Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
This summer, the release of Space Sweepers was confirmed. Expectations are indeed high as it is Korea’s first SF blockbuster set in space, but on the contrary, concerns are rising as well. Such concerns are mainly because the SF genre never showed great results among Korean moviegoers, and because many SF films have failed in the box office. Let’s take a look at Korean SF films that have received disappointing results.
Resurrection of the Little Match Girl (2002)
The story revolves around the main character who jumps into the game world to win the love of the match girl who resembles his crush. The movie was praised at first for its fresh attempt of using “virtual reality,” but the harsh criticism was poured on the actors’ awkward acting, convoluted materials, and unfriendly and improbable developments. The break-even point was 4 million viewers, but the final audience number was 140,000. Rumor has it that the movie industry hesitated to invest in blockbuster films for a while.
Before Parasite, the movie was the most popular Korean movie in North America. Although it ranked No.1 in box office in Korea in 2007 with 7.8 million viewers, it failed to hit the break-even point as the movie had invested 30 billion KRW (approx. 24,641,370 USD) in production. There were a lot of criticisms regarding both inside and outside of the film, including excessive patriotism marketing, sloppy script, stiff performances of the actors, and sloppy production.
SECTOR 7 (2011)
It is a monster film about people struggling with monsters on an oil drillship. Some say that the visual effects of the monster was not bad. Yet, the movie failed in the box office as it was pointed out to have various disturbing factors, including improper use of actors, absurd lines from time to time, and the settings that could not be understood by common sense.
SORI: Voice from the Heart (2016)
The movie depicts the father’s journey to find his daughter, who went missing 10 years ago, along with the robot “SORI” that remembers all the sounds. It received favorable reviews with the correct mix of SF materials and human drama, and its heartwarming story that gives a smile. However, at the time of the release, the movie had to face strong opponents such as A Violent Prosecutor, Deadpool, and Zootopia.
Lucid Dream (2017)
Using “lucid dream” as the main topic, the story revolves around the main character who crosses dream and reality to find clues in tracking down his missing son. With criticism of its preposterous story, distracting development, and the scandals that shocked the nation involving Park Yoo Chun, the leading actor, the movie only drew 100,000 viewers, far below the break-even point of 1.7 million viewers.
A day (2017)
The movie is about the father who lost his daughter in a car accident, falling into a time loop that takes him back to the time before the accident and struggling to save his daughter. The absorbing performances of Kim Myung Min, Byun Yo Han, and Yoo Jae Myung surely increase the level of immersion. Still, the frustrating development that describes the main characters helplessly and thwartedly, and the disappointing twist were bombarded with negative responses.
It is the second live-action film directed by director Yeon Sang Ho, best known for Train to Busan. It depicts what happens when an ordinary man gains the power to move things with his thoughts. Contrary to expectations, it was criticized for its sloppy portrayal of superpowers, forced stories, childish humor, and lack of probability that hinders the immersion. Naturally, the ranking (in box office) plummeted in only 10 days. With a total audience of 990,000, the movie failed to even go near the break-even point of 4.1 million viewers.
ILLANG: THE WOLF BRIGADE (2018)
Against the backdrop of a hypothetical future in which the South Korean and North Korean governments prepare for reunification, the movie depicts the confrontation between the “Section,” the terrorist group that is against the reunification, and the “Special Forces,” a presidential police unit that fights against the terrorist. Director Kim Ji Woon drew attention for trying to filmaize the animation of the same name, but was utterly ignored due to its poor level of completion.