Mass protests in Korea causes box office slump
Last Saturday, an estimated 1.9 million South Koreans took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Park Geun Hye, who has seen her approval ratings drop into the single digits after her numerous scandals rocked the nation. With so many people protesting, the movie theaters have been a lot emptier than usual, resulting in significant losses for the Korean movie industry.
November 26th marked the biggest nationwide protest in South Korea's history, with almost 2 million people amassing in the streets in a country with a population of a little over 50 million. Koreans have been making their voices heard loud and clear with their discontent at how President Park has been conducting herself in office, already having led to the arrest of President Park's longtime confidant Choi Soon-sil and two former aides. Many are speculating that the president herself may end up facing criminal charges as well. The scandal has gotten so many Koreans emotionally invested, that they are literally putting aside everything they do in their everyday lives to protest against the current situation. They're not even going to movies!
According to the Korea Film Council, the box office has been directly affected by the recent mass protests and political climate, with only 8.56 million going to the movies in November, compared to 17.16 million in October. That's less than half, and when considering that mass protests have been going on for five weeks in a row, it's obvious what's going on. Korean films are even being watched less than they usually are, with share of the market going down 17.3% compared to last month. It's as if the only thing on most Koreans minds is President Park not being president anymore.
Masses of people demanding change, and getting it, is always a very hopeful and inspirational thing to see. It's unfortunate people are taking a break from watching movies, but hopefully, changes will come, life will go back to being somewhat normal, and the seats in the theaters will be filled again.
Left: Kang Dong Won's A Violent Prosecutor (one million viewers, three days), Right: Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned (489,038 viewers, 12 days)