[VIEWPOINT]Candidates can learn from cinema

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[VIEWPOINT]Candidates can learn from cinema

The Korean movie “King and the Clown” had recorded an audience of 10.85 million people by last weekend. It is expected that the movie will attract more people than “Silmido,” which attracted 11.08 million viewers. If things continue to go well, it might even pass the highest audience attracted by a Korean movie ― over 11.75 million for “Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War.” A record of 10 million people watching one movie in a country with a population of less than 50 million is extraordinary. There might be some people who saw the movie a few times, but it still means that one out of three or four Korean movie watchers saw the film.
Why has “King and the Clown” caused such an unexpected sensation? The analyses by movie experts are diverse. The first thing they point out is that there is a “multi-code” that goes beyond barriers of generation and gender in the film. In other words, it has a code that allows different generations to read the film in their own way. In particular, the pretty appearance of actor Lee Jun-ki has created sensationalism almost equal to a syndrome amongst teens and youths in their twenties. People in their thirties are said to be touched with sympathy, and those in their forties and above to be captivated by the political satire in the movie.
Some say that the movie has overcome the formula that a Korean film should deal with such topics as national division, the Korean War and nationalism to succeed in the market. Of course, there is also an opinion that it enjoyed the advantage of Korean society’s characteristic tendency of leaning collectively toward someone or something attractive, and the effectiveness of word of mouth recommendations.
They are all reasonable opinions. However, the most important reason the movie is such a hit is because the plot and the direction are both good, and thus it is only natural that the audience responds to a good cinematic work.
I am sure that all Koreans feel proud of the success of “King and the Clown,” which has confirmed the potential power of Korean movies. However, there are some people who have their eyes on the fact that the movie has attracted “10 million viewers” for a different reason. They are the presidential hopefuls who reckon that the audience is equal to the number of votes. It is understandable since they probably think they would surely win the next presidential election if only all the people who saw the movie would vote for them. So I would like to advise them to learn at least a bit of a lesson from “King and the Clown.” The lesson can be found in the analyses by film specialists of the reasons for the film’s success.
First of all, they must remember that this was a low-budget film. At a time when most films have a budget of more than 10 billion won ($10 million), 4 billion won is not a lot of money in the Chungmuro movie industry. In contrast, the Korean movie “Typhoon,” which was produced at a cost of 15 billion won with a cast of top Korean movie stars, is having a hard time. This eloquently demonstrates that the time is now over when the production budget and the popularity of the movie stars were directly connected to a film’s success. The same goes for politics. No matter what an astronomical sum of money is poured in for electioneering costs, voters are not moved anymore. The election climate where money was power has improved a lot recently, but candidates are still bound to be tempted by the power of money ― “a loaded cartridge.” They should not forget that it is now a time when money can be poison.
Secondly, let’s closely examine the opinion that this movie overcame nationalism. Ordinary people are more interested in their daily livelihoods than “heavy and grand” propositions like nation or unification. Voters are now mature enough not to be deceived by such empty speeches as the theory of the “wind from the North.” Especially, we should not forget that those in their thirties, who have high political cohesive power as the backbone of our society, are passionate about the code of sympathy. Sympathy means “sharing the pains of people together.” In other words, there is a need for a warm heart that touches the wounds of the common people. It shouldn’t be overlooked that people are enraged at the policies of present government that says it cares for lower class people, but ends up making their lives worse. Politicians should also keep in mind opinion poll results that show that the younger generation, who are disappointed by those who are in power now, is rapidly leaning towards conservatism and a rightist trend.
Lastly, they must pay attention to the plain fact that people crowd to see a good movie. So be a good candidate. A good candidate is a person who has ability, experience and a vision. In order to have all three, candidates need to study more. Then word of mouth will spread widely and the tendency of leaning toward someone or something in a big way will naturally follow. Voters will not hesitate to cast votes for such candidates, just as they bought tickets to see “King and the Clown.”

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik
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