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Self-contradiction of leftists in movie industry

Posted February. 10, 2014 04:02,   


Last December, CJ CGV, a major multiplex theater in Korea, started to stop the screening of “Way Back Home,” a movie invested and distributed by his affiliate company CH E&M. Instead, the theater screened the movie “Attorney” invested by its competitor N.E.W. It was a tough decision to make for CJ. Although “Way Back Home” was quite popular drawing 1.85 million moviegoers, it couldn’t neglect the remarkable achievement of “Attorney,” which was drawing a tremendous number of people. Thanks to this movie, N.E.W. exceeded its rival CJ E&M and topped the box office of Korean movies as of Dec. 29 last year. It was a remarkable incident that a genuine film investment company defeated a giant company affiliated with a conglomerate.

The movie industry sees little border compared with any other industries. Therefore, countries where domestic movies account for over 50 percent of their movie market, are only five countries, namely the U.S., India, China, Japan and Korea. It was only early 2006 when people from the Korean movie industry released snakes in a theater in protest against the Korean government’s decision to reduce the screen quota. Given that the Korean movie market is not comparable to Hollywood in terms of capital and market conditions and that Korea is not promoting the movie industry as its top priority, building the current level of competence is truly significant and deserves compliment.

The biggest reason behind this is that the Korean movie industry has not avoided competition. Another is the spread of multiplex theaters. With the emergence of multiplex theaters where multiple movies are screened all at the same time, people feel more comfortable about going for movies. And this trend has laid the foundation for the establishment of large productions that can invest tens of billions of won in movies, such as CJ, Show Box and Lotte Entertainment. Nevertheless, these companies are still limited to the Korean market and not strong enough to compete with their global rivals, such as Disney of the U.S. and Wanda of China. Korea needs globally competitive companies in the cultural market.

Because culture has the attribute of “accusing the reality,” people in the cultural industry are usually leftists not just in Korea but also in other countries. Even in the movie industry, which is considered the most capitalistic among cultural industries, the leftists exert a strong influence. The Fair Trade Commission has made it clear for a long time that it “will not make an issue of the parent-subsidiary model unless there is any unfair internal transaction.” However, the leftists continuously argue that the parent-subsidiary model that enables large companies to encompass investment, distribution and screening altogether should be regulated. Such an argument is all the more regrettable because expanding the volume of capital for film-making is urgent to compete with foreign rivals.

Editorial Writer Heo Seung-ho (tigera@donga.com)