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Korean president watches hit movie ‘A Taxi Driver’

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Korean President Moon Jae-in took time out from his busy schedule to watch the blockbuster film “A Taxi Driver,” which has topped the Korean box office for two weeks now.

(Clockwise from top) Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) with Edeltraut Brahmstaedt after watching the film; Song Kang Ho (right) and Thomas Kretschmann in ‘A Taxi Driver’; and the Gwangju Democracy Bell at the Asia Culture Center complex to commemorate the 1980 uprising. (Photos: Cheong Wa Dae website, KOFIC/The Lamp and Jonathan Hicap) /mb.com.ph

(Clockwise from top) Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) with Edeltraut Brahmstaedt after watching the film; Song Kang Ho (right) and Thomas Kretschmann in ‘A Taxi Driver’; and the Gwangju Democracy Bell at the Asia Culture Center complex to commemorate the 1980 uprising. (Photos: Cheong Wa Dae website, KOFIC/The Lamp and Jonathan Hicap)

Starring Korea’s Song Kang Ho, Ryu Jun-yeol and Yoo Hae-jin, and German actor Thomas Kretschmann, the movie is about taxi driver Kim Man-seob, played by Song, who takes German TV journalist Peter (Kretschmann) from Seoul to Gwangju, South Korea.

Peter’s character is based on the life of the late German journalist Jurgen Hinzpeter who covered the Gwangju Uprising, which happened from May 18 to 27, 1980.

President Moon watched it with Edeltraut Brahmstaedt, Hinzpeter’s widow, and the film’s stars Song Kang Ho and Yoo Hae-jin at a movie theater in Yongsan, Seoul on Aug. 13.

As of Aug. 15, “A Taxi Driver” is now the most watched film in Korea this year. Since it was released on Aug. 2, the film has raked in $62.65 million (about P3.22 billion) with total admissions of 9.02 million, according to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).

“A Taxi Driver” is expected reach 10 million in total admissions this week to become the first movie in Korea this year to achieve the feat.

“People in other regions across the nation were not aware of what was happening in Gwangju. Journalists and broadcasters who tried to report on the uprising were all punished. Thanks to your husband, we were able to know the truth,” President Moon told Brahmstaedt after watching the film, according to Korea.net.

Moon participated in the June Democracy Movement, or June Struggle, in 1987, a year before Seoul hosted the Olympics.

“I was able to watch some of Hinzpeter’s films when I met with Catholic priests based in Gwangju. The films triggered the movement, at last,” he added.

For her part, Brahmstaedt said that her husband “would be really happy that his story has been told as a movie, not just in a short documentary. I hope young people will realize that democracy is not something that just happens.”

Gwangju is considered the birthplace of Korea’s modern democracy movement because of the May 1980 uprising where hundreds were killed.

The uprising became the inspiration for the construction of the $680-million Asia Culture Center (ACC), which showcases Asian artworks, documentaries and books including those from the Philippines.

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