One of the industries most hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic is movie theaters.
The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) on Sept. 4 said tickets sales this year from January to late August fell 16.9% to KRW 331.1 billion from KRW 398.3 billion over the same time period last year. The number of moviegoers dropped 25.5% to 34.91 million from 46.87 million year on year.
The pandemic's heavy toll on the sector looks even worse if compared with statistics from 2019, before the pandemic broke out. Ticket sales that year from January to August hit KRW 1.32 trillion and the number of cinemagoers was 156.02 million, while the corresponding figures for this year plunged 75% and 77.6%, respectively.
Thus the Korean film industry has plummeted to a fourth of its pre-pandemic size.
Four homegrown films, however, have given the sector a shot in the arm amid the pandemic by selling a million tickets each: "Escape from Mogadishu," "Sinkhole," "Hostage: Missing Celebrity" and "On the Line."
According to data released on Sept. 1 from the council's integrated computing system, "Escape" sold 3.56 million tickets, "Sinkhole" 2.18 million, "Hostage" 1.62 million and "On the Line" a million.
The following are brief descriptions of these four movies.
Escape from Mogadishu
Set in 1991 in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, the film is based on the real-life story of South and North Korean ambassadors in the African country cooperating to escape from the city, which was cordoned off due to the still-ongoing Somalian civil war that started in 1991.
The movie drew attention for being reminiscent of the numerous people who gathered at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan shortly after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital this year. Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan, whose credits including "Veteran" (2015) and "The Battleship Island" (2017), "Escape" stars Kim Yoon-seok, Jo In-sung, Heo Joon-ho and Koo Kyo-hwan.
This film features a family whose house, which the parents purchased after 11 years of marriage, is swallowed up by a sinkhole 500 m deep. Despite being part of the disaster genre and about a family who faces death, the movie also provides laughter, a quality that attracted many families to watch it. The cast includes Cha Seung-won, Kim Sung-kyun and Lee Kwang-soo.
Hostage: Missing Celebrity
Top actor Hwang Jung-min in the film plays a famous actor with the same name who tries to escape after being kidnapped. A top box-office draw, Hwang received acclaim for his performance, as did new actors appearing in the film.
On the Line
This crime action thriller starring Byun Yo-han and Kim Mu-yeol is about a former detective who infiltrates the call center of a voice phishing syndicate based in China.