SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Korea Bizwire) – A local film about the painful life of South Korean sex slaves during World War II, tops pre-sale reservation rates in the local box office, a market tracker said Wednesday.
“Spirits’ Homecoming,” released on Wednesday nationwide, enjoys a reservation rate of 27.2 percent, leading Hollywood blockbuster “Deadpool” and Disney animation “Zootopia” with a big margin, according to Korean Film Council (KOFIC). The booking rates for the two American films are 13.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively.
Based on the testimonies of the so-called “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual servitude at Japanese military brothels, the movie took its cinematic motives from “Burning Women,” a drawing by Kang Il-chul, one of the victims, during her therapy sessions.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in the front-line brothels during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.
The movie, 14 years in the making due to a lack of financial resources, was finally able to see completion, after crowd-funding 12 billion won (US$970,000) from South Korean supporters. But finding a distributor and local cinemas that were willing to show it proved to be equally challenging, especially when South Korea struck a deal with Japan late last year, to put the comfort women issue to rest. The opening date, originally scheduled for December, was pushed back.
But online petitions to shed light on the meaningful movie finally encouraged big movie chains like CGV and Lotte Cinema to respond and increase the number of screenings.
On Wednesday, the film opens in around 840 theaters and cinemas, a number much bigger than originally expected.
“This is the first South Korean movie that is produced by the people, and at the same time its screening has expanded by the people’s power,” said Lee Hyunk-jong, an executive at WAW Pictures, the distributor.