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Gripping Real-Life Tales: The Latest Films You Can’t Miss

This autumn, three films that draw inspiration from real-life events are making their way to the big screen.

“Open the Door”

“Open the Door”, directed by Jang Hang-jun, is based on the “New Jersey Korean Dry Cleaners Murder Case.” This mystery thriller reveals the hidden truth of a family that, after seven years, opens the door to secrets surrounding the case that took place in the immigrant community.

Initially planned as a short film, director Jang Hang-jun decided to show it to Song Eun-ee, the CEO of Contents Lab Vivo, who is also a broadcaster, to produce the full feature. The film, the first production by Song Eun-ee, garnered considerable attention due to her involvement in various fields.

The “New Jersey Korean Dry Cleaners Murder Case” occurred on December 4, 2017, when armed robbers invaded a Korean-run dry-cleaning store in South Brunswick, New Jersey, stealing cash and fleeing. The day’s incident saw an armed robber threatening a Korean employee with a knife, taking all the cash from the cash register, and leaving. Fortunately, the employee was not injured.

Director Jang Hang-jun, who based his film on this case, explained his reasons during a press screening and journalists’ conference for “Open the Door” at CGV Yongsan IPark Mall in Seoul on October 17.

He shared, “I heard about this story five or six years ago while drinking with a junior director. When I suggested to my junior director that he should make a film about it, he said it wasn’t his style, so I decided to do it myself.”

The film features talented actors who perfectly embody their characters, transcending genres. Kim Soo-jin portrays the character Yoon-joo, who harbors ambitious hopes but makes a shocking decision to solve financial problems after immigrating to the United States. Her role as a central character is expected to elevate the film’s tension and immersion.

Furthermore, intense emotional performances by actors Lee Soon-won and Seo Young-joo are also anticipated. Lee Soon-won takes on the role of Moon-seok, who witnessed the truth of that day. His character undergoes a sudden collapse when everything in his happy married life with his wife Soo-jin crumbles due to the incident. He is set to deliver high-intensity, immersive facial expressions that will provide tension and the thrill of deduction for the audience.

Seo Young-joo plays Chi-hoon, who becomes confused after hearing the secret of Moon-seok during a drinking session. Chi-hoon treats Yoon-joo and her brother-in-law Moon-seok like his parents and never stops worrying about Yoon-joo even during work. The intense emotional interactions between these two men are expected to capture the audience.

“Open the Door” was released on October 25.


The film “Boys”, directed by Jung Ji-young, is based on the “Samnye Nara Super Robbery Murder Case.” This work tells the story of the boys accused of robbery and murder in a small town superstore and the detective who embarks on a re-investigation of the case. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of his debut in the Korean film industry, acclaimed director Jung Ji-young’s new film has gained attention.

“Boys” follows a trilogy of real-life stories, including the courtroom drama “Unbowed” (directed by Jung Ji-young) that spotlighted the 2007 crossbow terrorism case and the financial crime thriller *Black Money* (directed by Jung Ji-young), exposing the 2003 sale of Korea Exchange Bank. “Boys” is the final piece in this three-part series, further increasing expectations.

The “Samnye Nara Super Robbery Murder Case” took place in the early morning of February 6, 1999, in the NaRa Super located in Samnye-eup, Wanju-gun, Jeonbuk. Three robbers entered the store, killed the elderly owner, and stole cash and merchandise before fleeing. The prosecution charged individuals with mental disabilities, Cho Dae-yeol and Im Myeong-seon, with the crime, leading to convictions and sentences of three to six years in prison.

The three individuals later filed for a retrial in October 2016, asserting that they had falsely confessed under police coercion. In October 2016, the retrial exonerated them, concluding their 17-year legal battle. The court also ordered the government to compensate the victims, effectively closing the case.

Director Jung Ji-young decided to create a movie based on this incident. During a press screening and press conference for “Boys” at CGV Yongsan IPark Mall on October 23, the director explained why he decided to tackle a story known to the public.

He stated, “I thought this case should not be overlooked. Perhaps we, too, have unconsciously condoned the imprisonment of the three boys. When I thought about it, I wondered if the story was not true.”

Several skilled actors are part of the cast. Seol Kyung-gu, renowned for his powerful performances, plays detective Hwang Joon-chul, who moved to Wanju Police to lead the investigation in catching the culprits in the robbery and murder case. Hwang Joon-chul, who is known for never letting go of a case, thus earning the nickname “Mad Dog,” takes the role of a police captain recently appointed to Wanju. He initiates the re-investigation after receiving a call about the robbers’ identity from a source. Seol Kyung-gu is expected to showcase his acting skills and enrich the story’s immersion.

Yoo Jun-sang, who plays the elite police officer Choi Woo-sung, heads the Wanju Regional Police Department as a symbol of his dedication to protect the country. Faced with opposition from Hwang Joon-chul, the rapid promotion for identifying the boys as the culprits, he does not hesitate to use any means to stop him. He is also predicted to undergo a dramatic transformation into a villain, intensifying the tension within the movie.

Furthermore, Jin Kyung, Hur Sung-tae, and Yeom Hye-ran are expected to join the cast. Jin Kyung takes on the role of Yoon Mi-suk, the daughter of the deceased victim and the only witness. She will deliver a powerful performance, increasing the movie’s immersion. Hur Sung-tae portrays Park Jung-gyu, a police officer at the Wanju Police Station who is known for his cheerful personality and makes the atmosphere enjoyable. Yeom Hye-ran plays Kim Kyung-mi, the supportive wife of Hwang Joon-chul, showing off a perfect “chemistry” with her on-screen husband.

“Boys” premiered in theaters on November 1.

“Seoul’s Spring”

The film “Seoul’s Spring”, directed by Kim Sung-soo, tells the story of the 9-hour critical time frame that unfolded during the December 12, 1979, military uprising in Seoul. This movie is the first to focus on the turning point of the military power when the Shin military government seized control.

The “December 12 Military Uprising” was an event that occurred on December 12, 1979. It was orchestrated by Shin military government leaders, led by Hanaui, a secret organization within the military. They arrested then-martial law commander, General Chung Seung-hwa, and initiated the military uprising.

Choi Kyu-ha, who was the President at the time, held little actual power. The core figures in the Shin military government, who later became key members of the coup, included Gen. Chung Ho-yeong, Brig. Gen. Hwang In-sung, and Col. Roh Tae-woo, among others. They mobilized troops, turning the event into a full-scale military uprising.

Director Kim Sung-soo made the movie based on this event. Kim Sung-soo explained the reasons for making *Seoul’s Spring* during the press screening and press conference for the movie held at CGV Yongsan IPark Mall in Seoul on October 23. He recounted his firsthand experience of the gunshots he heard on the night of the military uprising on December 12, 1979.

Kim Sung-soo said, “I lived in Hannam-dong at the time, and the memory of the night that I heard intermittent gunshots for over 20 minutes from the rooftop of my friend’s house across from the Army Chief of Staff House in Hannam-dong became the starting point of making *Seoul’s Spring*. I was 19 years old at the time, and I was captivated by the fear while hearing intermittent gunshots.”

He continued, “I tried to find related information on the reason behind the gunshots but couldn’t hear specific stories about it. It was only after a long time that I could learn about the incident. I questioned how South Korea’s destiny could change in an instant, as well as the thoughts and conversations that went on that day. That’s why my experience from over 40 years ago led me to make the movie *Seoul’s Spring*.”

Hwang Jung-min is a highly respected actor known for his powerful performances, and he portrays “Jeon Du-gwang”, a key figure within the military government. Jeon Du-gwang, who serves as the head of the Joint Investigation Team while investigating the background of the October 26th Incident, simultaneously mobilizes a military uprising within the armed forces to seize power. He is characterized as a character who will lead the military rebellion without hesitation, clutching all information in his hand, and revealing his greed for power, creating a breathtaking tension in the film.

Hwang Jung-min expressed his strong determination for the role, saying, “After deciding to appear in the film, I wanted to portray this character so convincingly that no one could dare to follow.”

Jung Woo-sung plays the role of “Lee Tae-shin”, a military security commander who confronts the rebel forces in a fierce standoff to protect Seoul. He is depicted as a committed “soldier protecting the nation” who unwaveringly fulfills his core mission to safeguard the country despite the military uprising.

Jeong Woo-sung commented on his portrayal of “Lee Tae-shin”, saying, “As an actor, I poured all of my abilities into expressing this character and worked hard to create a character with whom the audience can empathize.”

The intense performances of Hwang Jung-min and Jeong Woo-sung, who transform into characters driven by desire for power and unwavering principles as soldiers on that fateful night of the “12.12 Military Uprising,” are expected to significantly enhance the immersion and tension in the film, which altered the fate of South Korea.

The movie “Seoul’s Spring” is set to be released on November 22, 2023.


Author Nat.O
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