The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] Korean box office smash hits

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : Jan. 10, 2024 - 14:26

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Find the answer at the bottom.

A movie that sells over 10 million tickets in South Korea is considered a box office smash hit.

In contrast to the global cinema benchmark of 1 billion dollars in worldwide box office sales, the Korean standard for a film's commercial success focuses on the number of tickets sold here -- specifically the figure of 10 million. This threshold holds importance for Korea's filmmakers as it signifies that approximately 20 percent of the country's population has watched a certain film.

The first Korean film to achieve this feat was Kang Woo-suk's 2003 drama, "Silmido," which marked the beginning of the current golden era in Korean cinema.

Since "Silmido," an additional 30 films have crossed the 10 million tickets sold milestone, as of Jan. 9. Among these, 21 are films produced by companies based in Korea, and the remaining nine are films produced by companies based abroad.

Of these 31 local box office hits, the top 10 consists of seven films produced in Korea and three produced overseas. The 2014 film "The Admiral: Roaring Currents," directed by Kim Han-min, claims the top position, having sold over 17 million tickets.

Ranked fifth is "Avengers: Endgame," which stands as the highest-grossing film produced by a company based overseas at South Korean box offices.

As of Jan. 9, Yeon Sang-ho's 2016 action horror flick, "Train to Busan," is the 21st-highest grossing film domestically, having sold over 11.5 million tickets here.

Christopher Nolan’s space odyssey “Interstellar” sold slightly over 10 million tickets (10.3 million) to rank 31st on the list of the top 31 biggest box office hits in Korea.

Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning masterpiece, "Parasite," crossed the 10 million tickets sold mark on July 22, 2019, and is now ranked 29th on this list.

The most recent film to sell more than 10 million tickets here was the 2023 drama film "12.12: The Day” directed by Kim Seong-su. As of Jan. 9, the film sold 12.6 million tickets, securing its position as the 14th top box office hit.

However, critical acclaim and prestigious awards don't always guarantee box office success. Director Park Chan-wook's two critically acclaimed films, the Cannes Grand Prix-winning “Oldboy” (2003) and the Cannes Best Director-winning "Decision to Leave (2020)," fell far short of reaching the local ticket sale milestone at South Korean box offices, selling 3 million and 1.9 million tickets respectively.

Answer: (d)