Destinations Asia

South Korean Hit Movie Fuels Film Tourism During Post-Tragedy Lull

Aug 11, 2014 6:00 pm

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Post-ferry disaster, South Korea needs a boost for local tourism and an inspirational film is perfect for the times.

— NewsCred

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Still from the film "Roaring Currents." CJEntertainmentUSA


The period action flick “Roaring Currents” has set yet another breakthrough box office record by drawing 10 million viewers quicker than any other film in Korean cinematic history.

According to CJ E&M, the viewership of the historical action film topped 10 million as of Sunday, just 12 days since its premiere, becoming the fastest Korean movie to pass the milestone in the local film market.

The previous record of surpassing the 10-million mark the quickest was held by two Korean films, “The Host” (2006) and “The Thieves” (2012), which both took 22 days to reach the milestone.

The period blockbuster is now the 10th Korean film to have sold more than 10 million tickets and 12th film to do so in Korea.

The film is expected to keep rolling on as it has been breaking attendance records day-by-day since it hit the silver screen.

“Roaring Currents” premiered on July 30, with the biggest-ever opening-day box office sales in Korean film history (682,778 viewers). Then it set a weekday record (986,963 viewers). The film has also surpassed every millionth viewership mark, starting at 2 million all the way up to 10 million now, faster than any other film.

Directed by Kim Han-min, “Roaring Currents” details the famous Battle of Myeongryang in 1592, fought at the dawn of the Japanese invasion of Korea (1592-1598).

The film spotlights one of the nation’s most revered heroes, Adm. Yi Sun-sin, played by acclaimed actor Choi Min-sik (“Oldboy”). Yi led an astonishing victory against 330 Japanese warships with only 12 ships under his command.

Regional Tourism Riding on ‘Roaring Currents’

It seems like filmmakers and related film industry officials are not the only ones benefitting from the explosive popularity of “Roaring Currents.”

Encouraged by the film, more tourists are now flocking to various historic sites related to Adm. Yi.

One popular destination is Haenam, South Jeolla Province, the location of Uldolmok Strait, the original site of the Battle of Myeongryang.

Haenam officials said that the film’s success has lent a much-welcomed hand to the region’s tourism industry, which had suffered a major blow since the Sewol ferry accident off the southwestern island of Jindo located close to the strait.

Prior to the release of the film, only about 100 people had visited the site near Uldolmok Strait, also known as “Myeongryang” in Korean, on July 26 and 27. The number was even smaller on weekdays. However, the site now welcomes an average of 500-600 tourists daily since the film premiered, according to Haenam authorities.

Moreover, the Uldolmok Turtle Ship tour, a turtle-shaped cruise service launched in memory of Adm. Yi’s signature Geobukseon (turtle ship) and the historic battle, is back in business, offering three trips daily. The tour had stopped its operations since the dramatic drop in the number of tourists following the ferry accident in Jindo.

Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, home to the Battle of Hansan, another victorious Yi-led naval battle during the Japanese invasion of Korea, has been enjoying a surge in tourism as well.

The number of visitors to the Geobukseon replica located in the heart of Tongyeong has quadrupled to 2,000 daily tourists since the film’s release. Other popular sites include Jeseungdang Shrine, located on Hansando Island in honor of Adm. Yi, and Tongjeyeong, the site of Korea’s naval headquarters during the Joseon dynasty.

Tongyeong’s signature annual event The Great Battle of Hansan Festival, scheduled to take place on Aug. 13-17, is set to attract a particularly large crowd this year as well.

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