|Which was the first color cinemascope film in Korea?|
Answer: < The Love Story of Chun-hyang ( Chun-hyang Jeon ) > (1961, Hong Seong-gi), < Seong Chun-hyang ( Seong Chun-hyang ) > (1961, Shin Sang-ok)
The first color cinemascope movie and the two most representative works among the first group of cinemascope films is < The Love Story of Chun-hyang ( Chun-hyang Jeon ) > directed by Hong Seong-gi in 1961 and < Seong Chun-hyang ( Seong Chun-hyang ) > directed by Shin Sang-ok. The reason why we chose two is because these two films went into production at almost the same time (director Shin Sang-ok’s < Seong Chun-hyang ( Seong Chun-hyang ) > began production slightly earlier), and were released almost simultaneously (director Hong Seong-gi’s < The Love Story of Chun-hyang ( Chun-hyang Jeon ) > hit the theaters slightly earlier). In Korean film history, the first color film was already made in 1949 ( directed by Hong Seong-gi), and the first cinemascope film was made in 1958 by director Lee Gang-cheon. However, a film using color and cinemascope techniques was not attempted until 1960.
The competition between Hong Seong-gi’s < The Love Story of Chun-hyang ( Chun-hyang Jeon ) > and Shin Sang-ok’s < Seong Chun-hyang ( Seong Chun-hyang ) > that took place around the time of Lunar New Year’s Day in 1961 served an important role in Korean film history. The two films received the spotlight because they both attempted to use both the cinemascope technique and color to tell a story based on < The Love Story of Chun-hyang ( Chun-hyang Jeon ) >, and each of the two directors were dominating the box offices of the ‘50s, and they both cast their wives as the lead female actress (Shin Sang-ok & Choi Eun-hee, Hong Seong-gi & Kim Ji-Mi). But the two films differed in the structure of the movie and the development of the plot, as well as the acting styles and the creation of dramatic tension. There are records and quotes that testify that the quality of color in < Seong Chun-hyang ( Seong Chun-hyang ) > was better than that of < The Love Story of Chun-hyang ( Chun-hyang Jeon )>, but they are most likely hind-sight interpretations after the great success of < Seong Chun-hyang ( Seong Chun-hyang ) >.
The competition between these two different stories of Chun-hyang terminated with director Shin Sang-ok’s overwhelming box office success (it stayed in the theaters for 74 days - this was a record long run in those times - and attracted 370,000 audiences just in Seoul). This gave Shin Films, the production company run by Shin Sang-ok, a dominating superiority in the industry and decided the technical and aesthetical trend of cinemascope movies that followed afterwards. This is because other directors chose to follow Shin Sang-ok’s formula after absolute box-office success. Thus, influenced heavily by < Seong Chun-hyang ( Seong Chun-hyang ) >’s success, epic films that were popular from 1961 to 1963 all decorated their scenes with colorful arrays of, well, color. Most epic films of the time were produced in color cinemascope. This is because color cinemascope was appropriate for representing the fancy architecture, wardrobe, and art pieces of the palace. As a result, the Lunar Thanksgiving week of 1962 became a huge competition among a concentration of films that combined grand-scale epic films with cinemascope techniques. As can be seen, color was used for decorative purposes rather than for realistic representations and loud colors served as major visual components.