan was chosen because the developers “wanted to make a strong association with the Pusan International Film Festival,” said Jung Won-jik, spokesperson of Miracle Sports & Entertainment Inc., the exhibition organizer.
The wax figures currently on display are worth about $25 million in total, according to Mr. Jung. “It takes about six months to create a figure, costing 60 million won ($60,000) to 100 million won, which includes hair and medical-quality glass eyes.”
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The wax figures’ realism depends on how well the details are depicted. Some are so lifelike that they confuse visitors. Stacy Casey, an American living in Korea with her husband and two sons, said she was startled at the wax figure of Kang Je-gyu, the Korean film director of “Taegukgi.”
“I thought he was a real person posing to take a photo [with the wax figure of So Ji-sub, a Korean actor],” Ms. Casey said.
Another impressive figure was the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Even his facial moles were depicted in detail. The background image of Palestine behind him made it look more real.
Mr. Casey thought Yul Brynner of “The King and I” was the most realistic figure. As in most of the movie sets, the clothing was authentically reproduced or donated by production companies and actors.
But many of the figures simply looked like lumps of wax. Harry Potter looked nothing like the character ― on display was a wax kid in a school outfit and glasses, not the plucky young wizard. Meanwhile, Macaulay Culkin was dark-skinned and too skinny. Robin Williams’ droopy eyelids (maybe they were melting) made him look unintelligent ― totally unlike the sharpwitted fast-talking comedian.
Korean figures were even more disastrous. The followers of former president Park Chung-hee probably would say his wax figure was an insult to the man. President Roh Moo-hyun’s figure had his surgically altered eyelids and characteristic deep wrinkle in his forehead, but something else was missing.
The most disappointing figures were the 2002 World Cup heroes Hong Myong-bo, Ahn Jung-hwan and Park Ji-sung ― they weren’t even close.


by Park Sung-ha

The World Wax Museum-Exhibition in COEX is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are 16,000 won for adults, 12,000 won for middle and high school students and 10,000 won for elementary school students. For more information, call (02) 562-8153, or visit www.ticketlink.co.kr.
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