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Film on modern Korean history tops 10 mln in attendance

A domestic film depicting the life of a typical father from Korea's older generation became this year's first movie to surpass the 10 million viewer mark at the local box office, a market tracker said Wednesday.

Over 10 million viewers have seen
Over 10 million viewers have seen "Ode to My Father" since its release on Dec. 17. (CJ Entertainment)

"Ode to My Father" hit the milestone at 10,001,709 viewers Tuesday, 27 days after it opened on Dec. 17, the Korean Film Council said, adding that it became the 14th film ever to attract 10 million viewers at the local box office.

In South Korea, average budget films seen by more than 10 million people are considered big commercial successes. Including "Ode to My Father," only 11 domestic films have so far received more than 10 million viewers.

The film has been No. 1 at the box office except on opening day. It especially appeals to middle-aged and older audiences who rarely go to see movies.

Youn Je-kyun has become the first Korean director to have two films viewed by more than 10 million people, following "Haeundae," which sold 11.45 million tickets in 2009.

"I'm just so thankful," Youn said. "I'm grateful to everyone who has seen this movie for understanding my sincerity."

"Ode to My Father" tells the story of an ordinary father named Deok-su (played by Hwang Jung-min) who sacrificed himself to support his family through the country's turbulent modern history from the 1950-53 Korean War until recently.

The film's success comes amid controversy over the film's alleged attempt to idealize the past under the rule of authoritarian regimes.

But some critics say such a debate helped push up ticket sales, stoking the people's curiosity about the film.

"The film was able to top 10 million in attendance with the combination of various factors, such as being a story of a family and a father, curiosity caused by political debates and an aggressive marketing strategy of CJ Entertainment," Jeong Ji-wuk, a film critic, told Yonhap News Agency.

The ten other Korean films seen by more than 10 million people are "Roaring Currents" (2014, 17.61 million), "The Host" (2006, 13.01 million), "The Thieves" (2012, 12.98 million), "Miracle in Cell No. 7" (2013, 12.81 million), "Gwanghae: the Man Who Became the King" (2012, 12.31 million), "The King and the Clown" (2005, 12.30 million), "Taegukgi" (2004, 11.74 million), "Haeundae" (2009, 11.45 million), "The Attorney" (2013, 11.37 million) and "Silmido (2003, 11.08 million).

Among non-Korean films, "Avatar" (2009, 13.62 million), "Frozen" (2014, 10.29 million) and "Interstellar" (2014, 10.24 million as of Tuesday) are on the list of films that have attracted over 10 million viewers in South Korea. (Yonhap)

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