Two Seoul theaters will offer movies with English subtitles
February 15, 2009
SEOUL — Seoul Metropolitan Government officials are planning to fund English subtitles for Korean movies at two Seoul movie theaters starting in March, officials said Thursday.
Kim Mi-mi, a spokesman for Seoul’s Cultural Industry Division, said the Korean movie industry plans to make at least 15 movies this year, and the city hopes to show at least 10 of them with English subtitles in an effort to draw more foreigners to local box offices.
Last year, the city worked with the CJ Golden Harvest Village Roadshow — South Korea’s largest theater chain — to provide subtitles at movies near Yongsan, Kim said.
Cho Hyun-joo, the chain’s spokeswoman, said last year’s program, which generated a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in the number of foreigners attending. It was not as successful as theater owners had initially hoped, she said, but they believe it is a long-term strategy that will pay off in the future.
"We didn’t expect immediate profits," she said. "It’s a niche market, and we think it’s very positive. We remain hopeful of our foreign audience."
She said most of the foreign audience was Americans, many of them servicemembers.
While the subtitles led to a slight increase in the number of foreigners at the theater, both Kim and Cho said many locals were put off by the program and complained the subtitles were distracting.
The chain’s Yongsan theater lost 10 percent of its seat shares last year, Kim said.
Next week, Kim said, the subtitled program will feature "Old Partner," a hit documentary about the friendship between an old man and his cow.
The city is still reviewing applications for the second theater.