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Satirical thriller ‘Sworn Enemy’ honored

Writer-director Jang Hoon’s satirical thriller “Sworn Enemy” on Friday took home Best Picture honors at the nation’s most prestigious film ceremony, the 31st Blue Dragon Film Awards at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul.

Headed by the duo of heartthrob Kang Dong-won and veteran Song Kang-ho, the film about an ex-North Korean field operative-turned-defector (Kang) beat out some of the year’s top-selling films.

In the film, Kang portrays a North Korean operative ordered to assassinate a former high ranking officer and defector of the isolated communist state. The plan is intercepted by a glory-hunting National Intelligence Service agent (Song) and goes awry, getting both men sacked from their organizations.

The film’s win comes at a time when the nation is still reeling from the North Korean shelling of the remote island of Yeonpyeong off the western coast near the Northern Limit Line.
Kang Dong-won (left) and Song Kang-ho in a scene from “Sworn Enemy.” (Showbox)
Kang Dong-won (left) and Song Kang-ho in a scene from “Sworn Enemy.” (Showbox)

The win also surprised many entertainment pundits as the year’s biggest box office hit “The Man from Nowhere,” featuring Korean Wave star Won Bin’s first turn in violent noir, had been projected to take the Best Picture award alongside fellow nominee “Moss,” helmed by Kang Woo-seok.

The sci-fi action-comedy “Woochi” and the reboot of 1960’s drama “The Housemaid” rounded out the rest of the nominees in the Best Picture category.

The night’s biggest sweep, however, went to “Moss,” which grabbed a total of seven awards including Best Director, Best Actor (Jung Jae-young), and Best Supporting Actor (Yu Hae-jin).

In late September, “Moss” took home four prizes at the Daejong Film Awards including Best Director for Kang Woo-seok.

Writer-director Kim Ji-woon’s serial killer yarn top-billed by Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik took home a trio of prizes in technical categories for director of photography Oh Seung-chul, lighting director Park Jung-ryul and composer Lee Mo-gye.

Best Actress went to both Yoon Jung-hee for “Poetry” and Su Ae for “Night FM,” while the supporting prize went to Yoon Yeo-jeong for “The Housemaid.”

The year’s sleeper rom-com “Cyrano Agency” was recognized for its biting dialogue, taking the Best Screenplay prize.

Won Bin’s ultra-violent “The Man from Nowhere” was on the receiving end of the night’s biggest snub, winning just a sole technical award out of nine nominations.

Former culture minister and novelist-turned-filmmaker Lee Chang-dong declined to keep “Poetry” in contention in the awards ceremony with the exception of the Best Actress category in light of controversies surrounding his embattled relationship with the Korea Film Council.

The awards ceremony was hosted by actress Kim Hye-soo and actor Lee Beom-soo.

Kim was visibly ecstatic when her real life beau, character actor Yu Hae-jin, won the Best Supporting actor prize for “Moss,” saying “I’m especially happy that (Yu) was honored tonight.”

By Song Woong-ki (