[A Look Back On Korea's 'Cheonman Movie' #13] Haeundae(Tidal Wave)

연합뉴스 / 2021-10-25 13:28:05
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by Ra Hwak Jin/ Lee Hyo Yoon

[Episode 13] Tidal Wave (2009 Directed by Yoon Je-kyoon)

▲ This photo, taken in July 2009, shows the director and lead actors of "Tidal Wave." (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

Tidal Wave”(Korean :해운대 - Haeundae) released in 2009 July is considered as the first Korean disaster blockbuster. It reached 10 million audiences in just 33 days of release marking its final record, 11.32 million audiences and became the 14th most popular Korean movie (based on KOBIS data). But in Korean Film Yearbook, the film is written to have reached 11.45 million watchers.

This was a mega-hit in 3 years after “The Host” (2006), which also reached over 10 million audiences, and can be seen as a starter for the Korean film industry’s blockbuster competition.

This movie was inspired from the tsunami that struck the South Asia in 2004. The film depicts a large tsunami sweeping a million crowd in Haeundae.

But director Yoon introduced the film as a “Korean human disaster movie” rather than emphasizing its “blockbuster” side.

The movie’s first 70 minutes mainly focus on the characters’ stories than the disaster.

The stories of the ordinary people encountering a crisis mixed up with its splendid cast, spectacles and the director’s unique sense of humor. These aspects led the film to a mega-success loved by all audiences regardless of age.


▲ This photo, taken in July 2009, shows director Yoon Je-kyoon. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ CG + Humanism = Hollywood's success formula

One of the main reasons why the film gained such popularity was its tsunami that was made through high-quality CG.

Director Yoon produced a perfect tsunami with the help from Hollywood technicians such as Hans Uhlig who took part in “Perfect Storm.”

The director thought a lot to well-portray the considerable amount of water in bright daytime not in a dark night.

Also, they did not hesitate to use excessive amount of water. Although, the film’s scenes made of CG took up only 16.6%, the scenes cost 5 billion won which was 38.4 % of the total net-production cost.

And thanks to Busan City’s aid, the film could shoot spectacular scenes by blocking the Gwangan Bridge for the first time in Korea.

They also included stories of families and humanism as well. The collaboration of action and humanism led the disaster film to a mega-popularity.

“’Tidal Wave’ was smart to have applied Hollywood blockbusters’ success strategy. The film’s popularity comes from its fantastic spectacles based on families or humanism that can reach to anyone,” said Kim Bong-seok movie critic.



▲ This photo, taken in July 2009, shows actress Ha Ji-won. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ Drama of the common people

Even before the film’s release, director Yoon emphasized that it is “a disaster drama of humans.”

The film spread out various stories such as Man-sik (Seol Kyung-gu) and Yeon-hee (Ha Ji-won)’s hesitative love and Hyung-sik (Lee Min-ki) who dies saving the rival of his love .

And the main characters that form the plot are mostly everyday ordinary people.

Although Man-sik seems to be on a decent status as the president of the local co-op of shopkeepers, he is actually almost a broke. Yeon-hee is an unmarried woman and an owner of an unauthorized sashimi restaurant.

Hyung-sik (Lee Min-ki) is a lifeguard and Hi-mi (Kang Ye-won) has failed to pass the national exam for college for several consecutive times. Dong-choon (Kim In-kwon) doesn’t have a decent job at all. They are all ordinary neighbors whom we can easily see in our everyday lives. 

Like this, it seems that as “Tidal Wave” mixed sources of laughter and tears with the lives of the common people, it could appeal to those in their 20s and 30s as well.


▲ This photo, taken in July 2009, shows actor Seol Kyung-gu. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



◇ Meet nowadays star actors' 12 years ago

We can see 12 year-younger versions of today’s star actors who are actively taking part in various productions. Seol Kyung-gu, unlike his seriousness in “Peppermint Candy” or “Silmido,” he hangs onto the fence in a baseball stadium and tries to act cute in front of Yeon-hee (Ha Ji-won).

Lee Min-ki well-delivered character Hyung-gi who is naïve and clumsy but strongly devoted to his job. Kim In-kwon who showed a comical combie with Seol Kyung-gu, depicted his character who is despicable and cowardly but at the same time humane enough to save another's life.

Another reason why the film became popular is that although most of the actors, except for Lee Min-ki, were not born in Gyeongsang Province, they did not sound awkward in using the Gyeongsang Province dialects.


▲ This photo, taken in September 2009, shows director Yoon Je-kyoon. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ The success history starting from a comedy film, director Yoon Je-kyoon... from ‘double cheonman’ to Hollywood.

Director Yoon debuted in the film industry with a comedy film. His initial productions were “My Boss, My Hero” and “Sex Is Zero.” He revealed his hardships attracting investment as a comic genre producer. 

But, with “Tidal Wave,” Yoon became a blockbuster director, and came up with another hit movie, “Ode to My Father.”

He has recently announced to start “K-Pop: Lost in America” (temporary title) project about K-Pop with Lynda Obst, Hollywood producer of “Interstella.”



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