Milestone for Shim: 15 years in film biz

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Milestone for Shim: 15 years in film biz

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Shim Jae-Myung

Shim Jae-Myung, 47, is already a legend in the entertainment field. As one of the “First Generation of Producers,” she introduced the concept of “production” to Korea’s film industry, thereby laying the foundation for the “Korean Film Renaissance” of the mid-1990s.

Indeed, her corporation, Myung Films, and Director Kang Woo Seok’s Cinema Service are considered to be the basis for many film production companies.

The 30 “offsprings” of Myung Films include the following: its first-born film, “Corset” (’96); the original of a well-made commercial movie, “The Contact” (’97); Jun Do Yeon’s critical film that brought her to stardom, “Happy End” (’99); a humanistic movie dealing with the complex issue of the division of North and South Korea, “J.S.A.: Joint Security Area” (’00); a touching drama of female handball players, “Forever the Moment” (’08).

Celebrating the 15th anniversary today, Myung Films re-released four of the films in Gwang-Hwa Moon-Cine Cube from Monday to Thursday. Music records containing 16 original movie soundtracks also hit the stands on the 3rd.

While it is truly impressive that Myung Films has kept its status among the innumerable production companies that appear and disappear at the blink of an eye, Shim said its strength and endurance were due to difficult moments. One occasion involved an internal rift that revolved around “Forever the Moment,” a film that Shim was desperate to bring to reality but was opposed by her own employees.

“It was a movie about ladies past their prime playing handball. Boring, don’t you think?” asked Shim casually. “So did everyone who considered it a success if the movie could draw a mere 700,000 viewers to the theater. However, seeing things from my vantage point, no other story offered a better motif than this one. The final tournament of the 2004 Athens Olympic Handball was a universally plausible narrative that would get to the hearts of many. The former chairman of Seoul Film Commission, President Hwang Gi-Seong, complimented it at the premier by saying that there are possibilities to a story untold before. ”

Contrary to the general expectation, the movie, directed by Lim Soon-rye, attracted more than 4,100,000 people, and even became a national sensation. It bore a popular jargon Woo-Saeng-Soon, a Korean acronym for the movie, which became infused in everyday language.

Shim seemed to understand that the road not taken is the more dangerous path because she has to pave her own way. But she chose to take the risk because she saw a chance-landing in the golden chambers of El Dorado.

“When I see a movie script, I ask myself three questions. First, am I simply itching to tell this story? Second, would others be hooked by it? Third, how can I make this into a film with the least amount of loss?” said Shim, when asked the secrets to her success.

However, even such careful planning could not save “The Fox Family.” And yet, Shim said such failure has not made her waver, and she has not sought financial gain at the cost of her own standards.

Indeed, Shim’s adventurous and creative take on film production has been recognized by the media. Two of her movie reviews were transferred from the “Culture Column” to the “Social Column,” creating a terrific splash in the public press. One of the reviews on “Joint Security Area” coincided with the Joint Declaration of North and South Korea in 2000, and the movie’s soaring popularity revealed the deep-rooted trauma of the divided nation.

Awaiting this coming fall’s release of “Cyrano Agency,” a romantic comedy, Shim said her next project is an animation, based on Hwang Sun-mi’s best-seller about a hen that flies the coop to find freedom.


By Ki Sun-min [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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