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Compensating for this lack of regular camaraderie, Eun-hye has also created an imaginary friend.
Eun-hye is played by a girl (Jeong Eun-hye) with actual Down's syndrome and some of her own experiences were brought into the short.
This time around, the directors contributing shorts on a human rights issue of their choosing were Park Kyung-hee (A Smile), Ryoo Seung-wan (Die Bad, Arahan), Jung Ji-woo (Happy End), Jang Jin (Someone Special, The Big Scene), and Kim Dong-won (Sanggye-dong Olympics, Repatriation).
Park's short "Seaside Flower" follows days in the life of Eun-hye, an elementary-school-aged girl with Down's syndrome.
In contrast to the start of the year, when a huge number of films were in production, by year's end many investors had decided to hold back on funding any new films for a while, and the mood seemed to bode ill for 2007.
The other major issue for the film industry in 2006 was the controversial reduction of Korea's Screen Quota System, which obligates theater owners to screen local films for a certain number of days per year. Filmmakers responded with lengthy public protests, but were ultimately unsuccessful in trying to get the government to revoke its decision. (Note that King and the Clown was released on December 29, so it is listed on the 2005 page) Seoul population: 10.35 million Nationwide population: 49.0 million Market share: Korean 63.8%, Imports 36.2% (nationwide) Films released: Korean 108, Imported 237 Total admissions: 153.4 million (=$954 million) Number of screens: 1,880 (end of 2006) Exchange rate (2006): 970 won/US dollar Average ticket price: 6034 won (=US$6.22) Exports to other countries: US$24,514,728 (Japan: 42%) Average budget: 4.0bn won including 1.4bn p&a spend Byung-tae is a teenager attending a tough high school, where the other students make it their daily habit to beat him up.
The pacing is perfect, the images of the friends in arms racing through the city still stay with me, and there's a nice little placement of one of the symbols of capitalism that brought a bit of laughter to what is otherwise a short full of sorrow, even more sorrowful considering its partly based on a true story.
Speaking of true stories, let me jump out of the order of this omnibus and mention the last short, Kim Dong-won's documentary about Korean-Chinese immigrants, "Jongno, Winter." Immigration laws in South Korea give advantages to diasporic Koreans from North America and Europe that are not afforded those from China, Russia, or the former Soviet States (the "-Stans").
The Art of Fighting is well acted and capably put together, with a mostly predictable but engrossing narrative.
Yet the film leaves you with an odd sense of emptiness.
Made while he was still working on his essay on masculinity that was Crying Fist, Ryoo provides an added treat with a surprise cameo by someone from the previous series, making me wonder if this is also going to be a regular aspect of the future omnibuses.
(I don't know about you, but I like the sound of the word "omnibuses.") My favorite of the shorts was Jung Ji-woo's, "A Boy With The Knapsack", a sparingly dialogued, black and white study of the lives of North Korean (illegal) refugees in South Korea.
It may seem superfluous to say this after 3-Iron, but Jae really can communicate a great deal to the viewer even when he is not speaking.