[Forbes] Record-smashing 16th Century Heroic Epic Captures Korea’s 2014 Zeitgeist

August 22, 2014
"The Admiral: Roaring Currents" has broken Korean box office records.

“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” has broken Korean box office records.




[Forbes] Overwhelming odds are defied! Heroic patriots risk all! And – amidst flashing blades, thundering cannon and colliding battleships – a dastardly national enemy gets his come-uppance!

These are the central elements of “Myeongnyang” ( “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” in English), a historical epic whose audience numbers have overtaken “Avatar” – previously, the biggest box office hit in South Korea – while also becoming the first home-grown picture to gross over KRW100 billion (USD97.7 million).

The reasons for its success may well be linked to painful current affairs.

Korea remains in national aftershock following the April sinking of the ferry Sewol, and Seoul-Tokyo ties are at a nadir, mired in controversies over historical animosities. Against this backdrop, the movie’s depiction of heroic leadership – in stark contrast to the cowardice displayed by the Sewol’s crew who abandoned ship but left passengers to their fate – and its portrayal of a victory over a despised enemy, has struck an emotive chord: viewers include President Park Geun-hye.

Graduate student Nam Seong, who has watched the film twice, commented on the film’s significance: “It reflects what has been going on.” [READ MORE]